Excuse

This was the last few hours of the heatwave before the stormy weather arrived.

There’s a new expression taking hold in England. The matter is now closed. Unfortunately it carries no weight unless you are a member of the Government. It works like this. It comes to light that a member of the government or a sponsor has been caught doing bad stuff. Recently that’s things like criminal negligence, collusion with a foreign power, breaking the law, ignoring lockdown rules, profiteering from the pandemic or brexit, harassment, breaking procurement regulations, waiving or ignoring planning rules for personal gain and misconduct. The type of stuff that if me and you did this then we would be thrown to the wolves.

But that doesn’t apply to members of the elite.

But here’s where the phrase comes into use. So a member of the government is caught with his or her trousers down. After days of denying anything happened they issue a brief statement saying nothing bad happened and anyway it was someone else’s fault. This is then followed by the PM saying The Matter is Now Closed and I have full confidence in the rogue bandit. Now since the PM likes to see himself as a part time Emperor, well that’s it. No need for further investigation or questions. The PM has done that kinda stuff while sipping on another expensive champagne. He is court, jury and judge. You can trust the emperor as he had an exclusive private education and he had been bred to lead us. This approach is proving such jolly good fun that it’s really taking hold. The mainstream media buy it, prosecuting authorities are increasing deferring to it, as are an increasing number of the public.

So when I was a kid and I got hauled off to the head teachers office for snapping a pencil or swearing in cricket – if only I had access to the the matter is now closed defence.

If only my ‘a big boy did it and ran away‘ excuse had proved so effective……

Monday

Just a touch of summer. Well for a couple of hours anyway.

So Monday arrives and no trip to the garage. The car needs some repair work. It’s been waiting for parts to arrive from China for months. Finally they arrived in the country last week. Now the big problem, how to get the car repaired while keeping son’s anxiety levels at an acceptable level. Two options. Son stays at home while I go or he comes with me. Both options are not great and potential stress storms. We have had a long chat over the last few days about the situation. It was clear that son’s stress levels where going through the roof. No obvious way to deal with this. Son is ALWAYS the priority. So I took the only viable option – cancel the repair. The car can wait. It’s not as if we will be using it much over the coming weeks. A few miles if that. Will probably have to wait until either son goes back to school (September – if in fact he does go back) or more likely wait for the garage to start the car pickup service again. Speaking with the garage that might not be for several months.

At least we are minimising our Carbon Footprint.

And I don’t have to fork out for a really expensive repair just yet.

AND SON is a lot more relaxed again. – That’s the key.

So we move on. I know how the phrase goes – meet your problems head on. But sometimes the circumstances dictate that the head on approach will create too many adverse consequences. So if that means doing a sidestep and coming back to something, then so be it. Maybe circumstances will change and the problem becomes much more manageable.

“Dad what’s the latest date for the car to be fixed?”

Well if we are not using it then I guess it’s March when it has to have its annual test.

You never know by then we might have won the Lottery and then you can just buy a new car.”

That’s true.

It gives you 9 more months to earn some money to pay for the repair.”

Yep

It’s gives you loads of time to clean the inside of the car. Not sure a repairman would venture in there currently. It’s a bit messy.”

It looks lived in….

Dad, it looks like a skip.”

It drives like a skip….

Maybe that’s the plan Dad. If we don’t use the car then you keep moaning about not having enough wheelie bins. The car could be a motorised wheelie bin. I bet many would like one of them.”

I like that idea. It’s a moving bin that plays music and has a heater. It’s even got air conditioning for the hot days. It’s a winner.

Day 123

I clearly have too much time on my hands because I’ve been counting

It’s Day 123 of our lockdown…

Normally I do a weekly post – what have we found out this week from schooling at home’. But this week in honour of the 123 day milestone let’s do a special ‘what have we done withoutpost….

  • That’s 123 days without the school bus or ironing a school shirt,
  • That’s 123 days without missing the school bus,
  • That’s 123 days without a school bag,
  • That’s 123 days of not forgetting to pack a really important school item,
  • That’s 123 days without the carefully packed ingredients for food technology deciding to empty themselves over the other contents of the bag,
  • That’s 123 days without the school bag zipper becoming stuck,
  • That’s 123 days without having to patch up school trousers,
  • That’s also 123 days of not using his new trousers – bet they won’t fit now…
  • That’s 123 days without losing items of sports kit in the school changing rooms (but strangely they still find a way of going missing),
  • That’s 123 days without son combing his hair (ok that’s an exaggeration but it certainly looks like it most days….),
  • That’s 123 days of son not meeting another person except me,
  • That’s 123 days of me not going into the work unit,
  • That’s 123 days of not emptying the work unit bin or checking for out of date milk in the work fridge. As I’m the only one who does – I just dread to think what alien life maybe germinating in there,
  • That’s 123 days without a run (not counting the garden runs as they are more akin to a game of twister than actual running),
  • That’s 123 days of my mountain bike being sat unloved in the garage,
  • That’s 123 days without a trip to the ice cream parlour or a food takeaway,
  • That’s 123 days of not popping into a coffee or cake shop,
  • That’s 123 days without an excursion,
  • That’s 123 days without a trip to the zoo,
  • That’s 123 days of not going out then worrying constantly if I did remember to lock the front door,
  • That’s 123 days of living in shorts, sarongs, running leggings and tracksuit joggers (don’t panic they are getting washed) – I might have fibbed on one of those..
  • That’s 123 days without having to buy a car parking ticket,
  • That’s 123 days of not feeding the car petrol,
  • That’s 123 days without using a cash machine,
  • That’s 123 days of desperately not searching for my car keys and wallet,
  • That’s 123 days in which our entire world comprised only of the house and garden.

But even after 123 days, if I look hard enough I can still find something new to photograph. That’s shows how lucky we really are. Even after 123 days of lockdown.

Horse Racing

Another post and another rose. At least I can grow a few roses. That’s a start isn’t it. A start is usually a good thing…. In this post today means yesterday thanks to WordPress refusing to post last night.

This morning I started looking at employment options. It looks like my job will get mothballed for many months. It’s so dependent on public and sporting events. Realistically these will not properly restart any time soon. So it looks like the sensible decision is to close the company down and then relook to launch again in 2021. Which leaves a decision to be made. As it’s a great fit with my single parent circumstances, do I try to survive on savings until it’s back again? Or do I find something different to either fill in the gap or completely change career path again. So today I today I started looking at available options. I have to say trying to find a job I can make fit round our Son is not easy. I really fell on my feet with this current role. Yes the money is not great but the flexibility is such a bonus. Today’s search just confirmed that. Couldn’t find one option which would work for us. Especially when you factor in the potential commitment to full time homeschooling. But I will keep looking.

Dad not sure a Train Driver is a great idea. Even on tracks you would just end up getting lost.”

True…. what about a Zookeeper

Dad your scared on spiders, snakes, wasps and parrots.”

Ok what about a librarian

Your far too noisy and you can’t even put your own books away.”

Pants that’s true. What about a parking attendant. I would get a free hat.

You are too nice, you would never hand out any tickets.”

What about a chef.

Just NO.”

How about a window cleaner.

Have you seen how dirty our windows are”

So after drawing a complete blank we headed outside to contemplate life, the universe and the state of our windows. There we heard a sound which we haven’t listened to since March. Horse Racing… Our nearest neighbour is a lovely elderly lady. I’ve known her for 18 years now. Over those years she has become increasingly frail and hard of hearing. Each year her TV volume needs to be turned up one extra setting. Definitely now turned to 11 on the 10 scale. Which is great as I can turn my music up just a little louder without fear of upsetting the neighbours. Not sure the quaint old village is quite ready for loud Mongolian Throat metal quite yet… Its certainly not something you hear from my neighbours TV.

She only watches one thing really. Horse Racing. Today Horse Racing restarted without crowds, in the UK and it’s most definitely on next door. That means my neighbour is happy. And that’s a good thing.

Facts

Last night was one of those yucky sleepless nights. So very tired yet all I could muster was probably 40 minutes sleep. Annoyingly those 40 minutes came right at the end of the night and was brought to an all to abrupt ending with the morning homeschooling alarm.

During those zombie like hours I started writing a list of things to do this week. After getting stuck on item 1 for far too long, the list morphed into a more fruitful

What have I learned about myself during the last few weeks of this rather odd period in our history.

So here goes with my early morning facts

  1. I’m crap at writing To Do lists,
  2. Late at night I have a habit or writing LIST so that it looks like LUST,
  3. I can’t sleep properly,
  4. My old mobile phone has never worked better since it got machine washed with my clothes,
  5. My phone has a surprisingly good camera however it has the most annoying panorama function. The photo above took hours to do,
  6. I am so lucky to have that view from the garden. But what would I give for either a mountain or the sea in the distance,
  7. I quite enjoy most of this home schooling lark,
  8. Homeschooling and work are never going to be a good fit for me,
  9. Homeschooling and long distance running are never going to be a good fit for me,
  10. Homeschooling and my bank balance are never going to be a good fit for me,
  11. Homeschooling, my bank balance and holidays are never going to be a good for me,
  12. High petrol prices are not an issue when you don’t drive your car for 6 weeks,
  13. I can now make my own pizza bases as long as they are square shaped. Round is beyond me,
  14. I can fill a freezer up real quick when I start saving leftover food,
  15. A dairy and gluten free diet is a pain in the arse when the shops sell out of specialist diet ranges,
  16. I miss football on the telly,
  17. I miss alpine sports on the telly,
  18. I hate the news now. I miss the days of moaning about Brexit,
  19. I’m a barnpot yet I would do a better job of running our country than the clowns currently in charge. Apparently it’s ok for a Prime Minister to miss FIVE emergency meetings and have weekends off during a national emergency,
  20. My Son knows more than I do,
  21. Receiving a parcel from Amazon now feels as dangerous as trying to change a fuel rod in a nuclear reactor,
  22. Not being able to get Sons favourite Soup, Beans, Skinless Sausages and Pasta is one of the most stressful things in the world,
  23. I must be really vexing to live with,
  24. Cheap tea bags taste the same regardless of how many times I reuse them,
  25. Using Yorkshire Slang Words gets me put on the Spam Naughty List,
  26. At some stage I might have to physically talk to someone else than our son. I’m dreading that thought,
  27. You can still get colds if you are isolating from the outside world,
  28. When I’m carefully stood in my designated 2m queuing area why can’t I stop thinking about how long virus particles stay airborne for,
  29. I get so excited when I see an aeroplane now that I must rush to check where it’s flying to,
  30. I haven’t combed my hair in 6 weeks,
  31. Where does all the so called spare time disappear when I’m on lockdown,
  32. The more I learn German the less I can remember of French. It’s as if for every new German word entering my brain, a French one has to pop out to make space,
  33. I will even talk to slugs these days,
  34. Don’t set up a darts challenge with your son then at the last minute realise you don’t have a dartboard or darts,
  35. The Government and Chief Executives of major companies only email me when there is a pandemic going on,
  36. I still hate U2,
  37. I want to live in Switzerland
  38. I’m still a widow. Or as my Predictive Text tries to type – I am still a window,
  39. These days it really doesn’t matter if I put my pants on back to front.

Bee

Slightly unnerving BEEing (being) eyeballed by this woolly friend. Couldn’t work out if it was admiring my silky garden football skills or was waiting for a Rich Tea biscuit. I lived in footballing worship hope until a biscuit was handed over and the woolly one then walked off.

Not always but occasionally life balances itself out. This morning I finished my last bit of paid work before the company basically shuts down for a couple of months (maybe longer). So no money coming in. As I closed the work laptop the phone rang. It was the garage, they still can’t get the parts needed for my cars poorly braking system. They will keep trying but the repair work won’t happen much before May. That’s a bit of a result. Won’t BEE (be) using the car much at all and that’s one hefty bill kicked into the long grass.

Talking about long grass. Last year someone gave me a wild bee hotel. The poor souls are struggling here so I thought I would do my bit. A quiet corner in the garden has been allowed to go wild. To be factually correct that should have been described as – I have let a part of the badly overgrown garden to go even wilder than the rest of the mess…

Anyway in the wild corner I have carefully located the bee hotel. Still no little takers after many months. I remember my Dad telling me that the first bee you see in spring is probably looking for a new home. He was a stubborn Yorkshireman so I never dared to question his apicultural knowledge. So our first bee of the season arrived.

A bee clearly fixated on trying to squeeze under the back door and get into our house. I tried showing the bee the currently vacant and palatial hotel. As hard as I pointed at the hotel’s front door, the bee just ignored me. Even a little honey failed to entice the bee. UnBEElievable (Unbelievable)

My question to you. What is the bee phrase for ‘Sorry pal your not coming in here. This thing I’m pointing at is your free of charge new house. I will even feed you each day.”

White elephant

The zero hours contract yielded 5 hours work today. Another 50000000 hours and I might just keep the bank manager from sending me snotty letters. Just enough time left for a quick run. The light was stunning. It’s the quiet before the next storm hits.

“Is it true that we are getting another storm.”

“Yes Son it’s due to hit at the weekend. But this time maybe just a little less wind but much more rain.”

Great. I bet they have given it a really silly name.”

“Storm Dennis.”

“Your joking aren’t you.”

No Son it’s officially called Dennis.”

Probably named after Dennis The Menice. Would have been better if they had called it Storm Menice.”

Given we seem to be getting them every 6 days now maybe they should call it ANOTHER STORM.”

Son gave the car radio a quizzical look when the news reporter mentioned that Boris Johnson is still committed to building a bridge between Scotland and Ireland.

How much is that going to cost”

“I think it was a minimum £20 billion but given our track record of overspends that probably means about £80 billion”

Dad what a stupid idea. How many operations, or school books or trees could that pay for. How many months will it be closed for high winds.”

It’s a staggering idea. A 45km bridge over a seriously mad and volatile sea area. Supported by a series of giant towers having to be spaced at least a kilometre apart to accommodate the busy shipping routes. It would also have to cross the location of the country’s largest military dump. In 1945 over a million tons of munitions and submarines were dumped in a 300m deep sea trench.

“Its ok Son it’s unlikely to be built. When he was Mayor of London Boris committed to another big bridge idea. He was going to build a pedestrian bridge over the Thames. It ended up as a shambles and nothing happened. So if he can’t build a bridge between London and London he’s going to struggle to build one from Scotland to Ireland”.

Talking about building Dad. When are you going to get round to putting my shelf back up in my bedroom.”

The project is currently in the planning stages.”

If you mean by planning that it’s been propped against the wardrobe them then planning stage has lasted almost two years.”

I will try to do it tomorrow.”

Yeh right. Two massive white elephants. The Irish Sea Bridge and my Lego Shelf.”

Onomatopoeia

That jolly yellow thing in the sky is still here. Any longer and it might qualify for the Yorkshire Cricket Team. I understand it’s called The Sun. A simple name yet so confusing for kids like our Son. Is it a Sun or is it a Son.

So on to this weeks spelling test. Ok campers your simple words this week are

Alliteration, Onomatopoeia, Simile, Metaphor, Slang, Rhetorically, Personification, Emotive, Language, Imagery, Verb, Adjective, Adverb.

See I predicted it was only a matter of time before the poor kids had to try and spell complex dinosaur names. The Onomatopoeia was always my favourite flying dinosaur…..

I think school probably thinks that the spellings are getting too easy so they have now added a twist. Previously the teacher would say the actual word to be spelt and the kids tried to write it down. This week the teacher won’t say the word. Instead she will read out a definition and the kids have to decide which word it describes – then spell it. Easy with Onomatopoeia as it will be the only dinosaur….. if only.

So the kids will have to work out which of the above words fits with what the teacher definitions are and then try to spell it. From definitions like these

This is a word that imitates or suggests the source of the sound that it describes

This is when something is said to be something else

A describing word. Sometimes there are three together to make it more effective

A word describing how something is done

This is the repetition of letter sound at the start of a word

What chance has a dyslexic kid got when he struggles to spell and as a result has never really understood the technicalities of the English Language. But what do I know. A simple parent compared to the might and intellectual magnificence of the current government education regime. As our PM’s Dad publicly stated when he stood in for his Son in an interview.

Spelling “Pinocchio? That requires a degree of literacy, which I think the great British public doesn’t necessarily have.”

Its hard being a PM so he only handpicks a few interviews these days. Better to send his Dad. But the message is clear. The great unwashed didn’t go to Eton and Oxford. They are basically illiterate. They need to be force fed things like spelling.

I am one of the great unwashed. An illiterate who went to a poor sinkhole Comprehensive School and only to the clearly unworthy Warwick University. Maybe we are illiterate for a reason. The dreadful state of our crumbling education system. An education system that lets down so many kids. Which discriminates against those who don’t fit the mould. Money allows you to buy a better education. The money which the PMs Dad easily forked out to send his Son to Eton. But in the real world the majority struggle on. Dealing with an education system which has been systematically screwed by those with a view of the world so like that of PM and his Dad.

I might not be able to spell Pinocchio but at least I know my pterodactyls from my Onomatopoeias.

Magic Tree

And still it rains.

My phone is old but at least it’s just about waterproof.

Unlike my old battered raincoat which is anything but waterproof.

Our helpful government likes to point out to the great unwashed – there is no magic money tree. Well there is but it’s only available to the few. So like many households the number of items which are beyond their useful life is growing each day. Yet as we don’t have access to a money tree we just have to make do. Our list is not unusual.

  • Washing Machine – can’t select a cycle you get what the machine gives you. Plus it has a door which doesn’t shut properly so it needs to be kicked until it locks.
    Oven – has two settings no heat or nuclear fusion.
    Car – needs 4 new tyres which at least will triple the value of the car.
    Back Door – has so many leaks it’s been renamed WikiLeaks.
    Hairdryer – only blows cold.
    Shower – produces about as much water as the smallest water pistol.
    Dvd Player – only plays discs if they have been properly cleaned by Mary Poppins. Every disk seems to go into mad picture breakdown on the merest speck of dust.
    Boiler – was installed prior to the introduction of video recorders and home computers.
    Light switches -No lights in one room so it’s a great place to play hide and seek.
    Microwave Oven – has more rust than my first ever car (mk1 Ford Escort).
    Conservatory Door – doesn’t shut anymore unless you are called The Hulk.
    Laptop – in a permanent state of update and has as much processing power as a stick of rhubarb.
    Camera – has never been the same since it was accidentally dropped into a pan of boiling bake beans. Now everyone ends up looking like Donald Trump.
    Chimney – to narrow to safely light a fire. What were the builders thinking of. How the fiddle sticks did Santa get down that.
    Tumble Dryer – as much drying effect as one of my sneezes.
    Curtains – all shredded by cats.
    Furniture – all shredded by cats.
    House – all shredded by the cats.
    Freezer – the 3 plastic draws have disintegrated so all the food is just wedged in. When you open the door it’s an explosion of food items.
    Dish Washer – is no more, it is an ex dishwasher.

Every week the list of disrepair gets longer. But you just get on with it. Make the best of things. See the funny side to it. And above all remember that as bad as you think things are THERE are so many people out there with no home and no possessions. Which is appalling when you think of the wealth the few control. Just think what good that magic tree could do in the right hands.

So poor

I came from a northern working class background. A council house with an outside toilet and a dark coal bunker. Luckily the house had a big garden so Dad could grow loads of vegetables and fruit. It wasn’t until 1980 when the Council renovated the house and we got the luxury of central heating and an inside loo. We had to move out into a caravan for a few months so the house could be gutted and the roof replaced. It was bizarre looking at you house without a roof on. I will always remember sitting in the caravan playing with some lego when the little TV brought news of Lennon being shot.

The phrase my parents would always use was scrimp and scrape. They did an amazing job and Dad was always happy to talk about the hard lifestyle. Is it bad but these days that memory always reminds me of Monty Python doing the sketch about the Four Yorkshireman competing for who had the toughest childhood. We were so poor we lived in a box. Or in my case We were so poor we didn’t have a roof.


https://youtu.be/IeXMKygwSco

All those years later and I’m carrying on the tradition of scrimp and scraping. The return to school has brought significant additional costs to an already tight financial position. But as a good buddy said today – we make do. It does mean that you take some calculated risks. Son has an old raincoat which still just about fits him. It’s really well battered. It needs changing but I was hoping to put that off for a few months more.

Well today the calculated risk backfired. He went to pull on the old coat and the sleeve ripped apart at the seems.

Dad it’s not just Bruce Banner who can do that.

So he’s gone off today without a coat and yes it’s pouring down. Absolutely chucking it down. I feel really awful about it. Poor kid is going to be like a drowned rat. Anyway I’ve gone out and bought him a new one. Well at least he can now carry on the tradition. When he’s older he can do his own Monty Python sketch.

We were so poor I had a raincoat with only one sleeve. We couldn’t afford two sleeves.