Tag Archives: Pragmatists

11.6.11 – For The Last And Final Time? *

11 Jun

*Of course it would be the final time if it was the last time, but since when did I let tautology get in the way of a dramatic title?  We haven’t all been Freshly Pressed yet, you know.

Today’s topic is brought to you courtesy of Six Word Saturday:

I’m bored with the number posts.

Regular readers know that since 1.1.11 I have been blogging on the year’s fun numbers.  At first, on the first day and it being the first time of the year, it was amusing.  But we are half way through the year and it’s become repetitive.  Look, I’ll show you:

I bet you dozed off before you reached the end of that list, didn’t you?  I know I did.  It’s natural; real, even.  It would be odd if you didn’t.

I didn’t bother writing a 6.6.11 post and no one noticed.  That left me positive that the number posts are past their prime.  I don’t mean to be negative, but I think these posts are beginning to sound as if they’re written by the numbers – when was the last time I  showed you a funny You Tube clip or sunny photo of the Queen to illustrate them? 

I figure the best solution is to ask you, my faithful and beloved readers, to work once again; it’s the rational thing to do. 

Here’s a poll:

When Defeat Is Victory

7 May
Dunkirk Beach

Image via Wikipedia

I can think of two examples: Dunkirk, and Tory Boy’s first time on a ballot paper.

The two are not comparable, of course: I have nothing but admiration for the men at Dunkirk and those who spent days ferrying them to safety.  I once met a Dunkirk survivor.  He lived next door to my Nan, and took my teenage self in for a cup of tea because she was out when I arrived.  I spotted his certificate and he told me all about it.  I very much regret not keeping a notebook back then, because all I remember is the dim light in the flat and the certificate in the frame.

I admire my son, too.  He was asked to stand as a candidate where he lives, in Thursday’s council elections, knowing that he would not win.  He did stand; he didn’t win; he didn’t mind: it was his duty. 

He did rather better than might have been expected, though; of the three Conservative candidates, he polled the most votes:

Party

Votes

Elected

Liberal Democrat 202 Not Elected
Labour 1131 Elected
Conservative 467 Not Elected
Conservative 407 Not Elected
Green 731 Not Elected
Labour 931 Elected
Liberal Democrat 130 Not Elected
Liberal Democrat 98 Not Elected
Labour 1085 Elected
Green 522 Not Elected
Green 419 Not Elected
Conservative 303 Not Elected

He laughed when I congratulated him.  It was an alphabet accident: of the three, his name came first on the ballot paper. 

Makes you despair of the electorate, doesn’t it?

Anyway, well done, Tory Boy: I’m so proud that you were willing to fall on your sword for the party.

The Laughing Housewife Is Decorated For Services To Housework

21 Mar
Dried green paint

Image via Wikipedia

I’m sorry: my fingers misread my thoughts.  That should read: The Laughing Housewife Is Decorating As Part Of Her Indentured Servitude.

The house was re-wired fourteen months ago.  I need to paint the ceilings, particularly around the light fixtures.  You might think it has taken me a long time to get to it but you have to factor in:

  1. I walk the dogs a lot.
  2. In that time I have painted and/or papered the lounge, downstairs hall, upstairs hall, Tory Boy bedroom, downstairs toilet, one side of the bannister.
  3. I play computer games a lot.
  4. I couldn’t do anything while the kitchen and bathroom were refurbished.
  5. I spend all day writing blogs, reading blogs, writing comments on blogs, reading comments on blogs, replying to comments on blogs.
  6. In Tilly Bud Time, fourteen months is nothing: it took me six years to finish decorating the hall, by which time I had to re-paint the woodwork and the paper was two different shades because the stuff that had gone up first had faded to a dirty hand print colour.

I only have to paint two ceilings, so an afternoon should do it.  By which I mean it will take at least a week.  There’s the shifting, the carting, the cleaning, the dusting, the wall prep, the equipment to dig out of the loft, the sheets to cover everything, the arguing with the Hub because I’m exhausted and in a bad mood, the long bath to soak away aches and pains and plan his assassination, the cleaning up once I’m done, the long bath because I should have cleaned up before I took the first long bath and now I’m dirty again from cleaning, and the lying on the couch in the recovery position while my grateful family bring me cups of Earl Grey tea and apologies because they forgot to buy me a thank you box of Maltesers.

I’m telling you all this not to show how industrious I am, which I am, but to apologise in advance if I don’t comment on your blog or reply to comments on mine for the next few days.  I planned to start the decorating today and I’m already a day behind because I’m going out tonight and I can’t paint, cook and weep at an amateur production of Hamlet all in one day.  I’ll start tomorrow.  Or Wednesday.

Discovering The Truth

5 Mar
What's wrong with capital letters?
Image by hugovk via Flickr

THIS is the weekly theme from Viewfromtheside’s Blog. 

I was going to go with my Dad’s cancer diagnosis or my Mum’s issueI’vedecidednottotalkaboutafterall: something grim for a dull Saturday.  BUT as I was typing I had a real revelation; here it is:

I discovered the truth about why all newspaper articles start with the first word in capital letters.  IT’S not to catch the reader’s eye or make a bold point: it’s because the typist’s fingers are too quick for the brain.

THINK about it: how many times have you had to go back and re-type the first word of every sentence?  I do it all the time. 

THAT’S one puzzle solved.  TWELVE million to go.

The Million Dollar Question

19 Feb
Eiko and her credit card

Image by eikootje via Flickr

What would you do with a million dollars, tax free?

I was going to be flippant, as usual: pay off my credit cards and buy a box of Maltesers with the change.  But then I had a think about the things I really want that money can buy.

Yes, I would pay off my credit cards but there’d be plenty of change.  I would sleep a little better at night.

Money can’t make the Hub well, but it could make his life easier: a hot tub for his aches and pains.  A taxi service for the boys and me so we didn’t have to stretch his limited energy reserves.  There would be enough money to pay for the things he likes doing, which would raise his endorphin levels, which would help him to feel a little better.  Small but significant changes.

I’d pay off Tory Boy’s student debt and put enough away for Spud’s when the time comes.  Give them driving lessons and a Berlitz language course.  They’d have all they need to face life then, because they’re already smart.

Redecorate our bedroom.

I’d see certain people right, as a thank you for their kindness to me/us.  Something for charity as well.  The Hub has this dream of winning huge amounts so he could set up a trust that would help people who couldn’t find money elsewhere: like the person who needs life-saving treatment in another country or the old man who can’t afford to bury his wife.  The awful things we read about in the paper.

I can’t think of anything else.  With the love of a good man and two fantastic sons, I’m rich enough. 

Wait!  I forgot one: with all that dosh floating around he wouldn’t be able to stop himself buying more crap: I’d buy the Hub a warehouse.

This Is An Amended Post

15 Feb

free counters

Because it wasn’t meant to be a post at all. 

I read Sarsm‘s post with excitement this morning, because I have always wanted one of these flag counters on my blog.  ‘It’s all straight forward enough’ she assured me, bless her heart. 

Of course it wasn’t: she didn’t know the greatest technept in the world was about to mangle it.  I don’t know how to make the email contact details whateveryoucallit so that you can click on it to contact me instead of having to copy _ ) ( * where is the stupid plus sign on this stupid foreign keyboard!!? copy + paste my email address.  I have outdated widgets on my right; and I would love to add the postaday2011 widget to my blog but I can’t get the hang of it, despite following the WordPress instructions to the letter.

By the way, you might come across this post while I’m halfway through updating and it won’t make much sense: that’s because I had forgotten it was a published post and when I went to save there was no ‘save’ button so I used ‘update’ and, despite the fact that this is post number 667, it was only then I realised that the published post would be amended publicly.  Furthermore, if you are unfortunate enough to be reading this now, you get to see the magic in action as I fix spellings, change font colours, rearrange sentences.  Like sausages and laws, laughinghousewife posts should not be viewed in the making.  I can only apologise.  Because I certainly can’t work a blog.

I obeyed Sarsm and clicked on her flag counter.  I was taken to a page that should have been dressed as a cartoon witch because it curled its elongated crone fingers at me and crooned, ‘Get yours!’  Taking one careful step at a time, I did.

The result was an email in my inbox: ‘[New post]thelaughinghousewife’.  Yes, I subscribe to my own blog.  I don’t want to miss anything.  You’re mocking now but I have been proven (and in this blog that’s pronounced ‘proo-ven’, not the fancy-schmancy BBC ‘pro-ven’ that does my ‘ead in) right: how else would I have discovered that the Flag Counter people sent my flag counter in a new post?

That’s right: I have my very own flag counter.  Not on the right, under my ancient widgets, inflated blog roll and stats; but in a post.  A post I am going to have to find every time I want to check flags.  Fine for the next week or even month; but after that?  I’m up to three posts a day: you do the math.  And while you’re at it, tell me this: what have Americans got against the letter ‘s’?

To increase my already massive frustration (be glad if you’ve come late to this post because all pretend expletives have by now been deleted), I have to enable Publicize Yahoo!, Facebook and Twitter again; and change my password.  That took me forty minutes because I couldn’t figure out where to do it so I reverted to my tried and trusted method of click everything until something looks useful.

I have just heaved the most massive sigh and you know why?  As I’ve been updating this post, the flag counter has been updating the number of views and it’s wrong: as of this moment I have had 106 page views, according to the flag counter; but only 46 hits. 

I broke the flag counter.  Which has reciprocated by breaking me.  This is thelaughinghousewife signing off for the final time: I’m off to India to be recycled as a washing machine.

 

Is My Marriage Going To Last? Let’s Ask The Washing Machine

11 Feb

Haven’t washing machines come a long way?  First there were rivers and rocks.  Then came washboards and buckets and mangles – my Nan had those; as well as a roof maiden.  I remember them in her kitchen. 

Next came the twin-tub washing machine to make a woman’s life easier (it was always a woman): I’m sure my Mum liked nothing better after a full working week and her two part-time jobs, to stand on a Saturday afternoon in our kitchen and schlep pile after pile of dirty clothes into one drum for washing; schlep them out of that drum into a basket while she washed the next lot of clothes in the same water (always wash cleanest to dirtiest); and the next; and the next.  Or maybe she used the sink and rinsed them in there by hand; before schlepping them into the second drum for spinning; finally, she would schlep the whole soggy pile into the garden to dry, or on to the radiators as it usually wasn’t; and then start all over again.

My mother didn’t complain because it beat using a washboard; and my Dad would help with the lifting if he wasn’t working.

I remember the day we got our first automatic washing machine and a tumble dryer.  Once installed and in use, we all sat on chairs in front of the washer and admired it as it spun round and round and round and…you get the idea.  Dad, my brother and I soon got bored and cleared off, but Mum sat for ages.  I have always thought it was because she never got when a joke stopped being amusing, but as I write this it suddenly occurs to me that it was probably her first sit-down in months and she was making the most of it.

My parents sold the appliances when we emigrated to South Africa, and I remember they got £50 for the tumble dryer and bought my brother a grey leather jacket with it.

When the Hub and I married way back in the last century (1985) we had no money and we were given a twenty-two-year-old twin tub washing machine by the parents of his best man.  We honeymooned for a week in Cape Town and flew back on a Monday night, arriving home at around three in the morning.  I woke up in the late afternoon to find the Hub slaving over the ancient washer and our dirty clothes all clean and drying on the line.  When a man does that on the first proper day of marriage and brings you breakfast in bed as well, you know you’ve got a good ‘un. 

We gave away the twin-tub when we moved to Jo’burg, and the last I heard it was still working.

*

This post was inspired by my reply to a comment from nrhatch on My Dream Vacation and Viewfromtheside’s Blog’s Weekend Theme prompt, invention.  Pop across there if you want to see variations on the theme.

*

And finally….

You all enjoyed the searches so much, I thought you might like this one from today:

cartoon talking toasts that are funny

And you think I’m nuts.

Writer’s Island: Adventure

6 Nov
Wisdom Teeth

Image by tarale via Flickr

A Denture Adventure


A juvenile reaction
to a baby tooth extraction:


£2 – Yeah!

 

A middle-aged reaction
to a wisdom tooth extraction:

 

Quake
Quiver
Sob
Shiver
Cry
Weep
Pills
Sleep
Moan
Groan
Complain
Pain

 

An elderly reaction
to a last-ever extraction:

 

Sigh
Slurp
Burp

*

*

You can see other interpretations of the prompt at http://writersisland.wordpress.com/

Holiday’s A-Comin’

17 Aug

The Sun newspaper may be regularly derided and vilified but ten million readers will agree that they have great offers. Page 3 Girl Lucinda Lexicona from Luton declares ‘I asseverate that Sun readers are indebted to the editor’s munificence and much esteem their £9.50 caravan holidays.’


Not having had a holiday together in twelve years (and that was a disaster never to be spoken of again while the Hub and I are breathing…ssh! He’s coming), we thought it might be a good idea to splash out a tenner each for the four of us.

I bought the paper and saved the vouchers and we were all set to go when it suddenly occurred to us that we probably couldn’t take our dogs to stay in Pontins’ holiday flats. We were right. Mightily disappointed but not prepared to send our pets to kennels that cost more per night than we were paying for the week, we put away our sun block (for holding the door open to let in a little rain) and thunk again.

Thinking not being our thing, we were relieved when The Sun rode to our rescue with a fresh plan: cut out these here noo vouchers and you can go camping (at a camp site that allows dogs) for £1 a night. We simply had to phone our chosen camp site, book it, and pay up front.

We upgraded to a stand with electricity and mentioned the dogs and a week’s camping holiday in Abergele with our dogs and however many of our kids can tolerate our snoring in October when it’s turning cold(er) and wet(ter) after this delightful summer of leaky skies, will cost us a grand total of £25.

Now all we have to do is buy a tent.

Travels With My Hub

19 Jul

The Writer’s Island prompt this week is ‘reunion’. The poetry part of my brain has ceased to function so I thought instead I would tell you about the Hub’s trip to the island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean. It was about 1993 when he was working as a salesman for Henred Fruehauf, selling articulated trailers.

They didn't look quite like this when he sold them...

When he first got the job I thought he was selling those little Venter trailers that cars pull; he was quite insulted – particularly as he had been there two years before I realised my mistake.  

http://www.trailerworld.co.za/

 

He was on a three-week trip taking in Mauritius, Madagascar and Reunion. Before you get all jealous, he had it hard (so he tells me): three weeks away from his wonderful wife and first-born child – and six weeks of me not talking to him because he was away so long. One year he was away for a total of twenty-seven weeks; he wasn’t fighting a war so I didn’t see the need.

 

Mauritius might be a wonderful holiday destination but it’s not a great place to be on your own, on business: soppy honeymooners do not want a lonely businessman attaching himself to them. He said it was the only place he never enjoyed visiting, apart from the evening he got up on stage and sang Wonderful Tonight with a live Philippino band.

 

Madagascar was beautiful but incredibly poor. He left his hotel one morning and passed an old lady with a wooden box on which she had three tomatoes to sell. She sat there all day in the heat and when he came back in the evening, she was still there with her three tomatoes; nobody had the money to buy them. The food was so bad in Madagascar that for the only time while away on business he lost weight instead of gaining it; but at least he had the money to buy food: he saw children so hungry they were licking cellophane wrappers from dustbins. He saw many naked children; the lucky ones had old adult shirts and/or pants. He gave away his change every day, which was riches to them, but he came back from that trip and held three-year old Tory Boy and cried for the ones he couldn’t help.

 

Even so, he says it is the most beautiful country he’s been to and he would love to go back some day.

 

I put that story into a poem for my South Africa collection:

 

A Trip To Madagascar 

A naked child
licks cellophane,
sitting atop a
rubbish heap.
A businessman observes
him, returns
home to his
cherished son,
and weeps.

 

There was hunger in South Africa, too:

 

Dustbin Day 

The man raids my
wheelie bin,
burrows deep.
Climbs inside. 
Nervous, I watch from
behind burglar bars,
locked security gates.

Gold shows in his hands:
a tub of mouldy stew,
more compost than food.
He eats it.  I am shamed.

Resolution: no more squandered food.
Dilemma: no waste, no treasure.
Solution: freeze left-overs ‘til bin day;
maybe I could add some buttered bread;
a piece of fruit…wrap it in clean plastic.

Pleased with my charity,
it is fifteen years before
I understand that I
failed him that day:
Government changed;
the starving remained.
I left South Africa;
he raids someone else’s bin.

 

Of course, not everyone went hungry in those days (a braai is Afrikaans for barbecue):

 

After the Braai 

We supplied the meat and drink,
salads, mash, bread rolls and
desserts, for as many as twenty
guests, and sometimes more.
I never served mealie pap,
though some ex-pats liked it:
I never learned to make it.

The best part of a braai was
next day’s leftovers and chips:
rib-eye, pork chops, t-bones,
sausages, fillet steak, chicken,
porterhouse – diced and
cooked in a red wine sauce;
a portion of slap chips and
salad on the side.  These
days, I would add some rice,
but I didn’t like rice back then; pity.

We snacked on cold meat for
several days after a braai.
The children preferred it to
sweets and chips (we say
‘crisps’ now).  Food was
inexpensive, plentiful and
of excellent quality.  For
some of us, at least.  We
never knew we had it so good
until after we gave it up.

 

His final stop was in the French-speaking island of Réunion. He was a seasoned traveller by the time of this trip so he had checked and knew that he could expect to pay 20 Francs for a trip from the airport to the hotel. He arrived at night and he asked the taxi driver the fare: ‘Twenty Francs’ was the reply.  Fine.  Halfway up a quiet hill – or possibly a mountain - the taxi driver said, ‘Twenty Francs for you and twenty Francs for your luggage.’ When the Hub protested that he wasn’t paying that, the driver shrugged (so far from France yet still so Gallic) and said, ‘Fine. I’ll drop you off now and you can walk to your hotel.’ Figuring that it was Henred Fruehauf’s money and it wasn’t a battle he could win, the Hub agreed.

 

He said the part that really made him mad was when he arrived at the hotel and the driver told him he was off shift and suggested they go to a little bar he knew. I can’t print his reply because this is a family blog.

 

He found theRéunions anti-English – détente has only been around a hundred years or so and it obviously had not reached the colonies* at that point. Whenever he spoke English the Réunions were rude and unhelpful. But he’s bilingual, and cunning: he would first speak in Afrikaans and when they couldn’t understand him, he asked if they spoke English, and they were most accommodating because they thought he wasn’t English. It’s the one country he never wants to go back to.

 

*I have just discovered it is not a colony at all, but a bit of France.  That explains everything….              

 

 

 

My Husband The Master Criminal

18 Jul

The Hub can add breaking & entering to his cv as of yesterday.  Due to a late start caused by a visit from the most beautiful baby in the world  the Hub only got to his mum’s cemetery at ten-to-five.  It was closed.  He fumed for a few minutes, then decided to case the joint.  To the approval of a couple of women who had driven all the way from Marple to Altrincham only to find themselves locked out, the Hub forced his way through the bushes and fell into the garden of remembrance.  He had time to visit his mum, watch two elderly ladies squeeze in after him, and still be home in time for dinner.  Though he was green when he got in – I had to put him in the washing machine along with his stained clothes – his mum would have approved.

*

I haven’t given you a household tip in a while, so here’s a good one: don’t waste money on expensive stain removers; rub some cheap washing-up liquid into the stains, leave to stand for an hour or two, then wash as usual.  If you get to it quick enough it will even work on oil stains.

We’ll Be Right Back After This Announcement

8 Jul

I have been instructed by my publisher to advertise the book in which my poem appears.

Best of Manchester Poets, Volume 1

Sorry, I can’t stop laughing at the idea that I have a publisher, even though it is technically true and he did email me to say this.  Never mind that it was a generic email sent to all the authors; that he had no idea of the identity of the random stranger who thanked him at the book’s launch for including the poem; or the fact that no money will make its way into my hands – in poetry, you’re lucky if the publisher covers the costs; it’s done for love, not dosh.   And never mind that my publisher wanted to charge me £9.99 on the night to buy another copy but you, you lucky poet-lover you, can get it on Amazon for the bargain price of just £7.72.   Click on the image and it will take you right to it.  All major credit cards accepted.  Our operators are standing by, just waiting for your call. 

Or you can click here and read the poem for nothing.  To be fair, there are lots of good poems in the book and it’s an enjoyable read, so I recommend it if you are that way inclined.

Excuse me while I take a shower.

Ricky Hatton Stole My Glove

5 Jul

He’s coming home, he’s coming home; TB’s coming home!  Okay, this is actually a picture of Ricky Hatton but it might as well be because what I have to look forward to is a summer of fighting between the Hub and Tory Boy.  Don’t get me wrong: they love each other very much.  Preferably from a distance.  You know how they say look at the mother to see what the wife will be like in twenty years?  That’s not exclusive to the female of the species.  Tory Girl, you have been warned.

This photo was taken at a book signing.  We took along a full-size and two miniature pairs of boxing gloves – if we’re going to queue for hours then we want our money’s worth.  We’re not Northern for nothing.  Mr H is a huge Manchester City fan and when he saw these gloves he asked if he could have a pair.  The gloves were individually priced and the Hub had bought us all one each but, being good parents, we gave up ours so the boys could keep theirs.You don’t say ‘no’ to a man who can beat you to a pulp and the Hub wouldn’t say ‘no’ to a fellow City fan anyway; being  Blue is like being in the Masons: a nod, a handshake, a wince at how we haven’t won any silverware for thirty years, and the deal is done.  What irked me as I smiled politely at the boxing champion with the huge fists is that The Hitman took my glove.    It never occurred to me until just now to say ‘no’ and use the children as human shields.  I never think on my feet; I’ll never make a boxer, will I?

If you are parked at Eastlands one day and you see a flash car with a pair of City boxing gloves hanging from the mirror, do us a favour and pinch them back: they’ll be worth a fortune on eBay.

Tory Boy will get to meet his new fish today.  Did I mention we had to buy another two when the boys heard that I was keeping mine?  They showed no interest at all in the fish until they were formally adopted, and now they want their own.  Spud decided yesterday on a name for his: Shingles, after the disease.  I don’t know if I’ve told you about Spud’s shingles.  I’ll save that story for another day.  Shingles is a Shubunkin (it was worth buying him for the joy of saying his species name; what a fabulous word).    They do look kind of diseased, don’t they?  If the pattern is followed, Tory Boy’s all-white goldfish could soon glory in the name of ‘leprosy’.  Tory Girl, you have been warned.

Phew!

11 May

I had to rise from my sick-bed to accommodate the massive sigh of relief I let out at the news that we finally have a new Prime Minister. I must say, the whole thing has been terribly British: discreet talks and lots of waiting around for something to happen.  http://www.shesnotfromyorkshire.com/ was quite amusing about it, remarking that the fact that queues were involved in the ‘scandal’ of people being unable to vote was typically British.

Over the last few days I have been amused by the wonderment of foreign bloggers that we have no written constitution, but it is obvious that our system works fine just as it is – we are, after all, the people who tried having a revolution and then decided we didn’t like it and went back to the old system.  We have had a peaceful, if delayed, transition of power, and can now look forward to a period of co-operation between the Conservatives and Lib Dems.

I hope. This is the first coalition government in the UK since 1945, and no-one knows what to expect.  I am feeling quite optimistic that this is the start of a new era in politics.  I say that from the position of being on the almost-winning side, of course, but the Lib Dems must be enjoying the chance of  being in government after so long being the kid brother your Mum makes you drag along with you when you go out with your mates.

I like some Lib Dem policies, such as no tax on wages under £10,000, so I don’t think the coalition is necessarily a bad thing, as long as all parties concerned are working for our good and not theirs.

I thought David Cameron was gracious towards his predecessor in his speech, and Samantha looked like she was going to burst with pride. I felt proud myself to have voted Conservative when I heard him. He is really growing on me.  I like that he is not afraid to compromise for the good of the country and I am beginning to believe that he genuinely wants to improve ‘our country’, as he is so fond of saying.

I have to say, I have never liked Gordon Brown more!  He looked completely relaxed as he went to the Palace and his smile was unscary for the first time ever; perhaps it was tension that made it so frightening.

*

I say ‘sick bed’ but it’s more like ‘tired couch’. The Migraleve worked its magic yesterday as far as relieving the pain, but the nausea is still hovering and I am still feeling quite drowsy.

My friend Viv sent me an interesting email about a possible cause of the migraines, the gist of which I will share with you, in case you stumbled upon my blog looking for  answers: do you grind your teeth?  Your bite might need adjusting.  You might have a  high filling putting pressure on your jaw joint, linked directly to the nerves in the brain.  A grind of the filling might cure the problem.

I’m almost certain that my own migraines are caused by my being a woman of a certain age and change is a-comin’, but I’d like to thank Viv for sharing such useful information.

*

Snow: The Dirty Underbelly

7 Jan

The snow fun is starting to fade: the central heating is on all day, waiting to infect us with its germs; neighbours’ bones are being broken on ice traps; dog poo lurks beneath each virgin crunch.  Yesterday we took the boys to a new park so they could use their sled – fantastic bargain: I bought it in 1996 for £6.99; it’s made of cheap plastic (blue, naturally) but it has lasted the boys 13 winters.  They were having great fun coming down a hill and we were having great fun watching them, when we were suddenly under a hail of snowballs.  A bunch of lads thought we were a perfect target.  Fortunately, we were just behind a young tree and it gave us some protection; I moved Toby between us.   It wasn’t a normal, fun snowball fight, like my neighbour’s three daughters ganging up on him in the car park this morning;  it was a malicious targeting.  The Hub saw something similar the day before, when a gang of boys aimed a volley at two little girls – walking with their parents! – across the road.  He was in the car and reacted quickly enough to put it between the lads and their victims, so the snowballs (some with stones inside) were intercepted before they could do any damage.

The Hub had terse words with the lads firing at us (along the lines of ‘this stick’ and ‘shove it where the sun don’t shine’), but he was wasting his breath.  We moved away and the lads followed us.  It was horrible.  The question is, what do you do in such a situation?  In his younger, healthier and angrier days it wouldn’t have been a question at all, but the Hub is a little older, a lot less healthy, and very much wiser than he once was, and he knew it wasn’t worth fighting back: if they don’t bring out sticks, knives, stones, whatever, they know the law is on their side.  Any fightback on the Hub’s part and he’s the one facing jail for defending us.  Britain is a mess.  An Englishman’s home is no longer his castle, but the Council’s, who can walk in any time to check that you are recycling or illegally hypnotising your husband or for a thousand other reasons (see this link: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/2785678/Shock-figures-reveal-high-numbers-of-council-staff-can-break-into-our-homes.html).  If his castle can no longer be defended then it follows he’s got no chance out on the street.  We did the sensible thing and walked away, but it stuck in the craw.  British citizens’ rights are being lost, one snowball at a time.

If you are wondering what our boys were doing while this was happening, Spud was oblivious to it, being too busy freewheeling down wet hillsides on an abandoned road sign.  Three slides in and the sled died, I’m sorry to report: the boys came down the hill together on it and hit the ramp they had been aiming for; the sled snapped in two and Tory Boy flew off on his piece to the left; Spud flew off right on the other.  Thank goodness for sign-stealing vandals, I say, or how would our children be able to play?

As soon as TB realised something was going on he went on alert.  He encouraged his brother to carry on sledding while he stood and watched carefully in case it all kicked off.  He is very much like his father and not afraid of a fight, but he has at least listened to Dad and doesn’t now just throw himself in there.  We have taught the boys not to be afraid of a fight, but to walk away from it if at all possible.  I would have liked to be able to teach them to turn the other cheek but, in the world in which we live, that could easily mean a bottle in the face.  I don’t want them turning a literal blind eye to trouble.

TB did not leave his post until we had walked away from the bother.  I was scared for him but proud of him.  But how I wish I wasn’t.  I would love to live in a place where there are no thugs roaming the streets; no vandals ripping down road signs; no viciousness.  I know it doesn’t exist, but I’d like to think it’s possible.  Perhaps I was Sir Thomas More in a previous life.

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