Archives for posts with tag: what


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?


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.
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.



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?


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……



Sometimes I am just blessed with an illustration of how lucky I am.

We were up on a path between Paul and Lamorna, over looking the sea.

The sky was clear blue with a faint haze on the horizon.

The sea was a wash of glistering splinters of white light on blue.

The sun was beaming down but a light breeze coming up off the sea cooled us.

The boys and I were amongst friends and we were talking about boats and food, places we had visited and things we wanted to do.

Prole1 was off somewhere in the group discussing the difference between Elvish and Hobbit psychology with the Wordwitch.

I was just ahead of Prole2 who was wearing a thick wooley cardigan and a cowboy hat.

We came up over a rise and Prole2 held my hand.

We could see all the way from St Michael’s Mount round to the tip of the Lizard, just there in the haze.

There were boats in the bay and the sky was empty and huge.

Me: Look at that. Isn’t it beautiful.

Prole2: What?

Me: Look at the view.

Prole2: What?

Me: The view, I am saying it is beautiful.

Prole2 stopped and adjusted the doc leaf he had wrapped around his hand.
Nettle sting.
The Prole’s deadly enemy.
Prole1 had an identical battle wound with a matching doc leaf field dressing.

Prole2 clambered up onto a rock and peered out across the bay.

Prole2: What?

Me: The View. It’s beautiful.

Prole2: What’s a view?

Me: Everything you can see. That’s the view.

Prole2: The sea?

Me: No, I mean everything you can see.

Prole2: I can see the sea.

Me: Yes. The sea is part of the view, the view is everything you can see. I just thought it looked nice.

Prole2 went quiet and stared hard out into the distance.

He looked at me.

Prole2: What?

I had been here before.

Me: Do you think it is a nice day?

Prole2: Yes.

Me: Good.

I gave him some cucumber and he skipped off munching.



We pulled the insect house apart today.

It was a lovely day so I imagined it would be good to do something outside as a family.
Also I had some unpacking to do and it had just got to the part where everything looks really messy, just before it all gets tidy again, and I had completely lost interest in folding pants.
I know it has to be done. It will be done.
But the sun was out, the last of the Daffs was nodding away, a cat was chasing a butterfly and the fedge (Stupid word) has begun to sprout.
What was I to do?

I like the insect house but I have to say it is a remarkably inactive thing.
The  Man Who Digs The Garden is never drawn to comment on it which means he probably feels it is a waste of space.

The Man Who Digs The Garden is actually downright rude about my compost bins, I could almost take offence but when I see how industrially he deals with his own composting I can see his point.

Anyway The Man Who Digs The Garden has not been doing anything in my garden for a while, which is sort of good because setting him to work in my tiny green patch is a little like that scene in Fantasia when Mickey mouse is the Magician’s Apprentice and sets the broom going and it all goes wrong. I asked The Man Who Digs The Garden’s opinion about moving and pruning apple trees and when I came back with the tea he had moved and pruned two trees. Two trees. I did two teas and half a dozen Digestives on a plate and he dug up two apple trees, dug new holes for them, replanted them and was dragging the hose out to water them in by the time I got back.

The cats love The Man Who Digs The Garden, probably because he smells of moss and the sea, partly because he occasionally feeds them but mostly because often when he comes round he digs in the garden which means they have somewhere new and exciting to defecate.
If he does not actually dig the soil over they generally just urinate near him.

I get The Man Who Digs The Garden to feed the cats when I am away.
He is more reliable than The Girl From The Circus but they do look quite tubby if I am away for more than a week.

The move of the insect house was prompted by the discovery of Australian Flatworms at it’s base.

Australian Flatworms are, if one were to read the Daily Mail, a new menace that will soon irradiate the native earthworm and thus kill all gardens, everywhere, totally dead, soon.
Or they may have been around since the 1960s and, along with the NewZealand Flatworm, now populate most of Britain, which may indicate that native and invasive populations of worms have struck some kind of equilibrium.

Whatever belief system you favour, a kind of worm that wraps itself round another worm, oozes digestive slime all over it and digests it whole from the outside is a thing of particular horror.
I wanted to see how bad the problem might be so looking under the insect house was the only way really.

I imagined we would strip down the layers of the insect house, finding woodlice, spiders, slugs and snails.
I imagined setting the Proles tasks like carrying the solitary bee nesting sites to a safe place or gathering up the pine cones into a bucket.
I imagined having a break half way through and having a snack and a drink in the sunshine.
I imagined finding a nest of Australian Flatworms and discussing with the Proles the morals of what to do with them.
I imagined a glorious re build, an insect house 4.0, redux, Mark II, a super space for invertebrates, created by us all.

I imagined a lot of things.

I took the house apart, Prole2 danced to Radio Six in the kitchen and Prole1 practiced magic tricks in his bedroom.

Prole1 would occasionally come into the garden and show me a particularly unimpressive rendering of a Magic Circle classic.
Prole2 banged his head on the kitchen table twice and needed immediate soothing and a cuddle.

Every time they distracted me like this one of the cats would sneak past and urinate or defecate on whatever I had just been working on.
I swear the inhabitants of my house have disproportionately huge digestive systems which are primed to kick in whenever I relax.

The Proles were, in short, utterly useless and stopped me doing what I was doing.

I did not finish the job.
The rebuild is still an hour of digging away.
The Australian Flatworm nest was not the seething mass of carnivorous slime-vermin I was imagining either.
Two worms, sticky and strangely beautifully coloured.
I squished them.
Prole1 was not around to discuss the morals of this which I think serves him right.
He will be no use to GreenPeace if he is not on the frontline fighting the cause. No one from the Rainbow Warrior ever go arrested for practising magic tricks.

I left the pieces of the house scattered around the garden to get the Proles ready to go out.

When I got in Prole2 showed me The Jiggling Bottom Dance, which to my great relief was performed fully clothed.

Prole2: Do you like it Dad?

Me: Yes, I think so. Do you think you will do it in public?

Prole2: What?

Me: Will you do it in front of other people?

Prole2: No. I made it just for you.

Me: Oh good. Lovely. Good.

Prole1 made some rabbits appear from nowhere, or quite obviously from his other hand.
He actually stopped talking to do the swap from hand to hand.

Prole1: Did I fool you?

Me: No.

Prole1: Oh.

Me: But I loved the patter, I loved the way there was one rabbit at the start and then it’s family turned up. It’s just I might have just seen a bit of a hand swap at one point.

Prole1: Yes that’s the tricky bit.

Me: Yes, tricky.

Prole1: I hope the audience don’t look like you do.

Me: Pardon?

Prole1: I hope they don’t look. At the trick. Like you do.

Me: Oh, yes. I see. No.

Prole1: Thanks for being a great audience, I really must go and practice some more.

The house is a wreck, the garden is a wreck.
As mornings go I could not really fault it.





Saturday 5th April.
Waterstones book shop

Prole1: How much pocket money do I have?

Me: Um…including today…I think you have about …

Prole1: Twenty pounds. I have twenty pounds.

me: Do you? You had sixteen but then you spent…but I owed you…

Prole1: I have twenty pounds.

Prole2: How much do I have?

Prole1: Including today?

Prole2: Yes.

Prole1: Two pounds.

Prole2: Oh.

Prole1: How much is this?

He tries to hod up a collection of Tin Tin books. It is the complete collection and he can’t quite lift it off the shelf.

Me: One hundred and twenty pounds.

Prole1: Oh.

Me: Half price though, so sixty pounds.

Prole1: Oh.

Me But I saw it on the internet for about forty pounds.

Prole1: Ah..ok…

Me: Ok look, i will go halves if you like. I enjoy Tin Tin, you two would enjoy it. Half each?

Prole1: OK! Yes! Let’s buy it on line.

The Car

Prole1: Did you buy it?

Me: Buy what?

Prole1: The Tin Tin books.

Me: Um…no, I am driving.

Prole1: Ok. Don’t worry.

Me: Thanks.

The Queue for the Ferry.

Prole1: There is no sound.

Me: What?

Prole1: Have you turned the engine off?

Me: Yes. We are waiting.

Prole1: You are not driving? Can you order the Tin Tin books?

Me: I need wifi to log on to the internet, I don’t have any here, sorry.

Prole1: Ok, Don’t worry Dad.

Me: Ok, I won’t.

Ferry Car Deck 5

Prole1: Do you have wi fi?

Me: Pardon?

Prole1: Can you order the Tin Tin books now?

Me: Can we get off the car deck?

Prole1: Ok Dad, ok.

Cabin 8124

Prole1: Is that your laptop?

Me: Yes.

Prole1: Are you going to get it out?

Me: I am going to bed.

Prole1: Not using your computer?

Me: No.

Prole1: We can order Tin Tin books tomorrow.

Me: Thanks.

Sunday April 6th
Ferry Cafe.

Me: Are you going to be sick?

Prole1: No.

Me: You look like you are going to be sick.

Prole1: He is being sick.

Me: Yes. Yes he is being sick.

Some road somewhere in France.
About 11am.

Prole1: Dad?

Me: Yes?

Prole1: Dad?

Me Yes?

Prole1: DAD!

Me: YES?

Prole1: Oh, sorry, um did you order the books this morning when we were sea sick?

Me: No, sorry, I was a bit busy.

Prole1: Ok Dad, don’t worry, I know you care.

Me: Thanks for that.

Croix Hellean
2:30-ish French time.

Prole1 is on the toilet, I am unpacking the wash bag.

Prole1: Are you getting you computer out soon?

Me: Yes.

Prole1: Can you order…

Me: I need to get the code for the wi fi.

Prole1: OK, ok, ok. Fine, we can wait.

Me: Thank you.


Prole1: Good night Dad.

Me: Good night, well done today, it was a long day.

Prole1: Yes, long day. Tomorrow we will order the Tin Tin books.

Me: Yes, of course.

Monday 7th April.
The Breakfast table
Prole1 whispers in my ear.

Prole1: Dad? Did you…?

Me: Yes. Yes I ordered the books.

Prole1: Oh. Good. Well done you.

Me: Thank you.




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:, 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.




The letter from Prole2’s teacher says he is going to get sex and relationship lessons soon.

I did not get sex education lessons when I was small.

I found everything out on the day I found a particularly elaborate prophylactic by the side of the road and being very pleased at my new found ‘balloon’.

I have never seen one quite like it since.

It was unused, in case you were worried.

Anyway, this sparked a quick and very precise conversation about reproduction which careered through the main issues in order to illustrate why I was not allowed to take it in the house, blow it up and/or take it to school to show my friends.

I never got ‘relationship’ lessons though.

I wonder if that is just a word they use these days to sweeten the pill of biology lessons in Primary Education or if they actually do teach about relationships.

It’s a tricky area.
I couldn’t teach about relationships.
Seems a bit broad.

What makes a good relationship?
I feel daunted by the subject.
Clearly I lacked guidance when I was at Primary School.

The other day Prole1 learned about Civil Partnerships.
I thought I had the subject pretty much locked down in my head but explaining the current situation surrounding Gay marriage in Britain is a mine field.
I have been trying to tease out the knotty subject of religion with him and am trying very hard to let him make his own mind up.

Prole1: So the first Gay marriage was in 1601?

Me: What?

Prole1: The first Gay marriage was in 1601. Why was it made not right? Why did people stop it?

Me: What?

Prole1: You know.

I didn’t.

Prole1: When men marry men.

Me: 1601? Really?

Prole1: Yes. I think so. A long time ago. Was it the Government that stopped it?

Me: Ummm…I’d have to look, it was probably them or the Church….

Prole1: Why would the Church do that?

Me: I am just cooking, can we talk about this later?

When I have had time to google the hell out of it and write down some bullet points.
I sort of need Stephen Fry and the Cannon Emeritus of Salisbury Cathedral in the room when we discuss it.
I always felt they would get on, despite apposing views in some areas.
I bet they both like the same puddings.

Prole1 is wrong about 1601 by the way.
Well, technically he is wrong, it happened in Spain not Britain.

And yes, I had to google that.

I could tell him what I think but my views are crushingly secular on this subject and others.
I can’t really talk about it all without getting cross.

I just hope Prole2’s lessons in relationships focus on the idea that most people are nice, respect should be given, that you can, if you try, be friends or friendly to almost every single person you meet and that love is something that chooses you, not the other way round.
I hope the lessons have nice pictures as well.

I was preparing the ground by trying to locate The Usborne Book of Where Babies Come From.

I have not seen it for a couple of months, it is one of those well thumbed publications that Prole1 read over and over, mostly for the nice pictures.
Prole1 keeps his books on top of the wardrobe.
He can reach them from the top bunk where he sleeps but I have to get a bathroom chair and stand on it.
From the chair, on tip toes, I can just see the top of the wardrobe.
The idiosyncratic way Prole1 ‘stacks’ his books means that inadvertent shifting of the stack could cause a book slide straight at you, at eye level.
If they miss your eyes you have to do the ‘don’t-hit-my-feet’ dance as hardbacks crash on to the chair.
Softback House At Pooh Corner is fine, hardback Harry Potter And The Order Of the Phoenix is a different toe crushing matter.

Prole1 watched with complete disinterest as I tried to make sense of his filing system.

I turned over a Secret Seven and found some folded pieces of paper.

On the front were the words: Alphabet Verson 2

Me: What is this?

Prole1: Oh, yes, I have worked out the whole alphabet in Dwarvish Ruins.

Me: Runes?

Prole1: Runes. Yes. I got them all from the Hobbit.

Prole1 has been given a leather bound hard backed copy of the Hobbit by the rockfather.
They sat together deciphering the first few letters of the Dwarvish Alphabet.
Prole1 has been sitting up the last two nights and has worked out the whole Alphabet.

Me: All of them?

Prole1: Yes, you have to go through the whole book and find them. Did you know there is no letter Q in dwarfish? You can use the ruins for C and W to make the sounds. I hope to copy this all up in best and then I will write the whole thing out in Dwarvish with and English translation instead of English with a Dwarvish translation. That will be Version Three.

Me: Right…

Would it have been tactless to suggest that he learn to spell in English first?

Can’t he learn Cornish? Or Mandarin?

I feel I should encourage him to learn a foreign language but should it be a dead language like Dwarvish?

I looked at his writing, wobbly and uneven.
Every rune was copied out though and every one of them looked like a rune.

Me: It’s brilliant. Really brilliant.

Prole1: Thanks Dad.

I dug out The Usborne Book Of Where Babies Come From.

It has great pictures.

Half the battle is not what you learn but that you enjoy doing it.


Earlier today Prole2 had got a  bit upset.

For some reason he had a very mild panic attack going in to school.

This sort of thing happens when you are at primary school, the world is a big place.
It’s fairly large when you are forty-three as well so heaven knows what it is like to be small.

He got over it very quickly, again, like you do when you are small but it came as a surprise.

It is unusual behaviour and my parent senses were tingling.
Upset for no reason.
This tends to herald in some kind of illness.

Sometimes you can watch children just run out of energy, stagger slightly and then flop over sideways. Ill.

I remember when Prole1 was just learning how to walk and he started to run a temperature.
He was like a huge, short sighted, butter bean in those days, all round like a big Teddy Bear.

I tried to cool him down but he just wanted to sleep, preferably on me.
He also went all floppy and listless.

It is terrible to admit but I had a brilliant day. He was all cuddly and poorly, I got to make a fuss of him, I had time off work and he stayed wherever I put him.
He was utterly undemanding and I got to catch up on loads of sleep.

Naturally I was worried sick as well, just having a great day at the same time.

Prole2 was all skinny and boney but he would often announce his illness:

Prole2: Dad…I am floppy….

And then falling down on the sofa.

For the most part illnesses have been limited to the sort of thing treatable with Calpol and a day on the sofa.
Prole2 loves a day on the sofa, with a duvet and the telly on.
He spent a day like this recently and after he had perked up a bit we visited friends.
They asked Prole1 if he would like a day on the sofa instead of going to school?

Prole1: Oh no, I would not like that, I love school. I love work. I would work all day with no breaks, just a snack for lunch. I love school.

One of the essential differences between my sons.

Calpol is a safety net, I am always worried it will go beyond the easily administered home medicine.

We did all catch a nasty gastric flu bug once.

It was fairly spectacular really.

We sort of moved round the house using up linen, towels and rugs until at one point all three of us were in the bathroom. I had removed almost everything except two beds on the floor made of towels.
Between my own ‘sessions’ I would take another load of stuff down to the washing machine, load up the dryer at the same time, pick up some more fluids for us all and go back up stairs.
Actually most of the time I would take a break half way up the stairs for some heavy breathing and a bit of perspiring and then get back to it.

At just the point I thought I would have to call in the cavalry (which is to say, call someone who would be able to help but who intern would then catch something nasty) Prole1 sat up and asked for grapes.

On that occasion the bug had the decency to be mild and to only stick around for twenty four hours.

There is, for those of you who live in Cornwall at the moment, a nasty bug going round again so my heart sank when Prole2 started acting weirder.

When he came out of school he looked a bit happier than when he went in but he still gave me an extra long hug.
Not totally odd but different enough.

At Pizza Club tonight he mentioned that he was not afraid of dying and, not wanting to start an existential discussion that I may not be able to finish I steered him back to the pizza.

Getting ready for bed I decided to do a little digging.

Me: You were upset this morning.

Prole2: What?

Me: Were you upset this morning?

Prole2: Yes. I wanted to cuddle and stay with you.

Me: Right, I saw that. Were you ok at school?

Prole2: What?

Me: Were you ok at school?

Prole2: Yes.

Me: OK, I was a bit worried.

Prole2: Well, my shoe fell off.

Me: Is that why you were upset?

Prole2: NOooo. I was upset when they laughed at me.

Me: This morning?

Prole2: At Assembly.

Me: Oh.

Proel2: And I had a burger.

Me: What?

Prole2: A burger. For lunch.

I felt we were heading a little off track.
Actually I did not know where we were.

Me: Oh I see, I was worried you were thinking about dying. Because you said so at Pizza Club.

Prole2: No. I am not afraid of dying because I will be…you know…up there…

He waved an arm at the light shade.

Me: I see.

Prole2: At least if you are up there you will be ok and you can walk about and jump and stuff.

Me: That sounds good.

Prole2: Yes, if you are bad you go down there and…well…no running….

Me: Ummm…what is down there?

Prole2: You know. Buried. Under the ground. In a box. You can’t jump.

Me: No I suppose you can’t.

Prole2: I will be up there.

Prole2 waved at the light shade again. We all looked up.

Prole1: Where?

Prole2: There.

Me: Do you mean heaven?

Prole2: Where you go when you are good.

Me: And you are good.

Prole2: Yes. I am annoying. But I am good.


Cars these days are really good.

New-ish cars hardly ever break down, they go quite fast and they are quite economical.
Compared to old-ish cars that is.

It all seems more convenient.

I have been driving for a while now, I have had the catalogue of driver’s experiences with cars.

I remember feeling terribly worried that there was no fresh oil leak under the car because that meant it had no oil in it at all.
I drilled holes in the bottom of one car to let the water out.
I had a car that you had to climb underneath and snip the chord that was holding the bonnet down to fill the screen wash.
I used to drive a work van that had a green dashboard. The plastic was black, the mould was green.
I have spent my share of hours on the edge of motorways waiting for assistance.

I do all of these things less than I used to.

I still experience problems but I generally feel that I will probably get where I need to go if I get in the car.

I think cars have got better.

I am not sure this is really a good thing.
I am not sure it is a ‘right’ to be able to drive, I think it is probably a ‘privilege’.

We are not really supposed to drive.
We don’t have wheels.
A car is made up of an awful lot of processed and refined products and no matter how Eco your car is it is still the product of several factories and earth killing processes.

I am not going to give mine up though.
I just find it curious that I am so happy to accept that I need it.

I can feel the gentle pull towards car culture in Britain.

Part of the back bone of our construction industry is out of town shopping centres.

We need to drive to them.
Once we do they are really convenient.
Better than the high street in town.
So the high street dies.
So we have to use out of town shopping centres, convenient or not.

I watch the speed of the cars coming past my house in the morning.
I can hear some of them changing up into third gear on our hill.
There are no real pavements on our hill and with parked cars on both sides there is only room for single lane traffic.

It is scary how fast people drive up that hill.
Parents with children on the way to school.
Scares me every morning.

You couldn’t do that in an old car.

I do it too, on roads where I don’t live.

We were making crumble today and I found to my horror that the tin I thought was custard was in fact rice pudding.

Dinner was on, the Proles were washing hands after the creation of the crumble.
Apple and mixed berries by the way.

I had three choices.

No Custard on Crumble.
This seems like no choice at all if you ask me.

Turn off oven, go out in pouring rain, get Custard from shop.
It was raining. Dinner would probably be ruined. Crumble would be ok though….

Send Prole1 out in the pouring rain to get Custard from shop.
We have, just around the corner from us, what used to be referred to as a ‘convenience store’.
Prole1 does not eat custard but if I dress it up as an adventure and ‘responsibility’ he might just go for it.

Prole1: I don’t eat custard.

Me: I know, it’s just that dinner is on and I can’t leave the oven.

Prole1: I see. I don’t eat custard.

Me: I know  but it would mean a lot to me and your brother if you could do it.

Prole1: It’s raining. I don’t eat custard.

Me; Well, you are the only one I can send out on a day like this. You are the only one responsible enough to take on an adventure like this.

Prole2: What?

Me:Your brother is going to get some custard.

Prole1: What?

Prole2: Yaaay!

Prole1: Wait a minute, it’s raining.

Prole2: I will go too.

I don’t know if you know how old the Proles are and I don’t want to start a debate here.

I will tell you what I think.

Prole1 is sharper than I am but gets confused with ‘push’ and ‘pull’ on doors.
Prole2 is a quirky, skippy little bubble head who falls over a lot.

Prole1 can go to the nearest shop on his own.
It is close by, it is just round the corner and it has an automatic door.
He has done this once before and from what I can gather from his garbled report after his return he spent several happy minutes talking to the people in the queue who have no doubt now reported us to child services.

Prole2 will not be allowed out of this house alone until he stops putting his trousers on the right way round.


We did not have any Custard…

I could not leave the house…

Prole1 could, in theory, repeat his visit to the shop…

Prole1 would not leave the house without someone who eats custard going with him…

I could, in theory, send them both.

When I was their age I used to cycle to friends houses, go exploring in the countryside and pick up shopping in the village.
That was the 1970s.

How different could it be?
All they had to do was get across the road outside our house and it was pretty much a straight run to the shop.

Was this going to develop into a tantrum? or an opportunity to develop responsibility and self esteem? or an utter and total disaster that would tear our daily apart once and for all?

But we still didn’t have any custard.

And you can’t have Crumble without custard.
Unless you are Prole1.


They might die on the road or get snatched by child molesters.

And I wondered how long I would feel like not letting them go out for.
Another year?
Only once they can drive?


I got their coats on.
I gave them a bag and adjusted it on Prole1’s shoulder.
I gave him two pounds and watched him store it in his pocket.
I gave him his instructions, to look out for his brother and to not come home without custard.
I took all the lego out of Prole2’s pockets.
I told him Prole1 was in charge.
I told him to do everything he was told.

I hugged them both like soldiers going off to war.

I saw them across the road and watched them turn, out of sight, towards the shop.

I was a nervous wreck.

I burned the onions.

Every time a car went past I jogged nonchalantly to the door and peered out.

Finally I saw them, two dots in the rain.

They approached the road.

It was all clear.

They looked.

They looked.

It was all clear.

Prole1 pulled Prole back against the wall.

Something had obviously spooked him.

Prole2 pointed up the hill.

They looked.

Prole1 pointed down the hill.

They looked. I decide to get my coat and help.

It was all clear.

They had a bit of a chat.

They looked again. My coat was on.

A large van sped past the house and barrelled down the road towards them.

The Proles were looking the other way.

Prole1 led the way to the place where the curb would be if our stupid hill had pavements.

They looked down the hill.

The van was almost on top of them.

They looked up the hill.

They waited.

The van slowed to a stop and let them cross.

Prole1 waved to the driver and they came home.

I have taught them to cross the road over the years.
At some point I have to trust.
I don’t want to.

I know what it is like to lose someone close to you.
I know what it feels like when someone dies.
I am not a stupid man and I don’t really risk my children’s lives over a pudding.

I am so scared.

I know that if I think too much about how fast cars go these days I would never put my children in one.

I know that if I think too much about the speed people drive up and down my hill I would never let the boys out of the house.

I don’t ever want to sink that low or feel that much ever again and I know that each and every one of us could go at any minute.


I can’t live in fear forever, I have to let things grow.

Either this world is one I want my children to live in or it is not.

How will I ever know if I don’t let them test it?

That is enough for this month though.

We sat on the sofa for pudding and watched cartoons.

Nice crumble.
Nice custard.

Perhaps convenience is not everything you need in life.