Archives for category: Widower

Image

 

 

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

 

Back to work after a couple of weeks away today.

Sort of comfy and yet horrible as the wave of emails and messages broke over the desk and the telephone started to warm up.

The van I used to drive when I worked in theatre parked up outside my office window.
I worked in and around Theatre for twenty years before I took the job I now have and there were two theatre companies rehearsing in the spaces around the office today.

I took my first paid job in theatre in 1989 and left my last one in 2009.

The first was a few quid for shifting and loading things in a van but within a year I was touring up and down the Welsh Valleys doing lights and sound for a theatre company that paid badly in cash but well in beer and all the Ginsters Pasties they could hilariously buy me.
At every petrol station.
At every shop.
No matter what I asked for.
Always.
This would happen after Lectures had finished for the day and by the end of my time at Drama College I was working in most of the venues in Cardiff, even depping as Duty Technician in one of the larger studio theatres.

I was never exactly encouraged to work in theatre at school.
I was definitely encouraged to ‘get a trade’ before trying anything so ethereal as the performing arts.

I think I hold myself back from encouraging or discouraging the Proles from doing anything because of this.
The one thing that would leap to the front of my head whenever anyone asked what I wanted to be when I grew up was something I had been told was near impossible to make a living in.
When I actually started working it slowly dawned on me that as long as you turned up five minutes early, worked hard, didn’t complain and weren’t insane you could probably work anywhere you wanted to.
Actors, I was always told, spend 80% of their time unemployed but I worked for at least five years straight through without a holiday.

I say no holiday, of course I would make sure I had Flora day off.
I have only missed it once in the last thirty years.
I think priorities are important.

I was not entirely happy all the time.
I had my doubts about theatre which I think is important in life.
There are things you must wrestle with.
The problems were encapsulated in that song “There Is No Business Like Show Business” the one Ethel Murman used to sing.
I used to believe that song, I used to believe those lyrics.

“There’s no business like show business
Like no business I know
Everything about it is appealing
Everything the traffic will allow
No where could you have that happy feeling
When you aren’t stealing that extra bow
There’s no people like show people
They smile when they are low”

The problem occurs when I started working in theatre and realised the lyrics are not about joy and magic, they are all about vanity and self service.
They are all about the pursuit of fame over happiness.
They do not deal with the aspiration of the human should to better itself, only the aspiration towards ‘stardom’.

And that line about no people being like show people and them smiling when they are low, isn’t that just a blatant admission that they are all liars and not to be trusted, physically or emotionally?

Was I really working in an industry that shallow?

I could wrestle with Ethel Murman as often as I liked though, I kept on getting work, much against the odds my careers advisor had laid down.

If anything the Theatre stuff was a bit overwhelming.
I left college and set my sights on working for the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Within three years I had finished my second run of shows with them as crew and had just turned down a full time contract as RSC Stage Management.
They were nice people, it was a horrible machine.
Devoid of an un-attainable goal to drive me forward I decided that if I could work at the Globe Theatre, which was being built at the time in London, then I could leave theatre happy.
Within a year I was hired as the Globe Theatre’s first Stage Manager.

I didn’t even do anything. I just carried on working at a theatre down the road and it sort of happened.

It frightened the life out of me.

For several years after I did set myself the goal of winning the Lottery but so far no dice, power of positive thinking has it’s limits.

I don’t go to the theatre willingly any more.
It was my one great love and passion, I absolutely adored it, I really did.

I read about it, I thought about it, I dreamed about it, I talked about it and I lived it every day.
It was everything I did and everywhere I went.

It is a brilliant, versatile, unknowable art form and way of life and it was a privilege to have been involved with it for as long as I was.

I actually start getting panicked if I go and see a show these days.
It was always something I contributed to.
Now I just sit there feeling nervous and useless.

It starts when I pick up my coat to leave the house and continues, getting louder and louder until I can leave the theatre and by the time I get home it has calmed right down again.

I can still look a show over and see the mechanics of it and appreciate the hard work involved but I cannot go any where near it as a punter any more.

So the cafe being full of Theatre types was a little nerve wracking today.

I had my hand on the door handle and nearly, nearly did not go in.

If I had been in London I probably would not have done it.

Fortunately this being Cornwall and all it was actually quite lovely to see them.

Two companies I had watched perform when I was still at school.

And of course I could not escape the lovely stories I attribute to all of them in that room.

 

Theatre is not all flowers and air kisses.
When you get inside it’s guts it is as dangerous and horrible as every other aspect of human existence.

But like everything else in human existence, there is joy there too.

What I liked about the people I saw today was that my history with them went right back to before I started working in theatre, it was touched by them through out that time and carries on now I have finished.

I may not enjoy seeing Theatre but I take great joy in seeing it’s people.

I may not be part of that world any more but I still feel supported by it.

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

 

Last night, Saturday the 19th of April, I was unable to post on WordPress.

I have not really wanted to go into why I write this stuff or the ‘process of writing’, mostly because I don’t really have anything intelligent to say about it and I am not really sure.

Anyway, I woke this morning and was really disappointed.
I honestly felt like I had lost something.
Like my watch was gone or my wallet was not around or something.
I had not written some words on WordPress and it meant I could not go back to sleep.

I want to say there was a technical reason for not posting.
I want to say that the broad band dropped out or WordPress was playing up or my computer crashed but unfortunately none of these things happened.

Yesterday I went to visit friends and I started drinking before the boys went to bed.
We went to a bar with the children.

I don’t often visit pubs any more.
There was a time when I would go to a pub at least three times a week, usually five or more times.
I loved pubs.
I liked pubs for the warm, closed in feeling of good conversation and a bit of a cheeky laugh.
I liked the philosophy and the fencing with ideas.
I loved meeting complete strangers and somehow having a complete and unforgettable adventure with them.
I had favourite pubs in the same way people collect favourite hats or shoes.
I liked being in London and knowing twenty pubs I liked to drink in across town.
I liked finding new pubs and trying them on like a jacket.

I loved Sunday afternoons with all the papers and no reason to leave.
I liked Friday nights when the theatre staff all kicked out and I knew everyone in the pub.
I liked a quick pint in a loved pub.
I liked a pilgrimage to a particular place to meet particular friends and sit in particular seats to watch the world go by.

I just loved pubs.

The etiquette of buying a round and the subtle changes depending on which group I was with.
The flow of people through an evening.
The constant search for the perfect pint.

I felt bigger in a pub.
More confident.
I trained really hard to hold my own until I could last until closing time and still walk home.
I knew my limits (mostly) and I loved exploring them.

I felt it last night.
The Proles got a packet of crisps and a drink each in the snug and I sat at the end of the bar and surveyed the drinkers.
I had a pint and I could feel myself growing.
Beer.
Brilliant.
I drank a pint quickly, made sure the Proles were ok and went back for another.
I started to worry lees and less about them.
It was like being in the 1970s.

I was feeling more confident, I had missed all this.
The light from the beer taps, the feel of the beermat.
The smell.
I started to feel less like a parent and more like a man.
I could feel the warmth running through my system.
I remembered fighting and romance and working hard.
I thought about how long it had been since I had done this.
I suddenly became aware of my hand holding the beer glass and as I looked at it it seemed to come into focus and it surprised me because it looked so….right.

It got to half past nine at night.

That was a surprise.

I had had a few drinks.

I went to check on the Proles who were flopped on the sofa.
Prole2 was trying to build a nest in the coats and jumpers.
They should not be in a bar.
They should be in bed.

I was being selfish.

I could feel it all pouring back out of me.
I was slightly out of focus, I was slightly unsteady.
I could not have a conversation with my own children without it sounding weird.
I felt loose and baggy and I had to really concentrate to focus on what they were saying.

I was small.
Rubbish, useless and out of control.

And I needed a wee.

I don’t drink to enjoy myself any more, I drink to get drunk, it is the most selfish thing I do these days.
It is not about good conversation or company, it’s about getting drunk.
A drunk is no good as a parent.
Everything else was there, love, care, hope, dreams but the part of me that could guide my family safely was gone.
It was past bedtime and Dad was drunk.

I took them home and they sleepily went to bed.

I chatted with my friend for a bit and then I stayed in the house as he went back to the party.

I sat at the table looking at my hands.

Absolutely useless hands.

Selfish.

When I woke this morning I could not get back to sleep.

I did not write last night because I was drunk.

I don’t want to do that again.

I am not giving up drinking completely, not yet, but I need to see if I can stay in some sort of control and I hope I can keep posting here every day for a while to come.

Image

One of the Proles favourite things in the world is to play in an Arsenic Calciner.

We visit the one at Botallack quite regularly.
It sits on front of the Count House and up above the Crowns.
It must qualify for one of the most awe inspiring parts of the cornish coastline.
The Proles use the word ‘Awesome’ a lot but the cliffs of Botallack really are.

Once the faintly sombre part of our visits is over the boys just go wild for about half an hour.

At Botallack the remains of a huge Calciner are laid out on the cliff top.

The one at Botallack has been cleaned out and all the poisonous chemicals are gone now.
At one point the whole place must have been covered in a mildly lethal dust.

The process was to fire the ore and different chemicals would be vaporised with the heat.
The gasses would pass along tunnels, slowly cooling until they condensed on the walls of the tunnel.
Different chemicals would condense at different heats and so would cover the walls of the tunnel at different points.
The chemicals could be scraped off the sides of the tunnels and collected.

It was once a place of heavy, dangerous, deadly industry.
It is now greened in turf and furze over the red brick and granite.

The Calciner in Botallack is big enough to walk through in single file.
Not the open air dressing floor where the workers stood, women mostly, handling the toxic ash.
Actually inside the furnace and tunnels themselves.

The roof is missing for most of it so I am able to walk the length of it and only bend down to get through some of the smaller tunnels.
It takes around five minutes to walk from the furnace end to the chimney.

The tunnels are laid out in a rough ‘U’ shape, beginning with the furnace at the top of the ‘U’ and ending at the chimney at the other side.

The furnace door arch is still there so we walk through the door into the open square furnace shell and along a narrow bridge into the tunnel.
We are guided up a slight hill by the walls on either side for a while and then the tunnel snakes backwards and forwards in tight bends.
This is where most of the chemicals would have been gathered and each ‘end’ is framed by a doorway where it turns back on itself into the hillside again for about fifteen feet where it turns back on itself again and comes back to the next doorway.
There are a number of these parallel tunnels in and out of the hillside.
This zig zag series wiggles on and on until the tunnel travels up and over an arch at the base of the U shape.

This arch is easily big enough to walk under and then the tunnel continues on it’s wriggly way back up the other side of the U to the chimney.

The chimney is red brick and intact and reaches high into the air.

The whole walk is oddly mesmerising, like walking a maze.

The Proles call the Calciner ‘the Dragon’.

They rush in through the furnace’s open mouth and run as fast as they can through the tunnel to the tail, or ‘Dragon’s Bottom’ at Prole2 calls it.

Prole2 loves the word ‘bottom’ and it makes him giggle uncontrollably.
Prole1 hates the word ‘bottom’ and it can reduce him to tears if it is used a lot in conversation.
I am not sure which is the better way to be.

This is a chase of course.
I run behind making scary Dad noises.
The Proles squeak and shreak and run as fast as they can to get away.
In the past it was easy to keep up but they are getting rangy and slippery these days so it is more of an effort.
Also I am in occasional danger of knocking myself senseless on an occasional low lintel.
And I am in my forties, the odds are slowly moving in their favour.

The Proles love running from door to door, from tunnel to tunnel.
They climb all over it and scramble through it.
We play games of ‘catch’ and ‘tag’ across the dressing floor between the tunnel door ways.
They could and would do this for hours.

Often I can just stand waiting for them to return and hear nothing but echoey distant laughter from the tunnels.
The sound spins around and it is hard to know where abouts it is coming from.

Botallack is where Loz and I got married and the setting is where our wedding photos were taken.

All my very favourite photographs of that day are in and around that landscape.
I have a black and white image that our friend the New York Dancer took of us and I see it every morning.
I love Botallack and I cannot go there without thinking of her.

We also carried out a small ceremony there a few years ago for her.
She is there for me in amongst the ruins.
She is there in the cliffs and the blue of the sea, in the birds and the wind.
She is in the wild and the plants and the air.
If I want to know where Laura’s smile is then I go there.
She is in everything.

So when we go, we arrive quietly and stand for a moment.

Then the Proles go loopy and crash around the place like idiots.

I love it.

Image

 

A light has been turned off downstairs, I heard a click.

In bed, when it’s dark, I can hear the house.

I can tell which cat is running up the stairs.
I know which boy is snoring.
I can hear the wind on the back windows and the occasional clop of the cat flap.

I like sleep, I like sleep when I know everybody is safe, the doors are locked, the windows are shut and I have a warm duvet.
Oddly I like winter best, when I know it is cold out and it is all the more special that I am inside, warm.

I can hear Loz coming up the stairs.
She has a special rhythm to how she climbs them.
Our first step is lower than all the others and as a rule neither of us step on it when coming up the stairs.
The top step is a full three inches high than all the rest.
It is also the step you use to pivot round onto the landing so there is often a longer pause on this step.

The bannister creaks as she pulls herself round onto the landing.

The landing creaks.
It has chipboard laid over the original floor boards and the layers scrunch together in certain places.
They have a slight music of their own, the sound of the house being used.

She is coming up to the bedroom door and I can feel the room change slightly as she comes in.
It is dark but I can hear her take off her dressing gown and throw it on the floor.

We have hooks on the back of the door of course.
We just never use them.

I am aware of all this as I slowly wake up.
I have been deep down in a dream and it’s all still warm and fuzzy.
I should be annoyed because it is so late and I was happily asleep but it’s so lovely having her around, I don’t mind a bit.
I am just glad she is there.

I move over slightly so her side of the bed is clear and I can hear her sit down on the edge of the bed.
I am just thinking how nice it would be to give her a hug but I am just starting to get the shakes a little.

I can feel myself coming out of sleep and I am pleased because she has finally decided to come to bed and I don’t know what my growing worry is all about but it’s getting bigger and bigger.

And then the scales tip just a little too far and I start to remember and I am back pedalling and trying really hard to shut out the wakening and get back into a dream.

And I can’t.

And it’s not fair.

And there is this huge wall of unfairness and brutality and I slam headfirst into it.

And with a rush I am awake.

And Loz has been dead for years now.

I still get this dream sometimes, when she decides to come home again.

I know it happens to other people as well.

It’s rubbish.

Image
Prole2: I want to STOP!

Me: Are you ok?

Prole2: Yes. I want to STOP!

Me: You aren’t doing anything.

Prole2: Yes I am, I am dreaming.

Me: Are you?

Prole2: Yes and you said if I was dreaming and I did not like it I could shout “I want to stop’ inside my dreams and it might get me out.

Me: But you are not in a dream. You are in the kitchen.

Prole2: Yes but the floor is all funny and wobbly and I am dreaming.

Me: Ahhh…no, that’s motion sickness. Do you still feel like you did on the ferry.

Prole2: Yes, am I sick?

Me: Not…well we call it sick, hopefully if you get a good night’s sleep it won’t be there in the morning.

Prole2: So I am sick, not dreaming?

Me: Um..sea sick…sort of.

Prole2: So I don’t have to go to school tomorrow?

Me: Um..it is half way through the holidays.

Prole2: I am sick. Do I have to go to school tomorrow?

Me: UMmmm…no, no you don’t have to go to school; tomorrow.

Prole2: YES! Yes, yes, yes, Yes!

Me: Good night.

Image

 

I sort of made a promise to myself that I would not write about ‘writing’ if I could help it.

Lots of people do and they do it better than I ever could.
I don’t consider myself a writer because I sit here every day and do this, any more than I consider myself a cook or a driver or a child minder. It is something I just do as part of the day.
I used to make short films every now and then with Loz but I would never consider ‘film maker’ as part of my make up.

I do try to write each day and posting on WordPress is an easy way to challenge myself.

I find myself at a bit of an impasse.
We are on holiday and there is too much and not enough.

But I did say I would try to post every day so I do have to face this screen at least once a day.

The stuff I feel confident with writing about is the stuff with just me and them.

On a holiday like this it is hard to comb out the moments.

Just one moment from today then:

On the way across the fields today Prole1 and Prole2 had a dandelion clock fight.

It took ages.

I can’t tell you who the winner was.

Probably me.

Image

The Smurfs are a bit of fun aren’t they?

I am not talking about the films.
I have not watched the films on principle.
I have watched almost all the “Winnie The Pooh” films and I am the lesser for it.

I don’t want the films to spoil the Smurfs for me.

Unfortunately my view of the world of the Smurfs is being shaken.

I am pretty sure they are still the cute little guys I remember.
They might be.

The Smurfs might also be the most sexist series of books I have ever read.

It is only reading it now that I wonder.

In fairness to Peyo, who wrote them, I have not read them all.

On the other hand, Peyo was writing the Smurfs in fifties and sixties France, about a village of one hundred males and one female and if stereo types of the time are anything to go by there is slim chance things are going to improve.

If the stereo types are anything to go by.

Which is the point unfortunately.

To write off Peyo (who, up until now in my memory of children’s books, was a towering hero) as a stereo type is to fall utterly and completely into the trap.
Supposing I start making dour and downbeat remarks about one of France’s best loved publishing giants only to have some future person expose my biased and mildly xenophobic remarks?

I mean, I could be right.

“The Smurfette” might be indicative of, and an early advocate of, popular body modification trends in the early twentieth century.
Smurfette herself may be a key signifier of all that is wrong with the portrayal of female characters in popular culture.
She may be an inverted role model, a sort of less gobby Spice Girls.
Media oppression and objectification of femininity dressed up as “a bit of fun’ or ‘strong character’.

This may be the first spoon feeding of ‘cute’ negative role models that the Proles have fully absorbed.

I say fully absorbed because Prole1 is currently translating the whole of the Smurf Anthology volume 1 and 2 for Prole2.
They have been through the books about seven times each.

But I am hoist by my own liberal petard.

Because on the other hand….

It may just be a bit of fun.
The Proles might not take it seriously.

The illustrations are brilliant.
Some of the jokes are very good.
The stories are very funny.

So in order to find out the truth of the question “Is Peyo’s Opus valid reading for the twenty first century?” we probably have to read to the end of the series to find out.

Just to be sure.

You have to get to the bottom of the Honey jar, just to make sure it’s not cheese, right?

After all, as a friend pointed out the other day, you have to wade through quite a lot of early Herge racism before you get to the Tin Tin classics….