Archives for category: Home life

Image

Prole2: Can you teach me a joke?

Me: A joke?

Prole2: Yes I want to tell my brother a joke and make him laugh.

Me: Ummmm ok, let me think of one.

Prole2: Can you remember any?

Me: None that I can tell you.

Prole2: What?

Me: What do you call a Deer with no eyes?

Prole2: What?

Me: It’s a joke. What do you call a Deer with no eyes?

Prole2: I don’t get it.

Me: I haven’t finished it.

Prole2: What?

Me: That was the first bit.

Prole2: When is the funny bit?

Me: Well give me a minute I am trying to get there.

Prole2: What?

Me: Ok. What do you call a Deer with no eyes?

Prole2: What?

Me: No Idea!

Prole2: What?

Me: Are you saying ‘What’ because you didn’t hear me or because you don’t understand?

Prole2: What?

Me: No Idea. What do you call a Deer with no eyes?  No…Eye…Deer. No Idea.

Prole2: Oh…No Eye Deer…that’s funny….

Me: Thank you, I thought so.

Prole2: What do you call a Bunny with no Eyes?

Me: Ummm…Ok…what do you call a Bunny with no Eyes?

Prole2: No Eye Bunny.

Me: Very good.

Prole2: Is it funny?

Me: To me? Yes.

He skips over to his brother who is watching ants.

Prole2: Hey! What do you call a Bunny with no Eyes?

Prole1: I don’t know, what do you call a Bunny with no Eyes?

Prole2: No Eye Blind Animal Dead.

Prole1: What?

Prole2: Dad thinks that is funny.

Prole1: Dad?

Image

 

 

Image

I am hanging a kilt up above the bath.

I do this once a year to get the wrinkles out.

It stays up there in the humid air for a couple of days and might get a light pressing before the big day on May the 8th.
Might.
Probably won’t if I am honest.
I did it once but once you are all wrapped up in leaves and flowers you can’t really tell if it is pressed or not.

Prole2: What’s that?

Prole1: It’s a kilt.

Prole2: What?

Prole1: A kilt.

Prole2: What?

Prole1: A kilt, it’s like a skirt that Dad wears.

Prole2: What?

Prole1: Dad wears it, it’s a kind of skirt and he wears it.

Me: I…well not just me…

Prole1: No, not just you. Scotch do too.

Me: Well all sorts of people…

Prole1: Yes, Queen Victoria made lots of people wear the kilt, mostly soldiers and stuff. And Scotch. She liked to see people wearing a kilt.

Prole2: That one? The queen made people…that one?

Me: No, not that one. There are others. Other kilts.

Prole1: Yes, they have…what are they called? The colours? The patterns?

Me: Tartan.

Prole1: Yes tartan. You get Scotch tartan and Indian tartan and French tartan and…well…I think you get quite a lot…quite a lot.

Prole2: Why is that one boring black?

Prole1: The Cornish army wore black ones. The Scotch didn’t.

Me: Umm…yes…I think the term is Scottish.

Prole1: Oh, the Scottish. But the Cornish Army wore Black right?

Me: I think it was the Regiment and not the Cornish Army as such.

Prole2: Boring Black?

Me: Well it’s a classic colour and…well…its not really boring is it?

He stared up at it whilst brushing his teeth and very quietly whispered to himself.

Prole2: Boring Black.

Which serves me right for doing a bit of research into these things and not getting a tartan I suppose.

I know a Kilt does not sound very Cornish.
I know the Kilt is a construct of the Victorian fad for Walter Scott’s fantasy of Scotland and wearing one in Cornwall may seem odd but fortunately I can no longer be repressed for wearing one. I wear it in celebration of Celtic culture everywhere.

Anyhow, try to get anyone in Cornwall to agree on National Dress.
I have to wear something.
It is surprisingly comfortable but you can never relax because you know someone at some point is inevitably going to have a rummage around underneath “Just to see”.
Well, anything to raise a smile.

The white shirt was one of the first things processed in the revitalised washing machine.
It has many more green stains than I remember and is looking a little worse for wear but as I say, it will be greened up soon enough.

Flora Day is a big thing on my calendar and the countdown has begun.
I have brought out the kilt.
I have polished the shoes, the sporran and the belt.
I have booked my 48hr baby sitter cover broken up into three shifts.

I have saved my pocket money for Spingo.

It is all very exciting.

Image

 

The man from the washing machine repair service turned up today.

I was working this morning but they said they would text me a two hour window I had to be at home for.

I took a gamble and did not cancel any meetings.

They texted me last night: We estimate our engineer will arrive between 10.00 and 13.00 on Monday.

I was not sure how far to true a company that gave me a two hour window that was three hours long.

I also thought it might be nice to spend a day doing nothing.
I say nothing, I have loads of stuff to do in the house and the garden but a bit of me was also loking forward to having an excuse to sit around doing nothing and being able to write something pithy and mildly self effacing about it later.
It seemed like a good plan to me.
Like when you were off sick from school and you got to spend all day in bed reading comics and it was really boring but slightly thrilling at the same time.

I called the office to say I was not coming in.

Giving the repair team the benefit of the doubt I supposed the engineer would arrive between 10.00 and 12.00 and the extra hour was for the ‘repair’ they might have to do?

Seemed reasonable, after all if they turned up in the last couple of minute they would need time to do the job.

They turned up at 13.15.

When I asked him about this he said that he was due in by one and he had to come from the other end of Cornwall where his other jobs had been.
Seeing his job sheet with my number on and having been told that all his other work was an hour’s drive away I was naturally curious as to why he had not called me to tell me his plan.
I decided not to ask though because it’s been ten days without a washing machine and I did not want to spook him. I felt like I was holding my breath all the time he was here. All 29 minutes of it.

I was not actually holding my breath of course, I was actually taking away at the kitchen table because work never stops and we are up against a deadline at the office.
I say ‘we are up against a deadline’, in actual fact the Artists I work with are up against a deadline.
I say ‘Artists I work with’, in actual fact they do all the work, I just chat to them and gabble on about Cornwall, funding and Art.

I know a little bit about Cornwall because I read a book once, the rest I make up. Working so far.

Anyway, word got out that I was waiting for a service engineer so the morning’s bookings just relocated to my house.

Of course I was pleased about this but it did mean I had to stop stripping the paint off the stairs.

This is a job I have been putting off ever since I put my foot through the landing.
My 125 year old stairs are covered in thick layers of paint.
At some point someone really thoroughly covered absolutely everything in thick dark purple vinyl paint.
The strata seems to be Magnolia, Magnolia, White, Dark Satanic Purple, White, Whitewash.
I had half heartedly started doing this, thinking I might take a tea break later and watch a bit of daytime tv.
I have never seen Cash in the Attic and I have often wondered what all the fuss is about.
I have seen five minutes of Jeremy Kyle once but that was by accident I think.
Anyway, under extreme sufferance and with a heavy heart I was preparing to take my favourite mug and have a quiet digestive in front of the telly.

I had managed two half steps when Old Man Winter came in with Madame and sat at the Kitchen table.
We had a cup of tea.

Half an hour later Dissertation Girl arrived and joined in the talk.
I made another cup of tea.

After they left I had a phone call which I suppose turned into a ‘phone-meet’ with a community artist.
I heard this phrase once in a meeting with some smart looking people.

I have often wondered how much of a hurry you have to be in to shorten the word ‘meeting’ to ‘meet’?

It’s like my Calendar, they have shortened the word ‘June’ to ‘Jun’.
How much ink were they hoping to save?

I wandered around the kitchen while we talked, sort of playing hop scotch on the kitchen tiles and balancing on one foot a lot.
I would lean right forward to see how far I could go without falling over.
Cordless phone and no one watching, I can’t help myself.
Everyone does that, right?
Right?

Before I knew it I was boiling the kettle again.

As I hung up on them there was a knock on the door and two more artists stepped over the cat into the kitchen.
I made some more tea, including a Nettle tea which we have very little call for these days, and had a long and wide ranging talk about what it all means.

Things have shifted a tiny little bit in Cornwall this last week. You wouldn’t notice it right away but things are different.

The repair man arrived and I made another cup of tea.

The cats thought it was Christmas by the way.
Lots of visitors on a Monday, some of whom actually paid them some attention.

I tried to hide the bald one but it kept getting free.
I tried to look like the owner of a cat that had just had an operation.
No one questioned it o I can only assume I got away with it.

At 1.45ish the repair man left and the Artists got up as well.

I put a load of washing on.

I ran over to the office and caught up with the Rockfather in the cafe.
He had coffee, I had tea.

Suddenly with ten minutes before I had to leave to collect the Proles I was given a complicated data base problem to solve.
Actually, it was not a complicated problem at all but I use the Access Database so rarely I have to relearn how to do it every single time.
It’s only been four and a half years.

I suddenly realised I had not been to the loo for ages.

All that tea…

Arrived at the school just in time and met the Proles.

Prole2: Why are we running?

Me: Just run…

We got home and I put a load of washing on and I went to the loo.

We bundled into the car and we did a quick shop in the super market and I went to the loo.

When we got back we unpacked, Prole1 fed the cats, Prole2 broke his helicopter again and I went to the loo.

I put a wash on and there was a knock at the door.

Old Man Winter arrived again and went to talk to Prole1 about serious Company business, Prole1’s career is going slightly better than his father’s.
Then Fannie and Fox arrived with all the Proles’ artwork from their gallery show and it was all so lovely and exciting I went to the loo again.

Suddenly the house was empty, the Proles went to bed and I came down here.

I still have not seen Cash in the Attic.

 

Image

I can’t post today.
It is too late and the wrestling has started.

Honestly, Kurt Angle is about to wrestle Rockstar Spud, I don’t have time for anything right now.

It got late somehow.

Someone said they were coming round for a Chinese and suddenly I had to tidy because it’s been a while, you know when you  forget to clean up that stain in the kitchen and suddenly it take fifteen minutes of soaking in bleach to get it off? Only you can’t find the floor bleach so you have to use toilet cleaner because time is short.

The Proles were no use at all because they had been given tiny little remote control helicopters to fly and they kept flying them into me and when I saw one of them, and here I am not joking, land one in the toaster they had to be sent to the hallway for an hour to play.

The hallway was fine but in a long thin enclosed space with two small boys and two remote controlled helicopters things were never going to end well.

At least Prole1 was wearing protective glasses.

Later on Prole1 decided to fly his helicopter in the trampoline because the protective net around the outside would protect it and keep it safe. Sadly he gave it full throttle and it climbed about thirty feet into the air, got caught by a light breeze and flew away over the fence.

It must be the 21st Century when a small boy knocks on your door and says “Excuse me, can I have my remote controlled helicopter back please?”

Anyway, I had a Chinese meal for the first time in ages and the wrestling is on and I have to re-glue the tail on a helicopter for tomorrow.

Good night.

Image

 

New cats have moved in next door.

This is the reason the cat is pulling her hair out.

The Nice New Neighbour introduced them to us.

I like the Nice New Neighbour, she has put up the smallest Polytunnel I have ever seen in my life.
It looks great, just..well..small.

In fact it looks a lot better than my garden at the moment.
Since I moved everything around there have been some bald patches to the grass as well as the cat.
I threw a few handfuls of grass seed down but they are making no sign of germinating.
I know it always takes longer than you think.
Every time I put grass seed down I am ASTOUNDED by how long it takes to grow.

This year is no different.
I know it takes ages.
Why do I keep going to look at it and thinking to myself “It’s taking ages” ?

Anyway there are two new cats next door.

I looked them over and they are a fair size, bigger than my bald cat.
I can see why she is intimidated.

Having said that I watched her with one of them earlier.

The Nice New Neighbour told me she had had the cats for sixteen years and they were a bit old now.

I was on the landing picking a Lego Wheel out from between the bannisters and I could see bald cat walking round the corner to the gate.

She came face to face with the new/old cats from next door and she totally flipped out and turned and ran.

Next door’s cat never moved and only turned to see what the noise was.

It is not that the next door cats are intimidating intentionally.
They are just so old they cannot be bothered to pay any attention to bald cat and this uncatlike behaviour is freaking her out.

She is pulling her hair out because the cats next door don’t move.

I have no hope of rehabilitating her at this rate.

Form the window I could also see where the grass seed is not growing.

Why is it taking so long?

Image

Me: We all know the rules. No swallowing. Right?

Prole1: Right, I am so going to win.

Prole2: Right!

Silence.

They giggle.

I reach to the bowl in the middle of the table.

I take a marshmallow.

I put the marshmallow in my mouth.

Me: Fluffy Bunny.

Prole1 puts a marshmallow in his mouth.

Prole1: Fluffy Bunny.

Prole2 puts a Marshmallow in his mouth.

Prole2: Fluffy Bunny.

They giggle.

I put a marshmallow in my mouth.

Me: Fluffy Bunny.

Prole1 puts a marshmallow in his mouth.

Prole1: Fluffy Bunny.

Prole2 puts a Marshmallow in his mouth.

Prole2: Fluffy Bunny.

I put a marshmallow in my mouth.

Me: Fluffy Bunny.

Prole1 looks serious, Prole2 looks like a crazy hamster.

Prole1 puts a marshmallow in his mouth.

Prole1: Thif if filly.

Me: You in or out?

Prole1: Fluffy Buffy.

Me: What?

Prole1: Fluffy…ang on…Fluffy Bunny.

Prole2 puts a Marshmallow in his mouth.

Prole2: Fluffy Bunny.

I put a marshmallow in my mouth.

Me: Fluffy Bunny.

Prole1 puts a marshmallow in his mouth.

Proel1: Thif if filly, I gone an a goo if.

Me: Sorry? What did you say?

Prole2 giggles.

Prole1: Fluh-ee Wuh-ee.

Prole2: Wha?

Prole1: Fluh-ee…fluh-ee…wuh…fluh…

Prole1 spits four soggy marshmallows out into his hand

Prole1: Fluffy Bunny. This is silly. One of you can win.

Prole2 is giggling a lot.

Prole2 puts a Marshmallow in his mouth.

Prole2: Flupy Buh-ee.

Me: Pardon?

Prole2 pokes his index finger into his mouth and rummages around.

Prole1: Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop! No swallowing, why is he allowed to do that?

Prole2: Fluffy Bunny.

Prole1: That is not fair. I am going to read a book.

He stamps off and can be heard treading on lego with bare feet on the landing.
Me and Prole2 eyeball each other.

Me: Four marshmallows now? You must really want this.

Prole2: Wha?

Having a chat with four marshmallows in your mouth is not easy so I decide not to pursue the trash talk.

Me: Nothing.

I put a marshmallow in my mouth.

Me: Fluffy Bunny.

Prole2 tries to smile and drools a little. He is still making giggling noises but can barely keep his mouth shut. He has never gone above four.

Prole2 puts a Marshmallow in his mouth.

Prole2: Fluh-ee Buh-ee.

Me: What? I can’t understand.

Prole2: Fluh…fluh….fluh…

Me: Fluh? What’s a fluh? Why are you saying fluh?

Prole2 starts to giggle louder.

Five marshmallows.

He goes bright red with silent laughing.

Me: You are drooling on the table. No drooling. Stop drooling and stop saying fluh.

Prole2 laughs out loud, inhales a marshmallow and spits five wet sticky marshmallows across the room and the table.
Some of the fall out sprays the bowl of marshmallows in the middle of the table.
He turns in his seat, still laughing and vomits gently into the top of the radiator.

Prole2: You…you…you…win….

I look at the mess.

I am still the champion at Fluffy Bunny in my house.

Why don’t I feel like a winner?

Image

 

I knew it was going to be a difficult conversation but I steeled myself for it and ploughed on.

The walk home from school.
It is still early in the term, day two but I thought I may as well dive straight in anyway.

Sometimes it is hard for families to share.

Sometimes it is difficult to talk about the little things.

I know the Proles don’t like to talk about this particular subject but as a parent I feel I have to try.

Me: So….how was school today?

Prole2: What?

Me: How was school today?

Prole2: What?

Me: Did you have a good day today?

Nothing.

Me: Playing with your friends? A good day? Did you have?

Prole2: What?

Me: Did you have a nice time with your friends at school today?

Prole2: What?

Me: Ok, you know your friends?

Prole2: Yes.

Me: You know the time since I dropped you off at school?

Prole2: What?

Me:  All the time you haven’t seen me? While you were at school?

Prole2: Today?

Me: Yes.

Prole2: Yes.

Me: Well, did you have a nice time with your friends at school today?

Prole2: I can’t remember.

I looked back down the slope to where I had picked him up and then up the slope to the school gates.
We had not quite left the school premises and his mind was a complete blank.

Me: Did you do any playing at break time?

Prole2: Playing?

Me: Yes, playing. At break time. Did you do anything?

Prole2: What?

Me :What did you have for lunch?

Prole2: Roast. Mash, carrots, green thing and gravy. Meat. Meat roast. And a fruity thing. Roast.

He did his hoppy skippy run-dance-thing , lost control of his feet and fell over.
In days gone by I would stop, pick him up, dust him down, check for scrapes, bumps and bruises, give him a cuddle and a kiss and set off again.
Honestly though, if I did that every time he fell over I would never get anywhere ever.
He falls over walking across the kitchen.
Every day.
These days I check to see he is still moving and trudge on.

We were in the school run trudge out of the gates.
You can stop to pick up a fallen child but it is the social equivalent of breaking wind in a lift or taking four sugars in tea.
People sort of smile and pretend they understand but you can see the distaste in the air.

The trudge moves at the slow amble speed of the push chair going uphill.
I am sympathetic to this. I have been a pushchair driver and I know the hell of a hill.
The trudge is further slowed by the pushchair drivers who stop in the gate way, right next to the lollipop man and the people with sniffy dogs on long leads and have a chat with other pushchair drivers.
I tried not to do this as a driver but I cannot, hand on heart, say I never did it.
This stuff just happens, come to peace with it.
Don’t judge me.

This buggy-dog-toddler-lollipop-man-chat-zone creates a bottle neck of misery for everyone trying to get out of school.

We negotiated this squash by way of tortuous emotional and social turmoil which included leaving another small part of my soul on the pavement and carried on with the slow amble along the pavement.

It is a Lollipop Man before you get all cross.
The Lollipop Lady is at the other gate.
I am being gender specific because he is.

Come on, get back on the pony.

Me: So…how was your day at school?

I signalled the Prole I was talking to with a slight squeeze of Prole1’s damp hand.

Prole1: What?

Here we go.

Me: How was your day at school? Good?

Prole1: Well I FINALLY got a new reading book, it has taken ages, I have been looking for a good book for a long, long time now but there was just nothing on the shelves for me.

Me: I thought you got a book to take home….

Prole1: No Dad. This is from the library. For reading in free time at school.

Me: And there have been no good books in the library?

Prole1: No dad, there are LOADS of good books in the library, I am just not allowed near them. We have to choose books of our shelves and we are not allowed any books from the..the whirly thing…the spin thing…the carousel…spinning book rack?That’s got all the books for the year above and I can tell you there are A LOT of Pirate books when I move up but you can’t get to the Harry Potter books until the year above that. I mean, I spoke to them about it, I asked the teacher in charge of the library and she said I had to choose from the shelves for our year. Actually, I tried to take out a Harry Potter book with the computer, I typed it in and asked to take it out and I had to enter my name and the computer said “We are sorry, you are not in the correct year to take out this book (exclamation mark) Pupils at this school are only allowed to take out and read books from their own shelves(exclamation mark)” so I could not take it out.
I had to take out a Secret Seven book and I sort of like the Secret Seven but they are not as good as the Famous Five, sort of…well half as…I think three…no two Secret Seven Books would make up one Famous Five book.
But of course what I really want is to read the Harry Potter books.

Me: But…you have them at home, you have read them.

Prole1: I have not read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban for about two years.

Me: Three months.

Prole1: I have not read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban for about three months. Anyway, I finally got a book I like.

Me: Have you asked to read other books?

Prole1: Oh yes, yes, I have asked. I have asked and asked. I spoke to the teacher in charge of the library today. I said I would like to read Harry Potter or…well a Pirate book or any book from the other shelves and she said I couldn’t. I told her about the computer. She said the computer was right and that at our school the little kids don’t read the big kids books. She said the school was allowed to give us books according to our year. I said I had read all the Harry Potter books and she said that did not matter, she told me the rules again. Little kids are not allowed to take the big kids books out of the library. It was just one of those rules.

Me: Were you ok with that?

Prole1: I said I understood completely.

Me: What did she say?

Prole1: She told me to get out of her classroom because her lessons had started.

Me: I thought you were in the library?

Prole1: We were but I followed her back to her classroom to talk about it and as we were chatting the lessons must have started I suppose. She told me rules were rules and to get out.

Me: I bet she did.

There seems to be a petty unfairness about the allocation of books at Prole1’s school but on the other hand they have to put up with Prole1 all day so it seems a fair swap.

Prole1: Maybe rules can be changed in time….

He went quiet and I decided not to pick open what ever was going on in his head.

I squeezed Prole2’s hand.

Me: Did you go to the library?

Prole2: What?

Me: Nothing……

Image

 

I have to write a cheque for Prole1’s chess tournament.

It’s a Megafinal apparently, which sounds pretty impressive until you realise there is a Gigafinal and a Terafinal after that.

They need him to register for the Delancey UK Schools Chess Challenge MEGAFINAL XI.

Sounds posh.

I am not sure of Prole1’s chances.
He did well to be selected and this is obviously the fruition of his dream to ‘be and athlete and represent the school at chess’ which he has had since the run up to the Olympics a couple of years ago.

The motto of the 2012 Games in London was “Inspire a Generation” and it certainly seems to have worked in our house.

“Inspiration”, incidentally, is the action of taking air into the lungs.
Part of “Respiration”.
Inspiration is to breathe in.
It’s nice to know the Government were able to sell something back to us that we all do every day.

I may be being jaded but from my perspective down here in Cornwall but Prole1’s particular drive to be Faster, Higher and Stronger at Chess is the one tangible legacy of the Olympics in my house.
I was fairly jaded about the Olympics in the first place it has to be said so in fairness I must be open to the possibility that sport has in some way affected and transformed my life in other ways since the Games in London.
I just can’t say I have noticed.
Last time I was in London I did not see lots of people ‘saying hello to each other in the street’ or being ‘quite nice’ to each other, which was much commented on at the time but seems to have been un-sustainable in the modern climate.
In fact it was announced that the local running track was to be sold and turned into shops and possibly a multiplex cinema centre, thus spawning a public outcry from the users of the other local cinemas in the area who are all struggling to stay afloat.

It is true that, as a single parent with two kids, it would be easier to shove them into a car outside the house, drive them to a Multiplex carpark, go in and then drive home afterwards than it is to negotiate the several roads and crossings necessary to visit my home town cinema, the place that I have been seeing films in for decades.
I love my local cinema and I will continue to take the boys there in the future.
It would just be easier to drive to a multiplex if there was one.
What a world. I am not sure I all progress is getting us anywhere.

So apart from a scattering of oddly coloured post boxes I am not sure what the Olympics have done really.
Except Prole1 says I am not allowed to call it the ‘Dull-ympics’ any more.

I wonder if, sandwiched as they are between China’s extravaganza and the up coming Brazillian bonanza, they will be remembered as the ‘plucky, little games’ as Cameron has suggested or just a little bit embarrassing?
Like the time Skooch represented the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest?

Anyway, brilliant opening ceremony wasn’t it?

Where was I?

Chess.

It had to be chess really didn’t it?
Given Prole1’s track record and given his position in the school, it had to be chess.
I caught Prole2 laughing at the Smurf books the other night and asked what the joke was.

Prole2: Brainy Smurf is just like my brother….

And he was off giggling again.

Brainy Smurf really is like his brother.

Also my suspicions about his hand eye co-ordination and ball skills were tested on the beach today with the Sport Dads.
I was not there of course, I have long given up pretending and was sitting with the Mums, looking at rashes on babies and talking about the best bubble solution to blow bubbles with.

The Proles were playing foot ball, volley ball and keepy-up with a variety of Dads and children.
Prole2 occasionally came over for some reassurance after a 50/50 tackle or actually making contact with the ball.
Prole1 appeared to spend most of the time qualifying the rules and falling over.

He did well in the school chess tournament.
Well enough to qualify for the Megafinal anyway, which is not to say he won that many matches, more that he managed to win the most matches in his year.
History has not recorded how many other people in his age group he actually played against so I am not sure how to calculate his ‘form’ for the up coming event.
With a fair wind behind him he might do ok.

Personally I am just over the moon he has the opportunity.
I must also count my blessings that it is not the sort of competition where I will have to stand on a touchline with other Dads and talk about the progress of the match or enter into discussion about tactics.
I don’t imagine anyone is going to be asking me if I have seen the latest match from the Russian Chess League or ask me if I favour Carlson Magnus or Levon Aronian for the top slot next year.
I am rather hoping for a quiet sit down rather than ninety minutes of bellowing at my son at the top of my lungs to ‘watch that bishop’ or ‘pawn to queen five, PAWN TO QUEEN FIVE’ along with the rest of the spectators.

It’s a long day though, 10am kick off (Is that right? What do you call it?) and 5.20pm prize giving.
Seven hours of chess with time for a packed lunch.

The other finals, later on this year are altogether more tense and high stakes affairs.
The Gigafinal is in Reading and the Terafinal is at Loughborough School.
Since each final will be creaming off the winners from each area I imagine Loughborough will be full of highly coached and hot housed kids whose parents missed out on the opportunity of touchline yelling and have refocussed the family efforts into the Delancey UK Schools Chess Challenge instead.
I have so far resisted treating Prole1’s brain like a Prize Marrow and trying to pick up rosettes with it but I can see that others might be tempted.
He is not exactly a savant and his talents are a little patchy and unpredictable but with some investment of time, some real practice, private tuition and some real focus on his learning I am sure I could completely steal his child hood away and re-live my failed life vicariously through his successes.

Sadly I am bound over by a moral promise to try to make his life fun, which precludes three hours of Chess training every day.
I clearly did not think it through properly when I started this parenting thing.

To be honest I am not even sure we will make it to the first tournament at all.

I think he is confident enough and I am sure he should be able to win at least one of his games but the problem is a little deeper than that.

Searching through the drawers of the bureau in the living room I have turned up four Paying In books and six Cheque Books, all for various accounts now defunct.

I cannot find my cheque book.

I have tried ordering a new one online but with no success and I am not sure I can bear phoning them up for an hour and a half, inching my way through the system.
I can’t remember the last time I actually went into a bank.
It seems the last time I had to write a cheque was over four years ago.
They won’t let me pay the registration fee by cash.

We may have to stay home.

Image

 

The washing machine broke.
It just stopped working.

This time I had splashed out on an extended warrantee.

I called the warrantee people but they wanted the receipt.

I called the firm I bought the machine from and they emailed me the receipt.

I called the warrantee people and sent them the receipt and they said fine, get someone to mend it, you pay up front and send us the invoice and we will pay thou back.
Or the warrantee people could sort it out for me but that would take five days.

I said I could do it and I found someone local.

He could come round today.

I asked when he might be here and he said he did not like being tied down while he had things on.

I was just checking I was calling the right number when he volunteered he could be here between two and four today.

Brilliant.

He arrived at ten to four.

He took one look at the machine and said he thought I should just call the manufacturer.

All these machines have electronics he said.

They all have them these days.

I explained that he had to mend it or the warrantee people would not pay me to pay him.

He looked surprised that I should want him to mend the machine and took it apart a bit more.

Then he borrowed my computer and made a phone call.

He told me it would be silly money to get it fixed.

I said I did not mind because I was getting the money back.

He pulled a circuit board out of the machine, looked at it gloomily and told me I should call the manufacturer.

Electronics he explained.

It’s the electronics.

One day he might get his card for electronics but it’s hardly worth it for the amount he sees.

I paid him TWENTY POUNDS for telling me the washing machine was broken and he got a free coffee.
Milk no sugar.

I called the manufacturer.

They put me through to a department.

They could not find details of my warrantee so I explained it was not with them.

They explained they were unable to help and would put me through to the right department.

They took my details and opened an ‘account’ for me which they said would help when they put me through to the next department.

They put me through to the main switchboard.

The main switchboard had no idea who I was, what my account number meant or anything I was talking about.

They put me through to a department.

They took my account number and then asked me all the details on it to ‘verify’ who I was.

They could not find details of my warrantee so I explained it was not with them.

They explained they were unable to help and would put me through to the right department.

They told me to have my account number ready, which would help me when they put me through to the next department.

They put me through to the main switchboard.

The main switchboard had no idea who I was, what my account number meant or anything I was talking about.

They put me through to a department.

They took my account number and then asked me all the details on it to ‘verify’ who I was.

They could not find details of my warrantee so I explained it was not with them.

They explained they were unable to help and would put me through to the right department.

They told me to have my account number ready, which would help me when they put me through to the next department.

I said hello to the main switchboard again and said in as clear a voice as I could manage “I want to pay someone money to come to my house and fix my washing machine. I want to pay them money’.

They put me through to a department.

I gave them the details of my account and all the verification details as well.

The person on the other end of the line was annoyed because I had answered all the security questions before they had a chance to ask them and they needed to ask three questions before they could log me in to my account.

I asked if answering the questions before they asked them was a problem.

Apparently they have to ask me three direct questions but I had exhausted all the facts on the system.

I suggested they pretend I had not said anything and they said they might just have to do that.
We settled on the first three answers I gave and we pretended we had not been talking.

They could not find details of my warrantee so I explained it was not with them.

They asked who it was with so I told them.

They said I probably wanted option one then.

I asked what option one was.

They said option one was where I paid them money and someone came round to my house and fixed my washing machine.

I said that sounded good but they stopped me and said they had not finished because they had to read all the terms and conditions out.

Then they read out all the terms and conditions and asked if I wanted option one.

I asked how many options there were.

Three options they said.

I should have kept my fat mouth shut.

I asked what option two was.

They explained that in order to access option two they needed to know how old the machine was.

I said it was just over a year.

They asked when I bought it.

January, I replied.

They told me since it was over a year old it was outside it’s warrantee.

I agreed, they really seemed to be getting under the skin of the issue.

They asked where I got it.

I told them it was brand new from an Ebay store.

They explained that just because I got it in January that did not mean it was brand new when I got it.

I said it was brand new when I got it.

They asked how I knew it was brand new when I got it.

I said I knew it was new because I bought it new.

They said that just because I bought it new did not mean that it was new to the people who sold it to me and they needed to know when it had been new new.

I explained that it came from a named high street store in Yorkshire with an Ebay section.
I went on to explain that when it arrived there was plastic, and polystyrene and restraining bolts and those plastic strap things you can use to break into cars wrapped round it.

They asked how I knew it was new.

I said it was new, new from a shop and everything.

They said they were only trying to help.

I asked what option two was.

They explained that option two was where I took out a warrantee with them before they did the work and I kept on paying for some months.

I said I was not sure about that.

They asked if they could carry on reading the terms and conditions.

I said that would be very helpful.

They read the terms and conditions and asked if I liked option two.

I said I would go with option one.

They asked why I did not like option two.

I said it was because I already had a warrantee.

They said I didn’t.

I said I did, just not with them.

They asked who it was with.

I told them again.

They agreed that was not with them and asked if I wanted to hear about option three.

I said I had found option two a little upsetting and was just having a cup of tea to calm me down so perhaps option one was best.

They were quiet for a moment and then agreed.

I asked when an engineer might come round and they said I was getting ahead of the system again.

I apologised and decided to have a digestive.

They took me through the process.

They asked for the upfront payment and asks if I wanted to pay by card.

I said yes please.

They said they were just getting ready to process that.

There was a long pause.

I could hear the office in the back ground.

It got a little uncomfortable.

They asked if I was still there.

I said yes.

They said they were waiting for me to speak.

I asked what they wanted me to say.

They said they wanted my account number.

I started to give it.

They stopped me and asked me for my full name.

I gave them my full name for the third time, then the number, security code and so on.

They seemed pleased.

I asked when the engineer might come round.

They said they were checking.

They were checking.

They were checking.

They said the engineer would come round in eight days time but would text me the day before to let me know the ‘three hour window’ they would be at my house.

They asked if this was convenient.

I was not honest.

I said it was.

They asked if there was anything else they could help me with and did I want to buy any cleaning products from them.

I looked at the clock. This had all taken some time.

They went on to say that if I did not they would understand because their shift was about to finish.

I said I felt my shift was finishing too and so no there was no further assistance they could be and I would not like any of their cleaning products and we stopped the conversation.

Somehow, and I have no idea how, I am twenty pounds down having actually had a real life person in the room with a screwdriver and a washing machine repair van outside my house AND I still managed to spend an hour on the phone AND I still have to wait more than a week for someone to come and look at my washing machine.