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Harassment? Or Hilarity.

10 Jan

An elderly chap named Gerry told me the other day; “Saw you out running, love. I beeped at you. But you didn’t notice. Blind as a bat, you are.” I gave him a look. “Just count yourself lucky,” I replied “That you didn’t get two fingers from me. Or one. Because that’s my standard response to idiots that beep me.”

The poor bloke was astonished. Not because of my propensity to crudity (he knows me too well to think otherwise) but because of how often the honking of horns happens to females when we are out running. He was genuinely shocked when I told him about this sort of thing and said; “do fellas really do that, then? I would never have thought it…”  “Yes,” I answered. “And I truly don’t understand it myself. Because when I’m out running, I’m all sweaty, no make-up and in my scruffs and I look minging.” He considered this; “Aye, you didn’t look your best lass. But even so. There’s no excuse for honking at you – even when you’re all scrubbed up. I’m shocked, I really am.”

winston

I only do what the bloke on the five pound note does…

My other half shares similar sentiments (although thankfully, he is less honest about me looking like a sweaty minger). His words are; “I’ve never, ever understood men that do that sort of thing to women. When I was younger, there was the odd time when I was in a car with a ‘friend’ who found it amusing to beep the horn at a woman. You know – the ‘lads together thing – fwooorrrr’. But it never enters my mind to do that. You see a woman you think – ‘yeah she looks nice’ but you don’t do anything about it.  You wouldn’t frighten her, that’s for sure. Or think that she might find it flattering. It’s just imbecilic behaviour.”

And I won’t even repeat the words that he uses when I tell him that plenty of fellas *on their own in a vehicle* beep at you, when you’re out running. For me, those incidents are even more disturbing and sinister.

So it was interesting to hear that according to research by England Athletics, 1 in 3 of women have encountered some sort of harassment when out running. To be honest, I’m shocked that this number isn’t higher. It has become a fact of life in our household, me returning from a run with a cob-on due to some incident involving the opposite sex, a vehicle and someone who has been unable to keep their gob shut or their fingers away from the horn (oo-er, missus.)

And on the back of this report, it’s been fascinating, listening to the experiences of various runners; some women  find the honking of horns to be very intimidating, some of us have had other forms of harassment and some men also report that they have encountered all sorts of abuse when out running (I myself have had peanuts lobbed at me – don’t laugh – and water squirted at me). Some guys who have encountered such incidents feel strongly that this means it isn’t a ‘gender’ issue – and I’m with them on the misery that such stupidity can result in, when all you want is a bit of fresh air and to stretch your legs. But on aggregate, we can’t really deny that it is women who are being targeted and that there is still a massive problem in society, in terms of the way that women ‘out and about’ (how dare we!) are perceived and how we are deemed to be ‘miserable bitches’ if we respond with the two-fingered salute.

take-dogs

Take dogs. And poo bags.

On BBC Breakfast time, one of the women runners being interviewed said that she didn’t view shouts and beeps as intimidating or harassing. She felt that it was a sort of ‘encouragement’ – to egg her on in her leggy endeavours. Me? I’m usually pretty savvy at discriminating between a beep / leer and a ‘good speed gal!’ sort of remark. The former being a sign of a saddo perv and the latter being genuine camaraderie (which, no – I wouldn’t swear or snarl at.) And actually, if I’m going to have a bit of a moan about stupidity and rudeness towards us runners – and walkers – I’d like to add into the list, those nutter drivers who are crap at judging how close they are to you when there is no pavement, who won’t slow down as they pass you, who are happy to nudge you into a ditch or who don’t even realise that they have drenched you as they speed gleefully through a puddle in their enormous 4WD.  In fact, the only person who ever stopped and apologised to me for spraying muddy water all over me – turned out to be a drug dealer. I saw him later down the lane in his BMW, doing a deal with some school kids. (And yes, dear reader – of course I grassed him up. Course I did.)

Some feel that the answer to female runners getting hassle is never to run alone. I have many friends who have enjoyed a new lease of life thanks to initiatives such as ‘Run Together’ and Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can.’ But I just can’t DO the running with other human beings thing. I used to run with my other half, but we had to stop. Because we spent half of the time dreaming up new business ventures – and then following through with them; time consuming and expensive. And the other half moaning about the kids. Depressing.  I enjoyed being in Namibia though, because on my bush-track runs, I took a dog with me (although every time we encountered neighbouring ferocious canines, the little swine quickly abandoned me.) But I don’t have a dog. And it would be selfish just to purchase one for running purposes only. Plus, I’d have to stop in order to pick up the poo.

Running in packs is one answer to the problem, but an even more helpful response would be to educate all people to keep themselves safe when out and about (don’t get me started on how dangerous it can be, using earphones …) and raising our kids to realise that shrieking things, blaring your horn and chucking snack foods at people in the street and the like, is the behaviour of low life.

I’m not – of course – advocating that people do as I do. Making gestures at the pond-life  who do the beeping and the blurting -and worse –  really isn’t the wisest course of action. But by gum, it always makes me feel better.

Until I realise that it’s dear old Gerry who has beeped me. Or my daughter’s teacher. Yes – the latter has occurred too. Hopefully it won’t affect her end of year exam results too badly.

Hope our girls will live to see no more beeping. After all, we have Donald Trump as a President.

Hope our girls will live to see no more beeping. After all, we have Donald Trump as a President.

 

 

A Blanket Descends.

9 Nov

(Howling from the kitchen)

ME: (coming downstairs). Go on then. Is that happy howling?

12 yr old GIRL:  Noooo Nooooooo! He’s got in. Trump. It’s Trump! My God! What is WRONG with these people?

ME:                    (that’s dumbstruck silence)

8 yr old BOY: (coming downstairs) What? Trump got in? That’s a nightmare.

GIRL: You’re telling me! It’s a catastrophe!!

ME:                   (more dumbstruck silence)

BOY: Someone needs to tell Dad. (He scampers upstairs. Then comes down again)  Dad says ‘ha ha very funny and have I packed my PE shorts as he’s sick of being my servant or whatever.’  It’s a disaster! And Dad thinks we’re joking.

trump

Thumbs down for Trump. Until it snowed.

GIRL: Oh Emm Gee – this is like, the worst thing ever ever ever. Like, 8 years ago, Mum – I was 4 – and *he* (jerks head at brother) was sat in his high chair there, slopping his food everywhere and generally being totally repulsive –  so *he* won’t remember it. But *you* were getting all … crying at Radio 4 …. ’cause Obama got in and you thought it was like, dead important because he was black and a dude and all of that. So what the hell has gone wrong??? Someone tell me!!!

ME:                  (even more dumbstruck silence. I had no idea she remembered that. Oh crap. What else can she remember?)

BOY: Yes it’s all a disaster. I’m so depressed. It’s gonna be World War Three. We’re all gonna die. But  … heyyyyy!!!!  (looking out the window.) Cool!!!  Look at the snow!! There’s snow everywhere! Ah, wow!  Cool!  Can I get my snow boots, Mum. Please please please!

GIRL: (flares up) What is WRONG with you? This is the worst thing EVER!  And all of a sudden you’re happy because IT SNOWED!! You are SO shallow! A bit of snow and you suddenly forget about Trump and the end of civilisation or like, whatever?!

ME: (finding voice) Well. You might as well let him enjoy the snow. Trump won’t be doing much about climate change. You may well not be seeing snow for much longer. But the world might well enjoy many more incidences of letchy old fellas getting away with groping young ladies.

GIRL: (in a wonderful impersonation of Trump’s voice) So that’s ok, then!

 

 

Skimmed? Or Devoured.

4 Nov

As a life-long bookworm, it came a bit of a shock to me when I noticed that my 6 year old daughter would do anything not to read. Indeed, we soon noticed that the kid was hiding her school reading books down the back of the settee (which in my household is a remarkably risky activity, unless you want your reading materials to be encrusted in marmite-toast and dead spiders.)

Initially, my reaction to this was; “blimey, what I crap parent I must be”, followed by “this is her dad’s fault – he’s always crowing that ‘I’ve seen the film, don’t need to read the book'” and then finally, I realised that something was indeed the matter.  That maybe the child had dyslexia.

A simulator which shows how *some* dyslexics experience the written word

A simulator which shows how *some* dyslexics experience the written word

Problem was though – that the school wouldn’t get her tested. Told us that she was ‘too young’ to be diagnosed. ‘Poppycock’ – we were later told by an expert. The *real reason* for lack of help was that our girl was beautifully behaved in lessons. It turned out that the kids who cause maximum classroom disruption were the only ones able to access local authority funded testing.

So, we took her off for a private test. The tests involved lots more than just looking for dyslexia. Full IQ analysis and all of that gubbins. And whilst the cost of it brought tears to my eyes at the time, it was the best thing that we ever did for her. Because – yup – it found that her literacy ability was presenting itself as what we commonly refer to as ‘dyslexia.’ But we were also told that she was naturally smart, she could easily make good this gap of hidden impairment, if she got the right amount of help.

Now one of the reasons that the girl didn’t want to read, was because (she said) all of the school reading books were ‘well dull.’ And at this point, I had to concede that she was right. Because I had to sit and read a lot of them with her. I’m sorry to say that they were the same old same old formulaic fripperies. The children seemed to have none of the golden oldies that I remembered had sparked my own imagination as a 6 year old (Flat Stanley, Bobby Brewster, Just William, Amelia Jane, etc). So I asked a friend in the publishing industry “Why are there such few reprints of the brilliant books of the past? Why do schools insist on trying to feed our kids such badly written modern tosh?”  After reminding me that this was a slightly unfair statement on my part, he went on to inform me that these days, schools only have access to the ‘bargain basement, cheap as chips’ stuff that the big publishing houses want to sell ASAP. And yeah, there are a few incredible ‘stand-outs’ that I don’t mind conceding to (Rowling, Jacqueline Wilson, Annabel Pitcher) but in general…

Its more of a case of supply dictating demand. Of the big publishers force-feeding our kids the kind of genre/theme that worked last year. They don’t want to take risks on a new author with a different approach. Hence too many coloured fairies, young wizards and vampy-sorts wandering about. And amidst all of this, the parent of the dyslexic child (quite understandably) presumes that the school is providing sufficient stimulation for the kid who needs a bit more help to get into a book. But the school teachers lack the time to research which books work the best – and the schools – you guessed it – lack the money available to buy stuff that isn’t coming from the big booksellers.

My own personal answer to this dilemma was to hit charity shops, second hand book shops and eBay. To trawl them for the oldest, tattiest books that were deemed not to be ‘hot’ enough for a big publisher to want to do a new edition of.  But which were a superb, captivating, beautifully written read.  I don’t mind patting myself on the back for this one – the results paid off; but my girl also put the effort in (and oh yeah, banning the telly helped too. Evil? Moi?)

This one would live in a library if you let him.

This one would live in a library if you let him.

And child number two – my son – couldn’t have been any different. It’s the opposite story with him. It’s US having to HIDE books from HIM when we want him to get off his bum and to help around the house. He has been known to sit and read the instruction manuals for fridge-freezers when his favourites have been whipped away from him.

So I was fascinated to hear about the latest research from the University of Dundee which found a bit of a gender gap when it comes to kids and reading. You can read an interesting summary of it here – http://huntington.researchschool.org.uk/2016/10/29/what-are-our-children-reading/ but in short; lads tend to skim read more and choose less challenging books than girls. Of course, there could be a lot of reasons for this; perhaps boys are lazier and have a false confidence in their abilities, perhaps girls are more anxious at missing out on that all-important passage that could change their life and lead them to The Handsome Prince. I jest of course – but as a Governor of a high school, I’m also acutely aware that we are really struggling to treat our boys with fab and unusual reading material. And one of the problems with the research itself, is that it only focussed on the books that are included in the schools ‘Accelerated Reading Scheme’, which, if you have read the previous paragraphs, you will realise content-wise is dictated via the supply and ‘presumed demand market-monsters’ again.

So what do we do? How do we improve the literacy of kids who struggle to keep engaged and interested in reading? Those of you that know me already, will know that my first response will be ‘less of the e-devices for our kids, if you please; it’s a book for ’em or nowt!’  But I’m a realist and I know that this isn’t possible for a lot of us.

In an ideal world, I’d love to see classrooms stuffed with rich, high quality, old and new reading material. But I can’t see this happening right now, for the reasons above. In an ideal world, I’d like to say that there should be an effective partnership between parent and school; to spend time together nailing the specific problems that their child has in terms of literacy. But again…. it’s time. And it’s always money.

So I’m afraid, that this is one which will have to fall onto the shoulders of parents and relatives. One thing that many literacy studies over the years has shown us – and you might well be able to look at the reading habits of your own loved ones in order to bear this out – is that some of us prefer fiction and some of us prefer fact. And whilst I’d be chuffed to see all kids reading and enjoying my own book recommendations, that would be a bit… well. Stepford Wife-ish. And whilst I’d be thrilled to see all children reading every line on every page of every book; again. Where the hell would society be if we didn’t skim and scan and chuck the odd crappy book at the wall, every now and then?theweek

One of the things that I discovered about my dyslexic daughter is that her eyes/ brain want to work so fast, that she tend to ‘word skip,’ and this means that she sometimes skims a book. In fact, we soon realised that she was reading our newspapers. We can’t get her away from our ‘History’ magazines and she’s even been pondering ‘Private Eye’. So we did a bit of research and tried her out with her own – and ‘The Week Junior’ has proven to be a big hit. http://theweekjunior.co.uk/ She gets to keep abreast of current affairs and she gets a rare and magical occurrence these days – real time post, from Bob The Postie!

Personally, I would love to see schools taking out subscriptions to magazines for kids; to start buying more fact-based publications. To accept donations of previously loved, less shiny-new but top quality books. Yes! To get laminating those magazines in case of Irn-Bru spillage (those teachers and their unhealthy lifestyles, eh?) I mean, why should we be discriminating against young people who don’t have the desire to read the youthful version of the likes of ‘War and Peace’? Why should there be one rule for them and one rule for the adult world? private_eye

So with Christmas rapidly approaching, why don’t we treat the youngsters in our life to a magazine subscription? And why don’t we nudge our schools to raise money for the same – as opposed to the usual ‘we need ipads’. And apologies if I sound like an old fuddy-duddy but – we can’t sit here moaning about literacy levels when the nippers are bombarded by devices that actively discourage them from slowing down and perusing the paper.

And on that note, I shall go and go and take a hammer to those nasty powerloom thingies. Be the death of our society, those things will.

 

 

 

Listen Up. BBC at Best.

17 Oct

Me n’ mine have been asked to feature in the BBC’s ‘Listening Project’ on a few occasions. Thanks largely, to the matters that involve my family’s background, experiences, international work, kids and views on consumerism – and of course, our proclivities for nude rambling across the Trans-Pennine Trail … ok, ok – I’m joshing about the latter.

IMG00190-20100911-1249

*DO* Listen.

But even before I ended up getting roped into recordings, I have to say that this small-but-mighty stakeholder project born of The Beeb has captured my imagination over the last few years – simply as a mere radio fan. But it also, always seems to stoke-up the fires of many others than I know, who have the sense to prefer the radio to the telly.

And yup – I love listening to the conversations of others. What writer/ person with a half-baked intelligent brain *doesn’t*? This is what the entire series is about. Ear-wigging. Nosey Norman Neighbours.

But every single episode is always so beautifully edited – that we always come away with a little nugget of summat or t’other. And today’s little clip? Well.  If there was ever a justification for paying for the existence of the Beeb (licence fee… cough … splutter…) today’s episode was the flagship for the entire thing.  A ‘Ruddy Dobber’ of a programme (as we say in Manchester.)

So my own wee friendies from all over the world – have a listen to this snippet of today  –  entitled “We’re Still Friends”. This conversation could have taken place in my kitchen. With various friends and family members.  All about Brexit. Why some of us wanted to get the hell out. And others of us felt horrified at such a prospect.

And I’m proud of the fact that I have pals in my life who have completely different views to me on the entire issue. So yes, it doesn’t bother me too much that I hang about with gorgeously-warm folk whose views sometimes make me want to, er, er …  reach for the Fizzy Andrews. (Hey – do they make *that stuff* anymore? I always think of it as cocaine – for 6 year olds.)

So, whatever your thoughts on Brexit, Europe, refugees, feminism etc. Just make it a priority to listen to this one clip only. (And MORE please, if you enjoyed the link here  – just have a perusal of the main website. Treasures for all!)  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07z3zfy

For me the key word on this particular broadcast is that of ‘Listening’. Backed up by ‘Friendship’. Closely followed by ‘Show Don’t Tell’. Listen to the emotions and the clarity in the voices of these two women from Donny (Doncaster) and how the real ‘listening’ and tolerance seems to be pointing towards a new direction for them as friends.

They’re listening and learning to and from one another. No sanctimonious attitudes or smart-arse-isms going on there. (I keep expecting to hear that Quakers are running this entire project  – but apparently not. Still. I’m biased.)

And – ooh yeah – let’s give a high-five to certain BBC Radio producers and journalistic-sorts.  The skill of recording and archiving oral testimony, and editing it for both needy and discerning listeners, is alive and well at the Beeb and at its regional stations – and on this particular long-running project – is showing right here and right now – at its top-notch best.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07z3zfy

Bless the BBC and Radio. Especially this here Sheffield studio

Bless the BBC and Radio. Especially this ‘ere Sheffield studio

It’s All In His Head

29 Sep

The other day, I happened to be feeling rather grateful to the wonderful Bill Bryson.

Well, I’ve always felt quite grateful to him actually. As the incredibly talented, witty, top-notch, best-selling author actually WROTE to me when I lived in Africa. In fact – the rather lovely fella has actually sent me TWO letters. It’s great to receive such fan mail, it really is!

Okay, okay – I’m lying about the latter, but neither did the comms from Bill contain a missive from his solicitor, demanding me to abstain from the stalking activities. And I’ve always loved Bill’s style of writing, would have read his stuff anyway – but the fact the chappie took time out to scribble a few lines to me – meant a hell of a lot to a budding writer.  Pure gold, that kind of thing.  So I always do my absolute best to read his books. Brilliant for a laugh and for pithy, social observation.  But this week, I was particularly glad that I’ve just finished reading one of his more recent books. Because I ended up having one of my usual –  rather strange and contorted – conversations with my 8 year old boy. And without Bill’s help, I wouldn’t have been able to interpret it.

I don't imagine that Bill wrote this as a parental self-help manual. But it sure as heck worked for me.

I don’t imagine that Bill wrote this as a parental self-help manual. But it sure as heck worked for me.

The chat with the lad centred on me relating events that took place in 1980.  To cut to the chase, the moral of the story of today’s parental lecture was all about me, trying to persuade the lad not to make ‘unwise’ swaps of toys. Because once you’ve swapsied, most kids don’t want to swap back, yeah? So I told the kid of a similar time in my childhood. That on seeing my flute teacher’s case for her instrument, I had envied it. Because hers had a handle. Mine didn’t. So she offered to swap it – and this was of mutual benefit to both parties.

And even though the handle came in handy (it was MUCH easier to smack my brother over the head with it) I almost instantly regretted the swap. Because just a couple of weeks later after the novelty of this had passed, I noticed that she had a brand new, sleek flute case. And me? I had a scruffy old one. With my brother’s skull-marks imprinted in it. Albeit with a handle, of course.

“Soooooo,” I told my son. “I still look at that flute case today and regret it. I wish I had kept the one I originally had.” He asked me, “So didn’t your teacher ever give it you back?” “No,” I replied.  He snarled and then yelled;”That’s MEAN!” And then? And then he grew suddenly quiet, with a strange and distant look on his face.  “Hang on, though,” I said. “I never asked for it back. I felt silly about asking for it back. I’m sure she would have given it to me, if I had. She didn’t do anything wrong. She was a really nice person!”

He suddenly looked guilty. “Uh-oh,” he said. He wouldn’t respond when I asked him what he meant. I began to wonder what was going on for him. And then – thanks to Mr Bill Bryson and ‘The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid’, I quickly realised why. “I know why you’re looking a bit worried,” I told him. “You’ve just killed my teacher haven’t you? Using your superhuman mind powers. Boys do things like that, don’t they?”

Bless him, he had the decency to look slightly abashed. “Yes,” he replied. “Well!” I answered, “You can just ruddy well bring her back then! If you’ve got the power to kill someone with your mind, you can at least resurrect them. You go to a Church of England school – you believe in that kind of stuff! C’mon! Bring her back!”

“Sorry …” he sang – as he wandered off to find some plastic superhero figure or another with which to entertain himself with; “…when I’ve killed someone with my supreme mind death-ray, they can’t come back. But don’t worry – your teacher would be well-old by now. So she’s probably dead anyway.”

And would you believe me if I told you that this lad has natural charm – in spades?

Nah. Probably not.

The Joy of Boys – Feminist Mamma now thinks twice about nurture vs nature

 

You’re So Vane

19 Sep

The other day I embarked on a blog, prior to opening my birthday presents of 2016. Well.  Yours truly was delighted with the fact that even more ‘needed’ and ‘odd’ gifts came her way. So here goes …

I’ll openly admit to anyone that I’ve never been reet-impressed with status symbols, brands, the latest in whatever consumerist tosh that far too many people in western society tend to be. But I’d be a filthy liar if I didn’t confess to you that when my birthday comes around, I do tend to ‘ask’ for a specific present (or three.) Not because I’m Ms Greedy Guts Materialist – honest – but because I simply think to myself, ‘weeeell, if they’re going to be daft enough to get me a pressie, they might as well get me something that I need.’

Little man chops wood! Cuckoo drives husband insane! What more could a girl want.

Little man chops wood! Cuckoo drives husband insane! What more could a girl want.

Do note here – the word ‘need’, as opposed to ‘like.’ It has proven to be the bane of my life and has turned me into the dullard Puritan that I am today. Sadly, my daughter seems to have taken on this very same attitude. A recent visit to her grandparents, ended up with Nan having to practically staple various purchases shop-buys to her grand-daughter’s forehead in order for them to be accepted (‘I’ve never known a child to say ‘no-thank-you-I-don’t-need-anything’, with every other breath!’)

But honestly, it’s not all just self-denial and flagellation here in our little household (for example, child number two is now turning out to be Mr Capitalist Commercial-Pants, as any self-respecting psychoanalyst would have warned me would have happened, years ago). But that blip aside, yeah – we may not chuck money around like some do on birthdays and anniversaries. But we do have FUN and we do BUY STUFF for each other. Still, it’s usually something er… well. To put it in the world of a close relative ‘Something completely weird and odd. Very much like you. You’re special!’

And I’ve only got myself to blame for such back-handed comments. Because I always make a point of remembering to ask my nearest/dearest for what I would most like to see, wrapped in the newspaper (I kid you not on the latter remark.) And the wee wish-list doesn’t usually contain what most women my age are hankering after (or ‘needing.’) In fact, the most bog-standard birthday present that I’ve ever requested was in response to a best friend asking me what I wanted. ‘Er, I just ran out of body moisturiser.’ I told her. ‘Good God, woman!’ she said, ‘That’s the most boring present ever! Are you sure? Last year you wanted me to get you a pair of purple tights. What is WRONG with you?’ ‘Look,’ I replied. ‘It’s what I NEED. Okay?’ She then proceeded to tell me that I was the easiest person ever to buy presents for. Because she also knew that I’ll happily accept second-hand moisturiser from any charity shop at the end of anyone’s street.

But it’s a bit of a different story for the other half and the kids. Because I subtly point out things that I NEED throughout the year. And then they forget. And then I try not to sulk about it. I mean, you’d think that I was the centre of their world wouldn’t you? I don’t ask for much in life. Well sadly, yet again I have run out of cotton wool buds, white knickers and Pears soap. Or perhaps they only tend to remember the much more whimsical stuff that I’ve taken a fancy to. So here – just to prove to you that I am entirely easy to buy for – is my top list of really ace pressies from my family.

1) Headlice Treatment
Purchased for me by Mother. At the time, I had no children, I had never suffered from headlice and I certainly hadn’t indicated in any way, shape or form – that I ‘needed’ the above. However, Mum being Mum – she figured that because I was living in sub-Saharan Africa and working with street children, there would come a time that the little giftie would be both welcome and useful. And yup – what can I say? Mums are ALWAYS right.

2) Ceramic sculpture of a milk bottle

We actually have old-fashioned pints delivered to us. But this artist re-creates both.

We actually have old-fashioned pints delivered to us. But this artist re-creates both.

In Slaithwaite, one of the villages next to us, there exists a little gem of a shop -‘The Emporium’- which displays the wares of talented local artists. One of my favourite shelves contains the work of a woman who studies old milk bottles and the more modern plastic versions. She then makes these incredible ceramic milk bottles, with labels that have very ‘local and political’ messages.

Mum makes the kid drink rancid milk. Allegedly.

Mum makes the kids drink rancid milk. Allegedly.

All about the decline of the local producers versus the scary supermarket stranglehold. My fella remembered how enamoured I had been with her efforts and presented me with one. They are so very realistic and of such good quality, that it has taken my little boy three years to be able to stop saying ‘You’ve left the milk on the book shelf again, Mum.’ And for me to suddenly realise why he always refuses to have milk on his cereal.

3) A Cuckoo Clock

There has always been a deep-yearning in my soul to have something/anything mounted on the wall with a small apparition that pops in and out of it, as if by magic. I would definitely have settled for an old-fashioned wooden weather house. But if I remember correctly, my other half accused them of being sexist inventions ‘because the man is the one who appears when it rains and when it’s sunny the woman appears in a frock. Plus it would be factually incorrect because no matter how warm the sunshine is, you’re always bloody complaining that you’re cold.’ Anyway, I’m equally intrigued by cuckoo clocks and after many years of lusting after the one at Buffers Cafe in Bolton Abbey, I finally got my own. Huzzah! (Although it’s more often ‘yah-boo’ – because my husband doesn’t like the disturbance of the cuckoo popping out every half an hour. It’s like living with a Brummie version of Victor Meldrew, I tell you.)
Still, the cuckoo clock has also provided a bit of inspiration for the title of my next book. More on that soon.

4) A Trip to Bradford Industrial Museum.

One of the best museums in the North. And free, my friends ... free!

One of the best museums in the North. And free, my friends … free!

What else can I add to this? Other than it’s ace. It’s free. And we didn’t take the kids. The only disappointment was that the Toby Inn just next to it was shut. But you can’t have the moon on a stick, can you?

5) A Tour of Wentworth Woodhouse
This year’s birthday pressie and one that was actually suggested to me by a nice chappie at the gym (and no no no … ‘A Tour of Wentworth Woodhouse’ is NOT some sort of Huddersfield double entendre!) https://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Diamonds-Rise-English-Dynasty/dp/0141019239 Me and some of the gym bunnies in this part of west Yorkshire like to lend each other reading material that happens to stretch our brains beyond ‘Running Like a Loon Weekly’ and ‘Muscles For Brains Monthly.’

Great book. A Must-Read for anyone who cares about issues of rich vs poor.

Great book. A Must-Read for anyone who cares about the issues of rich vs poor.

So I was very grateful to be lent ‘Black Diamonds’. It turned out to be a great socio-economic perusal of the Fitzwilliams – the family who made their moolah out of the coal mines of south Yorkshire and of the poor sods who had to do the lumping and the dumping. It’s very rare that Wentworth Woodhouse throws it’s doors open for booked tours… the place is still all a bit cloaked in secrecy. And it’s only taken my other half two years and four reminders of just how much I ‘NEED’ this tour for my birthday present – i.e ‘for my mental wellbeing, dear! And yours – so I stop having to remind you…’ etc etc.

So in a few weeks time I may well be able to tell you a bit more about the experience. And whether or not the Brewer’s Fayre nearby is closed pre or post-tour (I swear that my husband fibs about these ‘closures’ – in order to save himself a bob or two.)

6) The Weather Vane

You have to *see* where I live in order to imagine the climatic conditions that we’re faced with at times here. Slap bang facing Saddleworth moors in the bosom between the ‘Two Valleys’ of west Yorkshire. So Mr and Mrs Wooden Old Weather House would really and truly have been able to stand up to the fast change and pace in the way that the wind direction and force changes here (and that’s before we’ve eaten the kidney beans). And oh, my heart’s desire! For years I’ve secretly been *needing* one of these. And 2016 finally brought me one. Thank you, thank you – one and all. The swankiest weather station that a young(ish) lady could ever have lusted after …

Cannot wait to see this erection in my garden.

Cannot wait to see this erection in my garden.

7) The Dead Pig

And last but by no means least, I was promised ‘A Dead Pig.’ The children cunningly employed an environmentally-friendly approach to present wrapping (a suit protector – now redundant- I mean, who wears suits these days?) And then they more or less convinced me that it was an en0rmous ham joint ‘you know – a dead wild Boar – like in ‘Asterix’.)  Interestingly however, it turned out to be a bulk-win of …. body moisturisers and soap.  The kids it seemed, had swept the boards at their primary school Summer Fair. Just what I always *needed.*

C'mon. It really DOES look like it contains a dead pig, doesn't it?

C’mon. It really DOES look like it contains a dead pig, doesn’t it?

 

News Of Doom

24 Jun

Is this a male/female thing? Or more about the fact that on awakening most mornings, I find it difficult to gather my thoughts. Okay, I’ve got a helluva lot tumbling around my head at the moment – but was there really any excuse for the little error that I made this morning?

My gentlemen friend got out of bed before me today. ‘That’s nice,’ I thought. ‘He’s gone down to make the kids’ breakfast. Perhaps it’s because I was so lovely to him yesterday.’

I got up myself, did the usual thing of tripping up whilst putting my knickers on and then heard a bit of manly chunnering drifting up the stairs. He then yelled to me;

“We’re out!”

“Of what? Cornflakes or Shreddies?” I shrieked back. (I knew that it couldn’t be milk, because the milkman came yesterday.) “Anyway,” I carried on, “If you’d just do as you were told and write down on the shopping list what we need – we wouldn’t have this problem!”

“EUROPE!” he yelled back.

The crazy thing is – that we’re all interested in politics in this family. I went to bed thinking about the referendum. But awoke, fretting about the contents of my cupboards.

Meanwhile, the kids had overheard the “News of Doom” as the 8 year old had decided to call it.  Then my 11 year old daughter entered the bathroom, kicked the washing basket and grumped; “I’m leaving this country, if I turn the telly on and Nigel ‘Kermit The Frog’ Farage is grinning all over his smug face.

(Oh – and we *were* out of corn flakes, by the way.)

https://theresultshub-a.akamaihd.net/TheResultsHub/cr?t=BLFF&g=174207b5-0848-4346-83a0-4f874bd39478

We Need To Talk About…. Scientific Research. Or not.

10 Nov

We live with a man who frequently rants about the uselessness of most academic studies.

When he isn’t shrieking at those poor beleaguered clever-sorts who are ushered into the media spotlight, on the telly or on the radio (i.e. “Your rising inflection is killing me!”, “Why the hell do these so-called experts always have to begin every sentence with ‘So…’?”, “Does someone really PAY these people to contemplate their navels all bloody-day long?”) he can be heard to be chunnering away about the amount of taxpayers money wasted on “tosh research – just so that the most impractical people on God’s earth can sit in their ivory towers and never do a decent day’s work like the rest of us.”

Now, some of you might be thinking that because afore-mentioned fella didn’t do the University-teenager thing himself, that hmmm yes – he might be ever-so slightly bitter and twisted. Vinegar for the chip on his shoulder, perhaps? But this ain’t the case. Because the bloke who walked away from school with only 3 CSE’s (and none in an ‘ology’, I might add) actually got accepted onto a Masters course just a few years back – sans qualification – and waltzed away with a first. Damn him.

Turning our backs on academia?

Turning our backs on academia?

So perhaps he’s entitled to act like a smartarse every now and then.

But in a wonderful twist of irony, this chap has ended up spawning a smaller  version of himself who – from year one (if not day one) – has been displaying an inherent desire to REBEL against his father’s legendary hatred of all-things research-led and other-wordly.  Not that this 7 year old kid is interested in being academic per se (just take a look at his handwriting, or witness his attitude to maths) – no, our little lad is surely as smart-as-a-dart – but he couldn’t give a monkey’s about SATS attainment levels or high-falutin’ careers. Of whether his disregard for schoolwork will secure him with either a cardboard box under the railway arches in Waterloo or a place at HMP Strangeways by the time that he’s 18.

No. The kid is convinced that he can sail through his school years, without bothering to master his 3 times tables, because he is destined to become “the world’s bestist inventor. Or an engineer. But one what only makes dead good inventions.”

About 6 years ago, I thought that the reason nearly every item in my home had been smashed, dismantled, burned, torn, waterlogged, crucified etc – was because I had produced a boy – after having had a girl (the female offspring has only ever messed with my head, as opposed to my material possessions). But then after an afternoon or two of the lad being invited to play at other people’s’ homes I finally began to realise that this wasn’t simply a result of boy-genes. I finally began to deduct the hidden code behind the words of other parents “Well – he erm… really likes experimenting with the toys – doesn’t he?” (Read: “your kids a bloody little vandal and please don’t bring him round here again.”)

Having fun. In the usual way.

Having fun. In the usual way.

And if I’m going to be honest, it’s been getting on my wick a bit recently. The only conversation that he seems to be interested in, invariably begins with; “Hey! Just imagine if….”. Followed by his ‘ideas’. Which it seems to me, tend to fall into several categories:

 

The ‘Lazy-Lad’ Category:

“Hey! Just imagine if – you could make a machine what carries you to the toilet so that you don’t have to get out of bed to go or a wee.” And “Hey, just imagine if – I could duplicate myself so I can do all of my homework for me.”

The ‘Just Bizarre’ Category:

Hey! Just imagine if I could invent a little man who lives in my shoe to stop me from getting bored at school.” And “Hey! Just imagine if we could flood the house entirely with water so the stairs can be like, one big water slide.”

The ‘Attempting Manipulation’ Category

“Hey! Just imagine if I could invent a robot what takes me to the swimming baths. ‘Cause no one ever takes me there anymore.” And “Hey! Just imagine if I could make a machine what takes me forward in time to Christmases and birthdays – so I can see what you’re going to get me. And then I can come back and tell you that it wasn’t really what I wanted. And you would have time to calm down and not be angry or upset and then to buy me what I really want.”

An early experiment by the boy. Even then he seemed to have radical views on race.

An early experiment by the boy with a radiator. Radical view on race?

The ‘Morally Dubious’ Category

“Hey! Just imagine if we could invent a clicker thing – that you click at old people in shops full of people – so that they walk faster and aren’t as annoying.” Which is perhaps not even as dubious as “Hey! Just imagine if I could make a device what makes ugly people to be more beautiful. So I don’t feel sick when I look at them anymore” (he *did* redeem himself afterwards by adding “And it would cheer them up too.”) And then there was a whiff of eugenics, “Hey! Just imagine if I could make an injection to give to all mums having babies so that every baby comes out the same racial colour thing and soon all the world is the same colour and no one falls out and gets stupid and makes wars about that kind of thing.”

The ‘Kind Heart Really’ Category

“Hey! Just imagine if I created an enormous catapult that we could catapult Grandad across the hills with. So he doesn’t have to get all stressed about traffic anymore when he comes to see us” and finally “Hey! Just imagine if I could make a special ingredient to cool down the chilli con carne what you spent ages making. So you don’t look like you’re going to cry when we all say that Mum….it’s too hot again.”

Pointless wibblings of an overactive imagination? I think not. In fact, I know now that my son is in fact, destined for a star-studded career; one that will win him both academic and practical accolades. Yes, I recently heard about the Ig Noble awards. The celebration of science that ‘makes you laugh, then think,’ organised by the scientific humour magazine ‘Annals of Improbable Research.’

A brilliant magazine!

A brilliant magazine to subscribe to! A Chrismas pressie that the kid will definitely want…

Total and utter gems!  Here we have; ‘Pain Over Speed Bumps in the Diagnosis of Acute Appendicitis’, ‘Seeing Jesus in Toast; Neural and Behavioural Correlates,’ ‘Treating Uncontrollable Nosebleeds, Using Nasal-Packing-With-Strips-Of-Cured-Pork’, ‘Beauty Is In the Eye of the Beer Holder; People Who Think They Are Drunk Also Think They Are Attractive.’

And so far, I’ve managed to keep this very exclusive club a secret from the boy because I wouldn’t be happy with him trying to follow the examples of some of the scientists and attempting to replicate their experiments in our own back garden (the ‘Levitating Frogs With Magnets’ and the ‘Teaching Pigeons to Discern Between Monet and Picasso’ projects spring to mind) and neither in the future, would I want him trying to avoid unwanted teenage pregnancies via ‘Experimenting with Coca Cola as a Spermicide.’

So anyway, the next time his dad starts getting all hysterical about the futility of academia, at least I can remind him that his own nearest and dearest might well one day, achieve the lofty heights of the Ignoble Awards. Or at the very least, may be receiving much admiration from Cell Block KZ at HMP Strangeways for devising yet another cunning way to escape.

Preferably without the use of large-scale catapults. And Grandad.

 

 

 

M-Ilkley’ing it

1 Oct

I’m off. Not like the milk (we have a rather fab local milkman, you see) but I’m actually referring to the Ilkley Literature Festival – where I’m going to be doing various bits and pieces; championing pals Bluemoose indie publishers in their ‘Northern – Not Wanted’ session,  as well as working with the amazing Razwan ul-Haq.

I’ll blog about Raz’s work a little bit later on during the festival, but I just wanted to give people a bit of a teaser about our session. We’ll be aiming to share ‘what brought us to creative writing as individual’ but our main thrust will focus on the human connection.  On how friendships and laughter – untampered by the powers that be, unfunded by institutions and organisations – can create better understanding and harmony between people from different communities and backgrounds. In fact, Razwan and I believe that this approach has much better chances of succeeding in healing rifts between communities, than the politically correct overkill and the orchestrated by men-in-suits stuff can. So isn’t this kind of thing more important than ever – in an ever-increasingly Islamophobic world?

I’ve copied the press release for those of you who are interested what The Razster and I do. And why.

Maybe we’ll see some of you there? If not – bung us message if you ever want me and that dodgy looking fella to appear at an opera house near you.  (NB – *joke* about the opera house. Raz cannot sing for toffee. Although he claims he likes to tinker on church pianos. Which is probably blasphemous. Or something.)

EAST IS EAST and WEST IS WEST?  ***(PRESS RELEASE)***

chris n Raz ATTITUDE in black and white

At first sight, it might seem that Razwan Ul-Haq and Christina Longden have very little in common and that ‘Never The Twain’ should meet. But a serendipitous meeting at a previous literature festival founded a new friendship between two authors; one that embraces Islam, Christianity, class and culture – as well as injecting plenty of comedy and humanity into their writing.

Christina, author of ‘Mind Games & Ministers’ brings a bit of Northern mirth to everything she does, whether it be a blogging at ‘funnylass’ or her current role as a Director of Lorna Young Foundation, an international charity based in west Yorkshire. Razwan Ul-Haq, Islamic Artist and author returns to the Ilkley Literature Festival again after his talk last year’s Ilkley Playhouse talk on his “Sultan Vs. Dracula” novel. Both are Lancashire born but ‘saw sense’ but defected to Yorkshire, many years ago, with Chris settling in Huddersfield and Raz in Bradford.

In a world torn apart with opposing narratives, both authors want to offer festival-goers a bit of humanity and freshness in ‘Never The Twain’ – a lively evening conversation which will touch upon everything from religion to politics; on writing about what you believe in and allowing harmony to develop with others, whilst remaining true to yourself. Come along to their FREE session at Ilkley on Sat 3rd October 7.45pm at Church House and find out how to build bridges between some of the gaps that exist between different ethnic groups in the UK, because, as both Chris and Razwan advise others “it ain’t rocket science, you know…”

Too often, projects, programmes and events are built from the outside “looking in.” Isn’t it time we began to heal ourselves through the human connection?
****EDITORIAL NOTES ****

West Yorkshire is not perceived by the media to be the UK’s most racially or religiously integrated region; yet after a serendipitous meeting, Razwan and Chris discovered an unusual friendship and the inspiration to share with others, their stories – of having far more in common than many might think…
Chris’ career has always focussed on advocacy for marginalised people – whether representing the San bushmen of the Kalahari or fronting up to the UK government when fighting the cause of council housing tenants. Her venture into fiction with the Yorkshire-based ‘Mind Games and Ministers’ series uses comedy and social commentary as a way of informing others about the juxtaposition of wealth, poverty and prejudices in UK society
Razwan’s work also seeks to expose some of the incorrect assumptions that we all make with regards to groups of people in society. ‘Black Taj Mahal’ is a mystic love story, set in two continents. We all hear so much about the ‘plight of the Muslim woman’ – however Bradford is home to many newly-arrived oppressed Muslim Pakistani men too…
‘Never The Twain’ at Ilkley Literature Festival, Saturday 3rd October, Church House, 7.45 to 8.45 pm.
Chris blogs at http://www.funnylass.wordpress.com Razwan can be found at http://www.ulhaq.com

ILF Leaflet actual PHOTO

HLF Flyer ILF approved pdf

 

Go Ask Your Mother… Or Even Better -Grill Your Granny

7 Sep

Do you know what an ‘inter-generational’ project is? Sounds riveting, eh?

But before you expire of boredom in anticipation of today’s little bloggy-offering, please let me reassure you that this whole ‘inter-generational project’ malarky truly IS something to write home about. That it genuinely IS something that should tickle all of our fancies.

You too - can find out about an older relatives smoking habits. (Although in this photo, our kid possesses a chocolate cigar.)

See below. You too – can find out about an older relatives smoking habits. (Although in this photo, our kid possesses a chocolate cigar.)

In the days of yore, we simply used to refer to such projects as ‘Hey – I have a grandparent. Aren’t they BRILLIANT!!!??!!!’ (Ref: ‘The Fast Show’. Go Google.)

But I don’t want to get too sarky about this side of things, because lots of us (for whatever reasons) have lacked older relatives in our lives. For instance, the folk whom we could rightly claim as our own grandparents and older aunties and uncles, could have passed away when we were just wee nippers. Or maybe family breakdown meant that through no fault of our own, we were estranged from our parent’s parents.

Or perhaps even, those so-called Elders n’ Betters actually turned out to be drunken old lushes who had buggered off with a toy boy named Gazza to the Costa Del Sol (and that was just your Grandad…)

Inter-generational learning about growing up to be a Fag Ash Lil...

Inter-generational learning about growing up to become ‘a Fag Ash Lil’…

Anyways. In recognition of this – and of the fact that so many kids and young people today lack older role models in their lives, I’ve always loved creating and getting involved with such inter-generational projects. The first one that I ever heard about was run by a local community group in Gorton, Manchester. Teens who were having a tough time in life were taught how to do ‘hand-massage’ and were partnered with elderly folk in the area. As yon teen massaged the hand of an older buddy, they both got to know one another better, they traded experiences of dwelling in a (sometimes tough-to-live-in and to-grow-up-in area) and yup… you can just imagine. The youth received some great pearls of wisdom in life, made new ‘mates’… and the older ones who had lent their hands (and their heads) said that the whole project made them feel ‘less lonely’ and ‘more useful to the young people in our area.’

One of my all-time favourite inter-generational projects took place a few years ago, when I lived and worked in the Kalahari in Namibia. Whilst out there,  I trained San Bushmen youth to interview and record the words and lives of their elders. Not only did the kids find out startling new information in relation to how their ancestors used to live – before these amazing indigenous folk were kicked off their homelands – but the project also led to much improved relationships between old and young, heralding a revival in bushmen culture (the youth learning the traditional dances, the methods of hunting and gathering, the history etc. of their elders.)

The book I produced as a result of the San inter-generational project.

A wee book I produced as a result of the San inter-generational project.

It was startling that the San bushmen youth and elders often lived in the same one-roomed shack, but still knew very little about the histories of the elders. And yet… isn’t this something that we’re all guilty of?

I consider myself to be fortunate. Regular readers of this blog will be aware that my family are an unusual blend of working-class white and Pakistani-British muslim origin. Over the last two decades – collectively – we have had to overcome plenty of prejudice and bigotry (and I’m not even referring to the poor, discriminated-against Brummie contingent.) So we talk a lot. More than most families, probably.

But even then, we haven’t spent enough ‘getting to know you’ time together. And there has been a huge element of taking the grandpees (as we call them) for granted. Just ask my own Ma about the fact that she and I rarely get time to have a proper natter – because when we do speak to each other, it’s all about the littlies – the dates, the change of dates (yeh-soz Mum), the music lessons, the allergies, the tantrums, the sleeping arrangements, the bargain buys at Boyes in Ilkley and the Panto-tickets. It seems that the generation above us – and us grown-up parents, never get round to simply passing the time of day, talking about the past, mulling over not-so small matters such as Life n’ Death.

Sure, if you’re into your history as I am, you can take all of this ‘missed info’ stuff rather seriously. Urged on by the best Professor of History in the world (Carl Chinn) back in my university days, I actually recorded an interview with my own Granny. I unearthed some fascinating stuff (Gran was once wooed by a certain young Mr Cadbury, whilst she happened to be on her hols in Llandudno…) but you don’t have to be as organised as I, weirdy, nerdy-teen,  clearly happened to be.

Granny in the beret on Llandudno pier. Legging it from multi-millionaire choco-magnate. Like you do.

My Granny (in the beret) on Llandudno pier. Legging it from the advances of a multi-millionaire choco-magnate. As you do.

Because this is where the informal inter-generational project perhaps needs to be considered a bit more by all of us. I was reminded of this the other day when my ten year old informed me of a startling new nugget of information;

GIRL: Mum, did you know how you came to be called ‘Christina’?

ME: Well – yeah. I think Grandma just liked the sound of it.

GIRL: Oh no. It wasn’t like that. You weren’t given your name straight away. Grandad told me.

ME: Well… I know that I wasn’t ‘Christina’ straight away. I know that my hospital tag only had my surname on it. And I do remember seeing a few ‘arrival of new baby’ cards that referred to me as ‘Baby Jennifer.’ So they obviously changed their minds about plumping for that one.

GIRL: Well I know why and how it all happened. About two days after they brought you home from the hospital and thought you would probably be called ‘Jennifer’, the phone rang and Grandad answered it. A drunken man asked for ‘Christina.’  Grandad told the bloke that no one called that name lived there.

ME: Oh.

GIRL: Yes – then – the next night, at exactly the same time – the drunken man rang again and asked for ‘Christina.’ Again. And Grandad said the same thing. No one here called that.  And then when he hung up he said to Grandma ‘Actually – that’s a nice name isn’t it?’ And so they decided finally on your name and registered you with that name – and all of that.

ME: Great. So I was named as the result of a drunken, telephone mis-dialling phenomenon?

GIRL: Yeah! Cool eh?

nana and us babies

My Nana nurses me. My brother was probably hankering after Nana’s pink turban. Ah…the days when hats really *were* hats eh?

But this daft ‘your namesake’ new little revelation of mine reminded me of another ‘inter-generational’ discovery. Sadly, my own Nana died as a result of suffering with terrible dementia. For the last year or so of her life, her conversation made very little sense to most people. But as her granddaughter – it was perhaps easier for me than for others – to listen to her words and to try and find the meaning behind them.

But for Nana’s own daughters it must have been terribly too painful and too frustrating for them to listen to. (And if you’ve ever been through this, you’ll know that nursing a relative or friend through dementia is one of the most heartbreaking experiences in the world. This is truly a case in point where a generation-removed is sometimes a ‘balm for the soul.’)

A year or so after Nana had died – thanks to my dad’s renewed interest in family history – my mother informed me that she had just discovered that her Grandad had died in the Great War. Mum hadn’t known about this at all (because Nana’s mother had remarried when she was only small, so my mother had grown up only hearing about the stepfather in the family.)

AND YET – GOBBY GIRL HERE – already knew about this.

Seriously.

“But I already knew this, Mum,” I said when she told me about the fact that my dad had even discovered Great-Grandad’s war grave.  “Nana told me a few months before she died. An entire tale about how she met him when she was tiny and he was just back home on leave from the war. Wearing his uniform.”

Samuel Hight's grave 1 sml

When she finally knew where her Grandad was buried, mum left a photo of his family next on top of his war grave in Flanders.

This this little case study of course, marked a far more emotional inter-generational revelation than my recent discovery of the drunken phone conversation. And it also culminated in my parents going to visit my Great Grandad’s war grave in Flanders. Serious, heart-rending and important stuff can be uncovered – if we just listen to each other a bit more, between the generations. If I had thought to have mentioned this to my own mum before Nana died… perhaps we could have mentioned it to her more in her last few weeks and…

But no point in dwelling on it.

And on a lighter note,  as well as being the recipients of previously unheard-of information, the younger generations can also inform their elders of stuff that they might not be aware of. Or ‘grass us parents up,’ if you like. My daughter told me last week; “Grandad had no idea that you once chucked a tin of baked beans at Uncle Steven’s head. And that you always tried to get *your own brother into trouble* all of the time –  by sneaking into his room and turning the dial up on his stereo and leaving empty crisp packets filled with water on his floor.”

kung fu fighting

Thanks to my kids, my own folks are more aware of the Kung Fu fighting that went on when *their* backs were turned.

And then the titbits that you feed your own kids about what the grandpees revealed to you about their childhoods, can come back and bite the grandparent’s bums… (“Mum – Grandad tried to tell me off for punching my brother but then I said that he had no right to, because back in the 1950s he once hit another kid over the head with a shovel-handle.”)

So the moral of the tale is to keep that dialogue flowing between the budding youth and the oldies. Between ALL of us really. Or you can do as my mother-in-law has done, write down your life story and self-publish it – ensuring that your nearest and dearest find out about the bits that you may never have gotten round to sharing (although a very elderly friend of mine has done the same but has a lot more scandal to share and has therefore neatly typed out her life story and it remains under lock and key until she shuffles off this mortal coil.)

Go on Grandpa. Dish the dirt on what a miserable little swine our Dad was...

Go on Grandpa. Dish the dirt on what a miserable little swine our Dad was…

Inter-generational questioning of one another however,  can cause a bit of embarrassment. It might be pertinent for example, to advise the younger generation that it ain’t clever to grill your grandparents about their sex life (as a slap round the chops can often offend.) So diplomacy should always rule the day when interviewing your elders, my dears…

But if anyone- ANYONE – out there happens to know of a chappy who used to be rather sozzled during the 1970’s and who had a lady-friend called ‘Christina’ – you will give me a tinkle, won’t you?

Because it could be the last piece of my own inter-generational puzzle…

Teddy Boy-Dad. Apparently he had 'come to bed eyes'. But these days Mum says its in order to test the new electric blanket he got from Aldi.

My Teddy Boy-Dad once told me that “the girls always said that I had ‘come to bed eyes.'” And I’m all for trading stories Pops, but let’s leave it at that. Eh?