Archives for posts with tag: dad with two boys

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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?

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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?

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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?

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From today Cornish people will be officially recognised as a National Minority under the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

Now that Cornish people are officially recognised as a national minority under the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities all sorts of questions have popped up from people asking what we were yesterday?

Didn’t Europe always think Cornish people were a national minority under the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities?

That may or may not be true, the important thing is that the British Government in Westminster has admitted that Cornish people are a National Minority under the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

Which is nice, after all these years of what has been blindingly obvious to anyone living or working in Cornwall for any amount of time.

What ever the legal status, I doubt it will stop people saying you are not proper Cornish until you have three generations in the graveyard at  Trewellard.
I do not have three generations in the graveyard anywhere in Cornwall.
None the less, I am from here, I live here and if I am really lucky I will be living here when I go West.
I am not from anywhere else and when I heard the news I have to say I sat for several minutes and shed a little tear.

This is just one step, one piece of the picture that makes up Cornwall but I hope it brings Cornwall a little bit closer to pulling itself out of the financial place it has bee in for so long.

Perhaps a legal status will instil a greater need for change. I really hope it is the beginning of something important, joyful and celebratory.
It certainly is for me.

The legal status is one that has been discussed a lot and this is one step closer to illuminating what may or may not be going on.

A National Minority status indicates there may be a Nation in discussion.

Actually Cornwall has stronger legal rights to be considered a separate Nation than Wales or Scotland.

I spent about quarter of an hour discussing the Foreshore Dispute of 1857 with an artist from London today.
I don’t do that often but there was something in the air today, what with the news and everything , they called to ask about Cornish coastline and suddenly we were off.

This is the document that spells out that there is a legal difference between England and Cornwall:

“1. All mines and minerals lying under the seashore between high and low water marks within the said County of Cornwall, and under estuaries and tidal rivers and other places below high water mark, are vested in His Royal Highness the Duke of Cornwall in right of the Duchy of Cornwall as part of the Soil and territorial Possessions of the Duchy.

2. All mines and minerals lying below low-water mark under the open sea, adjacent to but not being part of the County of Cornwall, are vested in Her Majesty the Queen in right of her Crown as part of the Soil and territorial Possessions of the Crown.
Part reading: Cornwall Submarine Mines Act 1858 [statute in force]”

Interesting use of County and Duchy.

Britain has two Sovereigns, the Queen and the Duke of Cornwall.

As the Prince of Wales, Chales has no Sovereign rights.
As the Duke of Cornwall, Charles does have Sovereign rights.

This is because Wales is subject to an act of union with England and Cornwall is not.

Essentially, if Alex Salmond lived in Cornwall he would not necessarily have to use a referendum to get the answer to his question.

He could just use a good lawyer.

There is of course the ugly spectre of Cultural Thuggism that rears it’s head whenever discussions of Nation and Patriotism are brought up.
I hope Cornwall is big enough to walk on by.

Anyhow, all this is not getting us any closer to celebrating.

Here is a recipe from “Cornish Recipes, Ancient and Modern” by the Cornwall Federation Of Women’s Institutes 1929.

This is probably the best book ever written, ever.
I may be wrong.
Probably is though.

1 LB Flour
Good Pinch Salt
Grating of Nutmeg
6 OZ Chopped Suet
3 OZ Chopped Mixed Peel
6 OZ Sultanas
6 OZ Currants

Method: Mix all well together and make into a stiff paste with Milk. Place into a scalded and floured cloth and tie loosely, plunge in boiling water and boil to a gallop for three hours. When dished up cut a piece out of top as large as a tea cup, place inside 4OZ of coarse brown sugar, one teacup of Cornish cream. Put in oven for two minutes and serve piping hot. There will be no leftovers.

Any recipe that instructs you to add a teacup of clotted cream at the end is by definition BRILLIANT.

Sadly I have not made this dish, called ‘Grandmother’s Birthday Pudding’ and so I will have to celebrate with a glass of Metheglin.

Google it.

Onen Hag Oll.

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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……

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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.