Tuesday, 10 June 2014

My Name is Mud

I may have cause a bit of an incident on the M25 last week, so this blog is by way of an apology.

Once again it was time for our annual sojourn of being homeless. We packed filled the car with tents and camping gear to the point it groaned when we pulled away, and headed away from the driest county in England, to the wettest county in England. The one you see on the news with cars being washed away, pensioners sitting on their roof in their nightwear, and people commuting by inflatable dinghies. You know the one.

The incident itself occurred  as we were on a rare stretch of the M25 that was actually moving. Admittedly moving at the speed of continental drift, but moving none the less. I was fiddling with the radio trying to find something other than Classic FM to listen when a spider about the size of my head* crawled out of the air vent in front of me and signaled it's intent to make the next few minutes of my life as stressful as possible. My reaction to this was to take a sharp intake of breath and attempt to get into the back of the car. Fortunately for everyone involved, I wasn't driving at the time (although if I had been, I still would have tried to climb into the back).

"Sp-sp-sp-sp!"

I said, manfully. The Wife glanced across and said, quite wrongly;

"It's only tiny!"

And then;

"Man up!"

I did as instructed and, in the style of someone defusing a bomb, lowered the window as it crawled along the top of the door. The spider paused, looked at me with all eight eyes and, in a very deliberate movement that only I could see, drew a line across it's throat and pointed at me. 

"It wants to kill me!"

I screamed, rationally. The Wife rolled her eyes, leant across me (not easy as I was still trying to get in the back seat) and tried to brush it out of the window. We changed lanes a little. She stopped trying.

Frantically I looked around for something to use to push it out of the window and found, of all things, a pair of bananas, connected at the text, in the picnic bag at my feet.

Like Errol Flynn I wielded the bananas yelling;

"AHA YOU BASTARD!"

And swung at the evil little thing - just in time as it was pulling a tiny knife out to jab at me. There was a thud and, well, I missed. Not only did I miss, but my mighty swing had detached one of the bananas. This flew in a short arc out of the window, across the M25 and through the open window of a rather surprised woman alongside us, finally ending up somewhere in the passenger side of the car. Now, it would have been quite cool if the woman in the car next to us had done a Dani Alves and cheekily eaten the banana. Perhaps with a little wave and toot of the horn. Instead she started shouting. A lot.

"Did you get it?"

"Noooo... Now we have one less banana, that women is shouting at me and there's still a spider in the car."

"What the hell is going on?"

The Boy asked.

"Where's the spider?"

The answer was; no where to be seen. Eventually we lost the woman, but I still had to spend another three hours in a car with a deadly spider ready to pounce - ever fearful the thing was just above my head and the only way I could get away from it was to open the door and roll out into the road.


* It was. Totally. No exaggeration. It definitely wasn't about the size of my thumb nail because I would have dealt with it like a man, not a wet lettuce.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Women Are From Venus, Men Are From Earth

"Dad?"

"Yes, Girl?"

"When you go to work do you have to write about what you did on the weekend?"

Someone once told me that boys are physically exhausting and girls are emotionally exhausting. That's certainly true about the Girl who has, in the past, thrown a wobblers because;

Her horse didn't win the Grand National

The Cat ignored her

It was seven o'clock

The wind was blowing

And most recently because she couldn't find her favourite cuddly toy (called Mega) which was in her bloody hand. In addition to this the hypotheses she makes about the world are, put mildly, ludicrous.

"Snot is magic! When you wipe your nose on a towel it vanishes! "

"I assure you, it doesn't. Hang on, which towel did you use?"

"Your one. "

"Of course you did. Why did I ask?"

On the other hand, girls are more caring. Over the weekend I had a kick-a-bout in the back garden with my brother-in-law. Typically this involved me trying to show that I still had the silky skills of my youth. This was rather unwise because I'm forty one now, and therefore old enough to have forgotten that I never actually had any silky skills. And so, in a moment so beautifully maladroit it was almost graceful, I trod on the ball and attempted to lay down four feet off the ground.

After the laughter had stopped the assembled throng realised that I was - after a whole minute - still only halfway through saying the word "f*ck"

"Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu....! "

And my niece, bless her offered the following sympathy.

"Don't die."

Which is both sweet and disturbing in equal measure.

The Girl's reaction a couple of days later when my foot went black and purple was slightly less compassionate;

"Zombie foot! Aieeee! "

So boys are less random.

"Dad?"

"Yes, Boy?"

"Have you ever gone to work dressed as Joe Calzagie? "

Less weird.

"Is it possible to flambé a platypus?"

And so emotionally stable they never ever burst into tears because an ant didn't want to be their friend.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

A Word of Advice

"Dad, what's the Internet?"

"Well, it's a way for people to tell other people their opinion about things they don't know anything about. "

And so, this blog was born.

Regular readers may have noticed that, for a blog about parenting, there's not a lot of advice in here. At least I hope you have. I am not someone to seek advice from. I am someone on the verge of losing my parenting qualifications for gross incompetence. I was barely qualified as a person before I even had kids. I'm the only person I know who, whilst on a date, was asked;

"Can I ask you a personal question? "

"Sure. "

"How long have you known you are gay?"

"Well... Wait, what? I'm not gay. "

"Really?"

"NO! Er, I mean no. "

*Awkward pause*

"Wait a minute... If you thought I was gay, why did you agree to go on a date with me?"

"This is a date? "

On a holiday I managed (in the space of a weekend) to knock myself unconscious with;

A stairwell
A power shower
A six foot pink plastic phallus

I still can't tell the time on anything other than a digital clock (because digital watches ARE THE FUTURE).
Largely I write this to amuse myself (occasionally, I'm led to believe, other people are amused to. By my grammar). Any advice is accidental.
The reason for this is that parents just can't stop handing out advice at every juncture. It's bad enough in the real world where you can't say;

"My son's a bit poorly at the moment. "

Without some genius replying

"Have you given him calpol?"

No. I've given him methadone, you blithering imbecile.

However on Facebook, as with all things, the arsehollery is multiplied by a factor of the internet³. For instance, if you child has a fever;

"My health visitor said give the calpol when his temperature has come up. "

"Don't give calpol on a day with an 'n' in or SOMETHING AWFUL WILL HAPPEN."

"We distracted our daughter Hegemony by playing the harp and then soothed her pain with a patchouli poultice. "

"The doctor will say that you should give him calprofen. Ignore the doctor because despite their expert knowledge and experience they don't know as much as me because I have two year old and an opinion."

We're all guilty of this (I AM A MASSIVE HYPOCRITE). We justify it with the words "I'm just trying to help" when what we're actually saying is; "Please validate my existence with gratitude."

Why? Because you never hear your kids say;

"Thanks for cooking dinner, it must have taken ages! "

"I'm just going to tidy my room. "

"Would you like me to open a bottle of wine?"

"I've flushed the toilet. "

And if you do they're just covering for the fact that they've shat down the back of the sofa. Again.

So the next time you're gritting your teeth whilst someone vomits their unwanted parenting tips on you, just remember; they're living with slave driving, egocentric ingrates.

Then remember it was their choice, and tell them to piss off.

Friday, 21 March 2014

God Only Knows

I won't lie, this post is going to alienate a few people. Bit of a dangerous move on my part because losing one reader pretty much halves my readership.

The other week I went to see the Boy in a local production of a Russian folk tale. It was about the unilateral annexation of a state by a repressive regime. No wait. It was about an egg and a firebird. Or was that the news? It's so hard to keep up. Anyway, the Boy was proudly playing Chicken Number four. An important role, for the first forty five seconds of the play, leaving him plenty of time to stare vacantly into space and see how far his index finger would fit up his nose for another fifty nine minutes. Still, for the princely sum of five quid I got to sit on a school bench, work on my piles and crane round someone's head to catch a glimpse of the Boy. Who was fiddling with his bits at least all of the time.

This, however, was not the worst of the experience of the day though. Unfortunately, as often happens when I'm unaccompanied, I somehow attracted the attentions of a lunatic. Whilst in the queue I found myself chatting with the support of supermum you often find at these events. Some of you will know the type. Typically isolated by the other parents because they've all spoken to her once in the past, with the unmistakable air of someone who believes that they have been gifted a view of the world that is unshakeably RIGHT and must be shared with the world. Whether or not they want to listen.

Sadly, because I'm not terribly good at being overtly rude, these people are the flies around my dog shit. So this happened;

"Do what school does your Boy go to? "

I foolishly told her.

"Oh. That's a faith school, isn't it?"

"Yes. "

"I couldn't send my child to a faith school. I'm an athiest."

"Fair enough. "

"I don't think my child needs people to tell them fairy tales about heaven so they feel better about dying."

"So your child doesn't believe in fairy tales? "

"No."

"So no Father Christmas? Your kid doesn't believe in Santa? "

"Oh, yes. Of course he does."

"So... What's the difference? "

"Well, I don't believe in heaven."

"Oh, right. I've got some bad news about Father Christmas for you. "

This went on. It struck me as odd, as I tweeted my irritation with her as she continued to talk, that people like her actually exist in the real world. Ordinarily you only encounter them in badly written books. Which may explain why she fits so well into this blog.

"Still, it's nice that dad's make the effort to get to these things. Although I always think, at the end of the day, it's mum that kids want to see. "

"Oh, you can just f**k off."

I replied, before I'd really thought it through, somewhat surprising myself.

You see, there's something about a self righteous atheist that brings out the worst in me. I have no problem with atheists, a person's view is their entitlement. It's not my view, but I understand and respect it. But the sort of bombastic hypocrite that decries the bigotry of religions by sweeping statements about religion being the cause of all the ills in the world really could do with talking less shit and getting enlightened. People cause the world's ills. Not abstract concepts.

My kids believe in heaven and that keeps them from worrying about their own mortality and that of those they love. It hasn't warped them, and they are happier for it.

Although the other day the Girl did tell me;

"I'm not going to die until I'm a hundred. When I'm crucified."

So it might be that I know nothing.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Falling Down

Well, the party season has started, and the stakes just got raised. The Boy went to two parties this weekend, involving him in a trilogy of fun that went from ice hockey to quad biking to Quasar. Gone are the days of standing in the corner of a church hall, drinking a cup of tea whilst watching your little darlings dodge vomit on a bouncy castle. Now I'm being forced to join in. And I'm not a join in sort of chap. I'm more of a "come near me and I'll cut you" sort of chap.

The Boy has been ice skating before. We got him and the Girl six ice skating lessons after Christmas and after six weeks and thirty quid the Boy went from being able to stand up on the ice to being able to lie on his back and yell "I can't get up!". Somehow he managed to remove information from his brain. This was probably because ten minutes into his first lesson he nose dived spectacularly and hurt his wrist. Naturally, when he came off the ice he said he didn't want to do it any more. Naturally, I told him we'd spent the thirty quid, so he was bloody well going back again. I'm caring like that.

It was with some trepidation that the Boy arrived for the ice hockey. Only it wasn't ice, it was a waxed floor. This meant that it was easier to skate on supposedly. It also meant that after an hour everything I owned had wax on it and I was almost entirely frictionless. 

Certainly the Boy found it easier to move around on. Especially when he had one of those penguin shaped things to push around. However, at one point this got taken off him, and he found himself stranded in the middle of the rink. He looked forlornly at me.

"Help!"
"You're fine. Just remember your ice skating lessons!"
"I only learnt how to fall over!"

I couldn't argue with that. So, with a due sense of dread, I went and got some ice skates that purported to be my size, but turned out to be clown shoes.

I have been skating once before. It was about twenty years ago. I remember three things;


  1. I didn't like it
  2. I fell over in such a manner that when I hit the ice my elbow drew a big question mark in blood on the ice
  3. I had to be rescued by a twelve year old boy

You see, dear reader, I have the grace and elegance of a duck with an inner ear problem. Thus, when I went out onto the rink, things were destined to go only one way. Down. 

I managed to get over to the Boy with only a small amount of wind-milling my arms and stood with him, encouraging him to walk like he'd been shown in his lessons. After a moment or two he got the hang of it, and started to build his confidence.

"That's right. Like this, Boy."

And I instantly fell over. Not in a "whoops-a-daisy" way, but the sort of way people fall down a flight of stairs in leg callipers.

"Did you fall?"

The Boy asked, observant as ever. I responded with something that sounded like, but definitely wasn't;

"Nollocks."

One of the other dads had to help me up and take me to the side. The Boy refused to be seen around me for a while after that.

Then he went quad biking, which was hilarious for a range of reasons. One was that I have never seen a group of children so excited. They were literally frothing at the mouth, unable to form coherent sentences or even sounds that resembled words.

"Are you looking forward to this, kids?"
"Fmasdallalla!"
"Er, is that a yes?"
"SHAMALIDUKDUK!"

Secondly because they had to wear crash helmets that were adult sized. So the Boy looked like this;

The Stig's bobble-headed cousin

And finally because, from the moment they had their crash hats on the only thing they wanted to do was either punch each other in the face, or head butt each other. It was like a punch up at the National Association of Midget Bikers AGM. And when they eventually broke the fight up and got them on the quads - well. It turns out that when you put your average seven-year-old boy on a quad, they forget what a corner is. The whole time they were on the bikes they would ride in a straight line, stop when they got to a tyre wall and then look in bemusement over their shoulders at the two poor sods running the place. They would then get dug out of the tyre wall, let loose to ride in a straight line and repeat the whole process. I now know what the most soul destroying job in the world is. After five minutes of this I wanted to kill myself on their behalf.

Quasar was the biggest hit for the Boy it turns out - when I asked him what he enjoyed the most. Although when I asked why he replied;

"Because I shot Leon's dad in the nuts like, a hundred times!"

Friday, 7 March 2014

Embarrassment of Riches

This blog would work better if one email of my children was called Rich.

I often tell people that I'm "unembarrassable", partly because I have only a tenuous grip on the English language, and partly because of my father. My Dad was very keen on winding up his children in whatever manner he could. Making any kind of verbal blunder in front of Dad would inevitably result in being reminded of this for the rest of your life, in public. For instance, I once tried to ask the question; "How many of the ten commandments are negative?" and instead (because God hates me) the words that came tumbling out of my mouth were; "How many commandments are there in the ten commandments?"

This question has fallen into family lore. In fact, he reminded me of this faux pas during my graduation ceremony from university. In Southwark Cathedral - at the lectern. Via a microphone.

If it wasn't the fruits of the vacuum between my ears, then it was anything he thought of that would amuse him. One particular favourite was intentionally calling my girlfriend by the wrong name.

"You must be Clare."
"Daaad."
"Not Clare? Janet?"
"Knock it off, dad. You're not funny."
"Julian?" 

Due to this I have found myself fundamentally unfazed by, for instance, knocking myself unconscious on a six foot phallus in the sex museum in Amsterdam. Or tripping up and falling head first into a toilet at work.

This was all fine and dandy until I had kids. A few weeks back I picked the Boy up from his dodgeball class. He was clearly quite cheery as I walked around the school hall retrieving his school clothes from the floor, the roof, behind his ears, and the other assorted locations he'd strewn them. As we walked out of the door he showed me the paper chatterbox he'd made. You remember them, they look like this;


"Pick a colour, dad."
"Blue."
"Pee. Eye. En. Kay... Pick a number.
"I said 'blue'."
"That's not a number."
"No..." *sigh* "Eight."
"One...two...three...four...five..."
"I said 'eight'"
"It says; 'You are sexy.'"

He managed to say this, just as we were passing the headteacher, who paused for a moment and gave me a quizzical expression.

"Uh. I don't think that's a word that you should be using."
"Why? Aren't you sexy?"
"No... I mean... well, actually no. But..."
"Is Grandma sexy?"
"Will you, for the love of God, shut up?"

Sometimes it's like being haunted by the spirit of my Dad. The Girl doesn't do this sort of thing. She goes for another kind of embarrassing.

"Dad?"
"Yes."
"I didn't get to the toilet on time."
"Oh, no! Have you wet yourself?"
"No."
"Oh, good."
"I did a poo."

However, the award for maximum dadbarrassment has to go to the Boy at yesterday's swimming lesson. After the lesson had finished he went under the showers and, just as I was walking into the changing rooms with him he clutched his winkle and yelled;

"Ooh! I need a wee!"

And he ran away, still holding his winkle. I sighed and went into the changing rooms, sat down and waited. And waited.

And waited.

After about ten minutes it started to dawn on me that I was the only person in the room without a child. That I was, in the eyes of the other parents, a grey haired man with "the look", sitting on his own in a kids changing room. This started to attract looks of suspicion. After a few more minutes the other parents were holding towels around their kids and looking at me as if I was something they'd trod in. This became a little uncomfortable, so as a defence mechanism I put my hand in my pocket and reached for my phone, and stopped when one woman saw what I was doing and her eyes went as wide as saucers.

It was at this precise moment that the Boy strode into the changing rooms, completely naked and twirling his soaking wet swimming trunks around his head. For the first time in his life, he appeared to have a moment of clarity, and became aware of his surroundings. He looked first at me, then at the woman who had been looking at me (now aghast), then dropped his trunks, wiggled his hips so his bits jiggled and went;

"WOO!"

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Back Once Again

How the hell is it March?

Well, somehow three months have gone past since my last post. There's no specific reason for this - just the usual case of man planning and God laughing. Still, you'll no doubt be very pleased to know that pretty much nothing has changed in our lives since the last time we invited you in. As if to prove this yesterday, the Boy managed to do a poo that was lime green. Well, lime green and brown. This may seem like an exaggeration, but I can assure you it isn't and no I'm not going to post a picture because this isn't http://www.ratemypoo.com/

Yes. That website exists. You're just going to have to deal with that information.

I won't lie. I was a bit surprised by a lime green poo, so I called the Wife in to look at it. She was quite surprised too and, after a moment of consideration said;

"You know, that might work in the living room."

Over the past ten years I've got to understand how the Wife's mind works, and it occurred to me that she probably meant the colour. Not the actual poo. Since the Boy is seven and the Girl is five we've had several crap-free years with our living room, and I'd started to take it for granted. Plus, as a coffee-table centre piece, I don't think would have worked with the Denby tea set.

The Boy was simply delighted with what he clearly considered a new-found super-power - and was mildly crushed when we pointed out it was probably because he'd eaten candy floss the day before that was a level of blue that can only be conveyed in capital letters, font: helvetica, pica: 16

BLUE

Oh yes. Still, on a certain level it pleases me that the Boy is still young enough to think that the attractiveness of food is directly proportional with it similarity to the colour of a crayon.

Although I do wish he'd stop eating all the crayons.

Typically the Boy dealt with his disappointment that he was not going to be able to produce a rainbow or even tartan bowel movement by delving into the very secrets of the universe and coming up with the following question;

"Is it possible to flambé a platypus?"

This was infinitely preferable to the conversation the Girl was trying to embark on with me whilst she was sitting in the bath that went along the lines of;

"Do babies come from here?"

She pointed at her... er... lady garden.

"Um, yes. Darling. How was sch-?"

"What, from the hole?"

"How was school, darling?"

She ignored me, and leaned forward in the bath as if trying to see up-

"I CANNOT FUNCTION IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES!"

I yelled, and flounced out of the bathroom like the big frilly girl's blouse I am.

In fact, there is one new aspect to our lives - we're moving. Which means that the Girl can alienate a whole new set of neighbours by making a noise like a wolverine being fed into a jet engine when we're unreasonable enough to ask her to get changed, or look at her funny. Or breathe after eleven o'clock. And of course the Boy will do his bit by, as he currently does, singing a non-stop medley of the hits of Cher.

I have to take a certain amount of responsibility here, because he heard me singing "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" a few weeks ago and got a bit obsessed with the song, so I bought it for him and put it on his MP3 player, which was I thought was a fine idea. Mainly because I had never heard anything other than the first verse and therefore wasn't expecting him to walk around school singing;

"Picked up a boy just south of Mobile, gave him a ride, filled him with a hot meal. I was sixteen, he was twenty-one. Rode with us to Memphis and papa would shot him if he knew what he'd done."

There's a possibility this will have repercussions.

Friday, 22 November 2013

What just happened?

Well, that was weird. Twice in the past two weeks the Boy and Girl have managed to verbally back me into a corner. Then tonight...  Well, we'll come to that in a moment.

First of all was the Boy,  who came out with this nugget about Armistice Day;

"So you're saying that a lot of soldiers died so that we're free to say whatever we want, and to remember them we're not allowed to speak for two minutes? Well that makes sense."

Then, in an effort to get the Girl to call me Fiona again, I asked her in front of some friends;

"Girl, if you were a dog, and I was the person that owned you, what would you call me?"

*As if to an imbecile* "Woof."

Well, that told me.

So just as I'm starting to think the Kids are becoming rational little people, we come to that point on a Friday when they're both tired and emotional. As they were getting changed into their pyjamas the Girl - up until this point quite cheery - suddenly burst into tears.

"Waaaaaaaaah!"

"What's the matter Girl?"

"I'm going to miss you when you're dead!"

"Whu-? You what?"

"Your going to die in a hundred years and I'm going to miss you! "

"I'm not going to love for another hundred years, Girl..."

"WAAAAAAAAH!"

"Well, that was the wrong thing to say, eh, Boy? WHY ARE YOU CRYING? "

"Because you're going to die soon!"

"Soon?"

I mean honestly, what the hell?

Friday, 8 November 2013

Effin and Jeffin

About five million years ago, humans invented thumbs. Initially we used them to thumb our noses a "lower" species and say, in a series of grunts and whistles;

"Look! I'm Fonzi! Eeeeeyyyyyyy"

Then we realised that opposable thumbs were very useful (save for Millwall fans, who thought they looked poncy, and members of the Westboro Baptist Church who thought they were made from Satan's nipples). We used them to make tools. Tools, it turned out, were very useful things as well, as you can tell by their name; "tools" which is derived from the Latin word "Toolus" meaning "tool" (I'm a bit out of my depth here).

Since then we've used our thumbs and our tools to invent all manner of excellent things, such as neutron bombs and turkey twirlers. So you'd think the Girl would be a little more grateful than to say,  as we travelled to her swimming lesson;

"I don't like thumbs. They're like fingers only shorter, fatter and rubbish. "
"What do you like then?"

She shrugged, noncomittally and replied;

"Eyebrows are alright."
"I like winkles!"
"Shut up, Boy. "

The swimming lesson was its usual blend of sweating, trying to find a seat and narrowly avoiding falling in the pool. The Boy went first, swam well for ten minutes and then, having put on a pair of flippers, raced the length of the pool, crashed into the side and sank without trace. He returned a moment later, grinning and blearily yelling;

"That was OSSOME!"

Meanwhile the Girl have me a running list of reasons of why she didn't want to have her swimming lesson which included; "Fish poo" and "I've got burps."

Eventually the Kids switched places and once the Boy had got dressed twice-

"Take your pants off your head and FOR GOD'S SAKE STOP FIDDLING WITH THAT!"

-I have him my phone so he could play Bad Piggies.

"Oh,  man!"
"What?"
"I can't get off this level."

I took the phone off him, and spent five minutes comprehensively falling to beat the bloody thing.

"I give up. You have it."
"Thanks."
"You're welcome. I'm not very good at that game. "
"Yeah, you fucking loser."

There was a very, very long pause.

"What. Did. You. Say?"

The Boy showed his usual ability to read the time of a situation and said;

"That you're a fucking loser."

Without looking up from the phone.

"A-abuh.. Buh.. Buh... Whu-"

I said, which improved the situation immeasurably. Eventually I manged to regain enough composure to give him the talk about that word.

"Where did you learn that word?"
"In school."
"I'm not convinced its on the curriculum, kiddo. Who taught you it? "
"Why?"
"Because I'm going to kill the little shit. "

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Braaaaaains

Bloody zombies. They get everywhere.

Regular readers (hello, mum!) will be aware as part of my burgeoning mid life crisis I've taken up running. Specifically, running away from zombies. Yesterday, I got home from work to find the Wife and Kids were out. Torn between going out for a run or having my first poo in peace for seven years I came to the conclusion that running was better choice.

I was about five minutes into the run when my phone ran. It was the Wife.

"Hello. We're just about to come home. Be back about half five. The Girl is being non compliant. If I put you on speaker phone can you ask her what she wants for dinner and see if you can get her out of the tantrum?"

"I'm, like, being chased by a zombie at the moment."

*Distantly* "Girl, Dad's on the phone. He wants to know what you want for dinner."

Boy: "Spaghetti!"

The Girl said;

"HULK SMASH PUNY HUMANS!" 

Or words to that effect.

"What do you want for dinner, Girl?"

"I AM GODZILLA! YOU ARE TOKYO!"

Or similar.

"Are you a bit grumpy?"

"REDRUM! REDRUM!"

"It's not working, love."

*rrrrrrrrrrrrrr*

I sighed, and started running again. I  hadn't got very far (because I'm fat) before I got a text message.

Just got Girl out of tantrum by running over a pheasant.

Because there's nothing like an avian suicide to perk up a four year old girl.

The rest of the run was relatively uneventful save for a couple of zombie attacks and the fact that, for reasons I don't quite comprehend, the app kept making me skip. Not, like, boxing skipping.

Like; "tra-la-la!" skipping.

This turned out to be rather liberating right up until a truck driver yelled a word that sounded suspiciously like "BUNT!" at me.

I returned home to find a Girl beaming from ear to ear, with no trace of the previous Satanic possession.

"FIONA!"

She yelled, and pointed at me.

"Look, Boy! It's Fiona!"

"Who's Fiona?"

"You are!"

"Why are you calling me Fiona?"

"Duh! Because you own us!"

"What? That makes no- oh, wait... THE OWNER."

"That's what I said! We're zombies and you own us!"

"Zombies don't normally have own - "

"Braaaaains!"

"Get off! Stop biting me! "

In effort to distract them I decided to ask about their encounter with the pheasant.

"We were driving along and he crashed into my window and he died."

The Girl said, with wide eyed earnestness.

"Poor Lucky died!"

"Lucky?"

"The birdie. That's what we called him. "

"Of course you did."

"Braaaaains!"

"STOP DOING THAT!"

"Look, dad!"

Said the Boy, holding my cycling head torch to his forehead.

"EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE! I AM A GARLIC. "

"No, you're an idiot."

I said.

There was a brief interlude into this insanity whilst we had dinner. During which I said to the Boy (jokingly) ;

"I'm grumpy, Boy. Would you mind if I hit you?"

On hearing this the Girl flung a protective arm across her brother and yelled;

"DON'T YOU DARE! "

"Oh, ok. Can I hit the Girl instead?"

The Boy replied (without looking away from his dinner)

"Go for it."

What a little darling.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Pointless

"Parenting," you often hear parents say,  "is a thankless task." Parents often say stupid things, such as;

"How many times have I told you not to do that?"

"What's that sock doing on the floor? "

And my personal favourite;

"Do you want to tidy your room?"

Of course parenting is thankless. You're looking after psychotic egomaniacs. And now, in the spirit of gleeful hypocrisy, here's what drives me batshit nutty bonkers.

Ironing

No one in the history of humankind has ever reached the end of their life and said;

"I may not have lead an interesting life. I may not have won the Nobel Peace Prize, but I'm glad I did all that ironing. "

And when it  comes to kid's clothes you can bet your arse you've entered a world of futility. The scientific definition of a femtosecond is the time between a six year old putting on a perfectly ironed school shirt and it looking like it's been fed to a giraffe.

"The" Instead of "Fuh"

Childhood speech impediments can be very sweet. For instance the Boy said "Ephalent" instead of Elephant for years and I never got bored of it. I still occasionally say "Par cark" instead car park, and chicks really dig that.

However, the Girl is made of nails and pig iron, and as such her speech impediment is more... robust. She has proved completely impervious to any attempt to convince her to say "the" instead of "fuh". Mostly this gives her a bit of a Basildon twang, the sort you hear from seventeen year old women pushing their six children in a single pram whilst they take their pit bull for a walk to the tattoo parlour.

However, on occasion it causes fairly dramatic misunderstandings. Such as when she was regaling my mum with the story of when she saw a man dressed as Scooby Doo queueing to board an EasyJet flight.

"I saw Scooby Doo! "

"Really? Where? "

"Fuh queue!"

Hair

Washing hair is a bit of a chore. At one point the Girl had hair about the length you normally see on a concert cellist. It was so long you had to erect scaffolding before you could start to wash it. So it took about forty five minutes to wash, condition, comb and dry. And since I'm a man, whenever I try to plait her hair she ends up looking like a scarecrow. As for the Boy, regardless of how we cut his hair I'm unable to dry it without making him look like Hitler. Bath night in our house generally resembles a rather dark version of the Wizard of Oz.

Batteries

Everything these days takes batteries. The Boy got a wooden train set for Christmas one year and even that took batteries. And they never take standard size batteries, they all take tiny ones with serial numbers for names that you can only buy from specialist retailers and which cost the soul of your first born child.

We invested in rechargeable batteries, which saves a fair amount of money but comes with the disadvantage of having to hold a "battery amnesty" every two weeks to charge the bloody things up. This involves opening every single toy, normally with a screwdriver. Because if you don't, creepy shit happens. We were bought a musical table (yes, you read that right) that, when the batteries were low, would suddenly switch itself on and play music eerily out of key. Usually at three in the morning. Which meant I'd wake up thinking Freddy Kruger was coming for me.

Monopoly

I'm not a fan of board games, but Monopoly holds a special place on my mantelpiece of hate. Aside from the fact that you win the game by aggressive land purchases and uncompromising rental contracts (and if that doesn't scream fun for all the family I don't know what does) there's the fact that the result is normally a forgone conclusion within twenty minutes but you're forced to grind on with the game for another four hours. Even the "quick" version takes at least two hours. That's not a game, that's a job.

But mostly I don't like it because I've never won, regardless of how hard I try. In the past week I've played the Boy twice. He beat me both times. I cheated the second time and kept stealing money from the bank when he wasn't looking (I'm not proud). He still beat me. When we finished he slapped his forehead and said;

"Oh, man. I was trying to let you win. "

So I got the Girl to tell him where she saw Scooby Doo.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Skool Daze

Well, now we find ourselves with two children in school. It seems like only yesterday that we were dealing with incessant crying, sore bums and wall to wall poo. Actually, it was only yesterday and its probably better we move on.

The Girl's first day at school was relatively smooth sailing. Especially given the Boy's pep talk in the car.

"You'll really like school, Girl. My favourite thing is play time and golden time. "

"*Ahem* The LESSONS are really good too, aren't they, Boy? "

"Not really. Especially maths and English. They're rubbish."

"I don't want to go to school! "

"Brilliant. Thanks, Boy. "

And so the Girl went into school knuckling the tears from her eyes. Her teacher, a kindly and well meaning sort, took her hand and said;

"Come on, let's go and find some girls to play with."

Not realising the Girl doesn't like girls and, when cornered, acts like a wounded wolverine. Fortunately, thus far there haven't been any a fatalities, which is a blessing because we wouldn't want the Girl impacting on the school's OFSTED rating. The people in the village might get a bit churlish. And the lack of homicide is all the more surprising since the Girl told me tonight that her friend and future husband told her today that he wants to marry another girl, called Molly.

"No one wants to marry me. "

She said, forlornly. My initial reaction to this was to go over to Molly's house and shout through the letterbox;

"Keep your hands off my daughter's boyfriend!"

And then use weed killer on her lawn to write the word "SLUT".

But, once again it turns out that what (to any right minded person) is a perfectly rational reaction, society at large deems "not socially acceptable" and "criminal damage"

All of this has led to the inevitable parents evening. Last night was my turn. Naturally I'd completely forgotten about this, so the Wife greeted me with this information as we passed each other on the doorstep, me returning from work, her on her way out.

I have a lot of time for teachers.  I've mentioned before that I spent a short time teaching in primary schools and am well experienced in the buffoonary and grade A arseholery of some parents. So I have no problem going to parents evening. At least I didn't right up until the Wife said;

"You have to be there for six fifteen. "

"Ok."

"It finishes a half past eight. "

"Ok.. Wait... You mean half six, right? I mean... ha, ha, ha... I'm not going to... TWO HOURS?"

What is there to talk about at a four year old's parents evening?

"Our learning goals for this term are for the Girl to; keep her arse in her trousers for longer than five minutes and to stop yelling 'I'M PUNCHING MYSELF IN THE NOO-NOO!' "

It turns out it was a forum to discuss how the school, the governors and the parents could improve the school. This was all done (but too frigging long). Annoyingly, they served wine and Is bloody well driven down there, as getting slaughtered would have made the whole thing more bareable. More annoyingly, the elderly governer I was on a table with pounded five glasses in the first half hour and spent the rest of the evening alternating between sleeping and dribbling.

Meanwhile the Boy remains completely unchanged by his return to school.

"Why haven't you put your trousers away? You got distracted, didn't you?"

"OOH! ANT!"

Still, his drawing is coming along nicely. Here's a picture of his mum.


That's a saucepan, by the way.

It's not a penis.

Really, it isn't.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Antisocial Services

On the way home today I had to swerve to avoid a young mum who was busily pushing her newborn child into traffic whilst looking in the wrong direction and chatting on the phone. In gratitude for not crashing into her, she swore at me in her best estuary foghorn while the car behind me also swerved extravagantly around her. This served as a neat reminder that whilst it's easy to be a good parent, it's even easier to be a shit one.

When I first became a parent whenever the Boy would cry at night I'd make the generic gag about the neighbours calling social services. Because, of course, you never imagine you're going to be put in a situation where someone might call social services. Or the Police.

A situation, for instance, like when your daughter throws a tantrum in the middle of a busy shopping centre and, as a change from the monotony of yelling "No!"  over and over, she starts yelling;

"I want daddy! I want my daddy! "

And none of the passersby seem convinced as you hiss;

"I AM your daddy! "

Or the situation where your son, on a crowded beach, announces to the assembled throng;

"My dad doesn't like to be naked in public. "

Which wouldn't be weird if it weren't for the fact that no one had asked.

Or the situation where your children start calling each other "Mummy" and "Daddy" whilst having a sword fight (because, apparently, that's how we roll) and when your son attacks your daughter she yells (loud enough to be heard in an adjoining county);

"No, daddy! DON'T HURT ME! WHY, DADDY? WHY? "

Or the situation (and forgive me if I've mentioned this before) when your daughter tries to call the cat in by standing at the back door whilst staring at your burly next door neighbour and yelling" Pussy! " at him.

And yet, in the pyramid scheme that is my life, my Kids are firmly at the top and that, I think is the key.

Whilst I may moan about people giving their kids ridiculous names that are nothing more than a random collection of vowels and consonants, or intentionally misspelt traditional names (Alyx, Kris etc.) that doesn't mean they're bad parents.

It means they have a lack of class or are borderline illiterate.

Outside of the extreme cases of child abuse, the really bad parents are the ones who put themselves first. Because if you didn't want to spend time with your kids, you shouldn't have had them in the first place, you selfish arsehole.

And I'm not saying I'm perfect. The Boy has become obsessed with Nintendogs, and when he proudly showed me his dogs I noted he has; a miniature schnauzer, a toy poodle and a pug - which is the sort of menagerie you would expect a drag queen or Liberace to have. But I try to be open minded, and if he wants to call his dogs Raul, Talula and Joan Collins, that's fine with me.

However, if you're the sort of person that is more interested in talking on the phone than ensuring the safety of your child, might I suggest you get your shit in order?

Thanks.





For the person I spoke to first thing this morning.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

19th Nervous Breakdown


And so, the summer holidays which went so well last year we decided to do exactly the same thing again. Mainly because we wanted to bring back a motherlode of cheap vin. This meant another mammoth drive the length of France.

Sadly, the Car was not in great shape, having a bit of a wobble which our local garage inspected, shrugged over and said;

"Might be alright."
So being sensible people, we decided to drive 2200 kilometres in an iffy motor. As we drove around the periferique in Paris, we crossed the Seine where we saw a sign I believe I have translated correctly as;

FERK YEW! NUR ROAD MARKINGS FUR YEW, STUPID ENGLEESH.

Because at that point the road markings vanished. This had no effect on the native French drivers, since they weren't bloody following them anyway. However, we were, and our journey rapidly disintegrated into a maelstrom of stress and blaming each other until we came out the other side.

However, this and a crazy French man playing "Who's lane is it anyway?" aside, we arrived at our beautiful gite unscathed and only slightly disturbed to find the front of the building was held up by three acroprops. A lovely large house, big enough for two families as well as a large number of flies, silverfish and enormous bees that looked like little flying Darth Vaders.

I shall not dwell on the pleasant aspects of the holiday, such as the company of the friends staying with us, or the food or wine or relaxation - since you don't make readers laugh with "had a lovely time, nothing went wrong." The reader friendly highlights involved;

Going to the beach (or, as they call it in French,  "Le ashtray") and the Boy and his friend standing in the sea, eating baguettes and eyeing up two women in bikinis in the least subtle manner possible. (Also, the Boy's friend's sotto voiced "Dad, some of these ladies aren't wearing tops! " as if we hadn't noticed. Which we had. Several times.)

An attempt at a car based game that went;

"Can you say four words that rhyme with: tree? "
Boy "Wee. Me. Three."
Girl "Bibble? Is it bibble?"
"No"
Girl "Ooh! Ooh! Is it whore?"

The moment when, after bravely assisting a family that had driven into a ditch I realised I'd been wearing the Wife's pink sandals.

The Boy in the supermarche pointing at a pack of Tena  for men and asking me if I needed them.

The Boy trying to get out of the way of a car by running in three different directions at once.

But it was the Girl who stole the limelight. We were sitting around the dinner table when, in the style of a Jane Austen protagonist  she suddenly piped up;

"I've got to tell you something. "

We all turned to look at her, and once she gauged all attention was on her she announced;

"I'm preglant."

And potato came out of my nose.

By the time we started the return journey after two weeks the Car  was wobbling like an actress accepting an Oscar. At a service station somewhere near Dijon the Wife and I discussed the likelihood of the car finishing the journey (low), breaking down after we'd got the ferry over to Blighty (even) or keeling over just outside Calais (you bet your sweet arse). This had a fairly dramatic effect on my need for the toilet, so I went off to find the loo.

Initially signs seemed good. Literally. The sign for the men's toilets was this;

Bowel movements! Yay!
Which suggested that either it was going to be the best crap of my life, or a warning about cottaging. It turned out neither of these were true as this was one of those peculiarly French loos which is fundamentally two footmarks and a hole. Now, I love the French, but if after several thousand years your sanitation system still consists of crouching over a hole and praying your aim is good (especially in a country that considers the flip flop it's national footwear), I refuse to accept it as a civilised society.

About two hundred kilometres from Calais the Car started making a WOM WOM WOM that had the word "terminal" written through it like a stick of rock. For nearly two hours we dealt with this by turning the radio up and singing loudly. At one point we were singing Simon and Garfunkel, it was that bad. Somehow we limped onto the ferry and an hour later breathed a sigh relief as the ferry doors opened onto the white cliffs of Dover. The relief was palpable right up until we drove off the ferry into the worst rain storm I have ever seen. It was like someone has turned the sea sideways. On seeing this the Boy collapsed into hysterical laughter and told us it was the funniest rain he had ever seen.

Long story short, we made it back. Two weeks of relaxation totally erased by the journey back. When my Mum asked the Kids what they liked best about their holiday the Boy said;

"Teaching my dog to roll over in Nintendogs."

Whereas the Girl insisted she didn't like France based on the fact that;

"They have pips in their grapes. "

Money well spent, I'm sure you'll agree.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Fit to Drop

So I've been out running a lot recently. Those of you that know me will realise that in previous years I would have been more likely to say "So I've been taking the rough edge of a pineapple to myself"  but hey, times change and life insurance doesn't get cheaper.

What makes the pain and effort worth it is that I get to come home to the bosom of my family where my aching bones will be met by the Wife's loving and sympathetic;

"Aw... Have you got a hurty knee? MAN UP, PRINCESS! "

The other night I returned from a run to find the rest of the family sitting outside waiting to see if they could see any bats.

"Is that a bat?"

The Girl asked, pointing at a pigeon.

"No. It's a pigeon. "

"What's it doing?"

"Flapping. "

"I'm scared of flaps."

And since the Wife and I have got the same level of maturity as a 13 year old school boy we both collapsed into laughter until the Girl kicked me in the shin.

Similarly today I cycled home from work - and allow to digress a moment - during which I had the most civil disagreement of my entire life. I was cycling on,  and I can't emphasise this enough, A CYCLE PATH where a delightful elderly couple were walking their dog in such a way they took up the whole path. I gave a gentle ding on my bell twice to no avail and only when my brakes started squealing as I stopped did they turn around. I gave them a cheery smile, and the lovely elderly lady said, with a voice like Hyacinth Bucket;

"You could ring your bell, you know. "

I smiled again.

"I did,"

I said, politely,

"I'm afraid it's not very loud. "

"Well maybe you should get a louder one, "

she suggested, not unkindly. I stopped and turned around.

"Could I ask a question? "

"Yes?"

"Would you walk along a busy road and expect cars to toot at you so you could get out of the way? "

Clearly seeing where I was going with this, she bristled and testily said;

"I might!"

"Well, then it's a pleasant surprise for you that you haven't been weeded out of the gene pool by natural selection. The unfortunate consequence for society is that there's just that little bit more stupid in the world. "

And then I finished with -  and I'm not kidding -

"I bid you good day, madam."

Which I've never said before in my life.

That was when she called me a prick.

Anyway, when I returned home it was the Boy who supplied the entertainment. A friend dropped by to drop off some shorts for the Wife. We're off on our holibobs tomorrow, you see. Whilst chatting to our friend I mentioned that it took going on a two week holiday for me to realise I only have seven pairs of underwear. And no, they don't have the days of the week on them. My socks do though. My friend replied jokingly;

"You could borrow my other half's pants. He's still got some in the plastic. "

"My pants were in plastic until this morning. Look, "

the Boy said,  strolling over and pulling his strides down.

"Boy! Not cool! "

Deftly ignoring me he continued;

"I like these one's because they've got a pee hole. Look."

"Noooooooooo! "

Monday, 29 July 2013

Man Plans, God Laughs

So we went camping, and everything went brilliantly. For the first time in six years we went out into the wide world and no one lost an eye, I didn't explode into a vast and impotent rage and (due to the Girl's metaphorical toys remaining in her metaphorical pram) the High Street of Cromer didn't come to a standstill. It was a sterling success.

Almost.

We'd managed to go three days without mishap or mayhem. Three days of sunshine, beaches, ice cream and lashings and lashings of waiting-until-the-Kids-went to-bed-and-then-drinking-ourselves-unconscious. On the last day we found ourselves standing by our cars, neatly packed with our camping accouterments, the picture of parental smugness. We were just patting ourselves on the back for getting our tents back into their bags without a) swearing or b) splitting the bag and disgorging a pile of canvas and poles into the grass when our friend's youngest child casually strolled over and said;

"The Boy just did a poo in the secret toilet."
"Er... What?"
"Yeah. He did a poo in the secret toilet and then I covered it up and did a wee on it."

With look of anxious hope I turned to his dad and said;

"Heh. Fertile imagination your boy's got there."
"I don't think he's joking."

Bollocks.

I turned and marched over to the children's playground where the Boy was sitting on a swing looking like the cat that got the cream and then took a shit on a secret toilet. He beamed at me as I walked over.

"Boy. Did you do a poo?"

He nodded, grinning.

"WHERE did you do a poo?"

Still grinning, he pointed to his right at a hollowed out tree stump.

"You didn't."

Of course he did.

This prompted a slightly frantic conversation during which I extolled the virtues of getting in the cars, lighting up the tyres and making a run for the border. Based on this, the general consensus was that I had to go and clean it up.

So with a heavy heart and a Sainsbury's carrier bag, I walked back to the scene of the crime and... well it was a bit like this

Except that when I scooped I realised that either the Boy had eaten a cow, or he wasn't the first to use the secret toilet. So there you go; man plans, God laughs and your Boy takes a shit in a tree when you're not paying attention. It's a lesson for life, my friends.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Art for Arseache

It's been a normal kind of week in our household. The cat has found a new career ethnically cleansing the local area of wildlife. So, the Wife put a bell on him. This has had two effects; firstly, he plays a lovely tune whilst he snacks on small birds and secondly, I keep waking up in middle of night convinced we are being burgled by a morris dancer
.
Meanwhile, the Boy has been writing a newspaper. Allow me to broaden the readership of his first issue.



This is the front cover, advertising a food and drink festival with the tempting offer of a free bag of sticks. Ironically though, dogs aren't allowed.


Here is the aforementioned bag of sticks.


These are, quite clearly, bad people. The gentleman on the top right is "sicking up blood" whilst his accomplice to the bottom left is "sicking up hair." Which marks them out as bad people.


The headline on this page reads; "The Danger in Japan"




This chap unwisely posed for a photograph whilst holding a knife. 
It is a knife.
He's not giving you the finger.



There's nothing I can say that will explain this.

So, um... that's the news.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Learning to Fly

The single best thing about today is that I didn't shit myself.

Ordinarily I consider the sort of day where I fail to disgrace myself as the status quo. But it's Wednesday, and I've never quite got the hang of Wednesdays.

Regular readers (hello, mum!) may feel that I have a bit of a poo fixation, but the truth of the matter is that yeah, alright, I have. However the events of the last 24 hours have done nothing to convince me I'm wrong.

To prevent this from becoming too graphic, I'm going to use a metaphor at this point. Ordinarily I'm as regular as a railway time table. Most days three trains leave the station. However, for the past two days there's been a signal failure and to put it mildly the passengers are revolting.

So last night I took something that would fix the signal problem. Unfortunately, in an uncharacteristic move, I slightly overdid it. As such I awoke this morning to find the station rumbling away, threatening the possibility of an express train. However, by the time I was ready to go to work the line was still blocked.

This was the background to my morning commute to work by bike. I cycled along merrily enough, confident that short of a disaster I would make it to work without expelling something awful.

Disaster inevitably struck as I was cycling by the river and spied a chap riding slowly in front of me.

"Out of my way, fatty!"

I thought, swerving  brilliantly onto the grass to go round him, expertly standing up and deftly pedalling straight into a massive hole. The bike took this badly, went base over apex and ejected me a full eight feet across the field.

I was in the air long enough to think

"This'll hurt."

Followed by

"I'm going to poop when I hit the g-"

At which point, I hit the ground. But did not poop.

"Fatty" meanwhile was kind enough to help me to my feet, pick up the broken remnants of my bike and ask if I was okay. To which I replied

"I think so. At least I didn't shit myself!"

Heroic.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The Parallax View

There's a common cliche in science fiction stories about a protagonist who travels to a parallel universe where ALL IS NOT WHAT IT SEEMS. And so, dear reader, by virtue of moving into someone else's house, I have become such a protagonist.

You see, in my own home I know where things are. Well, most things. For instance, I don't know where the tampons are. In fact, on occasion I find tampons and, since I'm not really familiar with such things, think they're Nerf gun darts.  In my own defence this has only happen maybe six or seven times.

 Anyway, aside from tampons, in my own house I know where to find, for instance, a knife in the cutlery drawer. Because right minded people keep their cutlery in the following order from left to right; spoons, forks, knives. And then below these in the little horizontal bit, are the tea spoons.

No so here. Here the order of the cutlery draw is; knives, forks, spoons. However, the spoons are tea spoons, and the dessert spoons are down below.

This simply will not do. Things like this mess with my mojo, and given the nature of my freaky-deaky offspring, I need my shit unmessed. I was bemoaning this fact the other day to my brother-in-law, father-in-law and evil-step-mother-in-law whilst trying to find the charcoal for a barbeque I was meant to be cooking. Mainly I was bemoaning this because I couldn't find the charcoal until my father-in-law said;

"Found it. The charcoal's in the rabbit hutch."

Of course it is. That's where sane people keep their charcoal. I found the firelighters on a small island in the middle of the point.

Fortunately the Kids have made the transition into a new house relatively easily. Admittedly over the weekend the Boy said;

"I feel homesick for our old house."
"Well, I miss our old house too."

The Girl piped up.

"I miss our new house."
"How can you miss the new house?"
"Ignore her, dad." *Conspiratorialy* "It's the hormones."

But on the whole things are pretty much back to normal. As demonstrated when the Girl told the Wife;

"If you want, I can teach you to be naughty."
"Er...okay."
"Well, first you have to shout 'No, no, no!.' Then you have to cry loads and then you lay down on the floor and don't move."
"You haven't lost your touch then?"

The Girl then showed the Wife what she meant, and when the Wife told her it was time to pick up the Boy, the Girl followed her pretend tantrum with an actual tantrum.

Meanwhile, the Boy is still playing conversational twister by responding randomly to any statement.

"I'm wearing a shirt today because we have to go church for assembly and I want to look smart."
"Well, I think you look very smart."
"Ha ha! And when I went to the office the other day because of my breath* someone had been sick and they put cat litter on it."
"Did you hear what I said?"
"Look at those tits!"

I should point out, they were blue tits.

Best of all, however, was the moment that came when I was making a complete arse of myself attempting to fix the brakes on my bike. As I was persuading the brakes with a hammer I heard the noise of a low flying aircraft and looked up to see a B17 bomber loom over the horizon. I called the Boy and Girl who were having their dinner at the time. The Boy ran to the door with a spoon in one hand a a yoghurt in the other and gazed up at the bomber as it buzzed over the horizon.

"Cool."
"That's the Sally B. I think it's the last airworthy B17 in this country."
"What's a B17?"
"It's a bomber."

The Girl's, who was looking a bit bored, suddenly looked more interested.

"Is it going to bomb us?"
"No, darling. It doesn't have any bombs. It's a old bomber from World War II"

She looked at me disapprovingly, as if to say "Well, if I'm not going to see a bomb, what's the point?" The Boy decided to regain her attention by teaching her what he knew about World War II.

"You see, some really horrible people started a war with England."
"Why did they want a war with England?"
"Well, they had the First World War and they thought; 'That went well' so they decided to have another one."

* He had asthma. Not, like, halitosis or something.