27 Mar 2013


Words of wisdom from Anna, our newly ex house mate:

'OK, we'll just have to remember: NO nudity in the lounge.' (We finally get round to putting curtains up in the living room, but the voile offers no privacy)

'Every organisation needs SOME weirdos.' (On the hippy vegan placard-waving homeschooler types who are behind the success of initiatives such as Fair trade).

'It's better to have a puking cat than a dead one.' (We are discussing Alfie, The Chepstow cat's recent demise and concluding we should be grateful for Noodle's continued presence in our lives- even though he regularly vomits fur balls)

PS- When I say 'newly ex' I should confirm Anna is NOT buried under the patio but in Canada with her husband. Just in case you wondered...

23 Mar 2013


Madi: I've given Noodle one of MY biscuits today instead of his normal ones.

Me (still in bed with eyes closed): Um... that's nice...

Later I find this custard cream crumbled up in his bowl, minus the yellow bit she's nibbled off prior to donation.

21 Mar 2013


Not content with having one small business Keith & I bought another one. The second one operates from a room in the house and is supported by a couple of part time staff who work from home and a bunch of freelancers that join us on events. All the resources to make the company function are held on our server, in an array of orange ring binders and in our heads. Anything which is not in any of these aforementioned places can be purchased or googled. It's neat and compact and has boundaries which are easily seen and defined.

The first business however is not neat or compact and after several years, I'm still not sure where the edges of it are. It has enough associated stuff to fill a warehouse near where we live. The road into the industrial estate on which our building is located is shut and padlocked every night. Only tenants in the estate are issued with the combination. We lock the premises when we are not there and have a burglar alarm which if activated, causes K's mobile to ring. Spiders can wake us up at 3am if they want to.

We often ebay off redundant stock to generate income and clear some floor space so the area remains a relatively functional one. When an item is sold to a local buyer and they choose to collect in person, we take the old speaker/ mixer/ laptop/ whatever home and have them collect it from there- rather than expose them to racks and racks of new speakers/ mixers/ laptops and maybe implant the (mistaken) idea that we wish to be relieved of those also.

It's a stewardship thing- we've been entrusted with material stuff and look after it as best as we know how. If our unit is ever broken into, the alarm disabled and the burden of ownership of the stock removed from us (thank you very much), we know we have done everything in our power to protect what we have. This isn't being pessimistic and suspicious. We live in a defective world full of greedy people who will take what isn't theirs so we put procedures in place to minimise the risk. Society actually encourages us all to behave in this way- insurance policies often don't pay out in the absence of a functioning alarm system.

If we are ever burgled, the thief will be to blame. 

However if we DIDN'T lock the door or set the burglar alarm, the thief would still be 100% guilty. We would still be a victim of crime. Stealing someone else's stuff is just wrong. People don't need the presence of a padlock to spell it out to them (although the police and insurance people may be a little less sympathetic to our situation).

Stuff ultimately is just that- stuff. Some of it might be expensive, but if it was ever lost or damaged it could be replaced. Why then does the principle of protecting what is valuable not transfer onto personal safety? Because if anything, the lines between what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour is confusing people more than ever. 

According to a recent article in the Telegraph, one in 12 people consider rape victims to blame if they are drunk. A similar proportion claim victims are also responsible if they are attacked by someone they have been flirting heavily with beforehand. The telegraph article which cites these findings from the Office of National Statistics, also described the reaction to this finding from victim/crime support groups as 'shocked' and said victims of sex attacks should never be blamed no matter what the circumstances.

Joanna Lumley recently challenged the current binge drinking culture, and was met with a rather hostile response from some areas. Her advice?

I promise you it is better to look after yourself properly, which means behave properly, be polite, be on time, dress properly – I don’t mean dully – but don’t be sick in the gutter at midnight in a silly dress with no money to get a taxi home, because somebody will take advantage of you, either they’ll rape you, or they’ll knock you on the head or they’ll rob you.

This statement was taken by some to mean that victims of sexual assault can be to blame for their situation. I disagree
Thief/rapist = 100% guilty.
Thief/rapist = 100% wrong. 
Victim = exactly that, a victim. 
But aren't there certain things we can do to minimise the risk of becoming one?

The average bloke is bigger and stronger than the average woman, so if a woman is unfortunate enough to have attracted unwanted attention from a big hairy stranger, the statistic above illustrates that there's a 1 in 12 chance that the one they've found could have a malfunctioning moral compass and may not want to understand that no means no. 

Another blogger I follow posted along these lines a few weeks ago, responding to the aftermath of the Steubenville football gang rape of an unconscious 16 year (full post here): Somehow most of us seem to be able to teach our children that opening a cupboard at someone's house and helping yourself to whatever is in there without asking first is inappropriate. How is it that we manage to do that, but the message that sexual consent is important just doesn't sink in?

I don't know. If 1 in 12 people are really are so messed up that they honestly don't know what belongs to them and what doesn't, or choose to interpret a lack of resistance from an unconscious partner as consent, then maybe that's more reason to listen to Joanna Lumley and set the burglar alarm. And maybe carry a stick with a big rusty nail in.

19 Mar 2013

Hamster down

RIP Omnom aged 5m. First and best ever hamster of Brewslings. Died in her sleep. Madi thinks it was boredom as we didn't play with her yesterday.

14 Mar 2013

Parenting fail

I am a bad, bad mother. For the last 2 mornings I have milked & fed cows, collected eggs & fed chickens and harvested the corn before getting out of bed and checking on my actual real live children downstairs. My only defence is that E is playing this too and we are trading goods.

11 Mar 2013

PS (Thinking Big)

I did my 9 year old a disservice on here with the whole Thinking Big post. His world may be small but he's always pushing the boundaries of it. He can be amazingly ambitious when he's enthused about something. To illustrate, his current excitement revolves around these 2 pieces of wood and a half bald bit of sandpaper.

6 Mar 2013

Thinking Big

Once again, thanks to the amazing seasonal generosity of family and friends our kids ended up with £30 - £110 worth of Christmas money/vouchers to spend in the sales this year. (They did receive exactly the same amount of money each- our relatives are very equal that way- but there is a sliding scale of purchasing power in our house which correlates to age lest we all suffocate underneath cuddly animals, lego and squinkies).

The kids' wish lists were very modest, considering:

M: A bag of marshmallows and a big stuffed Spot the dog (A character she has shown NO interest in whatsoever since the age of 3, so that was a bit unexpected. However he's huge and cuddly and therefore appealing)

J: An Anakin Jedi Interceptor Lego ship and a BIG cup of Wilkos pick'n'mix sweets

E: An iPod with the capacity to download apps and take photos (which his previous one didn't because it was so old)

These items were duly sought and purchased in the days following Christmas day and the kids LOVE them and play with them lots. All were bought in real shops from real live people who work there- aside from J's Anakin lego model which was ordered online cause it was cheaper. 

The 4 days in between securing the purchase on Amazon and the magical package arriving via courier to our door were long and punctuated by sighs of, 'Oh I WISH it was Thursday because then my Anakin Jedi Interceptor Ship would get here,' and 'Mum, do you think my Anakin Jedi Interceptor Ship might get here tomorrow, even though they said it would be Thursday?' and 'If my my Anakin Jedi Interceptor Ship does get here tomorrow I can't play football with Jack cause I'll be too busy building it then playing with it...' 

Day 2 of waiting for Anakin Jedi Interceptor Ship. Bedtime.
Me: What prayers are we going to say tonight then Jackson?
J: Please God help my Anakin Jedi Interceptor Ship get here on Thursday, Amen.
Me: .... Amen... Anything else?
J: Nope- that's it.
Me: Jackson, God can do anything, yeah? And when you pray you can talk to him about anything! Isn't that amazing? Let's think of something else to pray about... I know what-
J: (interrupting) Dear God please make my Anakin Jedi Interceptor Ship get here BEFORE Thursday!!

This cracked me up completely. He's 9 years old. The entire focus of his world is about 2 meters wide and is packed with nerf guns, lego and cola bottles. It's a place of smallness and safety, cushioned from real life by a network of family, adult friends and his posse of mates who look forward to football in the yard at lunchtime more than their lessons, just as he does.

The WORST thing to happen to him last week was when I finally threw out his favourite jogging bottoms which have had a hole in the right knee for the past 3 months (Somehow they kept emerging, clean and damp from the washing machine, so I'd think- OK he can wear them just this one more time...) 

My world is somewhat bigger than this. 

My world involves solicitors, contractors, internet Tesco shopping and parentmail. There are banking dongles, hair straighteners and estate agents. There's also midnight email conversations, school dinner money reminders and an almost- teenager who is part toddler/ part mastermind contestant (specialist subject: Apple). There are landlords and ex-landlords, ex-tenants and bailiffs. There are bills to be prioritised, conversations about tampax (No, you don't need them yet), sexting (Great- you know what it is but haven't yet done/seen anything? Let's keep it that way) and a tick list of things that I never quite get to the end of.

Sometimes I think I am envious of the small safe world of my kids. And then I remember how excruciating adolescence was and how I glaze over at mindless youtube videos which feature singing dogs, uploaded by 10 year olds who boast 'You won't watch this without laughing,' while the kids crease up on the floor next to me, proving that if you are a child, then this is perfectly true. 

So my life is bigger and a bit more complex than theirs, but has God grown (in my head) to match?

God can do anything. And when you pray you can talk to him about anything! Isn't that amazing?

I need to apply this to me too and stop only praying about what I can see and hear and worry about. You can scale everything up from the world of my 9 year old, but mine too is small and limited. 

God knows we need people to pay on time so that we in turn can pay contractors/ staff/ the VAT man. He's fully aware of the date we need accounts by and that it must coincide with the pension people doing their bit so we can (hopefully) get a mortgage before stupid season starts again and we're not at home long enough to move house. 

So why do I insist on telling him???

I tell him about lots of other stuff too, though. I prattle on and on about family things (so many of them far from him), my friend's mum who is dying of cancer (Why don't you always heal? Help them to remember all the memories they are making now), my friends who lost their son last year (I still don't get it God, but I know you do. Use what happened- somehow) and my other mate who is finally pregnant after ages of waiting (Thank you/let them be OK/Thank you/let them be ok).

As good and as right as these prayers are, I stall and get overwhelmed when I look further afield. There are some massively ugly things happening that I don't quite know what to do with or how to pray about. So in all honesty I don't. Because the more you look the more mess you see and before long it's less of a prayer and more like a Billy Joel song:

Dirty water
Tax evasion 
Genetic modification
Corrupt politicians
Celebrity culture
Preventable child death
Meow Meow
Rape culture
Suicide bombings
Human Trafficking
School shootings
Jimmy Saville
The arms trade
Child soldiers
The Middle East

When the problem gets so big I have less to say about it. I have no solutions to offer so other than fire off petitions of complaint (often via Avaaz.org) I concentrate on the things I can pray semi-coherently about. It's kind of a back side forward approach.

I'm forgetting who He is.


History is not the history of man. It’s not the history of civilization. God was there first. Do we sometimes invite God into our story? Are we like ‘We’re going to let you be in our story God,’ and he’s like, ‘Excuse me? But your history is my story. Your existence is my story. Your nation? My story. The world that you live in? My story. The history of your civilasations (thank you very much) is my history and it started long before you were around. History is MY STORY and I am inviting you in. 

My name is I AM. Your name is I am not. 

I can take anybody and do extraordinary things. 

You are one of 6.4 billion people on this planet so you've got to just get over yourself. Do you think the world is going to screech to a halt if you fall off of it? I don't NEED you to do this, I'm inviting you to be part of My Story. I could use a sheep if I wanted to, I don't need anything or anybody to help me do this but  I. Want. You.

Stop insulting God with tiny prayers and a shrunk down life and your little teeny idols. 
(Louie Giglio)