You don’t look like

Another cold and beautiful morning. Doesn’t look like the expected wet and windy weather forecast.

Robyn on her brilliant blog was taking about someone who played Death Metal music during a gym session and yet looked so UnDeathMetally. I remember a few years back going into a HMV record store and trying to buy a Hardcore German Death Metal CD. The young guy at the counter looked at me then looked at the cd and said “this might be a bit heavy for you”. I managed to stop him before he directed me to either the Country Music or Dire Straits sections. Clearly I didn’t look like a head banger. I should have warn my Motörhead Tour T-shirt.

I remember another time at work when a particularly gruesome Salesman barged into the office and asked to speak to the Chief Accountant. When he was pointed in my direction he walked up to me and announced “you don’t look like a Chief Accountant” and laughed. In an unusually sharp response I came back with “you don’t look like a person with an appointment” and proceeded to ignore him until he sheepishly left.

But apart from these two moments ‘not looking like something’ has not been applied to me much in my life. Well apart from this year. It feels like it’s been open season on me. The following have all been said to my face over the last 12 months

You don’t look like a vegetarian

– You don’t look like someone with depression

– You don’t look like that photo on your driving license

– You don’t look like your passport photo

– You don’t look like a boxer … the physio said this as apparently I had a muscle injury normally associated with boxing

You don’t look like your best pleased

– You don’t look like a single dad … said to me by someone in the village

You don’t look like someone who plays Pokemon Go

– You don’t look like an XL … No but is it a crime to like wearing baggy tops for training

It’s not just me. It’s a team issue this year

Your Son doesn’t look like he has Autism …. said by a teacher

You don’t look like a boy with your hood up you have girls eyelashes … this was immediately preceded by the longest and hardest Paddington Bear Stare by our son.

Your dog doesn’t look like he’s partly Cocker Spaniel

– Your dog doesn’t look like he’s partly German Spitz

– Your dog doesn’t look like he’s calmed down

– Your cat doesn’t look like he gets much exercise

These were all said very innocently and are rather mostly amusing. Some you scratch your head and think what on earth is a single parent supposed to look like. Some are worrying – too many still assume that if someone tells a joke then they couldn’t possibly be depressed. Then there are the ones which are breathtaking. An educational professional demonstrating such staggering ignorance of Autism. It makes you realise what a long way we have to go as a society.

Election Fever

Feels more like Frank Herberts Dune than Yorkshire today.

We are a week away from our countries latest election. I don’t know why we bother having a vote as the media are all screaming at the public to vote for Boris Johnson. A pack of media hounds trying to rip to shreds the Opposition Leaders. Yet the hardest scrutiny Johnson has faced seems to have been how he makes a cream scone.

Strangely no mention of the lies, the alleged affairs, the islamophobia, extreme policies or his contempt for ordinary people. Yes very like a strange Frank Herbert world.

A knock at the door this afternoon. A man dressed as if he’s just been shooting pheasants (or maybe peasants).

Can I count on your support for the Conservative Party Candidate and Boris Johnson. Let’s get Brexit Done.

So exactly what does let get Brexit Done mean.

When Boris is elected PM he will get Brexit done by the end of January.

So will he sign off on the full text of a EU trade deal by January then.

Erm that’s the details. He will get Brexit done January 2020.

But the boring details are the important bits of Brexit. So will they be completed by January.

No but Boris will sort them so we can spend on the NHS, Police and make tax cuts. It’s all about getting Brexit Done.

So he’s not getting Brexit Done then. He’s just agreeing to go and we worry about all the important stuff later.

But he’s getting Brexit done. After January we won’t talk about it again and we can have more 50000 new nurses and large tax cuts.

But as an MP and London Mayor he has either voted for or agreed to budget cuts for those areas. The only thing he’s supported is tax cuts. So why the change of heart. Plus the 50000 seems to be mainly made up of existing nurses. Keep current nurses doesn’t make them new nurses.

*** shooting man now giving me that am I talking to a traitor – look. ***

The budgets cuts are the fault of The Labour Party and the EU. When Boris gets Brexit Done .. erm … Britain will be great again.

But Labour has not been in power since 2007. How can it be there fault.

Corbyn has personally stopped Brexit. He’s a traitor to the people who voted to leave.

Are you not forgetting your own Conservative MPs and a Former Conservative PM who agreed that the Johnson deal is a disaster and really just an excuse to crash out of Europe without a deal.

*** shooting man now very red in the face ***

Clearly your a remoaner. Boris will get Brexit Done for the good British people who voted to leave.

Can I ask about why the Conservatives are in favour of bringing back fox hunting when in your terms the vast majority of the public are in favour of a complete ban. And why the Conservatives have said so little to say about climate change. Why Boris Johnson was the only party leader who refused to debate climate change on the live broadcast.

*** but shooting man was gone. Walking briskly to the next house. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that as he walked across my lawn he trod on one of Captain Chaos’s finest and freshest dog turds. I bet that doesn’t feature on any of the media’s election coverage.

29th November

Apparently the 29th November is much more than Black Friday.

Its is also

  • Flossing Day. Get in between those teeth.
  • Electronic Greetings Day. I have absolutely no words.
  • Buy Nothing Day. Given who slow our internet is and the lack of any money in the bank account this is a day I’m supporting wholeheartedly.
  • Throw out your leftovers Day. If that’s my own cooked leftovers then it could also be Accidentally poison your garden wildlife Day.
  • Customer is wrong Day. Otherwise known in Britain as trying to deal with British Telecom….
  • National Chocolates Day. I’m happy to endorse.
  • National Lemon Creme Pie Day. And another one I’m endorsing
  • National Square Dance Day. And why not let’s endorse this one.
  • International Service Engineer Day. Sorry can’t endorse this one as I’m still waiting a call after two weeks from a British Telecom Service Engineer.
  • International Sinkie Day. A day when you give your Kitchen Sink a day off. As we are having Pizza then this will be observed.

Can we think of any other International Day we can introduce today. Maybe

  • National Don’t Rain in Yorkshire Day. So far so good.
  • International Burn Your Home Made Bread Loaf to a crisp Day. Already celebrated that one here today.
  • National phone up British Telecom and get no answer Day. This is a daily event.
  • International Can’t get your washed clothes dry Day. Yep getting behind this one.
  • International Pour an ice cold bucket of water over your countries most self serving, lying and annoying Politician Day. In this country that’s renamed as National Slap Boris Johnson with a Fish Day.
  • International Pets be nice to other Pets Day. My cat and dog are sponsoring this one.

Rain and mud

Dad can we have a Thanksgiving meal this week. I like the idea.

Ok what shall we celebrate.

How about the rain. It’s the only thing guaranteed to be around when we have the meal.

*************

He is so true. It must be Yorkshire’s biggest commodity. I was reading that one Yorkshire weather station had recorded its wettest Autumn on record – with 15 days still left for more rain. And yes we’ve had much more rain.

One big problem with rain is when you live in the country everywhere gets covered in mud. Lots of mud. I had to put winter tyres on as my car as it was wallowing on the sea of mud. Mud everywhere. On the roads, paths, tracks, garden, house floor and on the DOG.

On his walk today he became caked in brown stuff. That means the most dreaded two words – Dog Bath. Many pet owners will know the feeling. Two hours to catch the mutt (they have a sixth sense when it comes to visits to the Vet and Bath Time). Those wonderful 10 minutes standing next to the bath where the owner gets wetter than the dog. Then trying to catch the manic hound to dry him. At this stage the dog develops Cheetah speed and flies around the house coating every room in lovely smelly Dog wetness. Then you spend hours trying to clean and dry the house. And what does the dog immediately do. Go outside and roll in the mud. Deep joy.

You may think the water is quite clean. He was that muddy as Sherlock Holmes would say – it was a two bath problem.

STICKMAN

The mad dog demonstrating the almost perfect combover. Maybe next time he will model the perfect beehive. Again I’m only jealous.

One of the things our country is rightly proud of is the NHS. Mainly free healthcare not dependent on the ability to pay. Once it was completely free paid for by taxes. It’s had some rough times. None tougher than now. A bodged reorganisation based on political dogma designed to open the service to extensive privatisation. Conservative austerity pushing services and staff to breaking point. Perfect for our leaders. It’s fits with the message that they are trying to push. ‘Clearly the service is failing, it’s not fit for purpose The only two things that can save it now are further privatisation and a move to an American insurance based system’. That’s what you will get if you vote in Britain for Johnson and Farage.

It’s becoming more difficult to see a Family Doctor. Many surgeries have a one or two week waiting list. Our Surgery operates a ‘phone at breakfast for an appointment that day’ system. It’s basically the same thing. I’ve been trying for a couple of weeks now.

The surgery opens at 8am so I started phoning at 7.55.

The surgery is currently closed please phone later.

Repeated phoning gets the same message. Then the lines open.

You are caller 39 please hold.

That’s progress over the last few days the best it’s started at was caller 49. You learn the system – anything over caller 40 means all the appointments have gone. Unbelievably I got an appointment and one with my Doctor.

Sitting in the waiting room is always an experience. Try to avoid watching the TV screens. In between advertisements for Care Homes the health messages are designed to convince you that that you are inflicted with every ailment and disease going. I once convinced myself that I had rabies. The person facing me is reading a paper with the headline “A million school kids being taught in class sizes of 31 or more”. Blood pressure starts to rise. The two gentleman next to me were exchanging accident details. One had broken his leg when a shopping trolley hit him near the frozen chicken section of the supermarket. The other chap had ricked his back bending over to pick up the TV remote control. A mum having a loud argument on her mobile while her little toddler whacked me repeatedly on the head with the STICKMAN book. “Your funny” shouts the toddler. I must have that sort of face.

Finally the Doctor can see me.

“Your Blood Pressure is Perfect”. REALLY. Clearly been assailed by a Julia Donaldson book is the new mediation – should be offered as a care pathway.

“Have you had any counselling yet. I did put you on the waiting list”

No

“How long have you been waiting”

Three years

*** Doctor now swears and goes into a tirade at the last 10 years of Conservative Governments ****

“I suspect the counselling isn’t going to happen. I’m going to give you some medication to try and help with your sleep. Come back and see me in January. But promise me that you will get a hobby and do it regularly. If you find anything that works then stick at it.”

So off I went to find a hardback copy of The STICKMAN. Any volunteers to give me a damn good thrashing…..

The shame

Is it time for Mad One to go to a hairdresser. I’m only jealous I would love to have that problem these days. It’s not so much Lush Amazonian Rain Forest it’s much more Barren Arctic Tundra.

Dad when was the last time you had to Combe your hair.

I do still Combe. Sometimes. Why?

I was watching a video of famous people who have had a Hair Transplant and I thought of you.

Are you saying I am Famous.

No Dad your certainly not famous. Must have been something else about that video which made me think of you.

I took the car back to the garage as it needed to be checked again. The poor technician took one look at my car and said ‘I better get a pair of gloves’. On his return he added ‘that’s the muddiest car I have seen in a long time’. I suppose that’s a badge of honour but I was filled with a certain amount of embarrassment. He’s right. You can’t actually tell what colour the car is these days. Oh the shame.

The shame day continued. I needed to go to the Bank but didn’t want to pay the extortionate parking fees. So I had a clever idea. I will put the bike in the back of the car so I can ride in. So the night before the 2 flat tyres were fixed. Unfortunately today has been wet. Very wet. The Yorkshire roads are muddy. Very muddy. So after my 15 minutes cycle ride I arrived in the city centre looking like the Swamp Monster. The looks I got. Oh the shame.

The shame day continued. I walked into the crowded Bank. Well when I say walked in that’s not strictly true. I did try to walk into the Bank but had failed to see the closed glass door. The looks from the hordes in the bank as they turned to see my face planted in the door. Suspect it was not a great look. Oh the shame.

The shame day continued. Now finally inside the bank I was stood in the long queue. I had to watch someone from the bank go to the infamous front door and clean the glass. Clearly the muddy impression of my face on the bank’s door was not good for business. Oh the shame.

The shame day continued. In the busy supermarket I tried to take a sharp corner at pace. Too much understeer and I crashed into a neatly stacked pile of soup tins. Complete devastation. Tins everywhere. Oh the shame. As I helped the not so impressed shop assistant pick up the tins he pointedly said ‘it took me ages to stack those’. Oh the shame. Eventually I moved away from the crash scene but I kept seeing random tins of soup scattered around the shop. Oh the shame.

The shame day continued. I had a couple of work reports to post. Going to be tight it’s a 5 minute walk to the post box and the last collection is in 3 minutes. So I jumped into the car and belted there. Letters posted just in time as the Postman arrived. Unfortunately I also posted my car keys. I had to sheepishly ask the postie if he could search the box for them. ‘That’s the first time I’ve had to do that. The crew back in the Sorting Office won’t believe me when I tell them this‘. Oh the shame.

The shame day continued. As I returned to the house I had a few minutes before the school bus was due. Let’s garden and prune in the pouring rain. Much good work completed. Then son arrived back. Shall we go in before he gets soaked. Hang on. Where are the house keys. After 10 minutes finger tip searching of the soil I remembered. I put them on top of the car tyre so I wouldn’t lose them while gardening. That look from our son. Oh the shame.

These days I’m with Spongebob and Patrick. Any day you manage to get your pants on the right way round is a good day. Everything else has gone wrong today but my pants are facing the right way ….. so it must be a good day. Oh the shame of getting back to front pants. That was yesterday.

Accidents happen

I bet if I leaned on that hay bale it would end up rolling down the hill and smashing into my car like a guided missile.

During my life one of the truths I have leant repeatedly is – accidents happen. I am accident prone. Always have been. Always will be. Big ones. Small ones. Ones that hurt. Ones that make you laugh. Ones that get you into trouble. Ones that make you embarrassed. Ones that make you cry. Just too many to mention. Some notable ones include

  • Breaking my arm balancing on a stool. Then breaking my other arm within 3 hours of having the pot removed. Same Doctor had to put the new pot on who had taken just taken the old one off.
  • Dropping a toilet roll just bought from the shop and watching it unravel as it rolls down the High Street. The High Street was on a hill and I dropped it at its highest point.
  • Falling out of a window while trying to paint it.
  • The door on a temporary toilet jammed at a festival and it took an hour for me to be released.
  • Trying to hammer a hanging basket onto next doors fence and accidentally pushing most of the fence over.
  • Breaking my finger trying to put up a deck chair.
  • Using a staple gun and stapling my thumb to a piece of wood
  • Breaking my little toe when I accidentally kicked the toilet.
  • As a kid playing cricket on the back field and managing to hit the best stroke (shot) of my life straight through our toilet window. A wonder shot of 100 yards. Unfortunately Dad was on the toilet at the time. Thankfully my ‘a big boy did it and ran away’ excuse worked.
  • Managed to get a pea stuck up my nose. Staggeringly our son did the same thing many years later.
  • Split my leggings a third of the way up a 4 hour cliff climb. The climbers below are still in counselling after all those years.
  • I saved up for a new watch. Within 5 minutes of buying it I had tripped over and smashed the face.
  • I was trying to pull my trousers up after using the cramped toilet on a speeding French TGV. Unfortunately I lost balance and exploded out through the toilet door and into the crowded carriage. Busting my head open as my hands were still desperately trying to pull the trousers up past my knees. The international shame.

So accidents happen. All you can do is try to smile and learn from them. Mostly no ones fault. They just happen.

Our Son asked if he could borrow my Tablet to play the chess app. After a few minutes the mad dog jumped on him and started licking him. In the confusion our Son forgot about the Tablet and must have rolled on it. A few minutes later we had a very bent piece of tech. Quite a bit of the touch screen is knackered and beyond repair. The poor kid was mortified. I’m so pleased I didn’t shout or be in any way angry. I know accidents happen. Thankfully he cheered up eventually. Re-telling the French Train Toilet incident helped. It shows that I didn’t intend to bare my buttocks but all I had done was not anticipate a particularly bumpy track section and a crap door. It’s life and things are sent to test us.

So I will make the best of a broken tablet until I can save up for a new one (or a refurbished one). Sorry in advance if you get some strange spellings on my posts of from my comments – the on screen keyboard is now possessed and rather random. Very apt that it’s Halloween. When the new one comes I will make sure that before either of us use it that it’s enclosed in a protective case. Because accidents can and will happen.

The tree of hope

Three years ago I was trying to get my head round organising my partners funeral. At the same time I was trying to empty my mums house and wrap up her loose ends. My head was completely spinning. I was in full zombie grief mode.

One family personal trauma doesn’t stop the world from spinning. It carries on regardless. So I was immediately faced with continuing the application for our sons Education Health Care Plan. Sat bewildered at my partners desk trying to find on my own the words for the final application form. The words came so easy when it was two minds. Now the one failed me. Then the black pen stopped working. Couldn’t find another and the form had to be completed in black on the pain of ……

So I set off to the shops to buy a pen. But quickly I was lost in a sea of grief and unanswered questions. An hour later I found myself at a random garden centre. Clearly a good choice for stocking up on pens. I wandered around aimlessly looking at plant after plant. The cctv must have been focusing on me as I was clearly not acting like your ordinary shopper. Then I came across a sad looking tree. Actually more like a snapped twig. The label said ‘discounted Pear Tree due to damage’. I felt sorry for this broken life form pushed to a dark corner of the store. Now no more that an afterthought. It felt like me.

So I went in looking for pens and came out with Groot (Marvel Universe).

Over the next three years Groot has grown and is now about 5 feet tall. Looks surprisingly healthy. AND this year for the first time it’s produced pears. Just FOUR pears. But it’s not the fruit crop which is important here. It’s something completely different. It’s HOPE. When personal tragedy strikes your whole world is turned upside down. It will never be the same again. You move from creating memories together to replaying memories in isolation. But you can’t live your life in those memories. Life has to go on. In my case life did go on. Yes I miss her dearly. Yes sadness always feels just round the corner. Yes I’ve become increasingly isolated from society. But life has gone on. Sons Education Health Care Plan was approved. I’ve changed careers. Progress has been made with Dyslexia. The house no longer feels like a funeral parlour largely down to the addition of a barking mad dog. I’ve increased the range of foods I can destroy. And Groot is thriving. That gives me hope.

Homeless

Pets have really worked with our son. They provide so much fun and relaxation to him. Since he lost his mum they brought noise and life into the house again. That’s before we even consider the help they have provided with his Aspergers. Best parenting decision ever to bring them into our house. Not such a great financial decision but fiddle sticks to that.

One day we will get a sensible pet. It certainly isn’t the walking dinner plate which is our boy cat. It most certainly isn’t the mad pup currently outside trying to play hide and seek with the butterflies. The hope was that the three gerbils would bring some much needed sanity to the house. Team Gerbils maybe a super hero team ready to assemble but they are also a unrivalled demolition team.

The first house they had was plastic and lasted minutes. The second house was compacted straw and met a similar fate. We upped the anti for the third house with a construction of wood and wire. It has lasted longer however last night Team Gerbils got to work.

To be fair to them they did stack what was left of the house neatly to one side.

Dad we need to get them a new house don’t want them to get angry. You wouldn’t like them when they are angry.

So it’s wooden house version 2.

Notice that in the time it took me to get my mobile to take a photo Team Gerbils have got stuck into the roof.

If this house fails then it’s a phone call to Tony Stark and it’s time for Ironman Armour.