Russia you have been a naughty boy!

Just a quick thought on Ukraine and Russia…

Well lets just pretend that Europe leaders got together around a table and talked about Russia and its holiday in Ukraine..

Germany; ‘Ve must do something’

France: ‘Yes we are to not let this….go un poonished’

Great Britian: ‘We have a history in that area of Ukraine and Russia’

Italy: ‘You have a bloody History everywhere’

Germany: Here Here

Poland: ‘Our history tells us that these things can escalate quickly’

France: And ours

GB: ‘We helped you out remember?’

France: ‘you wont let us forget’

GB; ‘Well we could just all take your example and wave the white flag’

Spain: ‘Can a wee conzentrate on Ukraine a now. Then we can all ago hating

the English in the same way as normall.

Italy: ‘We can a fight them’

GB: ‘Not a good idea old boy, you can’t even fight a bull anymore. Besides they do have quite a large army still.

Germany: ‘We can use sanctions against them’.

General murmuring of agreement.

Three Months later..

Germany: ‘Vell these sanctions are not Verking’

GB: ‘They were your idea’

France: Wella you comea up with a better idea then.

GB: ‘We could stop exports to Russia. Like we In the UK already have done months ago’

Germany: ‘I don’t think that vould vork very vell’

France: ‘No not a good idea’

Greece: ‘Please nota that’

Italy: ‘No not a good idea’

Spain: ‘ We not a gona do that’

GB: ‘Of course, I see it now. So how much Is Russia worth to you all’

Sound of heads together and pencils scribbling working it out

Germany: It works out to..never mind its not a good idea.

GB: How Much?

France: ‘Wella its difficult to break it down’

Italy: ‘Its all a in a small pieces like a pizza’

Greece: ‘We not understand numbers that big anymore!’

GB: ‘How Much?’

Germany: ‘Euro 208 billion a year’

GB: ‘You could buy a lot of tea for that’

Switzerland: ‘ So Russia, Ukraine what are we going to do about it?’

GB: ‘We can see only one solution’

France: ‘Well what is it then snotty nose’

GB: ‘Oi look here you cheese eating surrender monkey’

Germany: ‘I think I know vat it is’

Italy: ‘ We shall leave it to you then’

Meeting closes.


The UK today has released this following statement.

After talking to my fellow esteemed leaders of the European Union. We have decided that the Russian President IS to be ‘Tutted at and we are to shake our head slowly while raising our eyebrows in exasperation’


Your View is not allowed!

We in the west apparently live in a free world with free speech. But only if that speech ties in with the masses. You are allowed to have a faith, but you are not allowed to tell your work colleagues about it. You may invite them to a night out at a pub and get so drunk that you loose all decisions making capabilities. You are allowed to ask a friend to join the gym, you can invite them to a sporting match. But you are not allowed to invite them to a barbecue that your church is putting on for no other reason than to have an open barbecue. We are led to believe that by eating a disappointing burger you may just have signed your life away to an extremist cult that sing in a weird way.

You may have an opinion on many things, be them a religion, or gender roles, or sexual preferences. But unless they follow the states view you are likely to face discipline through the courts of law. No religion says you must embrace everybody and ensure they must never be upset. We hear the phrase ‘Tolerance’ and use it incorrectly. It comes from engineering, and does not mean an open invitation to accept everything. The basic meaning is ‘this object will move this far’ or ‘ this object can take this much load’ after that it will break. 

We are told not to offend anybody so we will end up at a state of not doing anything. I cant quite remember the line in I Robot. but the gist of it is. ‘The biggest threat to the Human race is the human race.’  It wasn’t long ago that we went to war with a country to give them freedoms we enjoy, but at the same time we are slowly removing those freedoms from our own country. Even more recently it has been reported that in some still Communist countries that to express a view against that country is severely punished. The web is managed by the state and all negative comments are removed and content they do not want their citizens to see is removed or barred. 

How long until more draconian laws see us having to meet in hidden meeting places to share a pack of Skittles because it is deemed to dangerous to eat anything other than tofu. Weather you believe in Creation or evolution we have eaten meat for thousands of years, but now we must not because it offends a vegan who sits there sickly pale due to the lack of vitamins and minerals we need found in meat. And they have banned all farming of animals, of course they also wonder why there are millions of cattle and sheep roaming the roads dying of disease and malnutrition because they forgot that farmers spend Hundreds of pounds on each animal every year to keep it healthy, and they also thought that farmers would happily keep looking after the livestock for no return. 


So realistically to ensure everybody is happy all the time we need to actually make ‘The Matrix’ and we should all live in sealed pods that feed us intravenously, we need to be plugged into a reality that plays out our life as in a program that is tailored for our own sensibilities. 


So here goes, I am a Christian, I cant stand football, all smokers should only be allowed to smoke in special rooms that compress all the gunk and gives it back to them in medallions. The act of homosexuality repulses me, as does parents swearing at their children. I cant stand those who throw rubbish on the floor, or those who don’t say thank you when you let them pass or hold a door open. So yes I am going to offend many with this post, and of offending you I am sorry but my views I am not.


So I am allowed to be offended but not to offend.



Oxbridge woes for Welsh Students

In the ‘BBC NEWS’ this week end there was an article about students from Wales failing to get into the two oldest universities in the English speaking world. I will now say from the outset that I am not employed in any way in the educational world. I do have a daughter half way through the GCSE two year course. In the past year there has been instances that have come to mind to maybe explain this phenomenon. And I am not blaming the teachers but the WGEC, Our students are no longer taught to understand a subject but to pass the exam. My daughters head of English offered the top set a quick course in Shakespeare, not to learn the bards prose or to study his works with loving caress, but to answer the questions that will come up in the exam.


Of course four hours a week are set aside to learn Welsh, which every GCSE student has to study. And then there is the Welsh Baccalaureate , another four hours in which we still have no idea what is being taught, it has become the lesson to do homework. The teachers in local schools will happily talk about the overloaded work schedule they have and how they are pushed by the management of the schools to ensure that their students PASS the exams. It is now I believe, that a score of 37% in mathematics will gain you a C grade. 


Our children are being let down by the welsh Government in its drive to tick boxes in a check list that only they care about. We have a banding system a total of 5 bands. But here is the clincher there are only a set number of places in each band. So if every school scores exactly the same we still have a top school and a bottom placed school. If the catchment area is from a poorer area and a greater percentage of students are eligible for free school dinners, then don’t even bother looking at the top band, never mind about the quality of teaching, learning or understanding. Back to my main point. The Welsh Government in it ceaseless aim to be different from English Government seems to be doing so at the detriment of our children. 


So are these OxBridge hubs going to achieve what they are being set out to do? Only time will tell but Oxford and Cambridge are the best universities in the World and will only take the best students in the world. Why should they be forced to take substandard students because of pressure from less than 5% of the UK population is shouting ‘me too’. 

The shin bone is connected to the knee bone ( sort of)

When did age creep up on us?


Through my youth I did not treat my body with the care and attention it deserved. I  craved the adrenalin rush that came with danger. However the multiple visits to the A&E department are now rearing their head in the most uncomfortable way. My last visit now some six years ago, admittedly was the longest stays. I have over the course of my life broken around 28-30 bones, split my skull (more than once)My nose has been bust more times than I care too mention ,and had a dog try to take part of my face off.


But now as the temperature is hovering around the freezing part of the thermometer. And bad weather is on its way I ache, I ache lots. My hands are stiff, my back feels sluggish, and my knees throb. My hearing is okay if you talk directly at me and there is only a little background noise. I remember most of these accidents almost fondly. Kayaking in the sea and breaking my right arm in three places, I remember the bonfire more than the visit to hospital three days later. (long story that one). One of the time I split my skull ( I can actually blame my older brother here). I remember the Spiderman top I was wearing ( I was only 5) and how it would give me lightning quick reflexes, apart from the fact that it didn’t and the huge rock that was thrown by my brother did make contact and I didn’t skip under it with stealth and grace. Three times I came home from school with my nose a different shape to what it was in the morning. The last time I was laid in a hospital bed was only six years ago. My right hand was already in plaster with my outer two fingers immobilised, from an accidental trip in the bedroom a week before hand. But now I was laying there quite happy as they had pumped morphine into me quite a lot. With my left knee looking not much like my right knee in anyway, apart from it was roughly in the middle of my leg. A friendly game of rugby, between us from Wales and a few guys from America, trying to prove that rugby is rougher than American football. (point proved). Three days in hospital I spent. And 6 hours in surgery ( of which they let me watch). The top part of my tibia that once resembled a large potato then resembled a pack of crisps that had been stamped on. It was also splitting in two length ways. The fibula had also decided to join in the fun and thought it would be better if it was to shear and be half its original height. I am now healed but the weather reminds me of my folly.


Do I regret what I done while breaking these bones, No not really ( the last one a little as we were meant to go on holiday the week after). But as I now am getting older, and more importantly my kids are getting older I do try to advise them to be careful in what they do. Because as you age darn it you going to ache, so do your self a favour and try not to inflict any damage on-yourself if you can.


God Bless



Grow up and get dressed

So you have pushed the boundary, may I ask what you found there?

Now I am no singer, I will belt out the odd carol, and drive my family to despair singing along to ‘Queen’ and ‘Jon Bon Jovi’. These are people who I class to be singers, there are many stretching back decades. My current favourite female singers are, Katie Melua, Adele, Hayley Westenra, Dido. From years gone past, Dusty Springfield, Shirley Bassey.  All are beautiful women, and have amazing voices. They all have or have had massive singing careers and have managed to do so while keeping their clothes on.

Recently Miley Cirus decided to leave her clean-cut Disney image behind her and tried to shock the world with a new look. So here are my two daughters aged 6 and 8 they hear about a person they remember from a kids programme, promoting clean living, honesty, and contentment with ones lot. Next thing they know is when you hit 18-20 you can stuff all that dress like a cheap prostitute, and pretend to have sex on stage while singing . Well done Miley for giving all little girls something to aim for. But don’t worry you’re not alone, the pop world is littered with cheap women who believe showing their flesh is more important than what they sing. Rhiana, Britney, Beyonce the list can go on and on. So this is just going to be a short post as an open letter. When did you decide that playing to the perversions of others became more important than the true art form of singing?

Of summers and friends long ago lost

If you watch your TV analytically you may notice that on boxing day the adverts suddenly change. Gone are temptations of chocolate and wiz bang toys, and hello to those long summer nights spent on a beach with golden white sand, and crystal clear waters reflecting the brilliant sun high above.

Yes the excitement of Christmas is over and the cold weather and long dark nights are becoming less romantic as you sit and go slightly mad with cabin fever. Your mind is transported away to that dream of summer holidays. Here in the UK August brings us distant memories of our childhood as we had no school for 6 long weeks. The sun always shone and walks through long grass lasted forever. Your hands were always sticky with juice from the abundance of fruit or ice-cream.

And now decades later as you look over your now trashed living room, the Christmas decorations have been knocked over so many times that the reindeer are missing an antler, Angels heads have been glued on backwards, and the advent calendar now devoid of chocolate looks pathetic. With maybe a sip of whatever wine you have left you close your eyes and try to remember that time when on holiday you remember falling back into the pool and the water was warm, laughter was heard from all around and even though your skin was a little raw from the sun it didn’t matter.

AS a child my parents always made sure we went away for the summer, it was only ever in a tent or later in a caravan as it as the most affordable way to get away.

One memorable year I was in my mid teens ( I think it was the last time away with my parents). We re-visited Cornwall We stayed on the Lizard point. Not far from an estuary, and hours walk through some cool shaded woods led us out onto a beach with no access by road, it was always empty and we were the only ones that could be bothered to make the walk. Games of tennis were played over hundreds of yards, with multiple players swapping sides to help balance out the score as one team went into the scores of triple figures, Sand castles always became taller and larger until we disappeared behind battlements feet thick. As the day wore on fire wood was gathered from the high tide mark or the dead wood within the woods behind us, the fire was lit. My father would retrieve his pipe from the bottom of an over stuffed bag and the smell of Black Cherry tobacco would mingle with the wood smoke and salt air, food would be cooked in the embers scrapped into a pit, as the Sun disappeared over the horizon, the fire would be piled up high and any walker within sight would be drawn to it. Gatherings of 20- 30 people would collect, from somewhere food would be produced, and bottles of drink procured and shared amongst us all. Late night paddles would become more and more boisterous and swimming challenges would ensue. Buoys marking lobster pots would be used as a measure of your prowess in the water.


Back on land games of football would be played by all ages, no goals were created just a constant game of passing and tackling degenerating into one game with, many parts as Frisbees and bats were also used. Then as the fire slowly died down all were seated around gazing into the glow of logs, the conversations became more philosophical and stories were shared. Then these once strangers would slowly go their separate ways making their way back to whence they came. Laughter could be heard from retreating families, and every now and then the snippet of a song, carried on the warm breeze.



Breaker Breaker Calling Father Christmas, over!

Daily Prompt

Out of your reach.

As I have mentioned in some of my other posts. I grew up on a small holding (hobby farm in Australia).

While my parents doted on us and we grew up knowing we were loved, there were some very hard times. My father worked full-time for the fire brigade and every spare penny went on feeding the animals or paying off the mortgage on the property.

We never lacked anything and Birthdays and Christmases were always filled with laughter and joy (Well through my now misty memory they were).

But I do remember one year, I yearned for a particular item. You know that feeling you have when your stomach aches, every minute your thoughts are consumed by this one feeling. You try to find out as much information about the item you can. This was before the internet, heck this was before Computers. Magazines pages were torn at the edges where you constantly thumbed to the page with the info on it.

For me that year I knew that my parents could not afford it but there was just a faint glimmer of hope in my young mind. Maybe those secretive talks were not about how to pay the electric bill but on how to get me this item. The quickly snatched away pieces of paper were not last demand notices, but in my mind order sheets. Needless to say that on Christmas morning a quick glance under the tree and my hopes were dashed, they plummeted from the sky with instant realisation.

Needles to say I still smiled when I was given my presents and have and will always say thank you and make the right noises. But that year a small hole was in my Christmas cheer.

Now many years later I struggle to remember the colour of the item I wanted. But really what would an eleven year old really do with a ‘Home base CB Radio’? Living in a valley that could only receive radio Luxemburg and only then when the sky was clear of clouds (West Wales remember that phenomenon happens once a few years).

Old Man Willow you should not be awaking.



Daily prompt

The third gasp of breath almost ruined me.

22 years ago, me and four friends were kayaking a small river in West Wales. It was a local river that fishermen protected fiercely; we were technically not allowed to be on the river. But due to a very complicated law system we were not actually breaking any laws. (But that’s by the by). (As long as we did not touch the banks we were fine)

We were all experienced and had the right kit. The river was in flood and this made for some nice big white water, along a river that generally just tinkled down. There were a few spots where the river narrowed and dropped 20-30 feet in a very small space. We had successfully navigated these and had enjoyed playing in the rapids produced.

It was near the end of the trip we had been on the water for around four hours, and were tired. There was just a small drop in the level and a little bit of white water was there for us to play in. We started show boating doing dafter and dafter tricks. Needless to say we capsized many times, but as we could all roll up quite easily none of ever swam. I went in to play in this small rapid and was twirling my paddle around above my head while sitting there where the water turns over and over back on itself .
A slight movement of my hips and I went under as the edge of the boat caught the water rushing down. The paddle fell from my hand and I caught an under current. While still in my boat I was washed to the outside edge of the river, and unbeknown to anyone caught by a submerged branch. Knowing the others were there I banged on the bottom of my now upturned boat and slide my hands back and forth, signalling that I needed assistance. On friend came up and rammed my boat with his I grabbed the front and went to pull my self upright. I was caught by my buoyancy aid in the tree. A pulled harder and just got my mouth out and grabbed a gasp of air, second time up and managed to yell one word ‘Tree’.

My other two friends came up alongside me and pulled my up. I managed to grab at another breath before the spring in the tree pulled me back under. This time both my arms were free a levered my self onto the first friends boat, but the branch was pining me in my boat. I could not get out and the boat could not be righted. Grabbing the front of my boat one friend managed to lift it up and over the branch, I was then able to right it my paddle was retrieved and all was well.

I was under water for no longer than four minutes in total, The sound of the rapid is muted slightly as the water rushes past your ears, the banging of the plastic boats reverberated through my legs that are tight along the inside of you kayak. The one sound that I will always remember was the squeaking of the branches as the rubbed together holding me tighter. For a few fleeting moments even though I was surrounded by people concentrating completely on me I felt so alone. I was the only one under the water seeing blurred images above me of friends helping. For just a few short seconds complete detachment from others overwhelmed me.

Unlike other sporting injuries I carry no scars, or marks of any kind from this incident. I spent a good few years continuing kayaking, I went under many times, and have been trapped underwater, a few times since. But I have never felt the same fear as I did that time. It wasn’t my first time being trapped; it wasn’t even the longest time under water. I believe it was the squeaking of the tree branches that un–nerved me most. To this day I have full respect but no fear of the water. But that sound even now 22 years later even though I have never heard it since I can still hear it as clear as I could then.


Hanging chickens, washing machines and a screaming pink smell

Many (or not so many) years ago we had the idyllic childhood. There were, my parents an older brother, and me.  We grew up on a small holding in very rural Wales, the summers were long and winters with a picturesque white blanket covering everything with an innocent sheen.

Then at the beginning of one winter our lives were to change dramatically. My father a then officer in the fire brigade was seconded to another force for six months.  The same time my Mother gave birth to a ‘screaming pink smell’. ( I was only seven and it later grew into my younger brother). Due to many complications my mother was now bedridden for a few months. Our father was away for up to six days at a time, no neighbourly help and Grandparents who lived the far side of the country.

It fell to me and my older brother (aged 10) to take the reigns of the small holding and the house. We drew lots, and then he beat me into submission, so we shared out the chores, basically he took charge of all the animals, and outside needs, I shouldered the more domestic chores. So at the young age of seven years old I started cooking for a family, doing the laundry, and general house keeping ( we did at times help each other ). My first trouble was ensuring that the coal fired stove stayed alight at all times, this was the only form of cooking, a small oven and two cast iron  hotplates. (Imagine an AGA, but a quarter of the size and a thousandth of the price). With many trips upstairs to check things out with ‘mum’ and slowly deciphering cookbooks over time I became quite a proficient cook. The top loading washing machine and I came to an agreement. We did not like each other. I hated it because I had to almost climb into the drum to reach the lone sock from the bottom. It hated me because as far as I was concerned why do four loads when it can actually fit in one load? Then there was the log fire in the living room ( a once converted barn, Have a look at my other post ‘A childhood in rural west Wales part 1-3 ‘ for more details). My brother supplied the chopped wood I kept feeding it day and night, it was our only heating. This was done while attending school.


A normal day for me through that winter went as follows.


6:00 wake up dress in rough clothes.

6:30 feed chickens, ducks, geese, collect eggs

6:50 bring in coal, and fire wood.

7:10 rescue fire in stove add more coal, re stoke fire in living room, de ash, and re stock wood.


7:30 Chase and catch chicken ( or rabbit, or duck or whatever animal real peeved me of) Kill and remove feathers. Hang to bleed out and leave to chill on kitchen windowsill to chill.

8:00Wash change for school.

8:10 put more washing on and hand out to dry (indoors above stairs) wet washing.

8:30 double check fires

8:45 Go to school. (500 yards away down a very quite single track rd)


12:45 after lunch at school nip home with brother put dead meat in pot along with veg put in now much warmer oven. Check and re stoke fires. (he checked on animals)

3:30 after school change.

Bring in more coal, and wood. Help brother with mucking out.

5:30 dish up food, eat and with help from my older brother wash-up.

7:00 fight washing machine, feed dog and cats, and ensure fires are set for the night

8:00 Collapse into bed.


Before anyone goes phoning social services I am now touching forty and this only lasted for a few months.

I look back on these times now with almost fond memories, I see how I had to grow up at a young age, but in a way that has helped me. I was not abused or left to starve in a corner like so many others. Through my teenage years I hated my parents for that time, I raged that they took some of my childhood away from me. But then I saw my peers and friends struggle to turn on an iron while in University, one friend destroyed a £200 fleece by trying to dry it in the microwave. They lived on baked beans not due to financial hardship but because they couldn’t work out how turn on the oven. I realised my parents inadvertently gave me a fierce independence. I now have four children two are way past this age and the other two are bracketing it. They show interest in the cooking but only fun things, I try so hard not to tell them how lucky they are and what I had to do at that age, but it was not the norm for anyone at that time. I was a Seven year old boy who had been thrust into the boring bit of an adult world. Much of the time I was dog tired and was close to tears pretty much all the time. Sometimes I would lay in bed quietly whimpering to my self, but sleep would always come and with it the hope of another day.

The life of a kitchen table

 Hello and welcome to the world that I occupy.

In fact I never really move out of this small space that is mine.

I don’t mind, everybody comes to me constantly, I am the centre of my family’s life. I sit there in the kitchen quietly waiting for the family to wake.

Dad is always the first up, he comes in and sits down to eat his breakfast slowly waking up with every mouthful of what ever he is eating. Even as he approaches 40 he still likes the cereal of his youth, . Mind you toast is just as popular, along with the first cup of coffee.

Then the children are next along with mum always arms full of the detritus that the kids seem to shed between waking up and walking down to me for food. It seems like a well polished routine for the outsider that I imagine is looking in.

Yet here I am every day hearing all the secrets and anxieties that affect them all. I know that between getting out of bed and walking down to me, tempers have been frayed one child has already upset another, some important piece of clothing or school work is lost. It is always at this time that something last-minute is remembered. Normally the eldest, she is the perfect ditzy blonde, so clever in academic life, a straight A student, it’s just the simple things in life she struggles with.

Then there is the boy, there is only one so no need to get confused, he is laid back with most things in his life that effect him. Sweet to the bone easy-going and slightly freaky. He lives in a world in his own head and every now and then let’s us in. Counselling is probably imminent either that or world domination.

Mum easily holds the family together. Or should I say it is easy to see that mum holds the family together, I know it’s not easy to do. The way she sits down after the school run that doesn’t involve 4 different sets of PE kit three lots of homework one major project, and a bill that has suddenly been thrust through the door that wasn’t expected till this time next week. She has her cup of coffee and you can actually feel the stress exude from her. That’s before the endless rounds of housekeeping that she does with varying levels of enthusiasm.

Next are what everyone refers to as ‘the girls’ one being five the other six. They are easily indistinguishable from each other,…it’s just I can’t. They are inseparable from each other always laughing at some private joke or talking at high-speed and a pitch that would drive dogs crazy. As long as it is pink they are happy, be it clothes, toys and even food.

Dad is probably the quietest of the family, well at breakfast he is. Always deep in thought about something or other, normally something to do with one of the things, that constantly worry him, Family, or work. He is always coming up with some new hair brained idea for making life easier.

Breakfast is over quickly. Dishes are put in the sink ready for long-suffering mum to get to. Plates are replaced by shoes, bags the girls have shoes put on quickly. Dad then always has to empty everything as he looks for his ever lost keys or wallet or his poor mobile phone.

Then silence as the front door closes, and the family is of to their places of work or school. Soon mum comes back in normally loaded down with some shopping to replace the bit of food that is already running out that the children devour with ravenous appetites. Or another new item of clothing that has been destroyed or grown out of. She puts them on me with a sigh as she takes in the carnage that has replaced the kitchen she spent ages cleaning just twelve hours before hand.

It all waits for the cup of coffee. In another new cup to replace the one that got broken in one of the boys experiments. Mum soon returns to the never-ending task of housework. 3 floors 4 bedrooms 2 reception rooms, a study, and the small utility room that is forever full of half repaired bikes, boots that are coated with layers of mud, coats steaming constantly from the never-ending rain showers, and the poor washing machine that is constantly churning away, along side is the tumble dryer with its door held shut with the broom propped up,against a pile of boxes that still sit unpacked from the move seven years ago.

After a quick respite cup of coffee, mum dashes out the door to collect the kids from school. Then I am alone again until the family returns at varying times.

The noise signals who comes first. The girls and boy return home with mum behind, with arms full of empty lunch boxes, coats and another letter asking for some money or a tin for some event at the school.

The oldest girl is next, both tired from big school and full of life from time spent with friends. She slowly empties the fridge of fruit as she shares the latest gossip of her school friends with Mum, who listens for no other reason than to hear a human voice that can string a sentence together.

It’s a little while until dad comes through the door shattered and a little frail after work, he puts some coffee on and slowly sinks into the chair. The girls climb onto his lap both talking at high-speed and holding three different conversations, then a few minutes quiet, and chat with mum about the latest bill or broken item, as the children return to their previous employ.

Then, the mayhem begins, home work of 4 different types are being discussed and another papier-mâché lighthouse is slowly taking over everything, dinner is being cooked by Dad while he also slowly repairs the dishwasher, Mum folds the laundry on me in a small space amongst a socket set, reams of paper and half full glasses of juice and cups of coffee. As homework is finished the family comes and goes and each individual brings their own piece of life to the melee. Then the call goes out that food is almost ready. Everything is cleared from me, and down go place mats, cutlery, glasses. Drinks and food are set down, and ten seconds of absolute stillness is experienced by all, no words are spoken for the first five minutes as food is savoured, and consumed sometimes a little escapes of the plates and makes its dash for freedom as it gets pushed around until it’s scooped back up or drops to the floor.

As the eating slows down the volume rises again as the days exploits are played out for everyone to share, several conversations happen at once, laughter is shared by all, some times tears. Then everything is cleared away the last of the spills cleaned. The Girls go up to bed, the boy and the eldest disappear to their own rooms, cups of coffee are made a newspaper is spread out on me ready to be read but mostly forgotten or doodled on, as lunch-boxes are made and set out ready for tomorrow. Another load of laundry folded another lost toy found. And finally just before the lights are switched of dad puts his keys and wallet on me so not to lose them the next morning. Then darkness and the beeping of the distant washing machine telling nobody that it has finished its final load for the day.

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