Tent Poles ©
The girls came back from their aunty’s with a car boot full of treasure, so I unloaded it before with a double hoot my sister drove away. Amongst the treasure was a flat packed tent in a plastic bag.
It’s been sunny in Birmingham this Easter so obviously the girls wanted to try out the tent. So I unsealed the plastic bag, and threw away the instructions, doesn’t everybody? The tent was an igloo kind of design, there were plastic tubes that were ready for the tent poles,
The tent poles were more like the equipment Bruce Lee used to use, you know the sticks with chains attached. Though they were like giant chop sticks, with elastics holding them together and with a bit of metal too.
So I thought all I had to do was to thread through the 4 feet of elastic and chopsticks and then the tent would be ready. So I started in the middle and then tried to thread the poles through. I tried it this way then that way, and it was no use. The chop stick like poles wouldn’t and couldn’t fit.
So what do you do in these circumstances? You try and find where the instructions were, the wind having blown them to the bottom of the garden where the squirrels lived. Perhaps if I gave some nuts or breakfast cereals to the squirrels they would explain how to erect a tent.
I looked at the pictograph and still could not work it out. So I went and had a cold drink before inspiration struck. Instead of starting from the middle and doing the splits all I needed to do as start at one corner and go diagonally over the middle and down the other side like a roller coaster.
Success, I did a lap of honour, the squirrels chattered, what an idiot this human was, obviously I didn’t eat enough nuts, I could hear them say. Then it was just a matter of starting in the other corner and threading the pole though to the middle and down again like a roller coaster again.
The girls leapt for joy and hugged their fat panda like dad, I could not do kung fu, but I had threaded the kung fu fighting sticks, they had a tent and I WAS their panda like dad.
The girls gathered their books and used the tent as a reading room, the library is at the bottom of our street after all. Blankets and cushions were added to it. I went inside with a dad smile on my lips, this is what being a dad is all about, priceless, though sometimes useless as the squirrels might say.
The girls stayed in the tent all afternoon, bringing their cheap and cheerful tablet outside to the tent, Utube in the garden. Me, I retreated to the PC, see how many more people I could annoy on Linkedin. I had taken loads of photos of my tent puzzle, so I posted them on Linkedin, somebody said he expected a story, and yes right now a day later I’m writing it.
Later as the chill descended I brought the tent inside still with the poles in it. I placed it on the floor of a bedroom. So the girls ransacked the wardrobes for pillows and set up their next palace. The squirrels watched from the trees in the garden, at least the human’s small offspring were not as stupid as him.
Today we hung out he washing, this was my excuse for not bringing down the tent. The tent stayed upstairs on the bedroom floor. Like a tent for Bedouins tribesmen or Eskimos, either or, I’m not sure which.
The girls stayed there reading books and watching Utube. Perhaps they even watched Panda videos on the tablet. As for the squirrels they debated what washing was, a series of tents maybe?
The Last Word ©
In the Beginning was the Word, Let there be Light. If those are the 1st words, what will the last word be? Who put out the Lights, perhaps. Why do people want the Last Word? He who laughs last, laughs longest. Now that’s more to my way of thinking.
Success is the best Revenge are words that I like, and hope to live, in due course. You are just a burnt out has been are words I’ve heard in the past. Though the person who said them was last seen scavenging from a waste bin in the confines on the cathedral in Birmingham.
So what is it with words, they do have power, the power of love, and Love Does Conquer All as my mum once said. Its 18 years since she went to make the tea in Heaven. So it must be God alone knows when she actually said those words. You are as good as anybody are other words she used, and yes she was right, we her children did achieve, and over achieve too.
But why do some people think the Last Word is the best word. Because it isn’t. The best words are the right words, the right words you give to give people courage. England expects that every man does his duty, Nelson flagged those words to the fleet, and we beat the French, again.
We shall fight them on the beaches, Churchill spoke those words, England really did have its back against the wall, but by words and action the mad and evil Nazis were beaten. Words do offer courage, we have all seen the Kings Speech now. And we all now have such deep deep appreciation for all the Queen Mum did behind the scenes.
So why do some think having the last word is so important. Lack of education maybe? Words are explosives and should be used with due caution. A kind word can save a life, or propel somebody to their life’s dream or vocation. Just a few simple words can and do make a difference. Yes words, prayers DO work, so don’t be too arrogant to think that prayer is a waste of time, I know from experience prayer has worked. That’s why I have a wife and kids.
Do you need the last word? No. A boxer may need the last punch to win the bout. The last word no. Don’t waste your words on people who are not worth your breath or spit as the Chinese say. Save your words for nurturing things, the last word tends to be about arguments.
If people want last words, let them say that what you do, or make IS the last word in fashion, in industry, in ideas etc. Then last the word IS worth remembering.
Splish Splash in my Bath ©
In the bath we are all alone with our thoughts, just me or you in the bath lying there soaking. We lie there like a hippo, water all around us, lapping at the edge of the bath, occasionally bursting over the top onto the bathroom floor.
The bath is a place of peace, and hot water, provided the wife isn’t washing the dishes while you are washing your tum and all other parts. So it’s a rush to fill the bath before the wife fills the washing up bowl in the kitchen sink.
Otherwise we lie there with just our thoughts for company as we feel the warmth of the water. Lotions and potions are stolen from the wife’s collection of this and that. Competing smells waft around the bath and into the air in the bathroom. You turn a different shade of pink, your toes and fingers turn into prunes.
Sometimes you bring in a radio for company and music, as you soak the steams runs down the tiles in the bathroom, and steams up the bathroom window.
You drift to different places in your mind as you are entombed in the warmth of the bath. You are back in the womb, secure and warm and listening to music. A baby can hear in the womb before birth, now you imitate that again. The radio blares out and you sing along.
Why do we sing in the bath? In the old days it was because there was no lock on the door, now it’s because we are free, free to be ourselves in the bath. I of course sing “If I were a Rich Man” going my best Topol impersonation.
Dreams visit us in the bath, we are relaxed and clean. We may even shave while in the bath, so from head to toe we are clean warm and relaxed. Clean feet do make all the difference, we sigh and clean between all our toes. Now we understand why the Romans enjoyed Bath and baths so much.
A bath as big as a small swimming pool, or even a swimming pool itself would be so nice, we muse as we close our eyes as we listen to Peter Gabriel singing Steam. If only we had some money we sigh as we break into “If I were a Rich Man” again, Topol seems to return whenever we are in the bath.
Dreams appear and spiral into the air along with the steam, we are in our own private world without distractions to attract our eye. Just the white of the bathroom, the white and the purity of our dreams. We top up the hot water, and sink lower into the suds of the wife’s bubble bath.
Gentle relaxing bath, a gentleman’s way to wash. Showers are for kids, for haste, for Americans. For those who claim they are saving water, but wasting tranquillity. That’s what it’s all about really, a bath is not just for washing, it’s for inner peace.
Girls Gone Shopping©
I get left abandoned at home every now and then, today was another occasion, I was home alone and enjoying it. The wife had to buy ingredients for big daughter’s school cookery lesson. Small daughter wanted to come too. So she had just come home from school with me, now she was going out with mum and big sister. A kind of invisible revolving door.
This means I get to bring the washing in and spread it on all the radiators around the house, while they drive off laughing . It also means I can watch the news in peace and quiet. For me watching the news may mean 2 to 3 hours a day scattered throughout the entire day, on PC too, while I write.
At the shops they all may speak Chinese, mainly Shanghai dialect, just so nobody can understand them. Big daughter at 5feet 3 or is it 4 is already taller than mum. And spookily looks exactly like me, as I was, though with female features. Small daughter looks like mum, the gene pool split both ways. Though we hope small daughter grows taller than mum, just so we can call mum “Titch”.
I look at news on BBC and SKY, plus DT and Daily Mail and a quick browse of other newspapers. Meanwhile the girls are browsing the rails in Asda and Matalan, 3 pretty girls in the house, Fashion rears its head and screams “BUY ME”.
I have a cup of green tea to go with my news browsing, them, they have a pit stop at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Afterwards I put some frozen food in the oven to bake while I write. I do throw in some cloves of garlic, as its good for me, I also ready the sweet corn and a slice or two of brown bread. I can almost hear my small daughter belching from afar, fizzy pop treat to blame. Normally they are on Shanghai diet 95% of the time.
A new top is required for big daughter, small daughter is jealous when she does not get one too. So she gets pink trainers instead. Mix and match your daughters. Me I gave up clothes shopping years ago, I used to just hand my debit card over, now the wife can use her own card, and have the girls in toe. They have more fun that way, and U get a bit of peace, I don’t have to share the family computer either. Perfect Peace.
I am about to finish my latest story when I can hear the car pull up outside the house. The sound of laughter and high heels proceeds them, the front door is flung open, and the girls are back from town. Noise and laughter fills the house, as I hit save. I’ve written a new piece and they have returned with food and garments.
I try and salvage some scraps from the treats they have had, if only it’s a lick of the paper bag that once had cream cakes in. I turn the bag inside out to lick off the last of the fake real fresh cream, naughty but nice as Salmond Rushdie wrote when he was a copywriter.
They are back full of noise and laughter, I look this way and that as they show me their treasure. In return I read out my latest story and see if they like it, though it has to compete with new clothes and cheese and onion crisps. So I put the kettle on, this time for hot chocolate for all of us. The family is together again.
Clothing Clearout ©
Well the Cotton Traders magazine came through the letter box the other day. I promised myself I would not spend any money, but a magazine is a break from my hausfrau life.
So I flicked through the magazine and saw a few things I liked. The thing about Cotton Traders is that it has up to 5XL sizes and down to the small sizes too, all for the same price. Check the website for yourself, I don’t want to misinform you.
I don’t know about you but if I buy something just for myself I feel a bit guilty. So to lessen my guilt I asked my daughter did she want a quilted jacket in red. She said that red was not her colour, it was mum’s obviously, but not hers.
So my daughter flicked through the magazine and spotted a jacket, which was twice the price of what I was offering. It was not in the sale. So we compromised and I said she could have it as she’d be a teenager on her next birthday. I tried to persuade her not to be taller than me, as she is 5feet 3 or 3 already, as a sidebar to our deal.
So we went online and found the jacket, only they did not have her size. I did have to find my extending metal tape measure so she could measure herself, but this was to no avail because they did not have her size.
So I laughed, then she flicked through the magazine and found a sparkly jumper. The fashion is for big and baggy sparkly jumpers, so we checked and a size 10 was available. So she got her jumper and I got a soft rugger kind of thing. And my guilt was assuaged.
My small daughter looked on and said she needed a jumper too, so I promised to take her to Peacocks and get her one. Balance is a big thing when you have two pretty daughters.
Today after school dad was banished, small daughter wanted to go with big sister to buy a jumper. So I gave them the money and away they went. Only to return 30 mins later empty handed. They were 50p short of the only thing small daughter liked.
My wife was let into the secret and said I was stupid as small daughter still had a few jumpers that grannie in Shanghai had knitted. So the girls went upstairs to check all the nooks and crannies in our wardrobes.
An hour later 3 jumpers, really nice ones had been found. Plus a clear out had produced a load of clothes now too small or too unfashionable for the small daughter to wear. With kids there is no wear in clothes as they grow so much. What does this mean? Some lucky child tomorrow will have several really nice additions to their wardrobe. As I left the cast-offs at a charity shop.
I also got in on the act and had a look at some of my less fashionable but 2XL sized clothes. I filled a carrier bag and my old cast-offs were left beside the children’s clothes.
So this meant that I’d saved a few quid, which was a good enough reason to celebrate. So on the way back from the charity shop I dropped in at the Polish deli and bought a kilo of nice sausages for 3 quid, and some of their fizzy pop to share with my daughter.
All in all a good day, apart from Arthur, my arthritis. I’m listening to Eye of the Tiger the theme from Rocky Three now, perhaps I should take up boxing. I’d box Arthur’s ears first, that’s for sure.
Pets come in all shapes and sizes, small and fluffy or big and rough. There are all kinds of everything, as Dana used to sing, but she was not talking about pets. Girls like cats because they are soft and fluffy and can be stroked.
On the school run me and my small daughter see a few cats so we stop to admire them and make a noise to see if we can get them to miaow back. Coming home from school we have more time to talk to the cats, and sometimes they talk back to us.
Our neighbours have a cat or two so it’s always a mad dash to the garden so my girls cat talk to the cats. Max is a black and white cat from two gardens away, he stops to talk and allows himself to be stroked. This makes my girls’ day.
Children like gerbils, they like watching them run round and around in their little wheel. My girls have begged for a gerbil, but gerbils only last 2 years and you live with their smell. They also get lost under the floorboards, and when they do die you have to bury them in the garden in an old shoebox.
Dogs are great, boys love dogs the best. You can play ball with a dog, the dog will fetch a ball for you. You can go walking in the woods with a dog, dogs can splash and paddle.
I remember when we got Coffee, Coffee was a puppy, the runt of the litter, my brother brought him back from University, 1970 maybe. Coffee was called Coffee because of his colour. He could run and jump and catch a ball. He loved golf balls too.
Coffee was a Christian, we took him on holiday with us, he went to Mass. We met a blind boy on the beach, Coffee said hello by licking his face, it made the blind boy’s day.
Animals bring out all our tactile feelings, stroking a dog or a cat for that matter, makes us feel happy. Bringing an animal to an old people’s home really does cheer up the residents. There will be a cat and a dog living in the old people’s home featured in Tears for a Butcher, once I get around to finishing it.
Just as a hug does console somebody so time with an animal is comforting, is life enhancing. The old English reserve does disappear when an animal appears, it would be better though if we hugged each other without sight of animals. I should add though I’m not English.
Pets make us children again, we’ll talk to strangers while out walking the dog, barriers are broken and words are spoken. Pets are like hairy chocolate, they relax and please us just as chocolate does.
Japanese people have electronic pets that have to be fed and watered, they have a life inside the cage of the game. It is some innate thing that makes us love animals, our pets, even if we don’t love each other. So my final thought is, why can’t we love each other as much as we love our pets.
Give Pets and Peace a chance.
Naked Attire ©
We are born naked, then we get our bum slapped, we are weighed and washed and then parcelled and given to our mum. Wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger is the most famous birth.
Pink for a girl and blue for a boy, this is the tradition. Though some liberals like to do the opposite, just to prove they are liberal, I even heard one man called his son Sue, or was that Johnny Cash?
In China they have the trap door for children, same as the old long-johns in Westerns. We all dress our kids up to look like this or too look like that. Little caps on their heads too, as posh as Posh Spice’s kids. But she IS a fashion designer, so why should we “punish” our kids by copying those we read about in OK magazine, our little mites must copy the latest reality tv star.
I believe in Victorian times boys were dressed up as girls till a certain age, you can google that for yourselves. Though I do understand the concept of hand me downs, I do have 3 elder brothers. So my first pair of long trousers was in the summer of 1970, an almost worn out pair of puke coloured cords.
My mother sat on an old barn chair in the garden and took them up for my short legs. Then ever so proud I ran up and down the garden with my hands in the pockets, I was so proud and happy. Prior to that it was shorts and long socks with elastic to hold them up.
At school is when we all have to dress up the first time. School uniform, though I’m old enough to remember we didn’t really have a uniform in primary school. I cannot remember any particular coloured jumper and so on, though it’s a long time ago so I could be wrong.
At grammar school you have the school tie, and a blazer too, this was a big deal. I know because my one wore out at the cuffs and my mum demanded a replacement. Only they refused to give a bigger size, out of spite. I can just remember a man asking me about the Scouts, I made a very derogatory reply. He asked did I know what this badge meant on his lapel. I did not know, I think later my brother said he was a scout master.
So dress code enters your life, even in summer there was a dress code, as it was hot we could remove the school tie. However shirt collars had to be splayed open a la Saturday Night Fever, though the film had yet to be produced.
When you leave school you can dress to please yourself. I had always loved ties and worn one in primary school, I had an Aston Villa one, as one of the lodgers gave it to me. Now a “grown-up” I dressed in jeans and a shirt and tie. I could have been a member of Status Que. I do remember Caroline and so on.
So on to work, and I ended up in a computer room, market research into alcohol sales. There I wore my shirt and tie plus jeans. That was my uniform and brown shoes. I wore brown shoes as they were cheaper than black ones. As we did a lot of paper handling we weren’t forced to wear trousers, our excuse was they would split as we were always moving about and bending to load and unload paper,A3 sized standard continuous listing paper.
When I started to work at a hotel I had to wear a uniform, but thankfully I didn’t in the end. This was due to the fact of having a big aspidistra, if you know what I mean. So I ended up wearing my own trousers, and an old suit jacket I had. Because I was nearly 20 years older than the front desk staff and my white hair everybody assumed I was the manager, until I offered to carry their bags.
Later they found a jacket to fit my chest size, and I had an almost uniform jacket, but my own pants. The thing about working in a hotel for 3 years is that thanks to all the exercise, up to 20 miles a week of walking alone. My chest size went up 2 inches, and as I talked a lot too my neck size went up an inch. So I am 18.5 inch neck size and 46 inch chest. Then there is the 4 star deluxe food, so my belly also went up 2 inches. But in black you can hardly tell.
Finally with regret I left, they messed my shifts, so I left, seeing my toddler children was important to me, more than any job. So I left. Just as I was leaving we were all fitted for a really nice blue suit, I was so pleased with it, we all were. Though I never got to wear it, as I had gone.
For my print room days at a law firm it was business professional, I couldn’t look like a tramp as very important business was being done at the law firm, image was so important. Lawyers wore very expensively nice suits, and the girls wore the female equivalent. I was allowed one concession I could take the tie off while inside the confines of the print room. It was 30degrees in there once all the industrial sized copiers were in use. And we stood all day too. If I left the print room I had to put a tie on. They were a really great company they really looked after their staff.
In my Esol teaching days I wore shirt and tie with trousers, business professional they call it, though I still wore my brown shoes. It’s not too much of an imposition. So that was my teacher look.
Now as you can see from my websites and LinkedIn I wear rugby shirts, very bright rugby shirts. Polos some of them, they are like my like my writing colourful and interesting. Though some may say my writing is like my dress sense, questionable.
So on it goes, attire, how we dress for this and who we dress for that. I did go to a friend’s wedding once, the evening bit, dressed in a black leather jacket. Dave said I looked like Marlon Brando, but I didn’t make him an offer he couldn’t refuse. I did write a poem for his wedding, I later published in Japan but that’s another story.
How we dress makes us feel happy, some may even be Nudists, free to the elements and the wind. I could of course never be a Nudist, I’d fail the physical, and I’d need hair dye all over my body, but not on my head as I’m happy with the colour there.
If you think of fashion the closer you are to being a Nudist, the more fashionable it is. Less is more, as they say, the less material used, the more expensive it is. So if you think of the Emperor’s New Clothes, that really was so so very expensive.
As for Miley Cyrus, she is such a great singer, and I mean that most sincerely as Hughie Green might say, and as she’s so pretty too, so she must know a thing or two about fashion. But she knows nothing about economics or her manager is stealing all her money, cos she can never afford enough clothes.
Shamrock Growing by my back garden wall
Adventures in Reproofing©
By Michael Casey
Well as I said on LinkedIN earlier in the day I’ll write about reproofing. I’ve got a couple of old coats, one is very warm but soaks water up like a sponge, though I do stay dry.
The zip broke and they wanted 30quid for a new zip, so I thought it was not worth fixing. Then I had an idea, velcro, so I’ve had it velcroed for 8 quid. The other coat I got cheap thanks to Shaz, he worked in the shop so I got a great discount. However after 5 years the water resistance has gone.
So I was thinking about reproofing, so I looked on Amazon and read the reviews, then I picked the cheapest offer. You get a sachet of reproofing liquid for 5quid, enough for one coat, or garment if you like the posh word.
It did not come for a couple of days, and today the postman walked right past the house, so I thought I’d have to wait a day more. Then the postman doubled back and I got my treasure.
Now I wanted to do a proper job and not waste the fiver I’d paid on the reproofing liquid. I had to wait for a load of washing to finish first before I could requisition the washing machine.
So the load finished and I hung out the washing. Then I prepared the washing machine, I took out the tray dispenser, this we had not done in 10 years. We knew it was 10 years as Ma, was over from Shanghai for the birth or her 2nd grandchild, when we last messed with the washing machine.
So following the instructions I cleaned all the washing powder off the tray, spilling water all over the kitchen floor as I did so. I took the dispensing tray into the bathroom and power washed it with the shower.
Too much force in the shower meant the water bounced back all over me and my jumper. But at least the dispensing tray was really clean. My wife joined in and cleaned out washing powder from inside the washing machine, where the tray normally sat.
So then I wriggled the try back into position. Next you have to zip up or rather velcro up the coat. The other coat still had a working zip, so I zipped that up, and left both hoods hanging out. This is rather like a cake recipe, you have to do everything slowly and deliberately.
I had decided to use the delicate setting on the washing machine, I had never ever used that setting before. So I switched it on to test where the water came in, it had to come into the correct compartment on the dispensing tray, or all would be lost.
Having verified where the water would come in on that setting I poured the reproofer into the right compartment. Some men may not even know there are 3 compartments. So this was like setting up dominoes ready for a world record, everything had to be pin point accurate.
Then I started the machine on no.14 on the scale. I then went back to my computer, though I did look out the window and notice that my wife had rearranged the way I had hung out the washing. I never can please her with my use of clothes pegs.
A hour later still the machine was not finished, then 2 hours later the machine would not release my two coats from the water torture of reproofing. I was tempted to say Chinese water torture, but my Shanghai wife would throw a cushion at me if I said that. I just double checked with her, she has not yet heard of that expression.
So I thought I’d release my two coats from reproofing, just turn the knob and then the water will drain away and I can hang out my coats. Only as I put the bowl out to carry the coats into the garden, as I opened the door I got a flood all over the kitchen floor. “Paper,” I screamed to the wife so then we had to hunt for paper, only the recycling bin was emptied this very morning.
As I tried to catch the excess water, and lay paper at the same time my wife just laughed, I am her clever and stupid husband after all. Then I emptied my bowl of water before removing my 2 coats and carrying them into the garden in the plastic bowl. I left a sea of water on the kitchen floor.
As I hung my coats on the washing line my neighbour was carrying newspaper to her recycling bin. God was laughing at me too, his clever and stupid creation. If you touch the coats it’s like wax had been deposited on them, making them waterproof. That’s when they dry out, but for now they are like sponges.
I squeezed here and squeezed there, rather like milking a cow, though my cousin does have a dairy farm. And another cousin works for the dairy in Kerry.
Anyway my coats could enjoy the March sunshine. I told my neighbour if she heard me scream I was probably being electrocuted, so she must just hit me with a stick, the wooden linepost would do. You do of course have your entire life flash before you when that happens, a friend was electrocuted 30 years ago and he told us that fact.
Back in the kitchen I switched the washing machine on, to a different setting, to drain the last of the water out. Then I finished mopping the floor with towels, and put them in the washing machine, where else would they go. But I won’t be using any exotic settings on the washing machine any more.
Now it’s night time and my coats are both still wet, I’ve brought them in as fog is expected over night. In the morning I’ll hang them out again to dry, and then finally I’ll have reproofed coats.
Though the proof of it will be when it’s wet, and I’m not talking about the kitchen floor, nor the bathroom floor, or even me. I mean when it’s raining again. We have had the rainiest Winter in 250 years and I must be the only person who wants it to rain again, just to test my two reproofed coats.