Dedicated with thanks to Matt, Claire and Lorraine
It being a really busy road – well, you know what Cockfosters is like at the best of times and today it’s pouring down – we were lucky to find a parking space so easily. “If you take her straight into the vets, I’ll sort out the parking meter,” I say.
So ActorLaddie sets off with Willow in the cat-carrier – heck, that’s seen better days. The carrier, that is, not Willow, who has been remarkably trouble-free in her sixteen years. So far.
The parking meter takes me a wee while to figure out. You have to feed it with these metal disk things called coins; they have a certain novelty value but I don’t see them catching on. Ticket in car, check. Car locked, check. Mask on, check. And off to the vets.
“I’m with the chap who has just come in with a cat,” I tell the receptionist.
“No-one’s come in with a cat,” she says to me. “We’re expecting Willow but no-one’s come in.” I go back out, look up and down the parade of shops but there’s no sign of a cat in a carrier with an elderly actor that’s seen better days. There is a sign for another vets down at the far end of the parade of shops. Could he have headed down there, by mistake? I ring his mobile and, eventually …
“Willow’s escaped from the carrier,” gasps ActorLaddie. “She went under a stationary lorry, run across the Cockfosters Road and down some side street. We’re trying to find her.”Continue reading →
I’m bored of Parkinson’s. Let’s talk about something else.
Perhaps she was disorientated by being on the first floor. They hadn’t been long in the rented accommodation where Harriet Neate was now living with her son Harry, his wife Millie and their children Violet (nearly eight) and Arthur (a toddler). For most of her life, she’d lived in the ground floor accommodation attached to the Beer Shop which was the family business. Perhaps she’d got up in the night and lost track of where she was. For whatever reason, in April 1934, at the age of seventy four, Harriet fell down the stairs and died. The timing could hardly have been worse.Continue reading →
“There were so many old people!” says Ma.
Well, yes. A vaccination centre for the over 80s is likely to contain folk of a certain vintage – and all a jolly sight wiser, for sure, than the idiots who have spray-painted ‘Covid hoax’ and the like onto the walls of said centre and of our local station.Continue reading →
If it’s true that we are but toys for the Gods, then my sister-in-law is definitely their Etch-a-Sketch.
I guess you could say that it all started with the Golden Giraffe.
Tasteful, or what? One of my brother-in-law’s finest creations: essence of plastic giraffe, with an artisanal wooden mount and golden overtones. Such simple beginnings; such magnificent results.Continue reading →
Right now – Boxing.
Alex holds up to the camera a notebook on which he has written the word ‘Boxing’.
Two forward, two crosses, two up. And I’m looking for eight out of ten from you. I want to see eight out of ten for effort. Ready?
Ready, I say. Though as we’re all Muted, only the cat hears and she’s too polite to listen. The bell rings and we’re off, PD Warriors together, bashing the hell out of thin air, at a rate of eight out of ten for effort.Continue reading →
Grannie Chapman could neither read nor write, Pa tells me, so she signed her name with an X. But around Industry Terrace and Beehive Place in Brixton, it was, often as not, Grannie Chapman who saw people into the world, if you didn’t want to bother the midwife or incur the expense of a doctor.
“So Frank says to me, ‘say something in Cockney,’ so I say ‘apples and pears’ and he says, ‘what does that mean?’ and I say ‘stairs. It means stairs.’ So he laughs and says ‘tell me another’ and I say ‘nice whistle and flute’ and I tell him that means ‘suit’. ‘How about that, Lillian?’ he says to his missus, only she don’t hear ’cause she’s a bit mutton.
Pick us, Miss, pick us! Look how neatly we have lidded our marker pens! And see our flip-chart of ideas – a thing of beauty, too, in many colours, to which we all contributed collaboratively, working as a team…
Apart, that is, for the cow who teaches at – well, you know the one. Her anyway. Didn’t want to come on the course in the first place. Thought ‘Schemas in the Under Sevens’ was going to be about curriculum plans and not fannying around with a load of bricks. The only thing that’s stopping her playing with a mobile phone is that they’ve not yet been invented. We’d be better off teaching six year olds to name parts of speech, according to her. What a dinosaur!
“So there we were, scrabbling around on the cell floor in front of the Naked Rambler, trying to pick up the papers and desperately trying not to look up and not to laugh…”
It broadens the mind does travel, and going away last weekend to celebrate a school-friend’s sixtieth brought us into contact with interesting people who had interesting stories to tell and different – shall we say – viewpoints.
It is a truth almost universally acknowledged that babies are a lot more fun when you’ve had a night’s sleep.
I’m yawning here just at the thought of those hours spent rocking the buggy, singing “my old man’s a dustman” to the tune of “girl from Ipanema.” Driving round the block in the early hours, hoping in vain that there won’t be cries as soon as the engine’s turned off. Arriving at work on autopilot only to discover that not only is YoungLochinvar still in his child seat (forgotten to drop him off at Ma’s) but also that, in the early morning rush, I’ve failed to shut the front door (concerned neighbour, police visit). How does anyone survive early parenthood? Nightmare.