Uncle P. 

Family are never the easiest of folk to get on with.

We’re born into them, survive with them for a time and then gradually snip them from our lives.

My Mum came from a big family.

Over the years they have managed to antagonise each other so much that few of them are still speaking.

This estrangement has no impact on my little brood.

My brothers and I rarely saw them and when we did they left a poor impression.

Their children, my cousins, are selectively in touch through social media.

In idle moments I will admit to browsing through to see what they’re up to.

Occasionally their parents pop up in photos and other than their physical decline, nothing is noteworthy.

There were 5 of them including Mum who was the oldest.

A few years ago the second oldest, who Mum kept in touch with, passed away in his home, alone.

His one love had long since left him and lived, mostly at his expense, in the family home with her new man.

He never found anyone else and spent his last working years in a hotel in Blackpool.

The next youngest has just passed away.

He wasn’t very bright, was an alcoholic and never recovered from his two children “coming out”. 

These kids, whilst getting on with their lives, had no love loss for the old man as he drank himself into oblivion, even posting videos of him falling out of his chair and struggling to stand up, as little as a year ago.

When we contacted him, through his daughter, about his brother’s passing, she said he showed no interest. But added that he showed no interest in anything other than his dogs and the TV. 

Many of us live a fiction that family is, was and always will be a  loving cradle, harmonious, forgiving and there to fall back on.

Reality sucks and tells me otherwise.

I’m closer to friends than I am to my two brothers. 

Our parting was all about their reaction to circumstances and situations than any petty bickering.

At difficult moments you find out who really loves you and sometimes it isn’t family.

I know that’s hard for some people to read.

Blogging, like all social media, allows you to create and perpetuate any fiction you choose, be it your wonderful marriage, your A1 kids or your frickin fantastic job.

If this post ranckles, it’s because I live in the real world and write about it.

At times I’m immensely proud of my kids (Jo’s been made a prefect, Heather was pupil of the term, Cerys is a star at Maths and Ashley amazes us most days) but many is the time when they really cheese me off (Jo can be rude and untidy, Heather likes to tell us how to parent, Cerys is so clingy and Ashley repeats himself until I have to just leave the room).

It’s real.

I don’t yearn for a reunion with my brothers. Lord knows they’ve shown their true colours over the years.

I won’t mourn for my uncle: he was a narrow minded bigot who sulked is way through many bottles of whisky because the world wasn’t just as he wanted it.

However, I will treasure my little mob and love them every day that I have left.

And I will value and work to maintain my friendships because it is them, and not my realationships, that have proved the most valuable over the years.

Blogaversary

It was the first time, and it wouldn’t be the last.

I first started blogging in 2004, 12 years ago.

Here’s a screenshot:


Reading this again my expectations were a little high. The chances of an old school friend reading this I now know are rather faint.

The daughter who was just starting a new school is now at college and working at the weekends.

I’ve used several platforms going to 27 and vox after 20six.

WordPress is the best I’ve found. I use the App or Word to post now rather than the website.

I sit at an eyepad with a bluetooth keyboard rather than at a desk at a sit-up-and-beg old style stack computer. The internet is wifi and the house is chock full of similar gadgets all demanding bandwidth.

There are two more kids and we’ve moved twice in the meantime.

I blog when I feel the need rather than as a daily compulsion.

Life is for living not for recording.

A few of you have stuck with me for such a long time for which I am truly grateful.

The oldest blogs still running are almost ten years older than mine so I’ve got a way to go yet.

Thanks again for sticking with me and a big HI to the newer readers.
inspired by WP’s Opening Line prompt

Fire Night

A few years ago a factory in the industrial estate across the road burned down.

It was part of a complex of six units all butted up next to each other. They varied from a fruiterer, to a ducting engineer to a small but thriving recording studio. The potential for damage and job loss was immense.

We were evacuated from the house and the kids were put up by kindly neighbours in the street behind ours. Gill was stranded as they shut off all the roads but we kept in touch by phone.

News of gas cylinders in one of the units soon filtered through to us as all but the fire brigade were allowed close.

The flames were immense shooting twenty and more feet in the air.

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The unit which was on fire was the furthest from our street but the chaos was visible from my standpoint in the street.

Eventually the brigade got the flames under control and we were back in our houses watching the owners of the units going in to look for damage.

What struck me about the whole thing was the polar opposites of human nature that it revealed.

On the one hand were the two little scumbags who climbed up and set fire to to the roof. They had no concern for the financial damage and loss of employment they were causing.

On the other hand were the local folk who rallied round to offer shelter and cups of tea to those of us exiled from our homes.

One was a community firebrand who, note pad in hand, took quotes from the police, asked snippy questions and generally held the services to account.

Some people are profoundly stupid and ignorant and maybe even evil.

Others are not.

This post was inspired by WP Daily Prompt which was the word Burn

Social media “friends”

The recent fuss over Brexit (Britain’s exit from the EU) has provided me with a chance to Spring Clean my Social Media.

Friends are all well and good but they come in all shades of grey (in its pre-ELJames meaning).

So it stands to reason that at the opposite end of a spectrum to closest buddies and lovers are those folk who have either drifted away or wheedled their way in.

Brexit, like many events, gives an opportunity to reflect.

People reflect their true nature by the things they say and do.

Life is too short to drown in bile and suffer vitriol.

The nature of social media allows us to call folk “friends” when we barely know them or maybe knew them as teens all those years ago. My daughters have hundreds of “friends”.

This bunch, for me my old school buddies, has proved the most disappointing.

At 50+ we vary from beautiful “love and light”, violin playing grannies to quasi-young bigots. 

Life distorts and deranges us until our only link to the youth we were is a vague physical resemblance.

Sometimes this is good. Wild young idiots become homogenised into the general mass. Their destructive leanings are watered down and they start to play a constructive role in society.

Sometimes, it’s bad, as experience knocks us onto tracks leading to dark forests with no way out (at least two of my year are currently doing time).

What we do have is the power to control who we have in our lives.

Which I do.

Brexit

To those of you living in an igloo or at the very top of a Banyan tree in New Guinea, Brexit is a shorthand for Britain’s Exit from Europe.

I could write a post on my hatred of this tendency to blend words rather than, ooh, I don’t know, just say them.

But the thing that’s on my mind is the reaction to the result.

As it happens 75% of the electorate turned up – the rest obviously had better things to do like preparing facebook posts to spill bile all over my breakfast.

As it happened, a tidge over half voted OUT.

Democracy, you know, that thing that was hard fought for, told us the people’s will.

However, just like a football team losing, the fans of REMAIN were bitter to say the least.

Apparently, if you voted the “wrong” way you were a “tosser”, ignorant, mad and just plain stupid.

This, my dears, is what galls me.

By the way, the analyses I’ve read today tell me that the better off you are, the more it will impact you.

Interest rates will fall, foreign holidays will be expensive to buy and to spend money on, European cars will cost too.

The price of oranges and tomatos will go up but … meh.

Our leaders are all in peril. The PM has resigned and the opposition leader is dealing with a vote of no confidence.

European wines will become expensive but I prefer New World.

Benefits may suffer but they’ve gone down in value during this governments tenure anyway.

The effects are yet to be seen.

The real eye opener has been the shameful way folk have reacted to the result.

Life, I’ve found, isn’t about getting what you want. For me it’s more about dealing with what you’ve got.

Events happen like pins on a pinball table and what measures you as a Human Being is how you react.

Take a deep breath, hold it in, slowly release and …. move on.

Lernin’

I was delighted a few years ago when my daughter told me she had decided to follow me into education.

Teaching primary school kids for 7 years was a joy for but didn’t provide me with a path forward.

Leaving proved wise as so much that restricted me, or perhaps that I had allowed to restrict me, disappeared overnight.

Looking back has never been an option but folk have asked me if I ever felt like returning.

Schooling in my country is a different animal to the place I left in ’94.
An ever changing curriculum and increasing demands on teachers make it a place to consider leaving rather than returning to.

Now I hear that unqualified professionals from industry and trade will be fast tracked into class rooms. I shudder.

This evening she was struggling with Educational Theorists and I was delighted an a little surprised to find it all flowing back as we chatted about an assignment.

Learning is living and I have to confess I have let it die a bit in recent years.

French Evening lessons in 2005 tickled my grey cells and I still learn new things from the internet, for what that’s worth.

Hats off to my efriend Pam (aka Mushy Cloud) for perservering with her studies.

Decisions

WARNING EXPLICIT COMMENT

Sometimes being a parent is hard.

Today we received a letter from Ashley’s school asking us about the upcoming Sex Ed course.

We are used to these and usually rubber stamp them.

Over the years I’ve grown to understand that kids all absorb information at their own speed.

It’s so much easier to answer questions honestly as they occur than to store them up for The Big Talk.

Mum gave me the Big Talk.

It was horrible.

Visions of tadpoles and chambers and sloughs of skin and blood oozing out filled my poor little 11 year old brain, much of it fading as I walked out of the room an hour later.

My early Sex Ed was mostly garnered from conversation, Bike shed stories and a little experience.

The mechanics weren’t that hard to figure out and once a girl actually let me get close enough it all seemed to make sense.

However, the morality, the emotion and the humanity of the process is something I would really have liked a little more guidance with.

For a few years I was guilt ridden about masturbation until light dawned that everyone did it and it wasn’t evil and I wouldn’t go blind.

When it comes to our kids, both Gill and I were determined that the subject would not be taboo and that slowly we would answer questions as and when they were asked.

The teen years have been mostly Gill’s province as menstruation has appeared and the supply of sanitary towels has slowly filled the bathroom shelves.

So, generally I’m happy we’ve got it covered (more than some of our friends anyway).

However, Ashley is a whole new ball game.

He’s largely non verbal and completely innocent. Part of his regular check up is a gonad inspection which he doesn’t even acknowledge.

So “preparing them for puberty”, “talking about ralationships”, “protecting themselves and asking for help” don’t really apply to the little man.

He can name private parts of his body and seems fascinated with one of them in particular. (his right nipple …. what were you thinking?)

So after some discussion, we’ve decided to remove him from the lessons.

Jo (15) offered that simply being in the lessons, he might understand some of it – we don’t know how much he actually absorbs.

Heather (17) is against. She says he’s like a two year old. What’s the point?

I’d welcome your thoughts.