bookmark_borderHappily Ever After

shrek--fiona,

Dear children..

Once upon a time in a very strange land called Singledom, there lived an ever so slightly green (and occasionally windy) ogre called Grog. He wasn’t rich, famous or even particularly clever but he was kind, decent, had a good heart, and really, that’s all that mattered to him.

Before making the long trek to the land called Singledom he lived in a very popular land called Marriagedom where he had many great adventures, escapades, near misses and the occasional pratfall because, if truth be told, he really was quite an adventurous ogre! By some mysterious magic which he didn’t fully understand, he had somehow managed to grow two baby ogres (it was a mystery wrapped in an enigma), they turned out to be greener and much smellier than him! (Yes, I know, hard to believe!)

However, now he lived in Singledom and golly gosh, wasn’t it a spooky place, full of other ogres, old dragons and some really quite scary monsters, occasionally even he had quite a fright! He’d lived there for well more than ten years and yet even after all that time, he still hadn’t figured out the very odd ways there.. (Yes, he really was quite dim, an intellect rivalled only by garden tools)

For starters, he checked out some of the inmates – oops sorry, I mean inhabitants – passport photos and he was surprised at how different the photos were from the actual inhabitant. “I’ve put some weight on since that photo was taken” seemed to be a common refrain or “did I not mention my co-joined twin?”. In all fairness, it seems the male inhabitants of that land were very partial to the same behaviour too, one of his ogre friends went to meet her 6ft ‘athletic build’ ogre date, it turns out he was 4ft and circular! Cor blimey mate! I guess he worked in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory!

And then there were the natives who didn’t actually live there, they were illegal immigrants! How naughty! Big chief ogre Trump nearly choked on his cornflakes! They earnestly told him they had full residential status but when he checked they actually lived in his old neighbourhood country Marriagedom and had sneaked into Singledom just to play with the toys! Hiss! Boo! Durty Rotten Scoundrels!

The other thing the green-ish one found a bit difficult was the language barrier. He spoke English (well, OK, maybe with quite a strong Irish brogue but still recognisably English!) but over there it was a very curious version. For example, he didn’t understand LOL, AFAIK, CU, FWIW or SFLR, he wondered – was it Welsh?

Plus the really odd names like BigButts and Glitterfarts, he would never name his little ogres that, no matter how smelly they got! He found grammar rules seemed very loose, a few of the natives didn’t seem to know the difference between there, they’re and their or your and you’re or to, too and two, and hadn’t a clue what a serial comma was (hint – you just passed one, now wash your hands).

And then there was the idea of an actual date. In the swamp where he was hatched, dating meant meeting up and spending time with the same lovely lady ogre, at least until they both decided they were flogging a dead horse (or a dead donkey!) (oh poor donkey!) but in Singledom they used an expression he had never come across before. Apparently one would date lots of ogres all at the same time and then eventually settle on one by saying “Shall we date exclusively?”

Well, he thought, that was very… ummm.. modern..

Singledom was awash with strange customs, some inhabitants appeared happy to write endless messages but when it came to actually meeting up they seemed extremely reluctant. This threw the green one somewhat, in his hatchling days this was known as ‘having a penpal’!

And some inhabitants seemed to have extremely poor social skills, they seemed incapable of saying anything more than “Hi”, “Hello” or “HiYa?”. The big green one suspected they just repeated the same message to everyone in Singledom parrot fashion no matter what but that would just be really annoying. Silly ogre, surely they wouldn’t do that, would they??

Then one day the green-ish one was contacted by a dusky maiden in a land far away called Nigeria. She told him that God had spoken to her in a dream and informed her that she and the green one were going to get married, have lots of little ogres and relocate to a magical castle in a land far far far far far away called Scotland. All he needed to do was send her 400 gold coins to buy a magic carpet and she’d be there in a jiffy.

He thought this sounded wonderful and readily agreed but did ask her as to why God just didn’t make the 400 gold coins appear on her pillow? Very confusingly, this angered her greatly, she swore at him and she cursed him, she cursed his little ogres and she cursed his pet hamster.

Snowy hasn’t been the same since!

Another time he was contacted by a Princess from the land called Arabia telling him that he was her dream ogre! Wow! She was very very much younger than him but a lovely shade of green and suitably round absolutely everywhere. He couldn’t understand why she hadn’t been betrothed to some gallant knight before him but he was really pleased and enormously complimented, this was more like it, she seemed completely genuine!

Then she told him a great secret, she had secreted away a huge treasure chest full of gold and silver coins! Wow! He couldn’t believe his luck! She wanted him to look after it for her and she would share it with him, she just needed his bank account details and she guaranteed he would get a large tax free share of it!!

Oh my goodness gracious me! What luck!

He wrote back immediately asking what a bank account was, (he’d never had one of those) but then tragedy must have struck because she immediately disappeared right after that. How peculiar..

One day another inmate contacted him from Singledom, she seemed just as genuine as all the other but he feared she had a broken pencil because her message was full of errors;

Hello, Nice meeting you,how are you? Hope your are alright. my name is sally! i have interest in you that makes me leave a massage for you and also I wants you as a friend also want you to right me. i like green skin. tell me were you leave and also send me your pictures; Is my plesure to meet you here in this site. Yours sincerly Miss sally!

Well, at least Miss Sally seemed completely legit.

One day he was contacted by another inmate, she seemed VERY friendly! Her name was Pussy Galore. She was having a party at her swamp with lots of other ogres and wondered if Grog would like to join them. She mentioned she had lots of swings installed and they would be having a swingers party! What fun. He couldn’t wait.

Then he thought he might try visiting the market town called Waitrose. He’d heard it was a very big market with lots of very high class tasty morsels. There was food too! He went there one afternoon with his wooden shopping cart hoping to fill it up with some beauties but all to no avail. He placed himself by the freezer cabinet and struck his best pose; chest out, bottom in but not one single damsel came along to help him. Oh Bother! He couldn’t stay there too long, it was very chilly on his willy!

Then he heard about Cinderella meeting her Prince Charming at the ball, so off he went to the local Tavern called Stringfellows. He put on his best suit and hit the dance floor, who could resist? He was sure he could impress the local maidens with his Monster Mash, his Gangnam Style Funky Chicken, his Mashed Potato and then his Hokey Cokey (cos that’s what it’s all about!). Sadly the maidens in Stringfellows were immune to his charms (and his Harlem Hustle) and he was asked to leave after being too enthusiastic with The Bump. Oh his poor Achy Breaky Heart.

Poor Grog, he was getting a bit bored with all the shenanigans of Singledom and wondered if a life as a trappist monk awaited him, or a life tending his swamp with his over-talkative donkey, he wasn’t sure which fate was worse.. He had travelled the length and breadth of Singledom, from the icy north beyond the Great Wall of Hadrian (protecting the island from the fearsome white walkers) to the very southern lands of ancient Cornish (who made the most delicious ice cream!) but all to no avail..

BUT THEN.. when he had pretty much given up..something happened. Completely randomly, after many many false starts he finally met a fair maiden called Mog, another long suffering inhabitant of Singledom. She had just as many tales to share with him, all of them sounding strangely familiar..

She had smarts, was strong, was feisty, could hold a tune and could out-stink even him! They spent a lot of time chatting, laughing, arm wrestling, mud bathing and cutting the cheese. It seemed too good to be true!

And then one evening Grog treated Mog with kindness, love, respect, tenderness, burned weevils and a lovely bunch of weeds when something absolutely magical happened, she rolled onto her back and was transformed into a purring pussycat!

Holy Smoke! This was cat-astrophic!

He was completely and utterly allergic to moggies!

He swore never ever to do that again!

(This explained why she was very mewsical!)

But Grog had fallen for her deeply, so he purrsuaded her to come with him to consult with the witch of Boots The Alchemist. She told them she couldn’t break the spell; treat Mog lovely and she would be transformed into a purring moggy….however, the witch could adjust the spell for a small fee, so instead of transforming into a cat – she would be transformed into a DOG! And not one of those silly yappie poodle dogs but a proper ogre sized dog, one that came up to his knees!

This was the best of both worlds; feisty, fighty, funny, flirty, frisky, farty and furry all rolled up into one, she was the ideal companion! His friends said she was literally a bit of a dog and a bit ruff-ruff but Grog didn’t give a hoot, he thought she was a real hot dog! He loved her very very much and soon afterwards they moved to the land called Happily Ever After

The End

bookmark_borderThe Perfect Husband?

perfect-man-search

Here’s a little but wise story from Nasruddin about this dance I’m doing;

Once there were two friends who would meet every New Year’s Eve and discuss their future plans.
The first one asked the second, “What are you going to do this year?”
“I’m going to find myself the perfect wife,” the first friend replied,
“Someone beautiful, cultured and kind.”
A year passed. The two friends met.
“Tell me, how did you get on?” asked the second friend.
“Not too well. I found a woman who was beautiful but had never read a book or played an instrument and we had nothing in common. Next year I’ll search further afield.”
Another year passed.
“How did you get on with finding your wife this year?”
“I searched even further and found a woman who was beautiful and well-read and I loved her for that but she was selfish – only ever thinking of herself.
Next year I’ll search even further afield.”
A third year passed.
“And how did you get on this year?” asked the second friend. “Did you find the perfect wife?”
“I did,” replied his friend. “I found someone beautiful, cultured and kind but there was a small problem. She was looking for the perfect husband.”

That made me smile and there’s a lot of truth in it, Rumi, another Persian thinker once said “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” and I’ve come to discover over the past few years that we nearly always are our own worse enemies, and knowing that, acknowledging that fact is half the battle.

bookmark_borderModel Parent?

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A few of my colleagues here at work are expecting babies in the next few months, so being the man (father) of experience I have been passing on my fatherly wisdom. When I took my first born to the crèche he wouldn’t stay there, he clung to my leg like a limpet mine and I’d have to shake him off and run like hell before the crying started. There was this game the staff and I played – distract First Born and whilst he’s distracted slip away…  Of course it’s nice (I think!) to be suddenly wanted + + + but I had to go to work and at the time children and Intensive Care Units did not mix.

So I resolved, after lots of tearful mornings and guilt trips about being abandoned in crèche from First Born, that I wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. When Second Born appeared and was ready for crèche I built it up, I told him how exciting it was going to be, he’d get to play with all the toys, make a mess and have great friends, I made a big big deal of it and when the first day came for crèche he was so excited and looking forward to it. I dropped him off and he ran away to play…

Problem solved and I patted myself on the head.

Or so I thought.

About two weeks into his time at the crèche the manager pulled me aside one evening and said the following “You know, I’ve worked in this crèche for 15 years and your child is the first one, in fact the only one, that’s ever cried when his parents come to take him home…usually it’s the other way around, they cry in the morning but your child runs into this place and doesn’t want to go back home……………” she said this rather suspiciously….

Damn. It looks like I had overdone it. She looked at me like she ought to be reporting me to Social Services… I explained what I had been doing but still… I think she never stopped being suspicious of me… So the lesson here, dear friends who are soon to be parents, you can’t win.

Ever.

But you can get even….

Leaving your kids off at school is always interesting, during the first few years they always cling to your legs and make you feel bad but then at around year five it suddenly becomes uncool to walk to school with your dad and suddenly they start to run ahead before you actually reach the school. At first it’s just at the school gates, a quick snatched ‘bye dad’ and off they run but then as time passes they run ahead at increasing distances from the school gate, anything to avoid being seen with dad..

And then they start secondary school. Here something remarkable happens. On day one you take your ‘relatively’ sweet and innocent child to school, all presented neat and tidy, school uniform worn correctly, shirt tucked in and top button done up, tie worn correctly, hair nice and neat …and somehow there’s is a remarkable transformation over the first day. You met them at the school gates and you don’t recognise them, they look a mess, like they been in a car crash but the big big transformation is in the voice – suddenly that sweet innocent childish tone has gone and now it’s all deep manly grunting.

In the previous June they were kings of the castle in junior school, everyone was smaller than them and childish but suddenly in secondary school they are surrounded by some really big bruisers and they desperately want to fit in. So out goes talk of collecting Dr Who cards and in comes talk about rap music on Youtube and the most unsavourly computer games. From now on you know the shirt will always hang out of the trousers and the tie will never ever be done up properly, you know that ‘street creed’ is now hugely important and talking about Telly Tubbies or even Action Man is verboten because they are in a rush to be men.

Of course, being somewhat mischievous of nature, I look upon this as an opportunity to reek revenge on all those years of clinging to my leg like a limpet mine and all those guilt trips from First Born. Now when I drop the boys off at school or pick them up I make a point of calling them ‘darling’ in a very loud voice, especially when they are with their friends. It’s great, it’s even more fun if you try hugging them in front of their friends and telling them how lovely it is to see them..  This ‘probably’ is quite evil of me but I’ve been doing it for a few years now and when it’s pouring out of the heavens I make an effort to drive there and pick them up, their joy at seeing me is tempered by the knowledge that I will indeed called them darling very loudly and they will cringe..

However, their school mates have started to cotton on to my little game and they all realise that really I’m just doing it to embarrass them, they look upon my boys with some sympathy and tell them “your dads a lunatic, isn’t he?”

So now I’m starting to think what else can I do to play with them at school, they are nearly always the last ones out through the school gates – too busy chin-wagging with their mates and leaving me standing there…  So I was in Sainsburys the other day getting some shopping and I saw some really nice ‘daddy’ slippers, you know, those checked ones… and it suddenly occurred to me – what if I was standing outside the school gates in my slippers… I wonder just how quickly they would appear..I reckon they would be first ones out in the entire school…I’m VERY tempted…

You see, why get mad, when you can get even… 🙂

bookmark_borderGaining Perspective

When I was about eleven, Mary Whitehead, our art teacher, asked the class to draw a typical street scene. We had two hours to complete our works of art and then she would tell us what she thought. I dutifully drew the High Street, the shops, people out shopping and a few cars, typical Saturday afternoon scene. I have to admit that the cars were very square-ish…boxy.. and the people…even the dogs…square-ish but I was reasonably pleased with my effort and thought Mary wouldn’t have much to quibble about over it.

So she sat down beside me, hummed and ha-ed a bit and then said, “look, it’s a very good attempt but can you see what’s wrong with the cars?” I said they were very boxy and even the wheels weren’t very round… and she said “no, that’s not the problem I have with this, it’s the size of the cars in relation to the background that’s a bit off, your cars are too small for the foreground, the people in the background are much bigger, your perspective is all wrong, the cars need to be much bigger or the background much smaller, you need to get some perspective..”

God, you were so right, weren’t you Mary? It takes more than a few years to gain perspective and once you have it then you view the world and all those around you differently, you tend not to sweat the petty stuff (or is it not pet the sweaty stuff?) . Spending twelve years of your life working as an ICU nurse certainly gives you perspective and I’m 51 now and I can look back over the last five decades at what I’ve learnt and some things come to mind;

  • Our children help us grow just as much as we help them grow. I’ve spend a lot of time teaching my two boys lessons and trying to give them perspective early but it hasn’t been a one way street, as much as I’ve tried teaching them life lessons I’ve also learnt just as much, if not more, from them, we learn just as much from our kids as we teach them.
  • And the older I get, the wiser I get. Duh! I gain more wisdom but crucially it seems that as I get older and wiser that I know nearly everything – about less and less. And I have a sneaking suspicion that by the time I shed this mortal coil I shall know absolutely everything there is to know – about absolutely nothing.
  • You don’t realise it but we live our lives as examples to others, examples of how to be, how to live, how to love. Some souls are quite content to treat others shitty, that’s the example they are setting, but it’s not an example you have to follow. And just to make you a little paranoid, everyone is watching you, they are watching you for cues, give them good examples.
  • It doesn’t have to be this way. Happiness is a choice. Life may have dealt you a pretty dire hand of cards and you may see no future but the remainder of your life – the life your previous years have programmed you for – doesn’t have to happen, nothing’s wrote in stone. You are allowed to break your programming, you are allowed to go beyond your programming, no matter how badly some souls have treated you in the past you can forgive them, you can break the cycle and become something or someone much much more.
  • There are very few things in life that don’t change, given enough time nearly all things come to an end, one of the only few constants is change, if you want to grow then embrace change, it’s not a challenge, it’s an opportunity. The key word there is ‘if’, not everyone wants to grow.
  • Regrets, we all have them but the purpose of life is to have as few as possible, no-one’s perfect, I certainly am not, I have lots of regrets, but I’m willing to bet I have slighter fewer than you.
  • “The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work you do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance, special abilities, relationships, person and family history, belief systems, and often also political, nationalistic, racial, religious, and other collective identifications. None of these is you.” –Eckhart Tolle.
    Very true Mr Tolle, though it’s still a good idea to pay our bills, feed our children and pay taxes so social security can pay benefit to unemployed blissed out 29yr old Germans sitting in Russel Square, ..but true Mr Tolle…very very true..you earned your money with that one sentence.

bookmark_borderThe Caretaker

Someone once said that we don’t own possessions, possessions own us. To some degree I can agree with that, we arrive in the world empty handed and seem to spend the rest of our lives gaining possession but looking back over the years I’ve come to realise that I don’t actually own very muh at all, I travel light. I’m constantly de-cluttering my life, in fact I like to think I’m more of a caretaker than an owner, I have this habit of giving my stuff away.

1. Many years ago I was traipsing around second hand bookshops and I found a first edition Winnie The Pooh, it cost seventy quid and somewhere deep inside me I knew I had to buy it. So it sat in the loft for years wrapped in black plastic to protect it and then one day I met someone who was an illustrator. Her passion was to illustrate children’s books and it was her birthday soon so I thought why not, this is why the Universe wanted me to buy this book, to pass it on to it’s rightful owner. She was thrilled to bits by it but I, the caretaker, was thrilled even more to give it to her, it’s rightful owner.

2. A friend was having a 100th birthday party, he was coming 55 and his wife was turning 45 so that equals 100 and they decided to have a 100th birthday party. I hate buying bog standard presents so I searched and searched for something appropriate. He was really into bee keeping and lo and behold, one day I was wandering the streets when I came across yet another second hand bookshop. I went in and had a wee nosey around and what did I find but a book on bee keeping, from 98 years ago. Almost perfect. I held on to it for the month and then gave it to them at their ‘100th’ birthday party. They were both gobsmacked and told me it was the best present they had got that day. I told them I was just the conduit, the caretaker, holding onto it until it found its way to its proper home – with them.

3. And then there was Honey, the Sheltie dog that the Universe wanted me to rescue from a crap unloved unwanted situation and moved to a loving home elsewhere

But you see, this caretaking business, it’s not just possessions and animals that I look after for a short while and then pass on, it works even in relationships too, sometimes I feel like I’m just holding onto someone for a while, keeping them safe, until they find the person they are meant to be with.. and when I see them happy and content then I’m pleased, thrilled actually. But then I’m weird, aren’t I?

And between thou and I – I wonder, how many folk have passed me on too, I suspect there are a few woman out there who are breathing a sigh of relief and thinking dodged a bullet there!  🙂

bookmark_borderGroundhog Day?

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Buddha Siddhartha Guatama Shakyamuni  (yes, trying saying that when tipsy) said the following; “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” I didn’t realise it at the time but my teacher appeared 20 years ago when Groundhog Day was released.  I remember watching it at the flicks and enjoying it at the time;

“Murray plays Phil Connors, an arrogant and egocentric Pittsburgh TV weatherman who, during a hated assignment covering the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, finds himself in a time loop, repeating the same day again and again.”

However, I was 30-ish and pretty wet behind the ears when it came to this ‘life’ thing and as usual wasn’t really paying attention, probably a tad arrogant and egocentric like Bill at the start of the movie. So, last night I watched Groundhog Day again and had an epiphany, the sudden realisation that really it’s the story of our lives and relationships, isn’t it, I’m stuck in my own Groundhog Day, repeating my mistakes in what seems like an endless loop. Like in the movie, slowly and very patiently, the Universe is doing it’s best to teach me and guide me – despite my best efforts to bugger things up and refuse to learn the obvious lessons.

This is particularly true in relationships, we can go through many relationships making a lot of mistakes and keep on repeating those mistakes until the message finally begins to sink in, only then do we wise up and start to use what we’ve learnt and make some progress. We have to attend the Groundhog festivals in the genuinely right spirit, we have to catch the falling kid from the tree, we have to fix the old ladies tyre, we have to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre to save the guys life in the restaurant and we have to learn French poetry and play the piano like a pro, not in an effort to impress Andie but because we genuinely want to. And learning to speak French and play the piano like a pro takes a hell of a lot of effort and that’s the kind of commitment relationships demand.

These (or their equivalent)  are the things that changes us into better human beings and as a by-product, charms Andie and makes her want to bid $339.89 for you in the charity auction and want to spend the night with you. It’s because you do these things not as part of some scheme to eventually play ‘hide the sausage’ with her but you do them genuinely through your heart and it all pays off, you wake up on February 3rd and the cycle is broken and you have the woman of your dreams in bed beside you.

It’s just such a pity both of us have to keep repeating the cycle of heartache over and over again until the penny finally drops. Sigh.

I read the following a few years ago;

“The secret to getting my wife to be less inhibited had more to do with me than her. It wasn’t until I started listening to what she wanted from me outside the bedroom that changes happened inside the bedroom. I needed to show that I loved her by talking to her and treating her as my equal in all aspects of life. Once she became secure and felt deeply loved by me, all her inhibitions disappeared. Damn, I wish I had figured that out sooner. “ Danny G, age 58, husband for 24 years

I know how you feel Danny, I know how you feel, I wish I had been paying attention 20 years ago when I first watched Groundhog Day.

bookmark_borderPatience, a virtue?

In 2009 about five million people watched the ‘My Finale’ episode of Scrubs when John Dorian left Scared Heart Teaching Hospital. It was a hour long special and the last few minutes of the episode was taken up playing the above song. You can view the actual scene here.

This song has haunted me ever since then, I’ve heard it a few times, just snatches of it but missing the whole song, the radio never mentioned whom it was by and I wasn’t quick enough with SoundHound. It turns out it was a cover of ‘The Book of Love’, originally by Magnetic Fields but this version by Peter Gabriel. It’s strange how, if you have enough patience, everything comes to you eventually. I feel strangely sad and yet happy when I listen to it, it’s somehow very poignant, like it’s triggering something deep down inside me and I finally figured out what it is this evening.

Over the past few years I’ve been following various blogs, nearly all of them are about dating and misadventures but there’s been about ten blogs I’ve regularly dipped into and smiled and recognised the same mistakes, the same fuck-ups, the same embarrassing failures.

But here’s the thing. Over the years, one by one, each of these blogs have slowly disappeared. Last year one of my favourites disappeared but before she went off the air she told all her readers that at long last she had found someone special, someone she wanted to start a life with and she needed space to work on that relationship without everyone else knowing the daily ups and downs of her day, so she thanked the readers for all their support and a few weeks later it was lights out.

Part of me was sad, (some of the postings were hilarious!) but a larger part of me was happy, happy that eventually after all the mis-steps, all the weirdos, all the dishonesty, all the trying, all the let downs, all the longing and missed chances, that she was happy and in love.

And so that only left one blog remaining, Middle Aged Dating, I’ve enjoy reading Charmaine’s blog, a lot of it resonated with me but it seems there is news on that front too, she’s just got married and I’m enormously pleased for a couple of reasons. Firstly I’m pleased because she’s had a rough time and it’s nice to know she’s finally met a (Italian) man and found true love but secondly and more personal, it means it must be getting near my turn. I’ve watched all the dating blogs slowly disappear and now the last straggler is finally gone, so it gives me hope, hope that if one is patient enough, kind enough, open enough, true to oneself, generous of the heart and willing to keep at it, then eventually you will find the one soul you are meant to be with. My mother Doris agrees with me, everything comes to the man (or woman) with patience.

(but secretly, between thou and I, I can’t wait!)

bookmark_borderWhat is love?

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Errmmm on second thought…please don’t!

Love is more easily experienced than defined. As a theological virtue, by which we love God above all things and our neighbours as ourselves for his sake, it seems remote until we encounter it enfleshed, so to say, in the life of another – in acts of kindness, generosity and self-sacrifice. Love’s the one thing that can never hurt anyone, although it may cost dearly. The paradox of love is that it is supremely free yet attaches us with bonds stronger than death. It cannot be bought or sold; there is nothing it cannot face; love is life’s greatest blessing.

Catherine Wybourne is a Benedictine nun

Sometimes I feel I have to invent a language to talk to you in, though my heart is very full of definite things to say. You stir some very deep part of my soul. Be patient with me and don’t be angry with my peculiarities. I love you very much.

Iris Murdoch

To be loved is to feel the sun on both sides of your face.

Live simply, love deeply.

London Leprechaun.

 

bookmark_borderSimple Pleasures

The List

Good bread
Buying yourself flowers
Someone else buying you flowers
Clean sheets
Looking for shells
Doing something you’ve been putting off
Fixing something
A valentine surprise
Clean windows at last
Warm towels
Being met at the airport
Coins in a wishing well
Foot rubs after a long day
Tasks you did with your parents
Letting someone into traffic
Flirting
Hotel toiletries
Your favourite mug
Wearing shorts & sandals
Tans
Hand written letters
Decluttering
Giving good advice
Friends
A crisp apple
Eating outside
A wedding invite
Eating peas out of the pod
Birdsong
Escaping a parking ticket
Finding forgotten money
Good quality curtains
Recycling
Baking something nice
Finding the perfect present
Hot water bottles
Four poster beds
Watching for shooting stars
Wrapping Xmas presents
Ripe fruit
Lighting candles
Making a fire
Roasted vegetables
Sharpening pencils
Linen napkins
Good quality dark chocolate
Giving blood
Decorating a Christmas tree
Air conditioning during hot summers
Heated car seats during winter
Spring
The snooze button
Giving to charity shops
Buying from charity shops
Getting that job
Walking in snow
Sunday mornings
Watching your kids sleep
Birds using your bird feeder
Walking barefoot on the edge of the sea
Home deliveries

bookmark_border31 Ways To Know You’re In The Right Relationship

To help you answer that question, you lucky thing, here’s a completely unscientific list of 31 ways to know you’re in the right relationship:

You don’t…
1.    Fear it.
If you’re afraid of commitment, best to work that out before you put yourself in a situation where it’s hoped you’ll eventually commit.

2.    Hide anything more significant than a surprise party from each other.

That includes exes, cheating, debt, STDs, chronic illness, felonies, whether you want a marriage and/or children, genetic abnormalities (if you both want kids), a strong desire to live somewhere else, professional failures and successes, doubts about your sexual orientation, a strong preference for un-vanilla sex.
The truth will come out, and if you’re with someone you feel the need to conceal any of this from, he or she probably isn’t right.

3.    Snoop.
If no one’s hiding anything, why are you looking? Going through your significant other’s email, phone, Facebook account, or journal strongly indicates that you don’t trust the person you’re with. You’re also violating his or her trust in you.

4.    Hide the relationship from other people in your life.
If you’re unwilling to introduce the person you’re dating at appropriate junctures to the most important people in your life, that’s usually a bright, flapping red flag.
In general, if you have a good thing going, you can’t wait for him or her to meet your friends, siblings, parents, the guy at the deli, and you wouldn’t have any qualms about presenting this person to professional acquaintances, people you knew in college, family friends, even your ex.

5.    Think you’re superior.
If you feel that your significant other is your inferior in any way you know matters to you in a mate — morally, intellectually, socially, financially or professionally — you’re never going to respect him or her as much as you hope to be respected.
The best relationships make you feel that you’ve convinced a person more exceptional than you to love you.

6.    Resent the other person’s success.
Professional jealousy can be as poisonous to a relationship as constantly thinking he or she is flirting with your best friend. It also suggests that you’re spending a lot of time comparing yourself to a person you supposedly adore, rather than sitting back and marveling at how amazing he or she is. In a good relationship, you quit (or refuse to ever engage in) the one-upmanship.

7.    Let any substance or behavior come before the relationship.
Any addict or over-user of a substance or behavior is cheating on you with his or her drug of choice. You deserve more.

8.    Stew.
When something the other person does annoys you or turns you off, you don’t push it to the back of your mind and hope it will go away, because it won’t. You bring it up in the moment or sometime in the next 24 hours.

9.    Damage property, animals, children or each other during an argument.
You think this goes without saying until you read something like this New York Times “Modern Love” and realize that human beings can rationalize staying with someone who leaves holes in their walls.
On the other hand, if you damage a vase or two in the heat of a different kind of passion, totally fine.

10.    Challenge each other on personal issues in front of other people.
You know which conversations you shouldn’t be having at brunch with friends.

11.    Depend on each other for things no one can or should supply.
If you’re looking to your significant other to resolve your emotional issues, make you more responsible/successful/adult, support you financially, improve your social standing, expand your group of friends, provide you with the family you never had, or make your parents finally accept you, it’s possible you shouldn’t be in a relationship at all, or at least not yet.

12.    Begrudge each other time with your respective friends.
You can’t be everything to your significant other, and why would you want to be? Sounds exhausting. Friends enrich your life, will accompany you to do things that your significant other may not enjoy, and keep you from getting tired of the person you’re seeing.
Besides, if the relationship doesn’t work out, those friends going to be the ones coming over to your house, dragging you out of bed and helping you rejoin humanity. Be good to them.

13.    Lose Yourself
This is easier said than done, especially when the relationship is going really well. As tempting as it is to never leave the house (maybe never leave the bed), you keep doing the work, exercise, volunteering, socializing, networking, and daughtering you were doing before. Remember, these things made you the person Your Person fell in love with. They’re part of you. Don’t give them up for anyone. You can’t afford it.

14.     Have a secret plan B.
If you’re where you need to be, the following thoughts don’t cross your mind: “Maybe he’ll dump me,” or “If my ex moves back from Mongolia, everything could change.”

15.    Have much drama.
You know the cliche: The person worth your tears won’t make you cry. Usually.

You do…
16.    Put it all on the line.
If you’re not risking having your heart broken, you’re not doing it right.

17.    Respect the people he or she is closest to.
You don’t have to love them, but you should think they are honest and moral and have integrity. Want to know you’re with a good person? Look to the people he or she thinks are good people.

18.    Inspire each other to be better.
A good relationship is galvanizing, not in the oh-my-god-I-met-this-amazing-person-I’d-better-hurry-up-and-fix-myself sense (thought there’s probably a little of that when you first start seeing anyone amazing) but in the way that knowing someone else believes in you makes you believe in yourself that much more. You want to prove yourself worthy of his or her confidence.

19.    Humble yourselves.
You know you can’t hide your flaws for long, so you don’t try. You recognize that this person is going to have to take you as you are, as foolish or charitable (or both) as that may seem to make him or her. You know you’re both going to mess up endless times and have to apologize and be forgiven and forgive. You’ll wonder if one of the bigger mistakes is the one that will end it, and you’ll have to prove to one another that the relationship transcends that. You recognize that you signed up for all of this.

20.    Talk about sex.
Most couples don’t instinctively know all of the ways to please each other. You have to talk about — or at least show — what you want. If you don’t know what you want, you need to figure that out, STAT (step 1? Get thee to Babeland). And after you have talked about it, you do it. Better.

21.    Talk about the rest.
The same things you’re not supposed to talk about on a blind date — religion, money, politics, kids — are things you should discuss with someone you’re serious about. What? You just remembered that thing you need to do? Get back here. No one said this was going to be painless. They said it was going to be hard and awesome.

22.    Fight.
If you agree on everything, someone’s not telling the truth. See #2 and #8.

23.    Have times when you don’t talk.
Not because you’re angry with each other but because you can be quiet together. When you find yourself with silences you don’t need to fill, when you find you can just walk along or lie about or work side by side and feel together without needing to verbally affirm that, you’ve got a good thing going.

24.    Have object permanence.
Child psychologist Jean Piaget theorized that when babies get to be 8 or 9 months old, they begin to develop “object permanence,” the idea that an object doesn’t vanish when they can no longer see it.
In a good adult relationship, you know that you can go out into the world and do your thing, and the bond you’ve formed with the person you care about will be there when you get back.
This is also known as trust.

25.    Take care of your body.
You know that you won’t enjoy sharing it with someone else if you don’t like, respect, and nurture it. Your partner feels the same way.

26.    Divide and conquer.
You’re not identical, thank god, which probably means you have certain strengths and he or she has others. Someone is more organized, someone is more outgoing, someone is a born listener. Someone is better with money, someone is more creative. Someone is more adventurous in bed.
If you each play to your strengths, you in all likelihood remember a gift (possibly an inspired one), your home(s) look(s) great, the bills get paid on time, sex is endlessly fun, and you leave everyone at the party thoroughly charmed.

27.    Remember to look at each other across the room.
There’s nothing more reassuring (or sexier) than glancing up from the interminable conversation with your eighth cousin or the head of operations or the report you can’t seem to finish and locking eyes with Your Person and remembering that by some quantity of luck neither of you may deserve, you found each other.

28.    Observe.
You notice when the other person is about to lose it, needs to leave even if you’ve been there only 20 minutes, is talking to someone he or she can’t stand, did something he or she feels guilty about, is silently berating himself or herself, is ruminating over the thing his or her boss said, is about to spend an insane amount of money, and best of all, about to crack up in a situation where he or she shouldn’t. You pay attention because you care, and because that’s the good stuff.

29.    Make time.
You realize that if this is it, one of you is going to be around some distant day in the future to lose the other. In that moment, you will not regret not checking your email in this one.

30.    Occasionally get over yourself and your cynicism and fear of cliche and do something deeply, unapologetically romantic.
You send the flowers, have the book signed by the author, request the song, write the note, have the damned thing (tastefully) engraved. You call the other person and tell him or her that a specific thing he or she did this morning that made you fall that much more in love. When you’re not expecting it, he or she dares to say, even though we all know there are no guarantees ever, “When we’re X age, want to Y?”

31.     Just know.
Reader, marry that.

OK OK number 32
You are both certain that you have convinced someone amazing to love you.

bookmark_border50 ways to leave your lover.

 

You Just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don’t need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don’t need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free.
(Paul Simon)

We broke up because you thought I was perfect and I had a pain in my stomach from never farting in front of you.

We broke up because you’re incapable of being a mature, supportive partner – not in a malicious way, just in the same way that my cat can’t do the crossword.

We broke up because you didn’t love me as much as you loved yourself

We broke up, because you paraded around aisles of a rural Tesco, with pointless stilettos you couldn’t walk in, fat rippling skinny jeans and sunglasses ( indoors), that could have given Bono’s ones a run for his money in a circumference competition- shouting out “Oh baybee, baybee where art thou” as I crawled into a shelf of some Kettle crisps ( for camouflage), dying with embarrassment!

The time that you, on our second date, laid down a stringent law for the bathroom door to be left open, whilst having a bath in close proximity of the kitchen, hall and front door. Or was it when you presented me with a gift first time out of the aforementioned bath. The gift was of the most hideous paisley crimpelene kimono, that not only wafted of the charity shop where it evolved, but was still tainted with the smell of insignia and of the old gentleman ……..that probably died in it!

You were wearing my lipstick. We figured it out from there.

We got along so well, we still do. But I just couldn’t be with a boy who insisted upon me being the big spoon.

You told me not to kiss you in public.

No matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I did, it was never good enough for you. I can’t believe I stood it for 40 years.

You had a man purse.

One morning you woke up and said, very seriously, “I feel really weird.” I was so relieved.
“Me, too!” I said. “This really isn’t working, is it?”
There was a very long silence. “I meant about that ham I had yesterday night.”
If it helps, I’m really sorry.

We broke up because no one was paying me to be your therapist.

We broke up because you weren’t ready for a committed relationship, only to find out you were ready for one a month later with someone else.

We broke up because you just saw us as “friends with benefits”, and I just didn’t see the benefits.

You didn’t consider reading together as spending time together.

You would have done anything for me and I was scared by that.

We broke up because I just didn’t feel the same way that I did at the beginning of summer. But it also didn’t help that my friend found your gay porn.

I needed something you didn’t want to give me – respect.

We broke up because when I asked for a new handbag I didn’t expect it to have the same colour patterns as our missing tabby cat.

We broke up because I like Nina Simone and you like Lady GaGa.

We broke up because of an invitation. I invited you to my mother’s 50th birthday party. We broke up because two days before the party you freaked out about the party meaning “something”. We broke up because you picked me up late and never apologised. Mostly, though, we broke up because you fell asleep. Not at the wheel – you waited until we had arrived at my parent’s house, then left to curl up on a couch somewhere. We broke up because I had to explain to my relatives that my boyfriend was so tired from our drive that he had to take a nap immediately, rather than meeting everyone first. My family still mocks me about this. Mostly I am annoyed that you are in all my pictures from my mother’s party… at least you look well rested.

We broke up because you are crazy, psychotic, obsessive and delusional,
and no, this isn’t a coded message to say ‘I still love you’.

She had no ankles.
She wasn’t fat.
She just had no ankles.
Or sense of humour.
But it was mostly the lack of ankles
that did it for me.

We broke up because you were a deranged individual who made a scene at my cousin’s wedding because I wouldn’t stay glued to your side all evening.
We broke up because you tried to jump out of the car I was driving down the M42 on Christmas day and I wouldn’t pull over whilst you had another one of your hissy fits.
However, the final nail (of many) in the coffin was when you called me a fat bitch…I only weighed eight stone due to the stress of being with you!!
I clearly lost my marbles for three years but at least I finally came to my senses!
We broke up because when I was with you I felt worthless.

———————-

We broke up because when you said sorry, what you meant was that you were sorry I was making a fuss.
We broke up because after five years, you were still looking for someone special.
We broke up just when you realised she was me.
We broke up when you came to tell me this – without realising that six months had passed since you last bothered to come to see me and I was living with someone else.
Boy were you surprised. I finally understood schadenfreude on that day.

———————-

It wasn’t the food poisoning or embarrassment about throwing up in your living room in front of your family. It was when your dog licked your face, you stuck out your tongue.
Because she farted on my dick
Because she sleeps with one eye open
Because I always had to manoeuvre out of the bed in the morning to avoid the poisonous fog of last night’s gassified meal

———————-

1. We broke up because months after I had bought you a new £22K car, the best Christmas present you could give me was from the Book People; a book of sheet music. I don’t read music and I can’t play an instrument. We’d been together for nearly 10 years at this point.

2. We broke up because after 5 years together, you didn’t trust me to drive your car for a mile to the supermarket, whilst my car was being repaired. I had never had an accident in any vehicle.

3. We broke up because I wasn’t prepared to be your Daddy.

4. We broke up because you were an alcoholic with borderline personality disorder.

5. We broke up because you started seeing someone else.

6. We broke up because you were happy to live off me for over a year, and your non-financial contributions to the well-being of the relationship also dried up. God I’ve been unlucky in love. Cats are possibly the way forward.

It wasn’t the flatulence in restaurants; it was the simultaneous leg-raising. Quite unladylike.

We broke up because in a desperate attempt to be the man you thought I wanted, you ended up lying about everything

We broke up because you’d burst into a rage whenever you were wrong instead of accepting it and that scared me

We broke up because you thought you could mould me into a nice, complacent girl like your mother, you know, the one your father still beats up from time to time

We broke up because I never really loved you but I liked the friendship and the sex and it was a convenient way of living

———————-

We broke up because, on our first date you removed the tomatoes from your meal.
The next time we went out you ordered food, minus the vegetables.
You also lied to me.
And gave me vicious Thrush.
It was mostly the tomatoes though.

———————-

We broke up because once on a night out I was feelin great until you (a beautiful woman) saw all the young things with legs up to their armpits and accused me of lusting after them and I felt insulted by such trivia, knowing that if I tried to explain that girls younger than my daughter don’t pull me that way (beyond aesthetic appreciation) and that I’m not a one-dimensional pathetic male stereotype, and that you who bangs on about feminism ad nauseam would refuse to understand if I ever tried to tell you any of this (made that mistake already).

We broke up because at every opportunity when the issue came up in company you, a supposedly ex-Catholic, would have to declare, unprompted, that you were an atheist, as if this was a revolutionary thing to be and say.

We broke up because you had a go at me for forgetting and saying ‘mankind’ and not ‘humankind’, just one too many times…

We broke up because in bed the routine was that at the start you would say ‘No, no’, then when I realised this was a tease and went ahead, you romped all over me, coming and coming and saying it was soooo great, and then saying ‘Don’t ever do this with anyone else’. And altho the sex was wonderful for me too, I just got tired of the tedium of your script.

We broke up because I never really recovered from the sudden outbreak of rage when I was 7 minutes late on our 3rd or 4th date.

We broke up when in IKEA shopping for stuff for you, and I came along cause I wanted to keep company, you flew into a rage in front of everybody when I answered my mobile when a female work colleague who you knew rang me and I spoke for 30 seconds to tell her I was busy.

We broke up because on a Saturday afternoon I’d forgotten to book a popular restaurant and before I phoned you to arrange things I suffered a panic attack of fear and flight response and realised this was not right.

I now realise that on the online test for BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) 6 of 9 symptoms describe you. Everything falls into place. And although I still care for you, miss you and even love you, I was right to finally find the guts to extricate myself after 3 years.

No more ‘Walking on Eggshells‘ (a book I highly recommend).

 

bookmark_borderFit for nothing?

Do your worse..

I was wandering back from getting some tea this morning in the Neuro wing when I spotted an elderly gentleman looking a bit lost. I asked him where he was looking for and he said the M&S restaurant so he could get some proper food. It’s quite a long walk around the University to the restaurant and not easy to find so I said follow me and I’ll take him to it. He was dressed in that cycling outfit that seems popular now, sleek and skin tight and he was wearing the expensive shoes and carrying a helmet so I started chatting away with him. He was 76 and been cycling all his life, this morning he had cycled down from Rose Hill, about five miles away and I joked that that was easy as it’s basically all downhill, the problem would be going back up. He laughed and said that won’t be a problem on his bike with twenty gears. So I asked him why was he in the Neuro Wing and mentioned that his gait was not fluid, he was limping. He said he’d been hit recently by a car when on his bike and damaged some nerves and thus in the Neuro wing. I asked him just how many times he had been hit and it took him about five minutes to list all the injuries he had suffered, arms broken, shoulders smashed, jaw, head, teeth and now this leg neuro injury.

So, I said to him that when I first came to London 25 years ago I cycled a lot (couldn’t afford a car!) but I kept getting hit and had actually been chased by one driver after I berated him for almost crushing me under his wheels. After that I gave up cycling and took up swimming, it seemed safer and less chance of ending up like jam on the side of the road. He smiled and said he understood, especially if you have children but he was addicted to cycling and despite all the injuries wouldn’t give it up for something less hazardous. However, I find it ironic that he does this cycling to keep fit but because of it he’s got a long long list of injuries and hobbles everywhere.. I have another friend who has a metal plate in her forearm because of being knocked off her bike.. It sets off alarms when she goes through metal detectors.. And a colleague at work plays football twice a week and is constantly hobbling, in pain and complaining of some injury and he’s young and does footie to keep fit.

I don’t play a sport regularly, I will watch it occasionally, especially rugby and the world cup every four years and my regular exercise involves going for long walks but I stand up straight, I don’t hobble or limp, and unlike most (ex)nurses I don’t have back problems and I don’t set off alarms when I go through airport security detectors.

However, as I left my friend off at the restaurant I said to him that all that gear must be expensive and he said yes, very, but over the years he had received over £100,000 in compensation for all his accidents. He thanked me and went limping off and I thought about it, £100,000 isn’t nearly enough compensation for limping for the rest of your life, no amount of money is, I’m going to stick to long walks…or invest in lots of bubblewrap.

bookmark_borderSickly Dancing

 

except me..

The late seventies and eighties were full of great dancing movies; Saturday Night Fever, Grease, Footloose, Flashdance, Dirty Dancing and during that time my friends and I spent many an evening standing on the edge of a crowded dance floor awkwardly shuffling our feet. I once won a dance competition; really, I was simply trying to wriggle my way through a packed dance floor (rather unsuccessfully) to get to the bar to order some drinks. The DJ stopped me as I wormed my way past and told me that I had won third prize and gave me a small bottle of scotch – which was handy as I was going to ask for a scotch when I got to the bar – result! (Obviously the competition on the floor must have been particularly dire!)

There aren’t many things I’m not a total expert at;  dry walling, electrics, plumbing (both male and female), auto repairs, working jack hammers, mowing lawns, computers, knitting dollies, forking, Rubiks Cube, introspection, walking on water, making marmalade and rustling up a four course meal from a near empty fridge but there’s one area where I fall down – and when I say fall down I mean that literally because it’s dancing. I really can’t get the hang of it but it’s not like I haven’t tried. We Irish are meant to have a natural rhythm but when I try dancing it’s like some mischievous little leprechaun has tied my shoelaces together and I keep falling over. I’m like a grizzly bear that’s been shot with a tranquilliser gun, I lurch all over the place crashing into everything and everyone. I’m the Irish version of Patrick Swayze – Paddy Sways (a lot!). Agnes de Mille said that the truest expression of a people is in its dance and music, if that’s the case then we Irish are in big trouble..

When I was a teenager in the late seventies I would try to strut my funky stuff to Michael Jacksons ‘Blame It On The Boogie’ in BJ’s disco – which is funny for a number of reasons; not just because I looked like Steven Hawkings trying to escape the confines of his wheelchair but  ‘boogie’ is something you only find in your handkerchief  in Northern Ireland, not on the dance floor and BJ’s (seriously) was the name of the place we practised our lurching. We were so naive them days.

Readers of a certain vintage will remember Boris Yeltsin dancing in a similar style in the 90’s, it seems somewhat appropriate that it’s the bear that represents Russia because his dancing was just as bad as mine..

Actually, on second thoughts he looks like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever compared to my groovy moves.

You may think I’m exaggerating and wonder about Irish dancing (and Riverdance) but what you don’t know is that Irish dancing is a direct result of the Irish inability to dance with any style or grace at all. Irish dancing has only been around since Riverdance, I can’t find anyone who’s heard of Irish dancing before it burst on the scene. It’s not well known that Irish dancing only started only a few years before Riverdance and it’s even less well known that it was me who started it. You see, I started going to dancing lessons in the early eighties in the hope of emulating John Travolta – this time in his Grease incarnation – but after a few lessons the instructor got so fed up with me that he gave me the following instructions; I was to stop flailing my arms around like a windmill on speed (and he literally strapped my arms to my sides!) and then he told me to imagine I was standing on red hot coals.. three seconds later I had invented Irish dancing. You can thank me later Michael Flatley.

A few years ago I bravely went to do Cerok dancing with a friend in Putney and the evening started off okay, about a dozen of us newbies and the instructor trying to teach us a few basic moves; turn, swivel, twist, pull and repeat ad nauseam, ad nauseam being the correct term here because I was sick of it within minutes. However, I persevered trying to get the swing of it (groan) and foolishly imagined even with my kack-handed attempts I was starting to get the hang of it but at 8pm the hall started to fill up with the regulars and everything speeded up big time. There weren’t that many blokes there and apparently it was bad manners to refuse a dance so I spent the rest of the night being passed around from (expert) dancer to (expert) dancer. It was like being thrown to the wolves, I barely got out alive and never went back.. It was like that time I went ski-ing, three mates and I walked into a hotel disco and there were no blokes there, just a room full of woman and a Mexican wave of ‘BOYS!’ spreading across the dance floor.

So in a last ditch desperate effort to improve my dancing technique I started going to ballet lessons here in London. I really threw my heart and soul into it, even forsaking my drinking buddies to practice my technique, it was a tough job but I suppose someone had to do it. One of my friends took his video camera along to show just how much my technique has improved over the years, I hope you agree that it was worth it.

Next month I’m starting Pole Dancing lessons. How hard can it be?

bookmark_border008. Licensed To Date

These days if you want to drive a car you have to do a theory test and then if you pass that then you do a practical test, this can take quite a few months or even years, I have a friend who took six attempts to pass her practical driving test, in Ireland we just need to plough a field in a reasonably straight line.

So I was talking to a friend the other day and she was moaning about ex’s in general and it occurs to me that perhaps men should have to do a theory test and then a practical test before they are allowed to date, they could even get a license at the end of the process and any potential dates could ask to see it before even arranging a date, Licensed To Thrill, so to speak.

I’m thinking, like the British Driving Test that there has to be a minimum age before you are even allowed to do the theory test, it’s seventeen in this country and I think that’s not a bad age to start studying and hitting the books every evening and going to classes, at least you’d be motivated.

I think some of the books you’d have to study would be;

Debrett’s New Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners

That would sort out traditional manners; holding doors open, saying please and thank you but there are so many more things a modern young gentleman needs to master such as toilet lid etiquette, when is it appropriate to trim toe nails and whom gets to sleep on the wet patch and for this they need to study a much more modern tombe such as;

Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That: A Modern Guide to Manners

Now that’s manners covered, next is practical skills, gaining an understanding that it’s actually the blokes job to cut the grass, hack down that tree (yes, even in sexual equality 2012) and take out the trash and how doing this can enhance your future dating prospects. On top of this other skills required include painting, plumbing and a wiliness to put up shelves without drilling holes into pipes and for this I’d recommend the following;

Reader’s Digest Complete Do-it-Yourself Manual

Ok this is from 1973 but if it was good enough for your father (and me as there is one on the ‘extremely well put up’ shelf) then it’s good enough for you, indeed it’s important to learn to do repairs the proper old fashioned way before learning there are modern contraptions like spray paint and self-adhesive wallpaper..look upon it as an apprenticeship in all things practical. When you have mastered the correct way to paint without managing to get more paint on your hands than the wall then you may progress to something a tad more modern;

The Reader’s Digest Do-It-Yourself Guide to Preventing Costly HomeRepairs: Over 19,000 Easy Hints & Tips

Then we need to have at least a basic understanding of gardens, they are not solely there for barbecues, sun lounging  and football, they are there to enjoy in their own right, consequently the book I’ve had for many years is the following;

Royal Horticulture Society Gardening Through the Year

This small tome of 352 pages (nearly one for each day of the year) will educate you in the where of’s & whens of the garden, never again will you mix up your wisteria from your buddleia, your ceanothus from your fritillaria and you won’t snigger when someone enquires how big is your periwinkle is this year.

Next we have cooking, a subject this blog has touched upon on previously here but I can recommend these books too;

Men’s Cooking: A No-Nonsense Guide to Buying, Cooking and Eating Great Food (Owner’s Kitchen Manual)

How to Cook Everything, Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food

It’s said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach but I know this works equally well for woman’s hearts, you will be forgiven a lot of crimes and misdemeanours if your partner comes home after a hard day to find dinner cooked and a glass of wine waiting for her. Spent all day shacked up on settee watching football?, cook a meal and all is forgiven, you see, historically woman expect so little from us men, we have conditioned woman over the centuries not to expect anything from us so small gestures like cooking supper and Body Shop Mint Foot Lotion massages will flush away a multitude of sins.

Next, Parenting skills

Get a cute dog, impress your potential date at your nurturing skills, if you can look after a dog without losing it (or trading it for a first edition Batman comic in mint condition) then maybe you can be trusted with a baby. Maybe.

PS I know you won’t understand this but dogs are babe magnets, the smaller the dog the more potent this effect, no scientist has ever been able to explain this but the closer your dog looks to a little white scotty the more the opposite sex will be unable to resist you, the owner. Go figure.

And then finally we come to Rumpy-Pumpy.

For heaven sake (and your own sanity) go out immediately and purchase a copy of Greys anatomy, study it fully to find out where the clitoris actually is, it’s not really that difficult you know, it’s not like trying to find a needle in a haystack and even in the dark there are various cues as to where it is, you can take how tightly your partner is pulling your hair as a big hint, however if you are a complete  nincompoop then you will need to study the following closely;

The Good Orgasm Guide: All a Girl Needs for a Great Time

I know this book back to front, inside out and upside down – which is a spooky co-incidence as these are just some of the positions it teaches you. And of course this manual as it cover both manners and sex;

She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman

You see, I can tell you all these things because I’ve been there, bought the teeshirt and have the scars to prove it. By the time I got to 45 I finally had gathered enough experience to be allowed in the deep end of the dating pool but you will stay in the shallow end until you learn these lessons and pass your tests.

And if you require proof that this works then look no further than my ex flatmate Eduardo. He came to me directly from his momma’s house in Peroga, Italy and couldn’t understand why he couldn’t get a date in this country, after all, he was Italian and a doctor and at home he had his pick of beautiful woman. But what he didn’t understand was that Italian woman were resigned to never ever house training their men, they had given up the struggle but in this country woman are made of more determined stock and won’t accept low standards. Therefore I spent six months teaching him how to do laundry, cook a meal, iron his clothes, make his bed and stop treating woman like objects.

Eventually I let him loose in the dating world and he was a hit with the woman, an Italian doctor that could cook (sort’of), clean, make beds and knew where the G Spot was… yes, you can thank me later ladies.

So, in summary, it’s very simple guys, like attracts like, nice woman are only attracted to nice guys, if you don’t have the looks of George Clooney then these few manuals, studied diligently and kept in your home for the rest of your life will greatly enhance the odds of you will waking up with someone nice every morning.

bookmark_border50 Rules for Dads of Daughters

Found this at From Dates To Diapers and thought I’d share it with everyone, I’ve got two beastie boys and someday I’m going to have to write the boys version but in the meanwhile this has given me some insight into what it’s like to have a daughter (or two) so THANK YOU Michael Mitchell

(Excuse the American spelling thou..I mean though, I do know how to spell mum, honour, savour, diapers aka nappies, doughnuts and pyjamas 😉

PASTE..

1. Love her mom. Treat her mother with respect, honor, and a big heaping spoonful of public displays of affection. When she grows up, the odds are good she’ll fall in love with and marry someone who treats her much like you treated her mother. Good or bad, that’s just the way it is. I’d prefer good.


2. Always be there. Quality time doesn’t happen without quantity time. Hang out together for no other reason than just to be in each other’s presence. Be genuinely interested in the things that interest her. She needs her dad to be involved in her life at every stage. Don’t just sit idly by while she add years to her… add life to her years.


3. Save the day. She’ll grow up looking for a hero. It might as well be you. She’ll need you to come through for her over and over again throughout her life. Rise to the occasion. Red cape and blue tights optional.


4. Savor every moment you have together. Today she’s crawling around the house in diapers, tomorrow you’re handing her the keys to the car, and before you know it, you’re walking her down the aisle. Some day soon, hanging out with her old man won’t be the bees knees anymore. Life happens pretty fast. You better cherish it while you can.


5. Pray for her. Regularly. Passionately. Continually.


6. Buy her a glove and teach her to throw a baseball. Make her proud to throw like a girl… a girl with a wicked slider.


7. She will fight with her mother. Choose sides wisely.


8. Go ahead. Buy her those pearls.


9. Of course you look silly playing peek-a-boo. You should play anyway.


10. Enjoy the wonder of bath time.


11. There will come a day when she asks for a puppy. Don’t over think it. At least one time in her life, just say, “Yes.”


12. It’s never too early to start teaching her about money. She will still probably suck you dry as a teenager… and on her wedding day.


13. Make pancakes in the shape of her age for breakfast on her birthday. In a pinch, donuts with pink sprinkles and a candle will suffice.


14. Buy her a pair of Chucks as soon as she starts walking. She won’t always want to wear matching shoes with her old man.



Photo Credit :: Danielle Rocke Toews

15. Dance with her. Start when she’s a little girl or even when she’s a baby. Don’t wait ‘til her wedding day.


16. Take her fishing. She will probably squirm more than the worm on your hook. That’s OK.


17. Learn to say no. She may pitch a fit today, but someday you’ll both be glad you stuck to your guns.


18. Tell her she’s beautiful. Say it over and over again. Someday an animated movie or “beauty” magazine will try to convince her otherwise.


19. Teach her to change a flat. A tire without air need not be a major panic inducing event in her life. She’ll still call you crying the first time it happens.


20. Take her camping. Immerse her in the great outdoors. Watch her eyes fill with wonder the first time she sees the beauty of wide open spaces. Leave the iPod at home.


21. Let her hold the wheel. She will always remember when daddy let her drive.


22. She’s as smart as any boy. Make sure she knows that.


23. When she learns to give kisses, she will want to plant them all over your face. Encourage this practice.


24. Knowing how to eat sunflower seeds correctly will not help her get into a good college. Teach her anyway.


25. Letting her ride on your shoulders is pure magic. Do it now while you have a strong back and she’s still tiny.


26. It is in her nature to make music. It’s up to you to introduce her to the joy of socks on a wooden floor.


27. If there’s a splash park near your home, take her there often. She will be drawn to the water like a duck to a puddle.


28. She will eagerly await your return home from work in the evenings. Don’t be late.


29. If her mom enrolls her in swim lessons, make sure you get in the pool too. Don’t be intimidated if there are no other dads there. It’s their loss.


30. Never miss her birthday. In ten years she won’t remember the present you gave her. She will remember if you weren’t there.


31. Teach her to roller skate. Watch her confidence soar.


32. Let her roll around in the grass. It’s good for her soul. It’s not bad for yours either.


33. Take her swimsuit shopping. Don’t be afraid to veto some of her choices, but resist the urge to buy her full-body beach pajamas.


34. Somewhere between the time she turns three and her sixth birthday, the odds are good that she will ask you to marry her. Let her down gently.


35. She’ll probably want to crawl in bed with you after a nightmare. This is a good thing.


36. Few things in life are more comforting to a crying little girl than her father’s hand. Never forget this.


37. Introduce her to the swings at your local park. She’ll squeal for you to push her higher and faster. Her definition of “higher and faster” is probably not the same as yours. Keep that in mind.


38. When she’s a bit older, your definition of higher and faster will be a lot closer to hers. When that day comes, go ahead… give it all you’ve got.


39. Holding her upside down by the legs while she giggles and screams uncontrollably is great for your biceps. WARNING: She has no concept of muscle fatigue.


40. She might ask you to buy her a pony on her birthday. Unless you live on a farm, do not buy her a pony on her birthday. It’s OK to rent one though.


41. Take it easy on the presents for her birthday and Christmas. Instead, give her the gift of experiences you can share together.


42. Let her know she can always come home. No matter what.


43. Remember, just like a butterfly, she too will spread her wings and fly some day. Enjoy her caterpillar years.


44. Write her a handwritten letter every year on her birthday. Give them to her when she goes off to college, becomes a mother herself, or when you think she needs them most.


45. Learn to trust her. Gradually give her more freedom as she gets older. She will rise to the expectations you set for her.


46. When in doubt, trust your heart. She already does.


47. When your teenage daughter is upset, learning when to engage and when to back off will add years to YOUR life. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.


48. Ice cream covers over a multitude of sins. Know her favorite flavor.


49. This day is coming soon. There’s nothing you can do to be ready for it. The sooner you accept this fact, the easier it will be.


50. Today she’s walking down the driveway to get on the school bus. Tomorrow she’s going off to college. Don’t blink.

bookmark_borderSoftware Upgrade Time

Self-Portrait. I'm the one on the left incase you were wondering.

I updated my inbuilt system software today from version 5.0 to version 5.1. My creator says it’s just a maintenance release as he’s noticed a few bugs that need to be stomped out and I need more memory as I’m running out of space. Personally I’m not convinced, I think this upgrade that I’m contractually obliged to accept every 365 days (366 on leap years) isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and it introduces more problems than it fixes..

I’ve been thinking about this and am of the opinion that the 3.6 version of software was probably the best and the most efficient. This version seems to be introducing more bugs than it claims to fix and the hardware is not as efficient as it was before. My mother Doris, who is currently running version 8.5 system software agrees, she says that the software is becoming flakier with each minor point increase and at major release 8.0 she had to merge systems with B.O.B., a younger model who was running system 7.5 just to cope with day to day commands.

I’m seriously thinking of following my mother’s route and finding myself another model to merge software, and more importantly, hardware with. Not like the previous one wasn’t without it’s own problems, it would go down on me sometimes without any warning and that was okay at home where I could quickly attend to it but was a bit of a bugger if she went down on me whilst I was doing 90mph up the motorway. It was okay for her if she crashed big time – she came with two important accessories already built in, large airbags but I had no such protection. And then there was the problem with her memory, every mistake was stored in her long term memory and was never deleted, she was able to recall each and every single mistake flawlessly (and did!) and then her internal logic, well, I’m not sure even her manufacturer understood it at all. And I seemed to spend increasing amounts of money keeping her mainframe in good working order.

However, there were certain tasks that she seemed to be better programmed to handle than myself, for example, making micro-computers, she was much more efficient at that task than me and it seemed the only actual input she required from me was at the very start of the process, a tiny deposit and after that it seemed a completely automated system.

Mind you, she used to complain about me, she would point out that finding the right switch to turn me on was damn near impossible as I kept moving it and that I needed to exchange my floppy disk for one of those much more effective hard disks. Additionally although I appeared to have accumulated a huge amount of data over the years I still appeared completely clueless, plus she purchased me to solve problems but it soon became apparent that I created more problems than I solved and finally she regretted purchasing me as the moment she did then a newer faster better model appeared on the market.

And talking about computers, I found this ‘Ode To A Computer’ on the net

A computer was something on TV
From a science fiction show of note
A window was something you hated to clean
And ram was the cousin of a goat.

Meg was the name of my girlfriend
And gig was a job for the nights
Now they all mean different things
And that really mega bytes.

An application was for employment
A program was a TV show
A cursor used profanity
A keyboard was a piano.

Memory was something that you lost with age
A CD was a bank account
And if you had a 3-inch Floppy
You hoped nobody found out.

Compress was something you did to the garbage
Not something you did to a file
And if you unzipped anything in public
You’d be in jail for a while.

Log on was adding wood to the fire
Hard drive was a long trip on the road
A mouse pad was where a mouse lived
And a backup happened to your commode.

Cut you did with a pocket knife
Paste you did with glue
A web was a spider’s home
And a virus was the flu.

bookmark_borderHonesty is the best (privacy) policy

Some folk just can't take a hint.

We firmly believe that privacy is unimportant and meaningless to you. If it were not, you probably would not have a Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn account: and you certainly wouldn’t ever use a search engine like Google. If you’re one of those tin-foil-hat crazies that actually cares about privacy: stop using our services and get a life.

We agree with Mark Zuckerberg when he pithily opined “The age of Privacy is Over.”

Our privacy policy is a reflection of this conviction. Therefore, to satisfy the absurd privacy requirements of various legal entities (and so you understand exactly where you stand with us) we are pleased to present our privacy policy:

1. We are the company that cares about your privacy. Specifically, while most other companies are concerned with protecting your privacy, we care about profiteering and violating it when expedient or useful.

2. You may think of using any of our programs or services as the privacy equivalent of living in a webcam fitted glass house under the unblinking eye of Big Brother: you have no privacy with us. If we can use any of your details to legally make a profit, we probably will.

3. We will track and log everything we can about all the dirty (and clean) things you do and like with cookies, GPS, secure connections and or whatever technology exists today or becomes available at any time in the future.

4. By using any of our services, you grant us permission to surgically implant a tracking microchip of our choosing in your body and sell all collected information to the highest bidder . . . and to all other bidders. You also agree to regular updates and reinstalls of said device entirely at our discretion for up to 50 years after the end of your natural life.

5. If the opportunity arises to sell or otherwise use this or any information, data or meta data about you or your world, we will jump at that opportunity like a pitbull on a fresh steak

6. Please email us to tell us some of your secrets. We may, at our sole discretion (or lack thereof), broadcast, reveal, sell, manipulate, or otherwise use these secrets, or any information we collect to our benefit whenever, wherever, and however we choose.

7. We are right now looking at you through your webcam. Do you always move your lips like that when you read? We also recorded what you were doing last week and are sending the video to (you know who). If the prior statements are not true, it’s because in addition to everything else, we reserve the right to lie to you, and you agree to believe us and hold us harmless for any and all such lies. Furthermore, if we are not recording everything you’re doing through your webcam, it’s either because we haven’t figured out how, you’re just not that interesting, or both.

8. We are serious about all of the above. So don’t go trying to sue us later with some nonsense like “I thought that was all satire.” All your privacy are belong to us. We mean it.

9. Cookies: We like chocolate chip cookies. You agree to furnish any employee or associate of our company with fresh chocolate chip cookies upon request. That’s the price of using our programs and or services (in addition to any other price we come up with).

10. Spam. You agree that nothing we do with the access and information you grant to us shall be called Spam: even if it is. We prefer the term “bacon”, because . .. mmmmmmmm bacon.

bookmark_borderLeft vs Right Brain

LEFT BRAIN- I am the left brain
I am a scientist. A mathematician.
I love the familiar, I categorize. I am accurate. Linear.
Analytical. Strategic. I am practical.
Always in control. A master of words and language.
Realistic. I calculate equations and play with numbers.
I am order. I am logic.
I know exactly who I am.

RIGHT BRAIN- I am the right brain.
I am creativity, a free spirit. I am passion.
Yearning . Sensuality. I am the sound of the roaring laughter .
I am taste. The feeling of sand beneath bare feet.
I am movement. Vivid colours,
I am the urge to paint on an empty canvas,
I am boundless imagination. Art. Poetry. I sense. I feel.
I am everything I wanted to be.

I think I am a lot of each of these, and unless your name is Sheldon Cooper then I suspect you are too, although one side may be much stronger..

 

bookmark_borderYou can thank me now ;)

A stereotype but not completely untrue

 

It’s a truism that women have many faults, but men only two; everything they say and everything they do. Sadly, this is very true and at this time of the year I look to the future and plan. At some stage, far into the future, two unfortunate women are going to do something that completely defies logic – they are going to date my two beasties and eventually marry them. Whoever you are, I salute you. And pity you. Ha!

However, it’s 2012 today, New Year’s Day, the beasties are almost 15 and 13 and marriage for them is perhaps far away in the distant future but in preparation for those completely illogical decisions I would like to point out to the future Mrs and Mrs Beastie that I have been doing the ground work now. Yes, really. You can thank me now. Since the beasties were able to understand English I have been house training them – albeit not with 100% success but it’s a work in progress. So, things I have been trying to teach the beasties;

Put dirty clothes in laundry basket.
Make your bed in the morning.
Shower every day.
Change underwear every morning.
Change socks in the morning.
Wear deodorant.
Brush teeth, morning and night.
Dishes do not wash themselves.
Clothes do not wash/iron themselves.
Eat vegetables!
Don’t talk with mouth full.
Use knives, forks and spoons properly,
but not for DIY and car maintenance.
Cooking can involve more than a microwave.
There are other beverages apart from beer.
Have legible handwriting.
Visit bookshops,
exit bookshops with something that doesn’t contain pictures.
Lift the toilet seat,
have good aim,
put toilet seat down,
AND THEN the lid.
Wear sunscreen.
Have manners,
say yes please and thank you.
Belching is perfectly acceptable with the guys,
but it will never get you laid,
ditto laziness, rudeness, arrogance and being a complete jerkoff,
and farting,
in bed,
but especially not in shared baths.
Pretend to be pleased with presents that don’t plug in or run by battery,
or contain a USB socket.
Unless you are a Native American, the Mohawk will never get you laid,
never in the history of all mankind.
Always put the lady on the inside when walking,
that WILL get you laid,
and being kind to anything covered in fur,
ditto holding doors open,
talking of which..
ladies first, especially when it comes to orgasms!
Here endth the first lesson.

Okay, like I said, a work in progress and it’s an evolving lesson as they get older, the later lessons I have as yet to tackle but it’s only a matter of time. You see, these are the things I have learnt over the years and I have made all the mistakes, thought I was being cool and funny when I was just being stupid and gross, I know the beasties will be able to add a lot more to this list by the time they get married but at least it’s a start and the hard work is being done now, habits are being formed now so in twenty years’ time they will both automatically clear up the dishes after supper and your darling daughters will never sit down on a wet toilet seat. You can thank me now.

However, this is not all a one-way street. If you are the mother of said unfortunate girls whom are going to put up with my beasties then you have to do your bit too, you are going to have to give your daughters an insight of all things bloke-ish, this includes;

Understanding that the Xbox will always be superior to the Playstation and any views held to the contrary will be scoffed at.
It would probably be good if they could almost whip his ass at Halo.
Ditto, it would be good if they could almost drink him under the table.
Understanding that in the same way they can never be too thin, too rich or too beautiful, for men they can never go too fast or too high or too deep, it’s just the way men are built.
Understanding that, during the Goth years they are wasting their time delicately flavouring foods with four different herbs as men’s taste buds are only capable of distinguishing between sugar and very hot curry.
Sorry, but it’s true.
Understand that presents that don’t have sockets, run by batteries, have USB ports or go very very very very very very VERY fast will remain in the back of the wardrobe until they can be sneaked off to the charity shop.
Understanding that, from a blokes perspective, holes in underwear and socks are considered an added benefit as they provide increased ventilation with the bonus that they get to flash even more of their gorgeous flesh to all and sundry. Spouses will have to incinerate said Holy Underwear when beasties are comatosed. Having one of those Biohazard Germ Warfare suits in the garage might come in handy – and not just for role-playing games in the bedroom.

I know there are lots more to add to this list but this is just a broad start to amuse some of you and wind everyone else up. It’s a tough job but someone’s gotta to do it. The winding up.

bookmark_borderIdiots Guide To Astrology

I have a friend who checks out all potential dates astrologically and asks them their time/DOB/place before she will meet up with them. I tend to take astrology with a large pinch of salt and make a point of trying to find the most astrologically incompatible match I can find, principally because ..well, who wants a quiet life? I like a challenge because I think that’s when we learn and grow the most, and I don’t like the thought of someone else telling me who’s compatible with me and who is not, I’d rather find out myself. One of my best friends, a Scorpio, should rub me up the wrong way entirely but her and I are best friends. Conversely, I know someone who was born on the same day as myself and I struggle to get along with her, (no, not you twin sis!)

So I was curious to see how two of my friends would fare together astrologically and entered their data and got the following happy report;

————————————

This is a very difficult aspect between charts. There may be jealousy, or a dampening of self-confidence and enthusiasm. This comparative combination does not favour romantic relationships because of the heavy authoritarian implications. However, when aspects do form in spite of this aspect, the staying power of Saturn usually helps keep you together permanently.

This is an adverse aspect for romantic relationship because it denotes great difficulty in understanding each other’s moods and feelings. In some cases, the attraction may be emotional or sexual, without real understanding or overall mental and spiritual compatibility. There is an attraction here, but marriages may be contracted for reasons of financial or domestic security, or as a result of family pressure, rather than because of real affinity.

With this combination natural tendencies toward excesses, expressed by either individual, are likely to be extended and inflated. Extravagance, overconfidence, and overextending will be a bi-product of the relationship. You tend to encourage each other’s tendencies toward self-indulgence and impracticality. This is not a good relationship for raising a family because there is a tendency to ignore responsibility and too much is taken for granted. In romantic relationships difficulties arise over differences in philosophic, religious, or moral viewpoints.

Usually this combination produces emotional conflict. The Uranus person is viewed as aggressive, domineering and insensitive, while this person is likely to look upon the Moon person as too moody and overly emotional. This comparative aspect is not favourable of compatibility in marriage and romance, although it can produce sexual attraction. In marital or romantic relationships, one partner may feel that he or she is being exploited for sexual or financial reasons. The aspect can cause angry scenes and emotional conflict. Arguments of joint finances. You must work consciously at exercising patience, gentleness, and consideration for each other.

This aspect is not very harmonious and shows a departure in attitudes on the weightier issues in life. There may be a serious departure in views regarding religion, education, or merely habits and taste. In this relationship the Jupiter individual is apt to think the other too self-indulgent. Venus may view Jupiter as too serious, and overly concerned with religion, philosophy, or culture.

This is the most competitive, argumentative, and pugnacious of all Sun-Mars combinations. It indicates particularly that the two of you have very different energy levels, which can cause all kinds of conflict. The negative and disruptive effects of this aspect can be mitigated if you both are very secure in yourselves. In that case, instead of regarding this competitive energy as a threat, you will take it as a challenge. This energy would be most difficult to harness creatively in a love relationship. In a business relationship or a friendship it would be easier to deal with.

Sun conjunct Saturn is a very powerful aspect in a composite chart. It indicates that you have come together to have an important learning experience. The experience of this relationship may expose you to truths about yourselves that you would rather not face. The point is not to judge yourselves or each other, but to see clearly and with detachment and then try to make changes where necessary. In many respects you may find this relationship confining and limiting. It may well be that you do need this discipline and that you are not facing your responsibilities. If you need this experience, the relationship may last a lifetime. But if it is really too confining, it will probably not last very long.

————————————-

It goes on and on but I think you probably get the message. Now, here’s the thing, this is Doris and Bob’s chart, my 84yr old mother and my 81 yr old stepfather and I know that after spending the weekend with them that they are totally into each other and deeply in love.

I probably better not tell them about this chart… eh?

bookmark_borderLove, Money, Companionship. Choose One.

Yes, it's this easy to find love, if you start now you might make it by summertime 2012

(High definition version here  and info here courtesy of The Met)

The painting above by Jean-Léon Gérôme is one of my favourites, I was wandering around The Met in NYC (as one does) and came across this hanging unloved and un-admired in a dark corner. I guess some of you will be familiar with the story of how the sculptor Pygmalion fell in love with one of his statues, and how Aphrodite took pity on him and allowed the statue to come to life. There are many versions of this painting and you’d be amazed just how many storylines in plays and movies have been inspired by this theme.

I like this painting a lot because it chimes with feelings, emotions, yearnings, deep inside me and I suspect a lot of others. At times a part of me knows how Pygmalion felt, the search for someone special, someone to love seems endless and if I could then I would carve my own perfect match out of stone and pray to the gods to bring her to life. Mind you, knowing my artistic skills – or obvious lack of – I suspect I’d create Frankenstein’s monster and have to learn to love him  ummmm.. her!.

The ancient Greeks have a myth that we were once literally bonded together with our perfect match. We were so happy the gods became jealous and cut us apart; and ever since, we each go in search of that perfect mate from whom we’ve been separated. The older I get the more credence I give to that myth, my mother Doris thinks the same and had to wait until she was 81 before she found the right soul for her and I’m beginning to suspect I’m going to follow in her footsteps. I know I’m going to miss out on lots of rumpy-pumpy but what choice does any one of us have, do we cut our losses and settle for someone just OK and hope we will fall in love with them eventually, is it better to have at least companionship than wander these shores alone for the rest of your life?. This was the biggest problem with my marriage and I am aware that those who don’t learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. I have friends whom met someone reasonably suitable and got married and I look at them and wonder are they really happy, is it a deep deep love or just ok, convenient, easy..

Jackie Kennedy famously said the first time you marry for love, the second for money, and the third for companionship but I strongly disagree, she lived in a world very different from us mere muggles, (plus I wonder what Liz Taylor has to say on the subject), I think those are the three factors but she’s got them mixed up, I know money was not a factor for Doris and Bob and that companionship was a factor but I’m pretty sure in the end the only reason they married was for love. I’m wondering just how long I have to wait before Aphrodite takes pity on me.

bookmark_borderDo onto them, before they do onto you

Made for breaking.

Some folk manage to bugger up their kids lives with almost zero effort but not me, I have to work at it really hard. If you work for Wandsworth Borough Council Children’s Welfare Services then look away now. You see, I have this strong belief that it’s important for my kids to grow up with a sense of fun and know that all adults aren’t boringly ummm adult all the time, occasionally (or frequently in my case) it’s good to have some fun. Consequently, I look upon it as my solemn duty to torment the fruit of my loins at every single opportunity, and trust me, I do exactly that all the time.

Tonight I’ve been with both of them to their college to find out about their ski-trip in Feb/Mar and more importantly, just how much I am going to have to flog one of my kidneys on ebay to pay for it all. So considering just how much I’m paying out for this trip I think it only fair that I should extract as much fun out of it possible… Tonight the organisers showed the hotel the beasties will be staying in and what do you know, it’s straight out of Amityville House of Horror…excellent.. So, two nights before they leave for the trip you wanna guess exactly which movie we will be watching?  I say two nights before because the night before the trip I have already planned our viewing, it’s going to be one of those airplane disaster movies like Airport 77 or something..

Tormenting my kids isn’t a new thing, I’ve done it all their lives because it’s important they know what a crazy idiot their father is – plus it’s payback for all the nights they kept me awake when toddlers, and like all parents, for all the nights they will keep me awake worrying about them for the rest of my life. Occasionally when I drop them off at school I will shout Bye-Bye Darling at them in a very loud voice just to make them cringe, however, I think all their friends have cottoned onto that one and know I’m a nutter.. I must try harder..

We play this game when they are here with me, when one of them goes to the loo then either me or the other rug-rat (usually me though) will creep out and stand really close by the bathroom door and as my son opens the door I let out a huge RAAAAGGGHHHH!! which scares the be’jesus out of him. I would say scares the shit out’a him but it’s too late for that. He’ll yelp loudly and shout DAD!!! and then laugh, more in relief than anything else if truth be told but I think it’s good to get their hearts pumping occasionally. I did this once to the youngest one a few years ago and caught him out; he let out a huge shriek like a little girl and literally jumped across the bathroom floor. The other son and I couldn’t stop laughing, we had tears running down our cheeks…ahh those where the days, although, between thou and I, I’m wondering just who’s going to be paying all those expensive therapist bills the boys will have later on in life!

I fully intend to carry on exactly like this because there are some things my boys need to understand and one of the most important things is that there are no rules, really, there aren’t any, if something feels right and  is fun then go ahead and do it and don’t worry about what anyone else will think. You see, my father had absolutely zero interaction with me and barely acknowledged my existence, I have this role model of distance and absolutely, completely no fun, and therefore I have the perfect example of how not to be a father. I have no excuses, I know what it’s like to have zero input and that’s why I give my two beasties lots of input and have fun with them – some may say the pendulum has swung a bit too much the other way, a bit too much input (especially them!) but these are the important things in life, having fun and who gives a stuff if other adults think it’s childish or immature, we only get one chance to screw up our kids lives and by jolly, I’m going to do my level best to do exactly that, isn’t that right boys? 😉

bookmark_borderMake me one with everything

Many other religions suffer from the same fault, (with the notable exception of JW's within the Christian community)

I tend to avoid conventional religion like the plague, part of it’s because I hate to follow the crowd and partly because I like to question everything and I’ve never got satisfactory answers to some big questions from mainstream religions. We had religion rammed down our throats as kids, we had to go to church and Sunday school and if you excuse the pun, it was as boring as hell. And of course, in Northern Ireland people were being killed because of their religion.

You see, I like my religion to be fun, not dry and boring, after all it was God who invented the sense of humour and it would be umm a sin to waste it. Which is where Raymond Blair comes in.

When I started secondary school we had a chemistry teacher called Mr Blair – or as we called him Yogi Bear, he was an old hippie and practised meditation, so we thought Yogi was particularly apt. He was involved in some flaky guru organisation called Divine Light Mission but I remember him telling me this one joke very early on;

Buddha walks up to a hotdog seller in Central Park and says “Make me one with everything” and Raymond thought this was very witty and apt.

A few years later someone told this joke again but added another bit in;

The hotdog makes Buddha one with everything and Buddha says “how much is that?”
The hotdog seller says “five bucks” and Buddha hands over a tenner.
The hotdog seller starts to serve another customer and Buddha says “Hey! Where’s my change?”
And the hotdog seller says “Don’t you know? Change comes from within…”

I thought that was very clever and I asked him if I could email it to some of my friends, he said it was OK as long as I don’t have any attachments…. (groan!). I was of course sold on the Divine Light Mission after that exchange; if they could make jokes about their deity then I wanted to know more but after a brief fling with them I realised it was all about money money money – not unlike the poster above – and I stopped attending satsang – plus me butt was getting sore sitting on the hard floor all the time. Yes yes, I know, not very dedicated but being uncomfortable distracts terribly from whatever the speaker is spouting on about.

However, that was Zen; this is Tao, Yogi Bear has long since moved on and I’ve had to find my own little philosophy and after many false starts and dead ends I found Richard Bach. He wrote Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a story about a seagull that flew for the love of flying rather than to catch food, an obvious metaphor about us not just struggling to survive but actually living and being who we are meant to be. The very short book sold more than one million copies in 1972 alone and broke all records since Gone With The Wind was released.

Then in 1977 he wrote Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, about ummm a reluctant Messiah. I loved it, it just seemed to capture what I was feeling about the whole meaning of life stuff. In life there are some things that just need to be sorted out once and for all, I have a friend who met a man and fell in love, got married and she said to me “well, that’s that sorted out, I don’t have to search any more, my love life is sorted now and I’m happy, I’m content, I can tick off that particular item on the check list and get on with other things”. I know how she feels, at least when it comes to a life philosophy, I read Illusions and knew deep down somewhere that that was my life philosophy sorted and I can stop searching and enquiring and following false trails. The bit that spoke to me most clearly was the following excerpt right at the start of the book, it appealed to my northern Irish  rebel nature immediately and can be blamed for a lot of things in my life and for me making a lot of the big changes in my life.

Once there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great crystal river. Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks of the river bottom, for clinging was their way of life, and resisting the current was what each had learned from birth. But one creature said at last “I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I shall die of boredom.”

The other creatures laughed and said, “Fool! Let go, and that current you worship will throw you tumbled and smashed across the rocks, and you will die quicker than boredom!”

But the one heeded them not, and taking a breath did let go, and at once was tumbled and smashed by the current across the rocks. Yet, in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more.

And the creatures downstream, to whom he was a stranger, cried, “see a miracle! A creature like ourselves, yet he flies! See the Messiah, come to save us all!” And the one carried in the current said, “I am no more Messiah than you. The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare to let go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure.”

Those that know me will nod wisely and say that explains a lot, you see, it’s quite important we live, and we live without regrets..

bookmark_borderThe Ghost Teaspoon

About twenty years ago I shared a house with a couple of friends (and a few mice). One of the girls there was called Leslie-Anne and she isn’t aware of this but she planted a seed in my dim skull that have taken root and is now firmly established in my noggin.  It happened one evening when I was washing up the dishes from dinner, I had finished the washing up and ran my hands around the kitchen sink to check if I had missed anything and not finding anything I pulled out the plug. As the water emptied I tutted at finding a small teaspoon which was lying in the bottom of the sink. Leslie-Anne was drying the dishes beside me and said “isn’t it strange, that no matter how many times you check the sink before letting the dishwater out, there’s always a small spoon at the bottom that you’ve missed, it’s the ghost teaspoon..” and I smiled and thought nothing of it.

BUT here’s the thing. Twenty years later and last night I was washing the dishes from supper and I let the water out and lo and behold there was a friggin ghost spoon sitting in the sink and immediately my mind goes back to Leslie-Anne telling me about that spoon twenty years ago. And EVERY SINGLE TIME I find a spoon in the bottom of the sink I immediately think of Leslie-Anne and I know in another twenty years I will still think of her when I find the ghost spoon. I will have forgotten about a lot of folk that will have crossed my path by then but I will always remember Leslie-Anne. I think it’s interesting in who we remember and for what reasons,  I bet Leslie-Anne has completely forgotten about me but little does she know how many times I’ve thought about her in the last twenty years and grinned standing at the kitchen sink. I probably ought to get a dishwasher – and wash wash wash that woman right out’a ma head.

Memory is a strange sense; some things can instantly transport me back to my childhood. The other day I was walking past a house in Tooting and there was an elderly man mowing his lawn with an electric lawnmower. The smell of cut grass instantly transported me back to my childhood in Ireland. There was a large field outside our row of houses and the council would come along every blue moon with a tractor and cut the grass. This left huge clumps of cut grass sitting in the field so all the kids in the street would gather the grass up and make little forts with piles of grass cuttings. Then we’d be the cowboys or the Indians and attacked the other children’s forts and try to kick over their grass walls and throw clumps of grass at each other.

Generally by the time the light faded you could be sure that everyones clothes would be covered in grass marks and so too our knees and elbows and we’d have to quietly creep back indoors and sneak our grass stained clothes into the laundry basket… Aye, those were the days…fantastic..

PS tonight, when you find a ghost teaspoon in the bottom of the sink, who will you think of? 😉

bookmark_borderPearls of Wisdom. Part Two

Bunny boiler in the making

Minerva is the Roman Goddess of war, wisdom and basket weaving, it actually means fount of knowledge and I’ve always thought that sits uncomfortably with war and basket weaving, a strange combination or a Roman practical joke. I think we never stop gaining wisdom, most of the wisdom we gain comes not from college but from just living your three score years and ten on this 3rd rock from the sun and having it hammered painfully into you until at last the penny drops. I’ve blogged before about how you can get wisdom from unexpected places, like Sex and The City, Carrie et al have come up with some crackers but I watched Under a Tuscan Sun last night and there are some cracking lines in that too

Frances: Do you know the most surprising thing about divorce? It doesn’t actually kill you. Like a bullet to the heart or a head-on car wreck. It should. When someone you’ve promised to cherish till death do you part says “I never loved you,” it should kill you instantly. You shouldn’t have to wake up day after day after that, trying to understand how in the world you didn’t know. The light just never went on, you know. I must have known, of course, but I was too scared to see the truth. Then fear just makes you so stupid.
Martini: No, it’s not stupid, Signora Mayes. L’amore e cieco.
Frances: Oh, love is blind. Yeah, we have that saying too.
Martini: Everybody has that saying because it’s true everywhere.
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Katherine: It’s a nice little villa. Rather run down, but redeemable… Are you going to buy it?
Frances: The way my life is currently going, that would be a terrible idea.
Katherine: Mm, terrible idea… Don’t you just love those?
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Katherine: Listen, when I was a little girl I used to spend hours looking for ladybugs. Finally, I’d just give up and fall asleep in the grass. When I woke up, they were crawling all over me.
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Martini: Signora, between Austria and Italy, there is a section of the Alps called the Semmering. It is an impossibly steep, very high part of the mountains. They built a train track over these Alps to connect Vienna and Venice. They built these tracks even before there was a train in existence that could make the trip. They built it because they knew some day, the train would come.
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Katherine: Never lose your childish innocence. It’s the most important thing.
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Frances: [voiceover] What is it about love that makes us so stupid?
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Katherine: Regrets are a waste of time. They’re the past crippling you in the present.
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Frances: Unthinkably good things can happen even late in the game. It’s such a surprise.
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