Archives for posts with tag: arguement

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We are packing to go away for a week.

I am packing, The Proles are frankly just standing in the way.
It is a talent they have, to find the one place in the house I want to work in and build a lego space base in it.

The Proles have slightly overpacked, they filled three shopping bags with toys they have not played with for months.

The editing process has started which involves me sending them back to whittle it down to the essentials.

There is some discussion about what “essentials” means.

Prole1: Only things that help you live and breathe. Like food.

Prole2: We have to take food?

Prole1: And water and stuff.

Prole2: What about Eeyore?

Prole1: I don’t know, you can’t…well he doesn’t…

I considered this was a moment to intervene.

Me: Ok how about we only take one bag?

Prole2: Yes, good plan Dad.

Me: Thank you.

Prole2: Can it be mine?

Me: Um..no, its a sharing bag.

Prole1: Full of food and water?

Me: No, when I say essential I mean things you really need to take with you.. things that would make you sad if you did not have.

Prole1: Ok Dad. We can sort this out.

Me: Thanks boys.

Prole1 tips all three bags out not the floor and starts rifling through Prole2’s possessions.

He selects a piece of Marble run and gradually and systematically works his way through the pile. I admire his methodical nature. And his unbelievable optimism.

Prole1: Essential?

Prole2: Yes.

Prole1: Ok, in the bag. This? Essential?

Prole2: Yes.

Prole1: Ok, in the bag. This? Essential?

Prole2: Yes.

Prole1: Ok, in the bag. This? Essential?

Prole2: Yes.

Prole1: Really? Are you sure? In the bag. This? Essential?

Prole2: Yes.

Prole1: Ok, in the bag. This? Essential?

Prole2: Yes.

Prole1: Ok, in the bag. This? Essential?

Prole2: Yes.

Prole1: Now there is no room for my stuff!

Prole2 You can take yours next time.

I wanted to listen more but today is a vanishing socks day.
One of those days where all the socks in the house have totally and completely evaporated.

Brilliant.

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Several exciting deliveries.
A new operating system for this computer.

Why won’t the italics turn off? Why is everything in bold?

It is doing nothing for the mood I am in.

Today the new shoes arrived.

When I went into a high street shoe shop up Truro and got the Proles feet measured but left without actually buying anything  the staff gave me wry, knowing and mildly pursed smiles.

I had been blatantly showrooming.



 

Showrooming is where you go into a shop, look at or try on items or clothing and then leave, go home and buy them off the internet.



I have friends who work in retail.
I don’t know what to say except the world is moving and when you have a part time job and two kids you have to move with it.

 

I don’t do this a lot and I certainly think it is risky with shoes.


All is well if they arrive, they are the right shoes, they are the right size and they don’t leave your children with deformed feet for the rest of their lives.



 

But the reward, in this case, was that I got shoes at a third the price I could have got them in the shop.


A third.



 

I do sort of feel dirty, the high streets across Britain are dying and we should be trying to support them if we can.


 

However I can buy the same shoes as I can get from a nation wide retailer at a fraction of the price.



 

I was ready to send the shoes back but they are really very good.



Bargain.



 

No moral high ground at all but bargain.

I got home with the Proles and I pulled the shoes out of my bag.

Me: Here, try these on.

Prole1: Oh, right, Brilliant. Ok.

Prole2: What are they?

Me: They are shoes. Here, try them on.

He took them off me and held them in front of him.
He stared at them like they were a pair of dead seagulls.

Prole2: What are they?

Me: They are new shoes.

Prole2: What for?

Me: For you to try.

Prole2: I don’t understand.

I was laughing a bit and Prole1 was smiling.
Prole2 looked at me in disgust.

Prole2: What are these?

Me: They are a pair of shoes. For you to try on. If they fit you can keep them as your shoes.

Prole2: What?

Me: Just try them on.

Prole2: Why am I doing this?

Me: Because they might be your new shoes.

Prole2: What?

Me: Just try them on for me.

Prole2: I really don’t understand. I will do it but I think it is silly.

And then I heard the slight catch in his voice.
It was the way he sometimes talks to his friends in the play ground.
It is the way he sometimes talks to Prole1 when he really wants to push his buttons.
I looked at him.
He was standing there, not putting the shoes on and staring at me like I was an idiot.

He was eyeballing me.

I learned that from An Officer And A Gentleman.
I did not really understand it at the time but it is a thing people do.

My tiny little boy was eyeballing me.
He was being the quintessence of disrespect condensed into the body of a small child.
Suddenly he looked vile

He is young.
Really young.
He is testing boundaries.
He is finding out the rules.

I know all this because I live with him.

I also know that I suddenly wanted to send him spinning across the kitchen.

I have never hit the Proles.

I really hope I never do.

I know other people hit their kids.
I just don’t hit the Proles.

Every now and then they do make me really angry.
I can squash most emotion down most of the time but it does boil over some times.

During the ‘terrible twos’ when Prole2’s emotions were all over the place, he was throwing one of his more unreasonable tantrums, which in turn meant that we could not go out and meet friends.

We were running late and when Prole1 heard this he began to cry as well.

There are only three of us, I might have been able to calm him down and get him out the door but I also had to wrangle Prole1 as well.
Even if we made it to the park there was no guarantee we could do this without a relapse or a double explosion from them both.

I would have to spend the time monitoring them and keeping a lid on things which would mean I could not have an adult conversation for more than a couple of minutes.

This also did not even begin to take into consideration the fact that I did not want to be anywhere near either of them by this point.

Prole2 had lost it completely and was screaming “NO!” in my face.

I could feel my hands go cold and my knuckles begin to tingle.
Everything started moving slowly.

I remembered feeling exactly this way during a particularly testosterone filled day working with a crew in London.
A big guy kicked off a bit.

He was much bigger than me.
Sometimes you hire crew for their size.
If you need a huge pile of heavy things moved form one place to another then sometimes you need a Brute Squad.

Big men who work cash in hand often have mixed feelings about being given instructions.

This guy had been playing up all day and things finally came to a head when he tried to push through me instead of walking round.

I remember thinking that I was not going to back down, I was not going to get out of his way and I was prepared to face it out.

It ended with some pushing and shoving and being pulled apart from each other in a vaguely unremarkable way, like so many testosterone fuelled moments.

It sticks in my mind because I just don’t do that very often.

I really don’t.

I hate confrontation.

The next male that made me feel that way was my two year old son.

That is when I learned to put myself on the Naughty Step.

I have not felt that way since but I do get worked up sometimes and the Proles know that if I am on the Naughty Step they should probably go and play with lego somewhere.

But today I was being eyeballed and somehow it went straight through me.
I looked at his passive aggressive stance and his pretence at incomprehension.
He wore a slight sneer and he gently started to shake his head as he put the shoes on.

I picked him up, shoes and all and sat him on the stairs.

Me: I am really very angry at the moment.

Prole1: Oh.

Prole2: Oh…dad?

Me: I want you to stay here on the stairs.

I looked at Prole1.

Me: I want you to go and find something to do for a bit.

I thought for a second.

Me: I am going into the living room.

Prole1 went and played with lego in the bedroom.
Prole2 sat on the stairs.
I lay face down on the rug in the living room and tried to gather my thoughts and calm down.

I had to find a way to explain about non-verbal communication, attitude, respect, empathy and general demeanor to someone who has yet to experience the tooth fairy.

Finally I was ready.

Proe2 had transformed back into a curly haired angel.
Little git.

Me: What are these?

Prole2: Shoes.

Me: What do I want you to do with the shoes?

Prole2: Put them on.

Me: Why do I want you to put them on?

Prole2: To see if they fit.

Me: Whose shoes are they?

Prole2: My shoes. If they fit. They are my shoes.

Me: OK. Good. Great. Now move over.

Prole2: Why.

Me: Because I need to sit on the naughty step now.

Prole2: I will go and play with lego.

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Prole1 was in the St Piran’s day parade today.

St Piran’s day is the fifth of March but the parade happens on the nearest Saturday.

This means it coincided with St David’s day today so there were lots of Welsh flags out as well.

The Proles have Cornish flags, with the cross of St Piran.

Prole1 put his uniform on and walked us down to the meeting point at the school.
He signed in, was mildly indignant that my actual, physical signature was needed to release him, bought a flower to wear and sorted out where I should meet him after the parade.
He then stood with his friends.

Taking this as a sign that we were no longer needed, me and Prole2 went for a bun.
I could see from outside the bakery there was a queue nearl to the door as the town was busy with everyone waiting for the parade.
I ended up some way back, just inside the door.
Inside the bakery is a sloping glass counter so you can see all the cakes.
Prole2 went down to the front of the queue to see what he wanted.

When I finally got to the front of the queue I found him leaning full length on the counter front, arms wide, face pressed to the glass, gazing at the  cakes and buns.
I peeled him off and made a quick apology to the staff. There was a big steamy mark on the glass were his mouth and nose had been.
They sort of smiled at me. Sort of.

Smiling server: Can I help you?

Me: What do you want?

Prole2: What can I have?

Me: You can have a cake.

Prole2: What cake?

Me: Which cake do you want?

Prole2: Can I have one of those cones?

He pointed to an ice cream cone full of marshmallow and topped with lurid Hundreds and Thousands.

Me: No.

Prole2: Why not?

I have to say there is a gap in my well thought out map of the bakery product world and the real blank spot is the ice cream cone full of marshmallow and topped with lurid Hundreds and Thousands.

In my opinion the pre made nature of the ice cream cone makes a mockery of being in a bakery.
The mulchy goo of the marshmallow is not as good as the marshmallows I can get from the sweet shop where I can buy a bag full for the same price.
Who eats those things?
They always have at least twenty in there whenever I go in.
They serve only to trigger a sugar rush that kicks in just as you realise you bought the wrong thing from the bakery.
As far as I can make out the ice cream cone full of marshmallow and topped with lurid Hundreds and Thousands does not fill you up and in my experience is sort of sweet while being sort of tasteless and sort of stale.

I suppose it also comes from NEVER being allowed them when I was little, which made them the most exotic things I could imagine so when I was finally allowed into town on m own I went and bought one and was devastatingly disappointed.

Clearly I am mildly worried about creating such a situation in my own children.

Clearly not worried enough to actually buy them one of those things.

Me: Because.

Prole2: Because what?

Me: Because it’s my money and the whole point of this is to get you something more wholesome than that.

Prole2: Can I have that?

Me: Umm…yes…Excuse me, can my son have a Rhubarb and custard dough nut…um…the one with the pink sugar on top please.

Smiling server: Anything else?

I may as well follow him on the wholesome route.

Me: I’ll have one too.

I felt a bit guilty about the ice cream cone full of marshmallow and topped with lurid Hundreds and Thousands but Prole2 was utterly blown away by his doughnut.

Prole2 (In a whisper of awe): It’s got…custard…on the inside…

Which was in direct contrast to him who had a large amount of custard on the outside.

No wet wipes today so I tried and gave up cleaning him up.
I came back from putting the wrappers in the bin to find him licking his coat.
At various points in the day I could see him do this when he thought I was not looking.

Prole1 came marching up the road, eyes bright and a spring in his step.
When the parade had looped round and come back to a stop by the monument we tried to get near him in the crowd.

I saw his head go back, he raised one hand in the air and shouted.

Prole1: Oggy! Oggy! Oggy!

To which the whole crowd of people around him said absolutely nothing at all.

I stayed where I was, partly because I did not want him to see us watching him in his embarrassment, partly because I did not want any one else to see us with him.

Later I collected him from the Head teacher who remarked on what a character he was and how loud he could be in assembly.
I think this is a good thing but you never know really do you?

I smiled, she smiled and Prole1 nervously smacked me in the head with his flag.

Prole2 licked his coat.

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I was on the phone to a very nice person trying to refine the definition of ‘Evaluation’.

This is what my life has become.

They said they had lots of letters saying their work was good.
Would these comments count as ‘Positive Evaluation’?

Me: No, just because someone says your work is good does not mean it actually is.

I was aware that I was wobbling on a contradiction in terms.
I was also aware I was probably crushing dreams.
That’s just part of my job, I do that all the time.
This was a point of semantics though and I could not leave it alone.

I grasped for a metaphor but the day was not with me.

Me: For example, if I asked the people in this office if I had good dress sense or not they would all probably say ‘Yes’.

I was suddenly aware about how close everybody else’s desks were. I just hoped my usual droneing conversations did not penetrate the concentration of my hard working colleagues.

Me: Whereas if a complete stranger asked them if I had good dress sense or not, I think the answer….

I became slightly unfocussed and distracted at this point as these really are not the sort of analogies one should make in an open plan office.
I was guided to my conclusion by the stifled giggles around the room.

Me:…the answer would be quite different.

I felt I may have lost a bit of ground. I was not sure where from but it had definitley gone.

Me: Any way, umm, independent Evaluation would probably be a good idea.

The thing is, we might listen to a stranger more than we would listen to those close to us.
True they lack the perspective of years of knowing you.
On the other hand they have the unique perspective of not knowing you.

A complete stranger managed to say one of the most revelatory things about me when I was in London.
I was just stepping out of a rehearsal room in Waterloo, I paused for a moment and patted my pocket for the key.
There was a big chap coming down the street, it was about 6.30pm but still light.
He stopped and stared at me.

Here we go I thought, London, big chap, probably got guns and drugs and bombs because that was what I was told in Porthleven before went to find my fortune. London, it’s all guns and drugs and bombs.

He stared at me, raised one hand.

Man: I don’t have any money.

Oh here we go, thinks I, at least he only wants my wallet and not my kidneys or liver or to drug me or bomb me or something.
I sort of stared at him.
I did not move and was still mid pat.
With hind sight I must have looked a bit odd I suppose.

Big chap: I…you aren’t going to rob me are you?

Me: No.

How embarrassing.
I sort of coughed and muttered.

Me: Just looking for my keys.

Big chap: Bloody hell. You look really scary.

Which is exactly how I had tried to look when I went out that morning.
Here I am in a city full of criminals and thugs and drugs and bombs and guns, I had better dress the part.

Ok, not strictly true, I was also trying to create an air of dark, charming mystery for the ladies.
Sadly he did not tell me whether this element of my wardrobe and demeanour were working.
Wasn’t really the best time to ask though.
As a point of note, I later found out it wasn’t.

And it was a mile stone for me, to realise that perhaps other people were intimidated by me in the way I was intimidated by them.

None of my friends thought I was scary.
They all knew me.
Nice to hear it from a stranger.
Sort of, probably would have been better if he had not thought I was going to kill him to death with my shiv.

So when this lady sits next to me on the bench by the swimming pool I had a bit of a conundrum.

Digestive biscuits? Halva? Porridge?
No.
It’s sort of a savoury food smell but it’s not….it’s not…nice.

In fact, it’s awful.

Prole2: What’s that smell?

Suddenly he looked like his mother. She had an uncanny sense of smell. This was great if you wanted to locate the bakewell tart in the tent in the dark (never lose quality bakery products whilst camping) but it could also render her powerless, in a gagging heap, when trying to change a bin bag.
This uncanny power has passed to Prole2.
Mind you, i am far from uncanny and I could smell it.

Prole2: What’s….

I grabbed him, put him on the other side of me and gave him my mobile phone.
He began killing Zombies.

Prole2: Still smells.

I don’t have a great sense of smell.
If I can smell something it usually means things are serious.
Too much garlic.
A bit heavy handed with the cinnamon.
Shouldn’t have touched the aftershave.

This was a really serious nasal assault.
This was Tom Cat in the kitchen bad,
She really did smell.

Now I know what you are probably thinking, there are lots of variables here.
Open public space, lots of other people around, many sources of potential smell.
It is also unfair of me to point out someone else’s problems.
All I know is, the smell arrived when she sat next to me, stayed as long as she did and left when she stood up and left.
All the time it was there it was my problem too.
The second half of the swimming lesson was smell free.

Sadly she left me with another problem.

You see, she really did smell.

I did not stare at her, I did glance across.
I don’t know what someone who smell looks like.
I don’t think she looked like someone who smells.
She just looked sort of normal.

Not like the homeless guy who took his shoes and socks off on the Circle Line that time.
He looked like he smelled.

She looked, sort of, fine.

And I wondered if she knew she smelled.
I mean, if it was you and you never smelled any different, you wouldn’t know would you?

Is it more neighbourly to say “You smell” or not?

I mean I didn’t.
I wouldn’t.
But should I have?

Who else would?

Would someone tell me if I smelled?
Perhaps I do smell?

HOW THE HELL DO I KNOW IF I SMELL OR NOT?

I think back to all those friends who I have been in social situations with and not mentioned the unzipped fly, the toilet paper on shoe,  the food on face, the smudged make up. I actually left a table at a party because I did not know whether the girl I was talking to knew her blouse was undone. I thought maybe it was some kind of fashion thing but was not sure so ‘went to get a drink’ and never went back.

They were my friends and I couldn’t tell them.

Would I tell you if you smelled?

No, I’d probably cough nervously, mutter something about ‘evaluation’ and then go and get a drink.
And not come back.

I am sorry to say, if you smelled I probably would not tell you.

I am sorry, I feel awful about that.

And if I can’t do it, perhaps none of my friends can either.

I take solace in the thought that if I do smell and my friends are too nervous to tell me a smell, at least I don’t smell as bad as that lady at swimming.

She left, smelling, and I was the lesser man.

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I have a mistrust of ultimate truth.
The sweeping statement, however useful on occasion, fills me with dread.

I feel a cerebral chill when I hear people talk in hard and fast truths when referring to people.
The problem as I see it is that anything can be disproved to the point where it would be disallowed in a court of law.

I think that ‘reasonable doubt’ can be cast over much of the received wisdom we accept as ‘truth’.

I think sweeping statements and stereotyping helps a society hang together and I am certainly not immune to either of these things.
I think society is made up of a series of shared ‘beliefs’ that previous and successive generations would find risible and bizarre.

I am part of society and therefore as guilty as any.

It still unsettles me occasionally.

There are ‘truths’ that have become fashionable.

For example, the argument about whether the toilet seat should be up or down.

The received thinking in the media of the early twenty first century is that it should be down.
We have been told this in humorous jokes, rom-com films, newspaper articles, radio and television phone ins and endless other forms of media. It has been the subject of impassioned rants in papers and journals and has started countless, countless domestic rows.
The end result of which is a general acceptance by the mainstream that the toilet seat should be left down but uncaring males often leave it up.

But this files in the face of what I actually know to be true.
The whole thing is a myth.
We could be living with a very dangerous misconception.

I have lived and worked in many male only or male dominated environments and my current status is that I live in a house with two other males.
They may be small but add me into the mix and our average age is 19.

Three males, average age 19, all in the same house.
Imagine for a second.

This is the thing.
If I go into the bathroom and I see the seat is down I do not think “Good”.
I do not think “A blow for intelligence and equality has been struck here”
I do not think “Well done me, I have raised fine, modern, caring sons who put the seat down”

I think none of these things.

I think “I wonder if either of those two bothered to lift the seat last time they went for a wee standing up?”

And I think “Maybe I will just give that seat a once over with a wet wipe before I use it.”

I want to be really clear here.
I do NOT think the seat should be left up.
I do NOT think this is a trivial matter.

What I think is that the received wisdom missed the point.

The battle should not be about the SEAT.

The battle should be about the LID.

We should all be putting the lid down.

That way all people approaching the loo should have to lift, and all people should have to close again afterwards.

The battle over the seat manages to ignore the fact that many males, when faced with an urgent situation will not bother lifting the seat at all.

When I say many males I am specifically referring to 66% of the inhabitants of this house these days.

Never trust a toilet if the lid is up.

Seriously, until this is sorted out, carry your own wetwipes. I do these days.

We got a leaflet from a ‘Sing and Sign’ afternoon once.

The Proles loved Sing and Sign, all sitting in a circle and singing songs with accompanying sign language.
It was great and it really did help Prole2’s speech development.
Prole1’s more strident voice probably didn’t need so much help but he loved it too and as such we had a great time and trusted what we learned.

The leaflet had a picture of a smiley Sunflower and a happy looking Carrot on the front and in big bubble writing it read:
“Kids will love gardening with you.
You can plant seeds and watch them grow with your children, taking time with them to water the young plants as a family.
They will love harvesting the plants you have grown together and eating them as part of a family meal.”

This, you will notice, is delivered as if it is absolute truth.

Note particularly the two uses of the word ‘will’

“Kids WILL love gardening with you”

“They WILL love harvesting the plants you have grown together and eating them as part of a family meal.”

Even taking into account the slightly more vague middle line that strongly hints at a truth without actually committing to it, this is fairly definitive stuff.

I will be honest.
I believed these LIES.

The leaflet did not say that your kids will not be interested in the slightest.
It does not say one of them will appear to be spontaneously allergic to mud.
It does not say they will argue over who gets the trowel and who gets the fork.
It does not say that the one that gets the trowel will go back later with the fork and re dig everything ‘so they get their go’.
It does not say there will be many woeful watering can accidents.
It does not say that interrupted time on the trampoline to come and do ‘family activities’ would be resented.
It does not say that tantrums will be thrown because Dad ‘hurt the carrots’ when he pulled them up.
It does not say that your children may refuse to eat any of their dinner at all because ‘you killed all our plants’.
It does not make clear the weeks of misery.

If lawyers were free, and cartoon characters could stand up in Court, that Sunflower and that Carrot would be up in front of a judge right now for peddling such lies.

There is no such thing as absolute truth.

Especially in cartoon bubble writing.

Anyone who says there is is trying to sell you something.

I got asked today if being with the boys on my own is hard.

The short answer is the one I go with most times “Oh, you know, it’s hard for all parents. I am lucky we have a house and live in such a nice place” and so on.
This is the safe one.

The longer answer is that I don’t know if it is hard or not.
I have only done this bit of the parenting thing alone.
I think it is probably less difficult with two parents but I don’t know that is is because I have not done it.

It may sound a bit mealy mouthed, of course it must be easier with two parents, how could it not be?

But I don’t know, and I don’t want to lie about it.

I used to ask my friend what it was like to be colour blind.

“How the hell should I know?” was his usual response.
How would he know what it was like to never see colour? He had never seen colour so he did not know what he was missing.

I have lived a life with my beautiful wife and family but that was with a baby and a toddler and before I was the person I have become in the last few years.
To a degree I can see what I am missing.
It would be better if she was here.
I would be better if she was here.
They would be better if she was here.

There is no question or choice to be made. It would be so much better if my wife had not died.

But me and the Proles are very different people than the ones we were five years ago.

Is it hard for us to live together now?
Do I find it hard to live with the Proles?

I watched a family of four in town today, a man and a woman in their mid thirties, small boy about five years old and a small toddling girl.
They were arguing.
The whole family were arguing. I did not listen to it but the toddler was crying and the child and his parents were all loudly disagreeing.
It was not a particularly disturbing scene, it was not a bad argument, there was no threat, it was just a fairly normal family having an argument.
I was struck by the thought that me and the Proles don’t do that.

I suppose I am saying that I don’t let us do that.
I suppose as well the Proles look after me enough to not let us do that.

Everything has to be paid for.

Each one of us has a store of currency that we can use to pay for life.
My personal emotional bank is quite low, it has been for a while.
For a long time I was quite bankrupt.
These days I can expend an entire week’s worth of emotion very quickly, there is no buffer zone between normality and utter despair.
Rationality provides perspective so I don’t stay down for long and anyway human beings are prone to happiness (the popular press don’t like to admit to this but it is true, even in the most extreme circumstances there is humour and even joy)
It is handy that one can think rationally when simply hearing Boney M’s version of ‘Train to Skaville’ can reduce me to floods of tears to the point where I have to stop the car until I have sobbed to a halt, scrabbled around for something absorbent, wiped away all the tears and snot, reassured the Proles that I am safe to drive, mirrored, signalled, manoeuvred and can got back on the road again.

But I do get back out on the road again because a lay by on the A30 is no place to spend the rest of your life and ultimately you start to feel a bit foolish sat there.

The point is that I don’t have the emotional armour or stability to argue with the boys for long.
If I ever do it goes downhill so very fast I just try very hard not do it.
It seems like such a monumental waste of emotion.
Why on earth would I waste it on that? When we could be talking or laughing or anything other than spending precious life disagreeing?

The Proles can punch my buttons pretty accurately these days but they know that the consequence is that whatever we are doing is pretty much over. If they throw a tantrum for too long or refuse to talk things through I won’t fight them on it, we will just go home.
Likewise I have to rein it in with them when I see things going wrong.

There are all sorts of things I don’t know.
I don’t know if lots of money makes you happy or not.
I have been told it does not but since I have never really had much and on my part time wage it seems unlikely that I shall any time soon I can only guess or fantasise about it.

But these are the days of austerity measures.

I would like to have Loz back, it would be nice to have a second income of emotion, love and care for the Proles.
I certainly would not fritter it away like I did in the past.

Living with the Proles is not hard.
Living with the Proles is brilliant.
We are just missing Loz.