23 Sep 2013


I am aware that I talk a LOT about my kids on here and prattling on and on about them may be quite dull for some people. (If so then click right on because my next 3 neighbours along are currently talking about underground 70's music, the occult and Robert Pollard's complete works, respectively. It's quite an eclectic place here).  

Suddenly thought the other night though- what if the kids don't want aspects of their lives in the public domain? I've read a few posts to them and they laughed. I chose to interpret this as permission. However, I broached the subject of privacy with E the other night:

Me: Can I blog about you?
E: No- you most definately can't.
Me: What about if I let you read it first?
E: Maybe... that would be alright.
I pass him my phone with the last post on the screen. He reads in silence for a minute or two, then:
E: You know this bit here, 'He would most definitely fail to notice gym kit tomorrow morning because it does not have a plug, blah blah blah?'
Me: Yes?
E: I didn't even get your text until after I got my gym kit off the windowsill the next morning. So this is just wrong.
Me: And you knew your gym kit was on the windowsill how?
E: I used my EYES. Like this!! (Points two fingers at his own eyes then towards me, indicating that he is currently eyeballing me as he did his gym kit).
Me: And you just happened to notice it there?
E: Well it was right at the top of the stairs! I had to walk right by it!!
Me: Ok. I was wrong. 
E: So not only are you blogging about me without my permission but you are LYING too!
Me: No problem. I'll offer a retraction.
E: Thank you.

I recently claimed that my almost teenage son fails to notice important things in his immediate environment- like clean clothes belonging to him. This is not true and I wish to retract the statement made here. Sometimes he DOES notice his clean clothes. But not when they need to be put away in a drawer. Sorry. 

The End

16 Sep 2013

Keep on sweeping sweeping sweeping

As Street Pastors, we spend our duty nights meandering through the town centre from 11pm onwards, chatting to whoever is around and giving out lollies, flip flops, cups of water and spikies. We also pick up abandoned pint glasses and bottles and sweep up any broken glass. 

It's fun. Most people we meet love that we are out there looking out for them and we generally summarise the busyness of the shift with a breakdown of:

• bottles and glasses binned
• consumables distributed
• requests for photos 
• hugs received

Once a bloke even dropped his trousers for me to let me wobble his dodgy kneecap, the result of a rugby tackle gone bad. We also get the occasional request for sexual favours, for which we have neither insurance or training, so these are gracefully declined.

One night during the Summer just gone there was a massive amount of broken glass, far more than we've ever seen in our little town. There's usually at least one breakage per night, sometimes none at all, but on this particular night there were about 8 different areas of bottle, pint glass and ash tray debris at various points over a 1/4 mile stretch through town. 

We conclude these incidents were related. We propose the following explanations:

a) These acts were performed by a solitary individual with boy/girlfriend discord. Upon leaving the tapas bar by the river s/he walked up the hill to the bus station, stopping en-route to randomly propel nearby glass items that fell within visual range. Individual then left the area.

b) Person or persons unknown broke the glass for us and shall report back in due course with a dossier of our corporate glass sweeping ability. We shall be graded in all areas of the task including (but not limited to) allocation of duty, length of time between smash and sweep and how much debris we leave behind. Extra marks given if we flash a bit of ankle on the way down or if the designated sweepie is of retirement age. 

c) A public spirited individual who thinks we deserve more credit than we currently get wanted to boost our public relations record with the locals, many of whom stood around us as we swept and lauded our efforts at each affected area. (If this is the case- THANK YOU whoever you are. But really- it's not necessary).

Like Pavlov's dog, we Street Pastors salivate uncontrollably at the sight of broken shards of razor sharp glass. We cannot resist cleaning it up immediately lest the next barefooted carrier of beautiful but troublesome 6" heels severs a pedal artery and bleeds to death in front of us as we have run out of flip flops (we are TWENTY FIVE MINUTES away from the nearest A&E people!)

I think of us as a kind of reverse version of The Doozers in Fraggle Rock, who spend their lives constructing elaborate crystalline structures that the Fraggles consume. 

I would be the one called Daisy.

Fixing stuff

Watching man fixing stuff while drinking tea. When we share fave bits of the day later on round the dinner table this will be mine...

12 Sep 2013


A new era has begun in our house hold.

Tonight for the first time ever I have sent a meaningful informative text to my almost 13 year old rather than converse with him directly.

Of course we have texted each other for fun while sitting on opposite ends of the sofa, usually to discuss minor details like which channel to switch to next and why it's not my turn to make a cup of tea. We have also communicated via this medium from separate locations. But the text tonight was sent while both of us were at home with the purpose of conveying actual important information regarding the location of his clean gym kit (on the windowsill at the top of the stairs) which could not be communicated verbally because:

a) It's 5 to midnight and he is asleep.
b) Placing gym kit in his room would potentially disturb him, and 
c) Even if it didn't, he would most definitely fail to notice gym kit tomorrow morning because it does not have a plug, and his tunnel visioned brain is only programmed to detect the sudden appearance of electronic items.
d) I am usually shuffling round the house with my eyes half closed before 8am and any enquiry as to the location of a gym kit (or anything else) before he leaves the house will not be met with a coherent answer.

So I told him tonight instead. When I was awake.

1 Sep 2013


Everything is recycled from our front door here in S Wales. And we recycle everything we can, especially since the litter police changed their landfill policy and now refuse to pick up black bags. Like ever. Now landfill rubbish must be disposed of in council issue grey bags, a limited supply of which is given to each household. Worry ye not. We don't use that many black bags anyway because we recycle anything the council will take.

This normally occurs with such minimal intrusion into everyday life that it's not worth a thought or a blog. But we recently missed the Monday food bin collection 3 weeks in a row and things got unpleasant. Our reasons were sound yet avoidable:

Week 1: Slept in and missed it. Usually up for school but it's the holidays. Never mind- there's only 2x little bags in there- plenty of room for more.

Week 2: Off on holiday- yipee! Fridge cleaned out (which was a mank job in itself) and contents bagged and added to the food bin. It's getting full in there now. Largely due to the whole butternut squash we all forgot about and 1/2 melon which adopted the smell of salami after being in residence next to it in the fridge. Bleugh. Food-bin left in front garden for collection in 2 days time...

Week 3: ... Ah- but bin didn't cross the sacred mono-blocked line onto the tarmaced pavement and our food recycling is there to greet us when we return. Food bin people are notoriously wary of reaching 2' into a resident's private front garden and collecting anything that may be lurking in one of their own receptacles, lest they be sued for theft.

The next food collection is still 4 days away and we have a problem. The bin is 3/4 full of decomposing foodstuffs, a small colony of maggots and several dozen adult flies (who are probably babysitting).

It is rank in there. The food bin people will never take this on Monday! Even if I position it correctly on the pavement and gift wrap it.

Keith is away at a gig. In-laws will be here on Monday. I want this sorted well before then anyway. I have to man up and deal with the bin. I clean the entire house and cook a proper meal and everything. I am working towards the domestic epicentre of foulness. Tea will be ready in maybe 10 minutes. Do I deal with this now before eating and get it out the way? Or wait until after tea and maybe see everything again?

Do it now...  Do it now...  Do it now...  I summon the children and give them jobs:

M: Hold the Dettol wipes and bleach. I'll need those in a minute.
J: Stand there and hold all this brown packing paper and extra large compostable bags. Open one of them now, ready for the skanky food.
E: Bring me basin of water with bleach and a cloth that will be binned after this is all over. 

I approach the bin with marigold gloves and a certain amount of trepidation. You know how little boys are meant to be into bugs and spiders and all things a little bit gross? Not my kids. They already want to be somewhere else. Jackson looks quite pale actually. Madi is standing 10 feet away, eyes shut and holding her nose.

I take a deep breath and open the bin. Flies buzz out. Maggots are squirming among the rancid contents. The oldest bags have bio-degraded and split apart. The oldest things that used to be food have liquified. Some of the maggots have drowned in it.

How can stuff that is essentially edible and nutritious transform into something so corrupt and poisonous in less than a month? I could add a picture of maggots and rubbish right here. But that wouldn't convey the smell- It was e v i l.

I started picking out what I could using the brown paper to reinforce the fragile bags. J couldn't open the big compostable bags so E took over, holding one open for me while trying to remain as far away as possible from what I was holding. I lowered the decomposing food into the new bag as carefully as possible. But there was a certain amount of spatter. And maggots fell onto the driveway.

M and J protested loudly and ran inside. E desperately wanted to join them but I growled 'Stay where you are and hold the bag!!' in a voice that scared both of us.

Down and down I reached into the rancid soup of disintegrating food-bin filth. And slowly transferred it bit by bit into the bag Ethan was reluctantly holding.

Eww Eww Eww...

It was the singular most disgusting thing I have ever had to do in my whole life. And I have done a fair few disgusting things. I used to be a nurse- I got paid to do some of them. I have smiled and chatted with elderly patients and not gagged while dressing necrosing leg ulcers. I've had 3 babies and been involved in more than one drunken night out which ended with someone losing a night's worth of vodka in reverse. I have inserted one of my own fingers inside the body of another human being in order to deliver a prescribed medication. I have been involved in the unblocking of portable toilets at festivals which involved handling used tampons that were not my own. 

This was worse.

Once the solid contents had been evacuated, there was 4-5 inches of putrid orange water in the bottom of the bin, with dozens of maggot carcases floating in it.

This was disposed of down the nearest drain, then the bin bleached and rinsed out three times. It is still recovering in the front garden. 

I spent a lonnnggg time in the bath and am recovering on the couch with a glass of wine. And I can still smell the bin.