Man or Muppet

Red sky in the morning, a warning for Gary’s

Gary Gary Gary

The name Gary is supposed to mean hard or bold spear.

There was a time when the name Gary was popular. It once was the 16th most popular boys name in the UK. Not any more. In 2018 it was officially listed as the least popular boys name. These days only a handful of new babies are named Gary. The name is dying out.

Headline from The Guardian

These days you don’t see too many Gary’s making the headlines. In the UK we have a couple of ex-footballers who are big names. Actors – Gary Oldman, Garry Shandling, Gary Sinise. Let’s not forget Spongebobs pet snail – Gary. Starting to run out now.

I don’t know why but I’ve never got round to doing this. Let’s go to The Muppet Movie (2011). One of the main songs most aptly for this blog called ‘Man or Muppet’. AND the main human character, a chap called Gary. Perfect.

MAN or MUPPET VIDEO

Before

Dad do you know that you were born before the introduction of the home computer.”

Computers are overrated, not sure they will catch on.

Before the Xbox. Even before Space Invaders”

I’m still trying to clear the first wave of aliens. One day……

Mobile phones still to be stuffed in any trouser pockets in your day…”

I wasn’t trusted with pockets. Mum would sew them up.

Before microwaves made it into kitchens, your ancient Dad.”

I remember our families first microwave. It was the size of St Bernards Dog Kennel. I had to plug it in. The first thing we tried to heat was a cup of water. While I pressed the start button my mum and dad hid behind the kitchen door. They thought it was going to go up like a nuclear weapon. Clearly their youngest son was expendable….

Before the Rubik’s Cube, did you get one”

No never had one. When people started talking about getting one …. it sounded to be like a new health worry that you had to see a Doctor about. I’ve got a bad case of the Rubiks.

What was it like being a kid with no cds or DVDs

A lot cheaper for my parents.

No Star Wars.”

It was also still safe to go into the sea as well when I was a kid. No shark movies yet. Jaws was still a little goldfish. I remember kids being told to keep off the beach as soon as that movie came out. Poor Jaws would have been a giant ice cube if he had ventured anywhere near the North Sea.

Even before the Rolling Stones, weren’t you Dad….”

Watch it Hawklad, I’m not that old. Definitely before Taylor Swift was born.

Your old enough to be her Dad…”

I look old enough to be her Great Great Great Grandad…

Before The Simpson’s and Spongebob…. You look old enough to be Homers Dad”

There is a definite family resemblance. You never see Homer and Me together in the same room. Just saying.

“Dad what was it like to be around at the same time as the dinosaurs?”

It was fun. Our barbecues had to be a lot bigger. It made country walks a lot more interesting. But it wasn’t fun trying to clean Pterodactyl poo from your windscreen.

Getting older is overrated……

Get it

The rain is finally starting to pass. The cold is moving on and the temperatures are slowly rising. Perfect time to visit a Rose.

Over time we all lose things that are so important to us. That could be love, friendships, people we care for, pets, our health, our passions, relationships, parts of our very essence, our personal freedom, a space to breathe in, that perfect job, our hopes and dreams. Life can be so very hard.

Often it’s so easy to think that you are alone dealing with these things. That no one understands. It’s such an unsettling feeling – thinking that no one GETS YOU. Believing that you are alone in these struggles. I’ve certainly been there. When you do open up, the awkward or baffled looks you get. The indirect suggestions to ‘get over it’, ‘move on’ or ‘sort yourself out’. The overt signals to ‘please shut up and change the subject’, not even wanting to listen. Often these come from those who seemingly know you the best or are close to you. Friends, family and partners. You do end up feeling isolated and alone.

But there are people out there who understand, who have been through similar experiences, who care or genuinely will listen. Just got to find them. Maybe they end up finding you. Maybe it’s just a random encounter. They could be many many miles away. That’s what happened with me. I’d given up hope, fully accepting that it was just me alone taking on this struggle. But I was randomly found. Suddenly I was genuinely listened to, understood again. BELIEVED IN. Now I don’t feel alone on this journey. Yes I can do this and if I do fall then support is there. A shoulder to cry on and a comforting hug. Will always be so very thankful for that. 💙

Nonstop

It’s a hard life on the pet sofa. Nonstop action.

So while the pets were unusually becalmed and Hawklad was watching a Sherlock Holmes movie, I could focus on a pressing matter. Seeing what bargains I could find on the internet. Replacements for items which are starting to fall to bits. Actually that could include me.

As usual the items on my list where either unavailable or at full price (or beyond). But I did come across a range on interesting bargains.

  • A rather battered old pink Campervan. The description referred to well looked after, well loved, filled with character. I didn’t references to words like knackered, dented, rusted or broken. Clearly if it was true that the badly battered vehicle had in fact had only one careful owner well that owner must have been NASA.
  • A collection of novelty LPs which included masterpieces from the likes of The Crankies, Baron Knights, Showaddywaddy, Mud and Vanilla Ice. Shame I don’t have a record player……
  • A chessboard with some of the pieces missing. Suppose that contributes to quicker games.
  • The entire James Bond DVD collection. One dvd is missing and several are scratched. They also won’t work in the UK and Europe. But apart from that….
  • A Bullworker. Remember those. Those exercise devices which apparently if you used it for 10 minutes a day for a month you would end up looking like Thor or The Terminator. I might need to use that for several years……
  • A Batman lego set which would cost more than my car….
  • A Genuine Boomerang. Wow you must be able to get fake ones.
  • A box of VHS tapes. Maybe I can sell the bag loads of those cassettes we have filling up the garage.
  • A set of glowing hula hoops. Surely that would represent an essential purchase.
  • A Boris Johnson punch bag. So so tempted.
  • A giant bag of jigsaw pieces, several sets mixed together – no guarantee that all sets are complete. Trying to get my head round that one.
  • A pantomime horse costume for two adults. Apparently with some wear and tear. The mind boggles.
  • A set of 30 Xbox games. Ranging from motor racing to Star Wars.

Most admit the Xbox games pack was tempting. One problem. We would never use them. Son is a creature of habit. On his Xbox 360 he only ever played two games FIFA (football) and WWE (wrestling). When I saved up to upgrade it to an Xbox One, guess what. He’s only ever played two games on it. FIFA and WWE. Maybe Microsoft can next time just do us a special cutdown version of the Xbox Two. We only need it to play two games. Surely they can do us a cheap version rare edition. That might be worth something on eBay.

August

Heralding a wonderful summers day – NOT

It’s been one of those wonderful Yorkshire Summer Days. Damp, exceedingly windy and cold. The cold that makes your toes curl. August and we have the heating full on. Not a day for cold drinks. It’s been steaming hot tea and decaf coffee. Hawklad has been on hot milk – on repeat. That’s a great way to get some calories into him.

August also sees the ongoing trials associated with my WordPress experiment. That pesky new editor. I am trying, really trying. I hear you shout – Your just so vexing. But I am trying to like the editor. But really should it be this hard. It crashes, it messes up formats, drops links. When you do get round to publishing then posts suddenly disappear or mess up. Comments go missing. And on and on. Even this grumpy Yorkshire man is easier to like than this so called editor.

But I will keep trying to get my head round it. Just like trying to get my head round this summer. Just like I’m trying to get my head round Hawklads food intake. He’s not had his weight officially tracked and assessed by the health professionals in over 2 years now. With the current service restrictions, it’s going to be well into 2021 before that happens. On the last assessment he was right on the edge of being ‘too underweight’ for his height. I think that he’s probably dropped below that now. So following the Paediatricians instructions I’m trying to get as many calories into him as possible. That’s not easy. He has such a limited range of foods he will eat. Over the years I have slowly managed to increase these so that he has 6 different main meals which he has over the week. It’s the same meals, weak in weak out. Not much scope to vary things there. Trying to get him to eat the occasional chocolate bar or bag of crisps helps. So does milk. So a cold day and repeated hot milks is a welcome bonus.

Yes a cold summer is good sometimes.

Time to breathe

Maybe too many days we feel hemmed in. Surrounded by the same walls. Dealing with unyielding constraints. Fighting seemingly never ending battles. Difficulty trying to believe in dreams. Struggling to breathe.

Well that’s certainly me…..

The days of climbing rock faces in Scotland and the Lake District. Walking and running along wind swept beaches. Standing under the mighty Eiger and Matterhorn. Walking and touching history. These all sometimes seem such a distant memory. Things which might never happen again.

But there is always hope. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. Yes it could be those four walls again but it could just be somewhere else. Somewhere we can breathe. A chance to spread our wings and soar again. That’s a lovely feeling. So I dived into my photo library and randomly picked a journey. A time when the wings were unfolded. Yes that is in the past BUT it could also be tomorrow.

Different

Who are you looking at

I’ve always felt like the black sheep in the family. The odd one out amongst my siblings. The youngest by a decade. My brother and sisters had partied together and flown the nest while I was still at school. The tallest. The only shy one. The only one with a stammer as a kid. The only one who went to college and university. The only one you got letters after his name (M.U.P.P.E.T). The only one who never got married (huge mistake). The only bereaved one. The only single parent. The only blogger. The only vegetarian. The only one who has given up alcohol. The only one who is gluten free. The only runner. The only climber. The only one learning a second language. The only one who has visited mums grave. The only Asperger Parent. The only Newcastle United supporter. The only one without a middle name. The only one whose first name doesn’t start with a P. The only one how formed a close link with a Quaker family. The only religious one.

I could go on. Hopefully you get the picture.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my brother and sisters. We are close. Close but we don’t see each other much. Mum was always the centre. The gravitational pull that kept the various differing orbits from spinning away. I will see one sister every few months. Another one maybe a couple of times a year. Brother and the other sister maybe once in several years. An occasional phone call or text maintain a link. But since mum left we are slowly spinning apart.

So yes I do feel a little bit like the odd one out. That’s where friends come in. They get me. They make me feel not different. They make me feel whole again. Thank you ❤️

I will leave the final words to my departed partner. We were spending a night in London before we caught the first train to France. Off on our first holiday together. That was back in 2000. We were in a quiet but very full pub in Kings Cross. After a large lager my partner asked about my dieting life choice. In a voice which echoed round the pub. “Are you the only VEGETABLE in your family…”

Yes I probably am….

Online Education

Red sky – delight or warning?

For a couple of weeks I had been thinking about doing a list of things which might help make homeschooling work. But then Robyn published her wonderful post about Successful Online Learning. Robyn said it way better than I could ever do, so I thought let’s forget about my post. But then the inner muppet took over. How about tips on making a complete dogs dinner of Online Learning. I can do that. So here goes a Muppet Guide to Homeschooling.

  • Don’t bother checking the unused school bags which have been sat next to the front door since March. There is absolutely no chance that half eaten sandwiches and bananas might be still squashed in there. Even less chance that damp PE kit might still be festering under the mouldy school lunch.
  • Make sure you buy new and expensive school uniform items a week before schools shutdown for a pandemic. Absolutely no possibility that your kid will shoot up several sizes in those few months.
  • When the PE teacher asks for the parent to also take part in home games lessons, you have only one sensible response. Absolutely, it will be fun to show off to your child that you are still a sporting Super Being. There is no conceivable risk that you will pull every single muscle in your body and that you will be completely humiliated by your beloved offspring.
  • The Xbox is a perfectly acceptable online educational tool.
  • When you hear the words SCIENCE LESSON and MOLECULAR STRUCTURES in the same sentence then immediately pretend to be on a works call for the next two hours. The same principle also applies to the words MATHEMATICS and CALCULUS.
  • On a similar theme the words RELATIONSHIP And SEX EDUCATION should immediately bring the response – “go and speak to the other parent”. If that is not practical then it is perfectly acceptable to run outside and spend the next hour cutting the grass in the pouring rain.
  • Letting your child watch wrestling videos during a Citizenship Lesson is perfectly in line with governments curriculum.
  • It is perfectly acceptable to attach a profanity to any reference to DRAMA lessons.
  • A can of Pepsi, bag of crisps and a chocolate bar represents a balanced school lunch.
  • When homeschooling first starts you have this real commitment to fully focus on your child’s education. To sit with them. To be that one on one teacher. That feeling lasts for at most a couple of hours. You start to waiver with frequent trips to the kitchen for a hot drink and a biscuit. Next you sit next your child but secretly try to look at your emails and news feeds. It finally breaks down as your openly start playing Crossy Roads.
  • You don’t need to worry about charging the school iPad up. Your diligent child will always do that…..
  • It doesn’t make you a bad parent when you tell your child to ignore the instructions of the French Teacher and to use the Google Translation App.
  • Never get drawn into debates on History. You have zero chance of winning those – you haven’t read a history text in decades and watching the Ozzy Osbournes history tv show does not count as an Academic Qualification. Best approach is to just smile and nod.
  • For absolutely any Geography question your only responses should be – ‘The Himalayas’, ‘The Nile’, ‘Coastal Erosion’ or ‘Go and watch the Discovery Channel’.
  • When you restock on pens from Amazon never buy the cheap multipacks. You will never use the Red and Green ones.
  • For Food Technology it is perfectly acceptable to let your child watch any Gordon Ramsey Show.
  • Try to avoid saying things like ‘In my day’, ‘That’s not what I was taught’, ‘The Dinosaurs were not extinct yet when I was in school’. These all may give the false appearance that you are in fact an old fossil.
  • When your child has to do an art project never say ‘what is it supposed to be’ when you see the completed work for the first time. That’s not cool parenting at all. Much better to say ‘that’s nice’ or ‘that’s better than an Andy Warhol masterpiece’.
  • You might think you are an expert in computing. This might be backed up with academic qualifications. But never ever get involved in anything to do with technology. Trust me, let your child deal with the computer stuff. In fact let your child sort out your mobile at the same time.

There you go. Don’t follow any of my tips and you might make homeschooling work for you. Even better go and read a post like Robyn’s, she knows what she’s talking about….

Remember homeschooling can be FUN.

Reality

Late last night I was watching the news channel and a government expert was being interviewed about people struggling to leave the house since lockdown was eased. We will ignore the fact that the easing has been halted and areas are starting to fall back under emergency regulations. The experts take was that it was perfectly safe for everyone to go about their normal business. People should get out, go to the park or better to a restaurant. Those struggling should be brave and get out. Those still struggling to get out should arrange to see a health professional. This Government had put in support to facilitate this.

Ok…..

We’ve been lucky. We might get to see a nurse this month but we’ve had to fight tooth and nail for that. Because of cutbacks son has not been seen by a Paediatrician in well over 2 years now… 6 of his 7 support services have been removed. But again we are lucky. Far too many don’t get any support at all.

It’s 3am and I heard our son call. He had gone to the bathroom and because he had gone barefoot he desperately needed to wash his feet. So just before the morning bird chorus started I was running the bath so he could ease his anxieties. He is currently not able to touch taps. Towels can only be used once before they are washed. His bedding has to be washed daily. He has to wash his hands every few minutes. He can’t even touch is own shoes and clothes with his hands. Tell me how he is supposed to be brave and just get outside. The government just has not got the slightest idea of the problems facing so many in our communities. The health professionals just don’t have the resources to cope. It’s taken a pandemic to expose the true folly of focusing cutbacks on mental health and support services. When will our leaders wake up to the reality of life for so many households in our countries.