Archives for posts with tag: blanket


While the Proles were at school I got the cuddly toys down from the loft.

In actual fact it was four bin liners full of cuddly toys.

Four bin liners full.

These are not the current population of the bedroom.

At present the cuddly toy level in both the Proles’ beds is pushing maximum density.

Prole1 has his in neat rows at one end of the bed, compressed into a block in height order, Winnie the Pooh at the back, the Hatty-fatners      at the front.

Prole2 swims in a soup of soft toys, tangled up in dalmations, monkeys, rabbits ducks and bears.

I have to sweep them aside when I put him to bed.
They spill across the floor and I occasionally find infestations of them behind the sofa or in a kitchen cupboard.
They lie helpless on the floor, staring glassy eyed at me as I try to sort the washing.
They appear in ones and twos, scattered down the stairs.
The cats make nests in them.

I always try to know the whereabouts of the Alpha toys, Eeyore and Teddy.
The rest are a plush, fun fur and fabric plague that could be anywhere at any time.
Tripping me up.
Getting stuck under doors.
Being trodden on.
Getting covered in what ever that grey fluffy stuff is under the sofa.

There is a certain amount of guilt that comes with all this.

I remember being six years old and trying to wish my toys into life.
I remember Peter Pan telling me never to grow up and promising myself through tears that I never would.
I remember Kermit the Frog singing that song about Rainbows and thinking “Yes Kermit, YOU speak for ME”.

And yes, I am a forty three year old man, but that was what I was formed out of.
Sentimentality does run through me.
I do have a squashy middle.

Not so much mind.
I remember when the building I was working in became a nesting place for pigeons and I was asked to clear them out.
The rest of the crew were supremely unhelpful so I ended up on my own.
Londoners hate pigeons.
This is well known and well documented.
‘Flying Rats’ is how they are often described.
In fact they are no more or less diseased than any other ‘urban animal’.
The population explosion of pigeons coincided with the post war Fast Food boom.
This was when Londoners stopped eating them and started hating them.

Being from Cornwall and living in or near the countryside most of my life  I approached the problem in a no nonsense manner.
The building had vermin.
My old geography teacher told us about vermin in his shed, he said that the best place to drown rats was in the sceptic tank.
It was a horrible job but it had to be done.
I cleared all the nests into a large cardboard box and, in the absence of a sceptic tank, tipped them all out into the Thames.

The Production Manager just stared at me.

Production Manager: You did what with them?

Me: I threw them in the river.

Production Manager: I said get rid of them, I didn’t mean…I meant….

He never finished the sentence, I have often wondered what he thought I was going to do with a box of pigeon nests.
Re-home them in Trafalgar Square I suppose.

The crew, made up of big people with bald heads and tattoos, barely said a word to me for the rest of the day.
Not all the nests had been empty.
Apparently this was considered bad form.

Anyway, it was with brutality like this in my heart that I mounted the ladder to the loft and pulled the bags down.

I grabbed a really big canvas laundry bag with a zip top.
I emptied the bin liners onto the floor and began stuffing them in fist fulls to the bottom of the bag.

I knew if I kept on going and really pushed them down I could get them all in.

These are the retired cuddly toys.
These were found in corners after weeks of being alone.
These were left in friends’ houses and forgotten.
These were cleared from the floor of the bedroom, corralled in shopping bags under the stairs until there were no more questions before being smuggled into the loft at night.
These were the ‘inconvenient’ toys, noisy, loud or not quite ‘fitting in’.
These were the toys from years of “everyone is a winner” tom bolas in town, interlopers that were rounded up within days of arriving and disappeared.

There were friends in here too.

Possibly the worst named toy in the house.

Blue Dad.
Named after me.

Buzz Buzz.
The Bee. Probably. Might be a wasp. Or a kind of fish. I am not making that up.

Bananas the orangutang.

Those three Aliens we bought from that hopelessly trendy children’s boutique in Peckham.

Polar Bear 3
Not quite as popular as Polar Bears 1 and 2.

Max the Parrot.
A good friend in the early days.

The Cuddly Rastafarian.
The one that played “Don’t Worry be happy” when you squeezed his bottom.

The Kiwi.
It is hard to make a Kiwi cuddly, this designer had failed like so many others.

The fish that looked a bit like a character from ‘Finding Nemo’ but wasn’t.

Green Bear.
Smells like lavender. Why?

There were snakes, monkeys, endless bears, elephants, fish, parrots and more.
A menagerie of fluff.

So I stuffed them all down in the bag and I tried to get the song “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” from the film Toy Story out of my head.

When Loz died the boys were given toys.
Lots and lots of toys.
Cuddly toys were great, both Proles regressed into more juvenile behaviour.
Soft blankets, lots of cuddles, snuggling on the sofa and tucked in with cuddly toys were the sorts of thing they bot responded to well.
I read that on a Widowers’ website.
I tried to make it happen a lot and the landslide of cuddly toys that arrived in the next eighteen months were great for that.

Tucking the boys up in bed, with a favourite toy was part of our ritual.

But the Proles are bigger now and those bin bags have been up there for over a year.

Time to go.

No time to be sentimental.

I will take them to the Proles’ old nursery this week.
I have seen Toy Story 3 as well but, as I say, I have no time to be sentimental.



At 5.30am Prole2 came into my room.
He went to the toilet and came back and I could tell he was on his way to see me.

He actually fell over all the cars he had left there in the doorway and a tiny bit of me rejoiced.

My house is not tidy, you would not call it a tidy house.
The floor surfaces are slowly being removed and the results are a dusty house.
There are things around.
You can find stuff here and there.
A lot of bits are in the wrong place.

It has a level of tidiness that I am happy with, we could not become more untidy, messy or dirty without me getting quite upset about it.
I think everyone has their level.
Mine just happens to be relatively low.

I have been asked if I would not feel better about the place if I was more tidy.
I can only say I am very happy living as I do. It is only when other people come round that I feel self conscious about it.
I am selective about who comes round these days.
I hate to upset people.

The Proles’ ability to colonise whole parts of the hose with extensions from “Busy Island” or exploratory expeditions by “Captain Skull” or, as in the case of last evening, a super long racetrack, is one that I tolerate for a while, anything up to a week, before punitive and wide reaching clearing up.

By the time I went to bed last night an extensive series of garages, service vehicles and mechanised transport was making up the Pit area of the upstairs raceway.
his Pit area was just inside the door to my bedroom.
I often tell the boys that these things are a trip hazard and so it was that after Prole1 had trotted off to the toilet I heard him come up the last three stairs, step into my room and fall over his own Pit crew.

This I felt, served him right.
He climbed into my bed and we both fell asleep without speaking.

I had a good sleep for the next hour and a quarter or so until the alarm went off.
I sat up and Prole2 lolled over in the bed.

Prole2: I feel sick.

I switched instantly Parent-With-Sick-Child mode.

Me: You feel sick? Do you need to be sick now?

I was moving and getting dressed. Or at least a bit more dressed. The landing window has a clear view of my young neighbour’s garden and the last thing they need is the sight of a half naked mid forties man carrying a vomiting boy first thing in the morning.

Prole2: Yep. I was sick last night too….

His words trailed off as he began gipping and I got him out of my bed just in time.
He retched and burped and chucked his way to the toilet.

The tally of sick, not including the sitting on the sofa with a bowl on his knee, was impressive.

He was sick on my bedroom floor.
He was sick on my socks and my shirt.
He was sick on the landing carpet.
He was sick on the bathroom floor.
He was sick on two bathroom mats.
He was sick on a bath towel.
He was sick on himself quite a lot.

His attempt to wee and be sick simultaneously was daring, courageous and not entirely successful.

I looked at the utter devastation and at Prole2 cured up and shivering on the one remaining clean bath towel.
This was going to be a day of disinfectant, washing machines and not going to work.

Looking after sick children is an odd experience as an adult.

I am worried enough that I cannot stop myself checking him all the time, just to see if he is displaying new and terrifying symptoms..
I am aware it is a day off school enough and remember what that means enough to really get quite excited.
Neither of these attitudes really prepares you for how boring it can be.

Washing, scrubbing the floor, spraying anti-bacterial nonsense around the house, this is not much fun.
Sitting watching my son breathe wears a bit thin after a while.
Getting any work done is a bit of a non starter.

Sleeping, while not actually illegal, is probably immoral with a sick child.

He did look really peaky.
We tried breakfast.
Well, he sort of flirted with it in a digestive sense before returning it to the bowl.

Prole1 saw the whole thing as a bit of an adventure.
he stood with his hands in his uniform pockets and ‘stray sick’ spotted for me while I tried to clean up.
He looked like a diminutive Health and Safety Officer.
I should have taken a photo, just to compare to when he grows up and becomes a real Health and Safety Officer.

The dangerous bit of the walk to school is crossing the road outside our house.
It’s a very narrow road and the only think I am worried about is drivers not seeing him trying to cross between all the parked cars.
I walked him across the road and he went off to school on his own.
He bounced round the corner and off he was so excited.
I stepped back through the door.

Prole2 was dozing on the sofa.
The cats had found him and were draped all over him.

I sat in the kitchen and had a cup of tea before round two of washing.

It was quiet.
It was odd not to be at work.

Life suddenly seemed really very fragile again.

I squashed all that back down and started the clear up.

Never finished that cup of tea,

Got to keep going, the alternative is awful.



I actually put my foot through the landing.

It has been making creaky noises for a while but being covered in carpet I just sort of ignored it.
Finally today it gave just a bit too much of a creaky crunch so I lifted the carpet to have a look.

I did a couple of exploratory stamps to simulate the Proles running to the loo and with a bit of a sideways slump the whole thing fell in.
It seems it was the carpet holding the carpentry together.

There was not much to go on but I managed to put something together to replace it.

It broke at about 2ish and it was finally ready to be walked on at 6.
During that same time period I collected the Proles from school, put a wash on and cooked them dinner.

Yeah, all men are rubbish at multi tasking.

They were remarkably non plussed by having a gaping hole to swing over to get up stairs.
I wonder if it is a good thing that they take it in their stride that large parts of the house could be missing when they return in the evenings?
I think I will chalk it up as a strength for now. The psychologist may re-classify it when they grow up.

Prole1 was a quivering mass any way.
He won the ‘Speak Out’ cup for his year at school.
I was quite impressed, it actually looked like a cup, a proper trophy.
He stood in front of the whole school and talked about our garden.

Our garden is a scrubby patch of grass that sits on the poisonous mining spoil of Redruth and every time you dig a new bit up all the copper in the stones kills everything.
I could not really imagine what Prole1 was going to talk to them about for all that time but some how he managed it.

I have his notes beside me now, he wrote them out and learned them by heart.
I cannot quite do justice to the typography but this gives you the gist:

Hello I am from Class 3I. I’am here to talk to you about My Wildlife Garden. Now my Garden is full of insect’s, the main place that they gather is in the insect house. the insect house is stact with twigs, Banboo, Shell’s and it even has an ant’s nest on it.
Not all the insects in my garden are in the inscecthouse the wood-lice Gather in the Bwshes at the side of my garden they nest under the logs there.
The plants in my Garden are healthy and waterd regularly By all the lovely rain we get in redruth.
The plants are a bay tree, Bluebells, a holly bush, a pine tree that we use as a christmas tree and dafidils. Some creachers gather behind the shed sutch as worms, beetles and slugs. Also we have a tramp-ileene in our Garden that we put out in the summer
Well thats all I have tim for I’d like to thank you for being a Briliant Audiunce and I hope you enjoy my speek out.

He practiced from the top of the stairs and sent me into the living room.
This was so he could practice his projection but had the happy benefit of meaning I could lie down with a blanket over my head, occasionally shouting “Yes” “Louder” or “Very Good” and it still counted as quality parenting.

Before going in today I wished him luck.

Prole1: Thanks Dad. I will do my best. I don’t really think I will win, I will try my best and try to enjoy it though. It should be good. It should be good. I just…the trophy does look really good though.

His face when he pulled it out of his bag to show me will stay with me forever.

Prole2 came out of class with a picture for me.
Daffodils with tall stems, painted on card.

When the Proles were taking their coats off Prole2 explained to his brother.

Prole2: It’s a Mothers’ Day card. For Dads.

It is lovely and pinned to the wall.
On the back it says “I luv yo Dad’

I know.

But if you think the spelling is bad, you should see the handwriting.


Tonight Prole1 is taking a break from ‘The Hobbit’.

He was finally convinced to start reading it by his teacher.
It has been on the bookshelf for ages now and has been by passed for two re-reads of the Harry Potter series.
My words of encouragement and reason were bulldozed aside by Prole1’s desire to read ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘Lord Of The Rings’ back to back.
He wanted to read them in the correct order.
I tried to explain about Tolkien’s books, why he wrote them and who he wrote them for but in the end Prole1 wanted to read ‘The Silmarillion’ first, “to get the stories in the right order”, so I shut up.

Anyhow, he has just breezed through Mirkwood and Smaug just got shot by the Black Arrow and Prole1 has decided to take a bit of a breather because he found the Smurf Anthology.

He is now up there following the adventures of the Smurfs while the Battle of the Five Armies is on hold.

He actually negotiated extra reading time for this.

He argued that if they did not have a bed time story he could read for a bit longer.

I reluctantly gave in.

Wel I tried to sound as if I reluctantly gave in.

Truth be known, I kind of wanted a bath and perhaps to watch a bit of telly later and spending half an hour reading ‘Monkey Do’ to the Proles just seemed so…so not like relaxing in  bath or watching telly.

We read every evening together.

When I can be bothered.

This is quite often, we have tackled the greats together like ‘Goodnight Moon’ and ‘Moo Baa La,La,La’ which were in rotation until very recently.
We have followed the Little Red Train’s battles against road transport and the private sector.
We have tracked Thomas and his friends from surreal beginnings to techni-colour saccharine endings.
We have read enough of Julia Donaldson’s rhyming couplets. Enough.

We moved up to Winnie the Pooh, Prole2 grumpily telling me to “get on with it” while I was sobbing over the last chapter.
We have run with the right wing Dalmatians and punted with Mr Gumpy.
Roald Dhal has wandered in and out occasionally.

We have had a glorious run of books and books, the floor of my bedroom has been un passable on occasion with spent stories.

It was Christmas that put a spanner in the works.

It was Prole1’s teacher that did it.
He totally broke the spell.
I remember him saying “I urge you all to read to your kids every day, even a few words”

And I thought, hang on.

I have a choice in all this?

I might not read them a bed time story?

I was mulling this over as the holiday started.

We had a few late nights, a bit of a break from it.

The New Year started with a wobble and then the system broke down again when we went to visit friends at half term.

I found that sitting in a chair staring at the floor was quite an attractive prospect and some how we have been de railed.

It was like someone had said “I urge you not to eat cream cakes, even one a day”

Some sort of link to the future happiness of my children as well balanced and literate individuals had been broken

Now, suddenly I was a bad parent who does not read to his kids.
There seems to be no way back over the fence.
I was actively thinking tonight of ways to get out of doing it when Prole1 offered me a life line.

The Routine has been broken.

Never break the Routine.

Don’t mess with the Routine.

Don’t even think about the Routine if you don’t know what you are doing.

It will take me ages to fix this.

It’s not the parts, it’s the labour.

We have ‘The World of Winnie the Pooh’ up on the ramp and ready to go for a glorious second outing.
Prole1 is ready for a bit of nostalgia and Prole2 might hear all the bits he slept through the first time round.

There are clean sheets and fluffy pillows on the bed where the stories happen, it all smells faintly of lavender, childhood and joy.

The real work is in pushing my conscience  all the way back up the hill of apathy again and hooking it back up to the Routine and sparking the whole thing up.

I know I will enjoy it when we start.
I know the Proles will love it.
I know this is one of my opportunities to really give them some of the magic of childhood.

Believe me, I can hear Luther Vandross singing ‘Dance With My Father’ as I write this.

I am editing out the Casio keyboard solo and hoping none of my indie friends can hear of course.

I know I am talking about reading a bed time story but I always hear Luther Vandross singing ‘Dance With My Father’ whenever I think about the Proles looking back on their childhood.

Honestly if someone played Luther Vandross singing ‘Dance With My Father’ and then followed it with Trelawney by the Holman Climax I would be in bits for days.
My eyes are actually stinging at the thought.

Give me a minute.

Any how, yes, reading the Proles stories.

I probably should.

I just have to stop thinking about chocolate, telly, hot baths and relaxing.

Some things are probably more important than that.

Like their entire outlook on life in the future, or something.

Tomorrow night.

Winnie the Pooh, not Smurfs.


I sat down to write a post tonight but it was not coming together.
It will I suppose.

I went and had a bath to clear my head and come back to it afresh.

I read a small booklet that Cardiac Risk in the Young had sent through the post.

I also got a copy of the same booklet from the Cannon Emeritus of Salisbury Cathedral so I thought I would give it the once over.
You never know when you might be asked questions.

It’s a small booklet but I would not call it ‘light’ reading.

It is full of stories about Sudden Cardiac Death. Each one of them could have been my story.

The nurse who last took my blood pressure asked if I had any pains in my chest.

‘Only when I think about it’ I replied and she laughed.

Because it’s funny when men in their forties worry about their health.

Emotional heart ache exists of course but it’s not a medical condition as such so we did not discuss it.

I did not tell her that some nights I can’t sleep because it aches so much.
I couldn’t tell her that a song or a smell or a word could trigger my heart to ache for hours.
Only when I think about it though.

I don’t have a heart condition but my heart aches often.
Painkillers don’t work of course.
Because it is all in my head.

I am not going to finish that other post, I was trying to describe why sitting on the sofa is more fun than going out.
I don’t feel morose about the subject and I was trying and failing to reflect that.
I should not have to justify it, my sofa is brilliant.

I am going to sit on the sofa now because when your heart aches you should do what feels right.

Prole1: What are you doing on the sofa?

Prole2: Resting.

Prole1 Why?

Prole2: I had to lay the table.

Prole1: I need a rest.

Prole2: Why?

Prole1: I hurt my nose going up the stairs.

Prol2: Do you want some Blanket?

Prole1: Thanks. Move over. It’s been a tough day.