Category Archives: Life

There’s nothing normal about growing up with dragons in the pantry…

Maturity is something sometimes, some of us have to grow out of—

When growing up is a small price to pay for surviving it…

one way dirtyMost nights I wouldn’t remember falling asleep. A curious state of affairs for such a rare occurrence, but had it been a regular household, I’m quite sure things would have been most different.

On a typical day, and I use the term lightly, I’d be up and about early so as to avoid any unpleasantness, but this particular had come and gone and it was midday before I awoke; almost three before stirring with any conviction. And I was in an horrendous mood because of it. I wouldn’t have even been able to put ‘why’ into words without sounding hyperbolic.

Upon reflection, I merely chalk it up as being one of those things childhood throws at you to give you excuses later in life for underachievement or lack of ambition.

I remember thinking it was a little warm for the time of year until noticing an orange flicker, licking the bottom of the window. I just assumed the house was on fire again and went back to sleep. This would have been fine had it not been for the sound of screaming and the smell of dead babies. Heat is one thing and tolerable to a point, but knowing where to draw lines and when to erase them is a life skill that should be treated with priority. My pen comes out with the stench of death. So I told them.

I’m all for living and let living, but when the latter means nothing of the sort and the the sanctity of life, human or otherwise is being defiled and I’m able to smell it; it makes you feel somewhat responsible, partially. It was why I’d bought them the febreze in the first place.

I didn’t get much of a response beyond the cackling, but deduced it must have been Toebag and not Hag who was responsible for the foul emanations: she’d probably slaughtered the babies she sat for and brought them home for a snack.

Toebag’s more reasonable when it comes to this sort of thing then Hag, who tends to break her victims’ spirits before desecrating their flesh. I never quite understood that at the time, but with advances in science the way they are, it’s quite possible it had something to do with the heterocyclic amines or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons released during the initial stages of absolute terror.

Needless to say I was curious, a state of affairs rarer than lack of sleep— so when I finally found the temerity I was looking for hidden under a stack of witchcraft today and my heat retardant spectacles sitting on them, I decided to investigate. Sure enough, there was Toebag, horns erect and tail swishing, breathing fire and what have you, tucking into a vegetable curry and not the twins from the previous night. That, I thought, was the luncheon of a sick and depraved animal— and I wasted little time in telling her so…

Hag was there too, slouched in a curtain of rasping flames looking fiendishly dull, so I took the opportunity to mention that I was concerned about the effect of excessive heat on my trousers but was forced away by a collective shriek that knocked my specs clean off.

It’s bad enough having to share a house with a couple of demented bat-wings who find it innately pleasurable to torture people and singe them for making reasonable inquiries about the laundry, but there’s just no need for pyrotechnics in the house. I distinctly remember being told as a child not to play with matches, and here were two up-grown blasphemers revelling in Satan’s unholy winds, hurrying me into the kitchen to make my tea before my face dissolved.

I was so on edge I even jumped at my own reflection in the patio doors after popping outside to see the rabbit who was oblivious to whole thing and Autumn was no where to be seen, obviously in fear of wasting one of the nine lives she was saving for more desperate times. Those two always gave me the impression that they’d gladly remain neutral provided their respective body weights in biscuits everyday was satisfied.

As for me, I scowled and cursed a little, which was customary even then, avoided the flaming projectiles that were aimed at me and drank my tea in peace.

Where it seemed to me to be much more quiet—

Must’ve been the tea…

Two fortnights; four weeks; one month or thirty very odd days…

To a month of links and thinking differently;

And a little bit of noise—

I hope it’s been some fun…

coacheswar-crimescricketbreadsticksblogging cats baby-sitting aboutbad-teaching balloons  ettiquette  coffee furniture girl gnomes habits grammar house-sitting immigration golf knitting meltdown marshmallows lost miniamlism nail-clippings onearmed man rules procrastination phone-calls senses shit pockets sick

stuffed-cats superhero syntax

I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained…

Walt Disney

The who gives a #@%& pocket, more about cats & the dangers of hand-held fans…

A three piece discord—

And the cunning of the third person…

go to break earlyAs I enter the third day under the roof of ignominious, quasi-disharmony, I decided I ought best choose my words carefully in case my laptop is bugged. And though diligence is not something that comes naturally with a pen in hand, I feel it’s quite possible the being spied upon trope is not an over-reaction, and my house-guest has not gone shopping at all.

I actually considered writing this in the third person to induce ignoratio elenchi and befuddle my would-be observers, but not only would that’ve been far too weird, it would’ve contravened one of my personal laws. To describe my loathing of self-referential utterances in the third-person as rules, would be an affront to my very soul: rules are merely principals to be observed. Laws on the other hand: something to be obeyed. It is called illesim and it’s creepy. Salvador Dali did it once in a televised interview, but if you remember my piece on minimalism, he also once had to be rescued from a deep-sea divers suit with a pair of pliers…

Anyway, as I’ve accepted a luncheon invitation and’d found a suitable pause in my morning’s work, I thought I’d jot down some of my recent acquisitions, one of my old ones, skip the overture and play the second of three specially recorded: symphony of words:

I’ve discovered that it’s part of cats’ original sin to lure their owners into a down-pour wearing dressing-gowns only to be snubbed at the last moment; and playing with a hand-held-fan too close to close to someone’s hair can leave the blades entangled in it. The latter occurred last evening and I have been looking over my shoulder ever since, hence my spy-awareness.

Personally, I can’t really see what all the fuss is about, even my sister laughed, so it must’ve been a little bit funny, even though by then the turbine had actually begun to groan. There was no permanent damage and the marvellous fro-effect was upsettingly temporary.

And lastly, otherwise I’m really going to be late, is the who gives a @#$% pocket. I’d like to call it an invention, but I believe it to be a naturally occurring phenomena, something we all have; and just like addictions or imaginary friends: we just have to acknowledge it’s there. They are simple to use and needn’t be particularly large since they aren’t designed for non-specific items, as it will soon become clear.

Have you ever been in a situation where you have been questioned unnecessarily, or had to endure the dribbling of an inferior; been put on the spot with the express intention to cause yourself embarrassment? Had to suffer the nonsensical ravings of a co-worker, family friend or house-guest?

If the answer is yes, then the who gives a @#$% pocket is like a vacuum for all these things and more. You see, for Baloney Detection Networks and Hemmingway’s bullshit detector to become something more performative, they need a Ghostbusters-like containment unit.

So the next time someone you know has been savaging your ears relentlessly for a month or more about the same old rubbish and you’ve reached the limits of all fissionable care, here’s what you say:

Wait a second, let me look in my who gives a @#$% pocket

You look, then you say: nope, the @#$%er’s empty…

You see the charm and size of your imaginary compartment is both infinitely variable and irreverent because not only is it yours and yours alone, but the @#$%er’s always empty. I discovered it quite by chance one day and have been smiling about it ever since.

Stupidity is infinitely more fascinating that intelligence. Intelligence has its limits while stupidity has none…

Claude Chabrol
 

Home is any four walls that enclose the right person…

Which wouldn’t be me. As for Asbo

Just the wrong kind of walls…

424980_10150708723606041_1819417037_nWere it not for the house-sitting I’ve been doing for my sister, I would no doubt have finished the few things I’ve been working on; I’d been looking forward to it too— but after spending most of today getting over yesterday; which was spent in much the same way as today; and then moving back: I’m in a full-blown phase-state. I’m sure you’ll all know a variance of it well: a lack of decent sleep leaving you feeling half-awake, physically drained and not too clever; have work in your head but getting to it requires the services of the part of your brain’s that’s already in bed.

This is what shifting houses can do to me, it can throw me out of whack, out of sleep and leave me rather worse for wear; and this is before factoring in Asbo the anti-social beast my sister calls a pet. I should ideally have come home during the day, sat at my table with my view, next to the kitchen and been irritated by my own cat: she’s allowed to do that, she’s a monster I can take all the credit for, but Asbo— though he’s a magnificent looking creature, he has an inherency to maim and strike fear into you. Physically, it’d be all too easy to describe him as low-maintenance because he’s either indoors sleeping or outside prowling— but that doesn’t take into account the time spent dressing the assorted wounds he inflicts as a matter of course. In deed, thirty seconds after arriving on Tuesday, I was bleeding from where my right calf used to be.

My sister thinks this is all wonderfully amusing, it’s just her way— she actually called me up to see how things were going and if she was surprised I was still able to answer the phone she hid it well. She said there was some chicken that Asbo and I could share if we wanted. I told her he hadn’t asked for any and of course, she felt the need to point out, he’s a cat, of course he hasn’t asked you… I told her I’d just eaten and’d left some for later— she said, Oh, you’d better check that…

“The little shit, he’s…”

What’s he done?”   *snorting*

“He’s finished my sodding dinner!”

What was it?”   *still snorting*

“Chicken… Don’t you dare!

“So he did want some chicken…”

“&%$£%$!”

*click*

Neither my dinner, nor the cat was anywhere to be seen…

Anyway, the other side of physical side is the stressy side— the anxiety of letting him loose, which isn’t much worse than knowing I’m in the house alone with him. It’s just I like to know that if he wants back in, I’ll be ready; maybe in some deluded way hoping that he’ll return the favour by not mauling me every time he sees me.

So naturally the knock on effect isn’t much fun; I feel slow and far, far duller than is usually the case. I need a quiet evening with the doorbell unplugged and a decent night’s sleep, then hopefully, I’ll be able to finish some work.

A man is like a cat; chase him and he will run—

Sit still and ignore him and he’ll come purring at your feet…

Helen Rowland

The Art of Babysitting: the lowest paid high-risk job in the world…

Spare the rod, spoil the child—

Boys will be boys. And so will men…

This could have been possible without the help of a few like minded individuals, but it would not have been nearly as fun to put together. I just hope that that enjoyment shows on the page. It’s also nice to have the blame for conjuring up such rotten behaviour shared. What was omitted of course, will stay that way.

19171_281714681040_1679334_nThere is no such thing as a perfect mother or a perfect father for that matter. So it stands to reason that babysitting, as an art form is impossible to master. This doesn’t mean that an attempt to do so is futile, it just means the odds of success aren’t exactly weighed in your favour. We do live in the age where man has voyaged to beyond the unquestionable fathoms of the deep; leapt from the edge space; we do have Usain Bolt, and children are being born at a much younger age, year after year, but like the babysitter, parents are doomed from the start it’s an insurmountable mountain that must be negotiated from the moment they arrive to bring joy, warmth and happiness to them, and it is their responsibility alone to confuse and disturb them. The humble babysitter however, has no enduring claim, other than to provide little-more than a form of cheap entertainment; a gift if you like, from the parent to child, as a pay off for abandoning them to seek out entertainment of their own.

So, what follows is rule number one, of one, in multiple parts: not exactly the key to being a good babysitter so much as it is the key to surviving babysitting…

You see, the problem that most of us encounter whilst looking after a couple of mitching-snipes, is that we still think of them as children. This is not the case, it is a basic thought-error and wild under-estimation from which trap, should you fall into it, a lifetime of therapy could be necessitated. Children, under the supervision of a babysitter must be thought of as miniature-creatures, since they regard us at best as pretend people. We don’t really exist in the sense that we have powers to anything but occupy space or heaven-forbid we actually tell them to do anything they ought be or not be to-do and this is something a miniature-creature can work out by simply exchanging looks with a sibling, or ogling us.

Within a moment of surmising we harbour weakness, they will begin to determine inappropriate actions amongst themselves and begin to divide the bibs they intend to plant on us whilst nabbing the regulars of acceptable behaviour in the bud, one nip at a time: they truly believe that anything goes. You may as well resort to pirate talk straight away; but arrghhs and it meb’ees will only hold them at planks-length for so long, because they are scheming little terriers who love nothing more than to leave you sunk and drowned whilst they strip your quarter decks and fetch you a kop of the unfortunate variety across the cheek, up the bracket or if you’re really unlucky, right in the mouse-trap leaving you shivering up and down whatever timber you have remaining…

This is where your counter-planning must begin if you’re foolish enough to enter Amityville without any. You must muzz, before being muzzed, because you are vulnerable within seconds of being seen. The rule starts here. You must be sure to keep your movements to a minimum. A for limp example, will be noticed uncannily, because while you are hanging up your coat, items of furniture will be being moved with the express purpose of clipping it, regardless of the room you enter and they somehow manage this without uttering a single syllable. Therefore, if you do have a limp pretend the affliction bothers the other leg, or both, or if that’s too much, a pair of baggy trousers will suffice.

Naturally, if you manage to navigate the obstacles without so must as an inconvenience to your balance, never put it past a creature to shimmy in with a nudge or two of your own. Sometimes as a defensive strategy, an accidental clip round the ankles of your own works wonders to keep them on the other foot. I knew of one brood strategically placing roller-skates around the house when breaking in a new babysitter, so it’s important to remain focused.

Any successful completion of a booby-trapped path can earn you respect, but you have to be quick to register any sleight nods of approval this fetches you because it’s as stealthy as their next move…

If they can’t topple you through material mischief alone, they will be forced to barter with you and ask you seemingly innocuous questions that you freely submit to answering. This can be dangerous, as they use this information to be beastly. Remember, these are not children. And you my dears, are not real.

So when they ask you if you’d like a cup of tea, return the compliment and suggest that you will make it; being careful not to trip over the rocking horse that has by magic appeared by your right foot and the marbles by your left and proceed to the kitchen, whenever possible, alone— but should that be impossible— by making positively sure that you lead whether you know the way or not. Knives and other stabbing instruments have the unlikely habit of becoming unhinged and accidentally lethal at this point. You should make sure there is nothing suspicious about the kettle, and make doubly sure you don’t find yourself standing in a small puddle of water before engaging it.

Just in case you’re still a little apprehensive, I’d recommend a startled leap away from the counter. This is a cunning ploy. Not only does it grant certain observations to be made, it give you a chance to draw your own conclusions as to the motives of your creatures. If they launch themselves back and hurt themselves, so much the better, you can inform the injured party that it was in fact their sibling that caused the wounds, so by creating a diversion whilst finishing up with the tea. If they merely stand firm with a look of excited wonderment on their faces, you know you’re in for the long haul. Not only do they have their code to protect, but they are, in all actuality, going to make pretty certain that you never leave the house alive.

This is when you must plan pre-emptive revenge if you’d been in a rush and had forgotten to before accepting the appointment. For my guarantee, comprehensive enlightenment is always sought, and I employ the services of a master. Her insight into the ways of the sneak are beyond reproach, therefore her advice, beyond question:

  • Turning one child against the other by favouring them; preferably the older child…

  • Threats and bribes…

  • Feeding them huge amounts of tryptophan to induce sedation

  • Winning them over by allowing them to do things expressly forbidden by their parents under the guise of deal-making and secrets; staying up late and watching TV…

If however you do not have the heart to drug your tiny adversary, and you just want them to know who’s boss make their tea the Mongolian way and use salt instead of sugar. This is when you can start to turn the tables back on them; regardless of its shape. Reverse psychology on a creature is a powerful tool. Not only will they seek personal compensation for damaging their palate, they will also chuck a little hurry-durry your way. Combine this with a sneaky aside to the untainted sibling by suggesting his brother, or sister is a wimp and you’ll be granted an honorary high-five on the spot. If you play your cards right the brothers, or sisters will spend the next little while exchanging names and daring each other to drink the tea at which point, one of them will, have rush to the toilet, and be sick…

With one down it’s easier to work on the other one. This can be achieved by suggesting he is beastly, and he should apologise immediately, and keep him company if that fails, you should use the ‘golden ticket’ method:

  • Show them a horror film or ghost story; anything that deals with keeping all limbs on the bed, under the covers and keeping quiet so ‘it’ will not find their next victim…

I remember to always keep a copy of Scream handy, and simply tell them it is the new Casper film. They will be horrified by the antics of the unfriendly ghost; and go to bed.

With the job done, it is important to reflect on what has passed. I tend to believe that in order to be a good babysitter, you must think in the language of kiddish monsitous if this means you have to put your self to bed early for being naughty so be it: for it is quite possibly the lowest paying high-risk job in the world.

With the ultimate goal of ensuring that everyone is alive and the house is intact when the parents return; even when the odds are stacked against you, it’s not entirely unfair to know the rules for playing a little hard-ball now is it?

‘Children sweeten labours, but they make misfortunes more bitter.’

Francis Bacon: ‘Of Parents and Children’

Nothing’s changed much in 500 years has it?

On Procrastination…

Mrs B once said, when asked what she’d like to read—

I am still about procrastination … but that could be that I am procrastinating on finding another topic!

Needless to say that was in 2004…

548125_10151091945136041_908074081_nStarting is always the hardest part, or is that beginning? Starting begets beginnings I suppose. If only I could get as far as that. Sometimes it’s just too hard.

I had an idea at first— for the beginning, but abandoned it. It wasn’t bad, in fact I quite liked it— the thought of it I mean, but the start is always a thought too many and a beginning too few and I always get the feeling I’ve been overtaken by the thought of having to do more than simply think it. And then I consider it. That’s the best part. What would it’d be without having done it? I pore, and I always convince my self to sleep on it.

This is where all the best things aren’t done. I sometimes pretend to sleep, just to see what doesn’t happen— and I’m mystified when I realise I’m not doing it. I don’t want to you see. Because the way I see it, there’s no point in avoiding something if you cannot sleep; and then sleeping to forget it when you’re only going to wake up with a hint of something you’d neglected to put there. And then it’ll bother you ’til you remember it— because you’d have to. And sometimes it’s just too hard.

It’s like getting back to the beginning again; right where I was going to be when I started it yesterday. Only I couldn’t remember what I wanted to say. It’s not that I was trying too hard; it’s just I recalled the killer word: The ‘E’ word. There should have been two of them in ‘demon’— at least it sounds that way to me. Perhaps they couldn’t’ve been bothered much either that day— and lacked the killer word too.

It was right after that cuppa I’d made after the comfy mock-snooze on the pea-green beanbag I’d been engaged in, that it suddenly dawned on me that I’d forgotten something else. This pleased me a great deal. Had it’ve been lingering— even ever so slightly, I may have been a little miffed; but it had gone. The fact that I could, even started to displease me after a while— but the longer the displease, the weaker the ‘effort’ it required and it killed too little a time— time I never really had anything put aside for anyway. To plan too far ahead in my eyes is to get ahead of one’s self— especially around the eyes, and it’s preferable to hide from these things rather than encourage one’s self to do anything about it. A day doing nothing, is sweeter than a day wondering anything. And a day wondering anywhere is an even greater waste.

They say of some, that they take, ‘one step forward and two steps back’ and I say ‘twaddle!’ Primarily because I like the way the ‘d’s’ sound and feel on the tip of the tongue when you’re overly deliberate with the ‘-le’; and secondly, because anyone worth salt would simply stand still, sit down or remain and just be— exactly where they were. Let’s not split peanuts over the minimum effort debacle, when you can eat the whole nut with none what-so-ever, and still pip the nincompoop by a nose. If only you could be bothered…

If I could only get passed the first bit I’d be fine.

Where was I?

I’ll finish it tomorrow…

Image: something I designed for my classroom

I can’t decide sometimes, whether or not my mother thinks she’s living in a sitcom…

The secret to humour is surprise.

Aristotle

27977_450287781040_191932_nA moot point perhaps, but oblivious in this case to the signifiers that make the ‘everyday’ flow seamlessly from one interaction to the other; if they weren’t, you’d find yourself hopping madly all day. Whatever it may be, obvious, deliberate, debatable, moot? A couple of years ago my mother discovered a reservoir of previously untapped ‘ridiculous’. It’d become, after a fractious few years— a pleasure spending time with her, if not for the first time— but the first time in a long time. She’d seemed to be a little more understanding and accepting of my foibles, and I of them, which makes all the difference in the world. It helps relieve a little of the ‘complicated’. The fact that my mother’d discovered comedy and was making me snort on a regular basis was merely a bonus.

But this is irrelevant, a long-winded introduction and steady build up leading to a crescendo of noise— which is not entirely bunkum as it happens. It’s a story involving balloons…

My nephew loves balloons, especially the kind that when released, fly around exulting a harrowing scream, flitter then drop excitedly with one good spasm before expiring. Louis and I had been synchronising the take-offs of them all morning, much to the delight of the little man and thought what a wonderful idea it would be to release even more. Amz was on her laptop, but my mother was hands-free…

So Louis and I filled some balloons, gave them to her and instructed her that under no circumstances was she to release them. Even now, I feel as though I should’ve added something.

Anyway, Louis and I expended what little breath we had left into the remaining balloons and poised at the ready. The scene was to be spectacular; six whirling tubes of shrill screech, dancing unpredictably towards an enthusiastic death-knell. However, I failed to entertain the one element of unpredictability.

‘Ready,’ I said, ‘on one . Three… two… one… release…release…release!’

Louis and I had a successful launches. But my mother held firm. Even upon the final release! Even though the room was filled with the sound of screaming babies Even though the launch command had become a desperate, personal plea for her to relinquish her grip…

‘Why the bloody hell didn’t you launch? We’ve just done this ten times … at what point did you not think I was talking to you?’ A reasonable question in the circumstances I thought.

‘Because,’ she said, ‘you told me that under no circumstances was I to release them.’

Once a word has been allowed to escape, it cannot be recalled…

Horace

Not unlike those sodding balloons!

It’s certainly not any travel I know, just a hobby which shares characteristics with the way I think. We may sometimes dress alike…

I’m not yet forty; still a way off that particular milestone, but like everyone else who is—

I find it approaching a little faster than I’d like…

26396_430151901040_6641225_nThe social stuff between now and then, or whatever time-frame I tend to use as reference for what I have or haven’t done doesn’t get any smaller. Just because I can’t get it ticked off the list shouldn’t matter, but it go figures. It just becomes more compact, which is a whole other type of frustration. It’s just not as easy as other stuff: cups of tea, peace and quiet, stuff which I need more of these days— language definitely counts as stuff…

For twenty years, sabbaticals beside— which you need if you don’t want to go a little blind or, hurt people I guess— has been my primary: academically and vocationally. To describe it as a journey just doesn’t work for me. I get it, it’s all kinda kinds of fitting, but it’s used to describe football seasons, relationships, books, school, work, pregnancy; I can see it insofar as life and everything in it is neater when it’s compartmentalised and separated into a series of cultural markers, but only at a stretch. I still don’t like it; it’s not for me— my associations don’t work that way. I struggle to compartmentalise neatly because I have a need for everything to be intermentalised and far reaching, somehow— somewhere, it’s got to have a relative context and I couldn’t care less how superficially— which is why I became ever increasingly drawn to it, language that is, not superficiality, though that’s OK too. For a start it lacks the same degree of constraint which burdens journeys. In fact it’s always given me the impression that it doesn’t like to be constrained by anything— which has been the source of many a headache and a-ha alike.

If you can make a rule, there’ll be an exception; an observation, an aberration. A framework which might explains a phenomena, there’ll be an approach to make you question whether you were on the right track at all. So in that sense, it couldn’t really have more appeal to me than if I designed it myself. No, I’m pretty comfortable running with the assumption that it most certainly is not a journey. But, it could be thousands of them, all different, all seemingly heading the same way but overlapping, double-backing, reversing, contributing, refuting and turning one piece of work into many, many more.

It’s never just an aspect, or one thing— that’s too neat when you’ve got all these trains whooshing left and right and what-have-you. One aspect requires others and each of those require the same, even when it isn’t always plain to see how or why; which is why it all takes time and the social stuff keeps getting fat. There’s a lot of going back and forth— to the beginning, back and forth to the end sometimes; starting again, screaming and so forth.

It’s rich, diverse and can be frustrating; though never less than rewarding, even when you’re getting nowhere. It is something which requires constantly chipping away at— and a good rail-pass. There’s always something new, a connection; a correlation, something utterly unexpected just around the corner— something you daren’t miss.

If I had one complaint, despite having been researcher, analyst, consultant and educator, it would be my failure to become proficient in no more than 5% of it.

By the time I am forty, that number will have shrunk…

In which case I’ll get stuff ticked off…