Archives for posts with tag: money

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I could have gone to see Lee Scratch Perry tonight.

Lee Scratch Perry is the producer who originally mixed all of Bob Marley and the Wailers famous tracks.
He ran the incredible Studio called The Ark and created some of the most innovative music and techniques used in early Reggae and Dub.
He continues to make great music.

He has also been known to wear bladderack sea weed in his dreads and a toaster on his head.
The Wailers sued him for ripping off their music, he burned down his studio and was seen walking backwards through his home town hammering the ground on the day of the arson.

He was a bit bonkers and I have no reason to believe he has changed.

Sounds like it might have been a brilliant gig.

Anyway, I nearly went.
Or rather I poked my head above the parental parapet and thought ‘That is the sort of thing I used to love doing’.

And then I thought it might be a bad thing to do.

I can’t really explain why.

Most of the time me and the Proles function as a trio.

We walk about together, we look at things and we move them around.

One of us will see something they think is interesting and show it to the other two.

We will all look at it.
We talk about it.

We move on.

I have some extra duties in this metaphor that include making sure no one gets squashed, feeding us all and clearing up the metaphorical or reality based poop.

We work well as a team.

As three.

If I am honest, there are many things they are not interested in.
Having watched me do the washing, cooking, occasional cleaning, gardening and minor DIY they are stupendously un interested in any of these things.
If I do something new, however, they appear like wide eyed Midwitch children, stares boring into my soul.
They  used to watch me speak on the phone.
It would ring and before it had been picked up they would emerge from the wood work and just watch me.

I would try walking around the house but they would follow, staring at me.

I would be forced to break off whatever I was saying and tell them to go and find something else to do and leave me alone.

This would invariably result in some kind of fight between them.
I have no idea why they could get along fine for hours at a time but as soon as my attention was on the BT call centre and not on the washing up they dissolved into anarchy and fighting.
They still do this.

It is worse when a real physical person is there, in the room, talking to me.
They can’t really handle it unless I put on the telly or set fire to something to distract them.
People must think my kids are attention seeking lunatics.
Honestly, they are really dull and boring when other people are not around.
They mooch about looking at lego and eating pears.

As soon as someone else turns up they become a cross between ‘Laurel and Hardy’ and ‘Binky and the Brain’ with a complete lack of emotional control for good measure.

It is really tiring.

If I wanted to win £50,000 by making my children cry without touching them, looking at them or using any emotional pressure at all I would just start a conversation with another adult.
That seems to do it every time.

It is not so surprising I suppose.

In out trio I am not supposed to break off and discover new things without sharing with them.
Even if those new things are just idle chat about weather and the price of broccoli.

I see it happen with parents all the time, I suppose I notice it a lot because my two states of being are ‘work’ or ‘with kids’.

I don’t really do the ‘spare time’ thing much.

Spare time is all about the self,your sense of self identity.
Exploring music, food, strange parts of town, other people, ideas and feelings.

This is the stuff that gave me an identity, that defined my ‘self’.

I am also aware that these days ‘spare time’ lives right along side ‘selfish’.

I don’t mind ‘selfish’ really. Or to be precise, because there is a difference, ‘self centred time’. A work friend was recently was telling me how much they needed a holiday. I think they were right, they needed some time with them self. Some time centred around them self. Self centred time.

It is not such a bad thing as language and culture would have us believe.
We may invent new words for it like ‘me time’ to dress t up a bit but tending yourself, your centre, this is important stuff in our culture.

The Proles don’t really know that is what I am doing.
They just want to be there, be in it, experience it too.
And I don’t want them to.
I want them to go away and leave me alone to do my adult ‘me time’ stuff.

And they have no idea why I would be so selfish.

I can be level headed about it to a point but at times, when I am actually having a real conversation for the first time in a week that does not involve “Culture and the Arts Movement and it’s Impact on the Dispersed Communities of the Region” or “Lego” and one of the Proles decides this is a good time to start head butting me I can go quite incandescent inside.

And this is the odd question.
If I don’t take ‘me time’, if I do little that is ‘self centred’, if I expend a minimum amount of time thinking about my ‘self’ then me and the Proles argue less.
I have less of a feeling of injustice.
I am less bitter about my life and my inability to do whatever I want.

If I give all that up, live a quiet life, don’t go out, work hard and keep my head down, it all works out.

If I try to go out, live a little luxury, spend time with other people and indulge myself a bit, me and the Proles shout at each other more, I get depressed and it stops being fun.

I would love to go out more.
But then we would have less money.

I would love to go on holiday.
But what would I do without them?

I would love to have more adult conversation.
But then I would have to face the fact that I have become a bit of a recluse over the last five years.
This is the tricky bit.
I would have to confront my inability to think of anything to say during small talk.
I would have to surpress my deep love of sofas and Professional Wrestling and engage with people.
I would have to look at my hands and think that the last time I went out regularly like this was twelve years ago, before I had the excuse of the Proles to stay in and before Loz propped me up and made me whole.

Because these days an adult conversation that does not involve kids or work is such an unusual thing that I don’t know what to say any more.
I don’t know how to be my self.

Having said all that I hate being defined through my children.
Surely I am more than that?
Surely I am more of a person, more my self than that?

Perhaps I have just put my ‘self’ away for a bit, just until the tricky bit of grieving and child rearing is over.

Once the kids have grown up and I can listen to more than the first three bars of ‘Moon River’ without dissolving into the foetal position in a pool of tears I am sure I will be ready to get my ‘self’ back out there.

Where was I?

Lee Scratch Perry being bonkers.

It would be good to go out more but it is easier and less emotional if I don’t.

This exploration of the self is not something I enjoy.

I prefer the safety of us three.

I am as lost as the Proles when they are not around.

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At work today I used the last of the paper.

I managed to use a pack and a half.

What do they call packs of paper these days?
It used to be a ‘sheaf’ in one of the theatres in London.

Oddly archaic thing to be loading into a photocopier, a sheaf.
Pack these days probably.

These are the busy days at work, when all the answers need to be given and all the nerves need to be smoothed and a sheaf of Artists dreams need to be rendered into paper and scrutinised.
It took over an hour to photocopy everything and get it ready to go.
I used to email everything but bitter, bitter experience taught me to post hard copies as well.

It is very odd that nowadays we need to email and post.
Once we would have just posted but somehow that is not safe enough any more.
There was a time when there were up to three posts per day.
You could send a card in the morning and get an answer that afternoon.

I don’t hanker after time gone by as such, I just don’t feel so safe any more about the security of email.
Double nerves.

I don’t like losing people’s forms.

This is the third desk space I have had since I went back to work.
I got the job three months after Loz died.

I was in two minds about it.

Other people thought I should go back to work.
They all gave good reasons.
I was not so sure.

Sorting out our lives after Loz had taken weeks.
That is to say, sorting out the legal side of our lives had taken weeks.
It was to continue for five months after she died.
That was when we got the results of the autopsy.

Every day I would have a list of people to call.

Every day I would spend, minutes, hours listening to hold music.
I spoke to people all over Britain and in other countries as well.
Most were reading from a screen.
Most were very sympathetic.
Most got back to the script.

Some things never got sorted out.
You have to send off death certificates to certain places.
Things like banks, insurance companies, the DVLA, the bloody TV licence people.

I thought it would take a couple of weeks at the most.
It didn’t.

The DVLA swallowed a Death Certificate and then told me I had not sent it.
The lady on the end of the phone was the least sympathetic I spoke to.
She told me four times I had not sent them the Death Certificate because it was not on the system.

“You have not sent it.”

She did not say:

“I am sorry Mr Morrison, you may have sent it but I am afraid we do not have it on our system. I apologise for the inconvenience but is there any way you could send us another?”

She did say:

“You have not sent it”

Four times.

Swansea accent, if you are interested.

I decided I would try very hard never to do that to someone on the phone.
I don’t trust the post.

The next people who wanted the Death Certificate were the TV licence people.
A photocopy would not do.

Since the DVLA had my last one the TV people never got it.
As far as the BBC is concerned Laura Hardman is alive and well and watching telly in Redruth.

I hated that time.
I really did.
I hate the smell and feel and heart sinking gloom of hold music.

Hate is a really strong word.
I have chosen to use it and I stand by it.
I hated it.

The calls slowly dried up, or they slowed to a trickle, and instead I got on with being a full time Dad.

But Laura’s job had been advertised.

I was not qualified to drive a desk but I had seen her slowly construct her workplace and we had spent months discussing how what she had built might work.

Laura was not going to stay there full time forever.
She had aspirations in other areas but the job of building had not quite finished and things had not yet settled.

If I am honest I was terrified someone would take it who did not understand where it had all come from and just spin it out for a couple of years and then let it finish.

I applied and, with a lot of assistance from friends, I got the job.

Day one in the office.
Sitting at her desk.
The place I was to work.
The desk had been occupied in the interim but the only real change since Laura’s last day seemed to be a space cleared around the keyboard and a neatly typed note above the computer that explained ‘the system’.
The work had been continued since she had died but still, here was her pen, her diary, her memory stick.
He writing on everything, her files, her notes, her emails.
Letters and post, her chair, some photos in the drawer.
For several months I would get emails from the occasional person addressed to her.
Sometimes someone would call and talk about how sad it was.
Loz did not take my name when we married and often people never connected us.

Most people knew of course and we all pretended it was not weird that I had taken my dead wife’s job and was now sitting in her chair.

Not weird at all.

But there was method in this weirdness beyond wanting to continue her project.

The chair was probably less than forty feet from Prole2’s Nursery wall.

I would drop him in and cross the carpark entrance to the office.

Sometimes I could hear him through the window.

I would scoop him up in the early afternoon and we would go and spring Prole1 from his nursery at the school.
Twice a week Prole1 would be picked up by Prole2’s Nursery and they would both be waiting for me when I got out of work.

We would go to the cafe for a snack or walk back across the fair field and play on the swings on the way.

That was our new routine.
Walk to the school nursery and drop off Prole1.
Walk to the nursery by the office and drop off Prole2.
Be at my desk less than a minute later.

For a while, Prole2 and I would get days off together.
When he was old enough I began working four or five days a week.
If I work extra time I get the school holidays off.
How nice is that?

The job has moulded around me and the Proles.
I am very lucky, we have a great routine.

One of the nieces things, the thing that keeps me going on so many occasions, is knowing that all I am doing is running a little system that Loz set up.
She did it along side other very talented people but at the heart of it is a set of values and beliefs that she believed in.

I sometimes upset people in my job.
I work hard not to, I try and avoid it al all costs.
Sometimes it just happens.
That is life, getting upset, it’s how we know we are still breathing.

I was once on the side of Mount Sinai, climbing down to St Catherine’s Monastry in the dark and our guide suddenly turned and stared right in my face and said:

“What is your work, Jack?”

I muttered something about stuff and things.

“No” and he looked a bit scary “What is your work?”

And I had no answer for him at all.

I could not answer.

I am still not sure what my work is.

Perhaps the best I can hope for is to make the world a tiny bit better.

I think it is good to try just a little bit to make the world a better place than the one we came into.

If we can.

Even if it’s just being nice to someone whose forms don’t show up on your computer.

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Today nothing was achieved.

We got up and breakfast took a little to long.
I was sorting out washing and drying and school uniform and games kit and only had a quick cup of tea.
Getting the Proles dressed ended with them shouting at each other.
There were no socks.
Home work was tough and was finished just as we had to leave so we were a bit pushed.
A large lego spillage hampered our final moments in the house.
The Proles left their coats at a friend’s house at the weekend so we improvised wet weather gear.
I hoped it would not rain.
It rained.
School busy, dodged through toddlers and buggies.
Pavement crowded, dodged through toddlers and buggies and dog turds.
The grass in the park is still waterlogged so I had to walk the long way round.
I sat down at work to endless phone calls and emails and could not really solve any problem at all.
Computer refused to ‘save changes’.
Stupid computer.
Meetings over ran and I ate nothing.
Spent the whole day running up and down the corridor, never quite managing to take time to go to the loo.
I left work a couple of minutes late and had to hurry to school.
It rained on the way so I ran for a bit and got to school early but overheated.
Scooped the Proles and headed home to pack the car for Swimming lessons.
We set out as soon as we were ready but today the journey, that last week took half an hour, only took eleven minutes.
Swimming pool car park is on the college campus and students’ universal attitude to road safety FREAKS ME OUT.
We arrived at the swimming pool in the rain and ran inside.
We had to use the broken locker.
I hate the broken locker.
It is a sad locker.
We sat on a bench together for twenty five minutes waiting for the lessons to begin.
We had nothing to say to each other.
Nothing.
The Proles were well grumpy by the time they went in.
I was well grumpy when they came out.
The showers were all taken and we queued, the changing booths were all taken and we queued.
Pizza club at a friends house was a triumph, this time no tears or shouting.
Must remember this one island of joy.
Back out into the rain.
The journey home took half an hour again.
How am I to plan a regular routine with unpredictable timekeeping on the A30?
We got in and a cat had been sick by the stairs.
The boys argued as they got ready for bed.
We finished the strangely right wing and mildly offensive ‘One Hundred and One Dalmatians’.
I felt like I had been licked by a Tory.
Proles went to bed.

Prole2 gave me a kiss.

Prole2: Thank you for a brilliant day Dad. I can’t wait for tomorrow.

Prole1: Here Dad, you can borrow Harry Potter and read it after you have done all your work. I love you.

Prole2: I love you too. To the moon and back.

Prole1: Love you always Dad.

I looked at them both, tucked up in bed, snuggled in for the night.

They both smiled.

Sycophantic gits.

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Confidence can be a variable thing in my house.

When Prole1 was very small, before Prole2 was around, in fact when he had just learned to walk, we were in a small Co-op in Newlyn.
He found a can of beans and lifted them off the shelf.

Me: What have you got?

Prole1: Beans.

Me: Do you want to buy them?

Prole1: Yeh

Me: OK, here is a pound, go and pay for them at the counter.

Prole1 stumped off down the shop. There was no way he could see over the counter but he managed to get the can of beans up into the bagging area.

Prole1: There you go Man. My got pound.

And he placed the pound coin next to the beans. This being Newlyn in the real world and not a Richard Curtis movie the young lad on the till stared at him like he was a talking wheelclamp or something just as improbable and then did his best to ignore the hard stare he was getting in return.
I would have been quicker to rescue Prole1 if Loz and I had not been giggling at the other end of the shop.

Prole1 has spent most of his life socially bomb proof.
Prole1 would try anything if he thought it was ‘the thing to do’.
He was an awful swimmer, just dreadful, but he squeezed into a wetsuit, put on a surf life saving uniform, grabbed a surfboard four feet taller than himself and hauled it down the beach for his fist surf life saving session.
When he was invited to act as a DJ by a theatre company for the work they were doing in a large Literary festival, Prole1, aged five, hardly blinked.
When it came to the festival itself he walked out onto the stage, spoke clearly into the microphone and played an hour of his favourite tunes.
He has been doing this on and off ever since.

When we are in the house however, he likes to be in the same room as me or Prole2.

Prole2 could not care less which room he is in and left to his own devices I only really see him when he is hungry.
He is not too phased by social situations but only if he is standing just behind Prole1.
Sometimes it is comforting to have a gobby older sibling.

He is currently going through a phase where he regularly gets worried in the night and comes into my room.

Prole1 is the sort of child who can order for himself, check items on the menu for meat content and go up to the counter to purchase extra cakes, drinks and stuff I may have forgotten.
Prole2 is good for getting things out from under the table.

Prole2 has a wide circle of friends and is very happy to take on adventures, imaginary worlds and physical games, as long as he has back up.

Prole2: We are Fighting!

He points to a group of children who he has just left.

Me: Real Fighting?

Prole2: NOOooo! Playing fighting.

Me: Ok. Why did you leave them?

He began rolling up a trouser leg to revael a huge graze that was oozing blood and already starting to run down his leg.

Prole2: I am bleeding too much, It’s all tickly and my trousers are sticking.

Me: Ok. Um. Let me get a wet wipe…um…

Prole2: Yes. Then I will go back to them.

This from the boy who is too scared to flush the toilet because the noise is too scary.

The real shock came from Prole1.
We were in a Penzance cafe and he wanted another drink.
I automatically gave him some money and told him to go and get one.
He Froze.

Prole1: I am scared.

Me: Scared of what?

Prole1: Of asking.

I was about to tell him not to be so silly and get on with it but I looked and I could see he was starting to cry.
Prole2 looked worried.

Prole2: Well I’m not going.

I told them both to sit down and relax and that everything was ok.

As I started to walk towards the counter and tried to work out what had just happened.
As I walked up I realised I was a bit tense.
I took a moment to think about that and it came as a bit of a shock to remember, I have always been a bit nervous about shops, counters, ordering and paying for things.
I pretended to look at the cakes whilst I had a bit of a poke about in my brain.
I remembered that when I was about twelve I could hardly walk into a shop on my own let alone pay for something.
I had squashed this down because, well because you have to as an adult.
It had been squashed down for so many years I had forgotten all about it.
That said I am now forty three and this was no time to revert to childhood.
I rearranged everything back to where it had been in my mind and ordered some apple juice.

I came back to the table with a new found respect for what Prole1 had been able to do, at least up until that point.

He has come back to being a socially confident young man who seems to really enjoy meeting, talking an interacting in a way I find impossible.
I really respect him for that and he is back to being fairly self sufficient.
Most of the time.
Perhaps that scare brought him a bit closer to the world I live in.

Loving your kids is easy, learning form your kids is part of being a parent.
Finding out that your children have talents and resources you don’t is humbling.

It’s a bit annoying that when we sit in a cafe I can’t just automatically send them to the counter.

Sometimes I have to do it all by myself.

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.