Saturday, 31 December 2016

Puddling in the New Year 2016

drunk woman holding a shoe boxI got quite grumpy when told we were going shopping. I made a long and impassioned speech about having 2 weeks of relaxing but they keep making me do stuff and I've only had 1 hour on the tablet today and it's really unfair at this time of the morning and I really didn't see that my argument counted against me in a court of law.
Every year we count up how much money we found on the pavement and it was £103. Fortunately I've been doing it a while so the account balance is now £1580, not bad for a load of discarded pennies.
flipping bird and gurning kidsSo we went giant shopping and I met Girly-Locks Stanley and we bought lots of beer and complicated cheeses and I got my 4 hours of Minecraft and then we went to Ben's house to see in the new year: I took my cycle-safe hi-vis wristbands for added visibility.
We were given food and then we attended a touching closed-casket ceremony for one of Ben's deceased guinea pigs, and we all looked in the shoe-box anyway. As per the teachings of His Lordship Bob the Builder, we recycled the corpse by whizzing it into a bush on the common for a fox to find and consume.
children on comfortable sofasAnd we all settled down to our tasks. There was a Star Wars film. The boys coloured in their shoelaces. They swapped footwear in a football boot orgy. I played on the tablet. We had a pillow-fight and bundle on the sofa, the back yard saw some footy action and the adults mostly behaved themselves too.
Somehow the angst factor that had marred so many previous parties was missing and we all played happily for 7 hours without a cross word, a most successful party. I accompanied the JBs down the road at the end and got home at 303, like the gun.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Play Foggy for me

i see no ships nelson foggy conditionsNobody seems to be any good at getting up nowadays. But for those of us who looked out of a window before noon, the fog covering the land was immediately obvious.
In the hidden distance you could hear the insistent mooing of the foghorns as they tried to outdo each other in a who-could-be-the-safest competition. Of course, I had endless streaming videos about valiant warriors building sandstone walls in cyber-space, a service that is not affected by local atmospheric conditions, so I didn't notice and didn't care.
At some point, I forget when, Bud went for a walk to see the fog up close and personal, and I agreed to go and play Pirate Ship Silly-Golf and waste some coinage of the realm in the flashing lights arcade of Clarence Pier, even though Jof has a cold.
fishing pier by square tower portsmouthIt was all Scooby-Doo with the abandoned fairground looming out of the fog, and the Town Mayor dressed up in a cut-price werewolf costume to try and drum up tourist business for the 17th most haunted house in England. Horatio Nelson definitely saw no ships today, telescope or not. Meanwhile, the assorted ferries, catamarans and other seagoing vessels kept up a comical cacophony of tweeting, blarting, honking and mooing, and the lone fisherman by the Square Tower could have been 10 feet from the Isle of Wight Ferry and not noticed.
But we played the piratical golf and agreed to a maximum per hole of 5, because sometimes you end up going bat bat bat and not potting the white after 27 shots, and sometimes you smack it straight off the yardarm into the buttock crevice of a knackered-looking plaster mermaid and you forfeit the hole.
pirate golf in foggy conditions portsmouthWe drew 34 each, won £4 in the arcade and promptly spent it all again. On the way back it was totally dark and the fog had thickened so we kindly gave one of Jof's work-friends a lift to the Hoover-Craft because walking across the common in that pea-souper could have meant going round in circles or getting eaten by Pokémon, who infest the common in such numbers.
Film night was 'The Battle of Britain' in which chaps drank tea and Germans attacked and the Poles brought us back from the brink. Now I have a new set of silly noises to keep me company in the shower, such as Neeeoooo mrrrrr jigga jigga jigga boosh etc.

Thursday, 29 December 2016


mathematical proof of value of pie using string
huawei mediapad 2 tablet 4gI suspected something was different today, so I asked - is it my birthday today or is it tomorrow? When you're my age you don't really need a calendar. But it was indeed my birthday, shared with only the grooviest people, although one of my cards said open on 28th, which is my un-birthday.
I got a Huawei Mediapad II which is a big new tablet with a larger screen and it linked to my home network easily and it's got all this stuff on it like Microsoft word which I'll never use because it's only for watching Youtube videos of Minecrafters, right?
And I got a Potter book from Grandad where he said look for your lucky number, and because my lucky number is 81, there's nothing in a book that is remotely 81-related even the barcode, I had to be prompted into looking on page 81 to find the £20 note hidden therein. A more distant relative sent me a postal order, didn't think they still existed.
park games in winter sunGrandad also set me a mathematical challenge in his special handwriting. Like the hereditary priest caste of some lost civilisation, only the male line of our family can read the accursed cursive script but I used it to conclusively prove that Π is 3.22, using compasses and some string.
And in the Co-op I cashed in my lottery scratchcard winnings (£26) which means £46 into my piggy bank. Another birthday bonus is being measured. I grew 2.1 centimetres in the last 3 months which is good for me.
In the afternoon I met the JBs in the park to stop me having another entire day on the tablet. We ran around like loud maniacs for an hour and a half and in the same park were 8 or 10 little tiny people in hi-vis jackets. They must have been about 3 years old and are current students of the Puddleduck Nursery where I first met Ben and the JBs about 7 years ago. We hit one or two of them with the giant yellow tennis ball and sang merrily about our exploits before going back to mine for cake and X-box. And swords and guns.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Cloud Rider (or not)

drone flight milton commonLeapt out of bed at 1130 and accepted croissants. The registered activity of the day was to try out Bud's birthday drone in a safe environment, so we drove to Ben's bumpy paths because there's plenty of space.
The Cloud Rider is a radio controlled Quadcopter with HD camera that takes pictures and video, and it comes with a manual full of warnings and some spare parts for crashing. For every 100 minutes of battery charging time, you get 7-10 minutes flight time. We set it up on a flat surface (car roof) and took it out into the middle of a field which was the cue for 73 dogs and their owners to converge upon us. We pressed the go-faster lever. It sat there. We wiggled the lever and I tried to take the remote and shouted out helpful comments about pressing more buttons. It sat there.
Then, it suddenly rocketed upwards, and headed purposefully towards the treeline. The lever was duly un-pressed and it plummeted back to earth 75 yards away.
Bud managed this feat once more (I am retrievals man) and Jof managed it as well, always flying due east, with the wind. I demanded my turn and put on The Face until I got it, but it wouldn't lift off. We did one more aerial mission before it just sat there. We took it home, mumbling darkly about returning it and buying an even more expensive one. At home, we discovered the manufacturer hadn't pushed the wire into the connector firmly enough giving an intermittent power supply, no wonder it spent most of its time just sitting there. Surprising, these Chinese manufacturers usually supply kit of unparalleled quality.
playing board games at xmasI had bought a Hasbro board game as an xmas present to the household and we played it a couple of days ago but I refused to relinquish the rules but may not have entirely understood them so we tried again, once some responsible adults (people from over the road) had read through them properly.
In The Game Of Life you spin the spinner and move along the track in your car: you are represented by a coloured peg. At various points you add a wife peg and possibly some baby pegs, most of which fall out if you don't shove them in hard enough.
I added wife-peg Gertrude, but Jof decided to be gay and also added a wife-peg. In these enlightened times, Bud also elected to be gay and married a goat called Geoff and with complicated medical procedures they currently have a baby goat, not kidding oho, and I have so many baby-pegs I have had to enlist the help of a second car. I also have a dream villa and private island, Jof has a beach hut and Bud/Goat/Goat live in their car. Every space that isn't a Life Choice™ (get baby, house, night school etc) is an Action Card where you have to perform a special dance or show off your skateboard or karate moves etc, so there's usually someone making a bottie of themselves, and it wasn't even beer night.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Molotov the Ghost Cat

farlington marshes nature reserveReally getting used to this daily schedule; once I get my career as a computer games player I'll be doing it forever.
Taking our cue from the weathermen again, we had decided on a bike ride for the daily exercise. I said let's go to the Harvester for lunch, he said let's do a circuit, then, which hits the coast by Whale Island and goes all around the coastal cycle paths right to the Harvester where your will receive your just reward. Jof said that sounds a bit far, so I agreed to go as far as the railway bridge and back, lunch on the return journey (remember this for later).
I haven't been on my bike for ages and was worried I'd have forgotten the controls but it seemed to come back. Just by Ben's Bumpy Paths we met a cat on the cycle path, which liked Bud. This is a dead giveaway for an undead, zombie, hologrammatic, other-worldly or otherwise existentially challenged creature. We all cosseted the random-cat in the middle of the scrubland until a professional-looking cyclist in day-glo spandex came the other way, at which the cat leapt into action and tried to rub itself up against the speeding bike, which wobbled seriously as the owner desperately avoided the death-wishing moggie.
coconut shells and a rolling pin for burning
This is when we realised it was a ghost cat who, having been unlawfully killed by a cyclist with no lights, haunts the abandoned cycle routes trying to wreak its unearthly revenge by sending bikers plummeting to their deaths.
By the time we'd got to the top of the island, I had The Face. This Face is a super-sulker that radiates disapproval and little humphing noises, because we'd been cycling for, like, minutes, my ears were cold and we'd already been past the lunch place and I didn't sign up for this 30 mile bike ride and I was hungry, I hadn't eaten breakfast because androids don't eat breakfast and it was all very unfair.
The atmosphere having been duly ruined, we took the shortest route back and had a slap-up lunch with the extra salad bowls with crunchy bits in. I was playing Minecraft OP PVP Survival with the special fruity language when Princess Leia died. Many of the recently departed (like George Michael) I don't know, but Leia and Hans Gruber I certainly do.
boy poking house fireAnd because it was cold, we had the Annual Fire. Once upon a time we used to have fires aplenty, so many that we used to have to hide from the Fire Chief when he came round asking. But now we don't have a garden with brick-built firepit, we have to make do with keeping a few special items and ritually burning them every Xmas in a small domestic grate.
This year, we disposed of: Umpteen losing Lottery scratchcards, sticks from which we made our class easels in the school art exhibition, piece of ceremonial chair from the theatre, a dozen wine corks, a rolling pin, oodles of coconut shells from my coconut shy exploits, pot-pourri from Jof's pointless smelly baskets, random olive branches, pinecones from Grandad's Manor, bottlebrush twigs and chunks of wood with big nails in that we saved from the Scout Group Campfires.
And we watched 'Finding Dory' in which even the stupidest of child viewers could feel superior to the female lead with her piscine vacant brainless antics. And, using toilet roll tubes and Xmas cracker end-bits and no double-sided sticky-tape whatsoever, I made Molotov Cocktails for the righteous masses to burn in honour of the Ghost Cat of the Eastern Highway, may she forever haunt our paths. And I hung a burning pinecone off a stick and said it was an anti-Satan Pilgrim's ritual incense burner, just remember how much us little people absorb from the cultural norms around us.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Fresh Air (with Poo in it)

portsea island from paulsgrove chalk cliffportsdown hill horse trails Groaned out of bed with a tummy like an airship. But I was able to force down some egg and black pudding. The weatherman said it was going to be a lovely day for walking and you know what parents are like about these things so we did what we were told and I resigned myself to my bipedal fate.
I had spent an hour trying to download a game called Basement without paying the £10 but failed, this had put me in a thundery mood and being told we were going for a walk along the seafront again made it worse, so we did the Portsdown Hill circuit instead.
Portsdown Hill is a chunky chalk outcrop north of the city which plays host to 3 forts (one of which is now the cannon museum) and it also bristles with top secret radar installations which you can see and nuclear bunkers which you can't, and the old World War 2 radio station tunnel which I have investigated a few times.
But we had Jof with us this time and while advanced tunnelling was off the agenda, she was determined not to give up and we started at the stepping-stone pond right under the huge cliff. There is a safety dyke to stop dislodged boulders rolling down the hill and killing people and Jof did fall down on it but luckily her bottom broke her fall.
The hill is quite steep and we needed a rest at the top just by where a man and his dog were out for a jog. We'd already met rabbit poo and dog poo but then the horse poo started. Horses seem to be really big creatures with big bellies because it was everywhere. The fresh air was forever tinged with eau de odour and you had to watch your step when you weren't watching the epic view.
And we found Yew trees that had grown bent in the constant wind and looked like Donald Trump hairpieces.
slippery slope at chalkpit road paulsgroveslippery slope at chalkpit road paulsgroveAt the other end we showed Jof the tunnels and the cliff where I first went at the age of 3 and we all felt better for the strenuous exercise. It was a good excuse to eat cake. And biscuits.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Hot3 of Hove

A very happy christmas to all citizens of my own personal world!
I was LAST UP in my household, going against the tradition of the kid sitting under the tree at 0500 shivering in anticipation. But after breakfast we did the present ceremony in which I was the giver-outer, at last I got that tradition right. I have not yet learned whose handwriting is whose and find it difficult to read, so I announced things like 'hots of hove' (because Jof's Ls are like Hs) and 'Boy-child-thingy-wotsit' because that's what he calls me.
scratching lottery scratchcardsJof got the biggest pile and I got a dressing gown and Finding Dory and loads of chocolate and 2 Pokémon cuddlies and a massive pile of scratchcards. Jof got an identical massive pile of scratchcards. This is because in the past, Bud has given Jof £80 or so worth of scratchcards because it is easy and you don't have to think about it too much or employ complicated wrapping. And every year I offer to help her scratch them and because she is a pushover I get to scratch them all anyway.
So we did scratchfest #1 in the front room using Spitalfields market tokens from my coin collection and I won and won and won and I'm rich. Jof also won and then I mixed up the piles so our competition was no longer on an even footing. Jof forced us to go for a walk in the park and we got rained on and she wouldn't go in the swinging basket.
We are lucky in that we don't have to travel to visit relatives. Only Grandad is left and he's in Saigon (via Ceylon and Prussia). So Jof cooked and we sat down for the Porgathon at 315 (and yes, I went back for more vegetables again) and there was intestinal discomfort and such a lot of carcase to cook up for stock, we had to use the cauldron. 5 hours later I could only fit in half a chocolate coin.
Can I suggest that you all watch the 'Best Of Web' compilation by Mr Zapatou (Luc Bergeron) which is a harmless yearly Youtube event. Always a good laugh and you sit in front of the screen for 10 minutes wishing you were as cool as them.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Crissmus Heave 2016

hipster nativity scene christmas
8 foot xmas tree and elfJof had to go to work again so us chaps met on the landing at 0930 to start our day. And the pell-mell and helter-skelter was immediate and constant: Kapow! I had croissants for breakfast. Blam! we took 4 bottles to the bottlebank. Aruga! we bought some sugar in the Co-op. Gosh, if only my known associates could see me now, living the life etc.
Once Jof had got home, it was much the same. But deep down we knew we'd need the dining table for some turkey-related shenanigans tomorrow so we resumed the game of Monopoly and I trounced her totally with glee and a bit of sadism. At the end I had £12,722 and a cheeky face.
So here are two modern takes on the xmas scene, one with selfies, Starbucks and Segways, and one with stars, plasma ball and smirking xmas elf in a tie-dye T-shirt.
And after watching Zootropolis, I asked for a sleeping draught to enable me to access Christmas Day without all that unpleasant waiting about lying awake thinking of all the super presents I won't get. But I called it a sleeping Drort having only seen it written in books. Much like Arnold Schwarzenegger in 'Twins' - lots of book learning, but no real life experience of getting a Chloral Hydrate Mickey Finn. Give it time.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Run like the Wind (or don't)

work hard getting nowhereToday I got up at 1130. I was just about to do 2 more impossible things before breakfast when he fed me breakfast, which was in danger of turning into lunch.
I saw no reason to get dressed, and no reason to perform any kind of activity until 5pm, when I had to go and get dressed (and do my teeth) some time after the curtains had been re-closed for the evening blackout, gosh how decadent I can be when I really don't put my mind to it.
boy in balaclava in the windThose of a meteorological bent may know that Storm Booberella is currently lashing Scotland with her patented bottom-thwacker with the little fluffy foxtail. But she could spare a trailing front for us Southerners, like a lazy galactic spiral arm. This was due to hit us in the late afternoon but well before high tide so at 5pm we parked by the Pyramids and braved the rain which made my trousers flap.
I also wore my balaclava and the wind took my hat off and whisked it off towards the ice cream hut (closed). In the first picture you can see "It must be love" in the background, these big letters by the battlements look like a Victorious Festival sign to me, d'après the Hollywood sign. We nipped up to see them close up: they are on scaffolding and have individual spotlights. A man ran up and down the nearby steps in the freezing gales and had the nerve to look at us like he wondered what we were doing.
storm barbara southsea seafrontDown by the waterside it was blowy and slippery and the manic raindrops look like seething meteorites or an unexpected jump to warp speed. We didn't have to stay long to get totally wet, witness the lashings of Booberella, and waste £1.80 on the parking meter because I doubt there were any traffic wardens anyway. There, so I got some fresh air for the day. Look, you see that pole behind me saying beware Rocky Foreshore? That's the same pole I was leaning up against in yesterday's picture.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

A Fistful of Thalers

nazi era coinage swastikaIn the 16th century Bohemia minted the first silver 'Thaler', a standardised coin so successful that the name spread, enabling Shakespeare to talk of 'Dollars' long before the USA set up shop. And today the postperson brought some old German coins that still mention Thalers and some with the special badge of the 1930s and 40s.
pyramids southsea seafront sea defence wallToday is Bud's birthday so I made him open the present from Jof which was a kick-bottie drone with HD camera, just right for hovering over the nudist beach. When the wind ceases we will try it out. Meanwhile, Grandad flew to Vietnam where the currency is the Dong. He has promised to bring me back some Dong.
Mostly I sat and Minecrafted but as it wasn't actually raining we walked along the seafront for an hour and threw rocks and almost got a tan, should have gone to the nudist beach after all. We passed the time by discussing the crystalline structure of diamond and the melting points of metals. The tide was out and the water was calm, we'll come back tomorrow to see if it's any more interesting.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

A Spectrum of Possibilities

Today I had just settled down into my usual sofa-bound position when Grandad phoned and the phone wouldn't let me pick up and answer, so I told Bud off a lot for not putting it back on its charging cradle properly.
That was when I was sent to get dressed. The phone is old and unreliable, like anyone over 11 years of age. Then, in a surprise move, we drove 40 miles north-east to GUILDFORD. We have been to Guildford only once before, although we've been through it or past it a grillion times on the way to Old London Town.
guildford spectrum main entranceOn our first visit, we did the castle (small) and the museum (v small) and Ye House of Fraser Roof Terrace Tea Shoppe (v pricey). Guildford owes its entire existence to Portsmouth because it only grew up as a service station on the old horse track to Pompey from London, and we know this because we've been to the museum and everything.
That time, we missed the junction off the A3 and had to go the long way round and Jof laughed for usually it's her that goes wrong. So this time we exited the fast road where the sign said Ye Olde Guilde-Fforde and drove round the roundabout twice because it was inexplicably missing an exit onto the A25 and got stuck in the University which is a very long dead end full of pleasant trees and monuments and lakes and students.
We had booked tickets at the Spectrum Leisure Centre for 11am and were wasting time going round in circles. Circumnavigating the first roundabout once more for luck, (and trying out both the Tesco and the Cathedral driveway) we headed into town which was experiencing Xmas traffic, just as the equinox struck. I used googlemaps on the phone and magically we trundled into the right place, which was one junction further up the A3.
We collected our tickets only 5 minutes late. The Spectrum has it all. With giant rooms under huge girders, it has tennis courts, an ice rink, gym, crèche, a 4-level soft play like a Borg Cube, a swimming pool, a dedicated diving pool with 1, 3, and 5-metre boards and a huge waterpark with 3 flumes, wave pool, numerous squirters, slides and pools for smaller people: all for £12 for both of us, for an hour and a half, minus the 5 minutes we lost earlier.
I led the way because I don't need glasses and we did the waterslide with the rubber rings (he lost his ring once) and the 2 without, avoided the lengths-only pool because it was boring and got to the diving pool. You don't often get proper diving boards where you're actually allowed in so this was special.
ice rink guildford spectrumWe did a couple of warm-up normals off the surprisingly bouncy 1M board. Then he dived off the equally bouncy 3M and I did it feet first. Then he did feet first off the 5M which is concrete and I didn't. So mostly we did the tandem dives off the 5+3 where we tried to hit the water together and stop our gonads being forced up and out of our throats. Photos of the pool area are unavailable due to rules about zoom-lenses and kids in swimsuits.
Sometimes I hit the water with my arms out which I called a ban-arma dive and it hurt but we were much braver than the other kids who either belly-flopped embarrassingly or got to the edge and ran away. After more speed trials on the fast red tube and some more rubber ringing and a wave alert, our time was up although because it's really echo-ey the tannoy man says "This is a hoobooeoo announcement, woo the humbaloo himbly hombly boobaloo, thank you" and you have to ask the lifeguard if they're calling for the people with the red wristbands to get out and go home.
So because we are allergic to the local road system which is in constant inter-phasic temporal flux, we didn't fancy the risk of going into town for a pub lunch and just had the Wimpy in the complex, right next to the extreme kiddie area with the vomiting starfish and the micturating pelican, just under the fast red tube slide.
A portly server brought our food and we destroyed about 8 ketchup sachets. I can also tell you that 'Ketchup' is the same in the first 9 languages listed on the sachet. The road out took us straight to a motorway junction that wasn't there the first time and we sped home to guitar-laden accompaniment from Moore, Hendrix, Guns-and-Roses et al. I liked the manic laughter in Ebeneezer Goode and we stopped off to buy a new phone.
The Guildford Spectrum Leisure Centre is absolutely epic in many ways. Its only downsides are that it is 40 miles away, and you run the risk of there only being road junctions on the other side, which will all magically re-appear on your side once you've been diverted through Cambridge or Bognor Regis.
Film choice night was "Demolition Man" with lots of cross-reality amusement and Rambo looking old and Sandra Bullock looking hot.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016


christmas board game monopolyAll of us got up late today because we could. I challenged Jof to a game of Monopoly and she nearly died after about 20 minutes but miraculously hung on after I lent her £10.
I suppose later in the day we drove some xmas presents to her work and she collected her car from the garage but other than that, they binged on Star Trek: Voyager and I binged on Minecraft videos. It was one of those arranged crapness agreements where nobody wants to be the one to break the cycle. The only sad bit was where we thought about go-kart racing. Turns out the age limit is 16 unless you book the racetrack in Salisbury for 10 kids at a cost of £450, slightly more than we were planning on spending for my birthday treat.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Cross Town Traffic

Day 1 of the christmas holidays proper so everyone had duties to perform. Jof had to go to work so she told us off for not getting her up. Bud had to go to the Jobcentre to sign on the dotted line to say he was trying to get a job, honest, but could he have some more money in the meantime.
department of work and pensions employment officeThus we drove into town and bought the minimum safe amount of time on the parking meter which was 1 hour. The Employment Assistance Outlet is in an old nightclub in town and inside we met 2 burly security guards. They are always there because sometimes customers of the Department for Work Facilitation get angry and throw stuff, like a few weeks ago when they threw smoothies up the front door. We presented the card and the nice lady said you're not on the list and it turned out the Office of Career Acquisition Case Officer had written the wrong day. We stood by the festive railing near her workbench and discussed the situation and the 2 guards came over and said please move away from the tinsel, sir, there might be confidential information on her desk. If only they could set up some kind of railing to separate the public and private areas.
llamas eating ivy and moss
We left, having used up possibly as much as 6 of our 60 paid parking minutes, and next on the list was my duty, a family one. From there, we reached Grandad 15 minutes early, which caused much consternation: this from the man who could not allocate a time of day to eat his Yakult bio-friendly yogurt preparation. On the way in, we saw a horse waving its head in a circle. Turned out, it was scratching his butt against a tree.
Grandad has a decent swimming pool in his leisure complex and funnily enough, I had my swimming bag. So we moseyed on down and met 4 llamas: not visiting dignitaries from the Chinese Borough of Tibet, but giant Andean goats known for their hatred of foxes. Nowadays it is all the rage in the countryside for sheepiers to borrow these vegetarian fox-killers from Llama Farmers to defend their woolly assets.
I bumbled around in the pool for 45 minutes or so while various elderly persons looked on admiringly but I couldn't go in the hot tub because of the over-18s policy and the fitness centre was full of grey gymnasts being led by Father Christmas, so I couldn't lift weights either.
grove place nursling fitness centre
Normally we would choose a decent country walk with added pub lunch but the weather was not helpful. We decided on a trip to Winchester which in retrospect, was a total fail and chronic decision lacking in any logic whatsoever. The motorway was clear. It took us to the beginning of the interminable christmas traffic jam with alacrity. But for a medieval town not known for its calm traffic, the closure of the Friarsgate car park added to our woes and by the time we'd tried our 5th pub for food (40 minute wait, sir) we really needed a piss.
Fortunately I found a table in the William Walker right opposite the cathedral, with prices to match. On the cathedral tower roof we could see humans and their guide admiring the view. Last year the 3 of us ascended the tower on the official tower tour: we won 2 awards, for the oldest AND the youngest visitors in one go. How many other people can say that? Well, none, of course.
tour guide on the roof of winchester cathedralThe food was slow so Grandad taught me indices and algebra and volume of the table and area of an obtuse triangle and then I got my fish and chips. Outside, Mr 32 (they have tour guides that do walking tours of the city) plied his trade and by the time we'd finished it was pretty well time to ditch Grandad back at his mansion and we took the back roads out of Winchester, past the prison that needs new warders.
There were a lot of back roads. This, and the pedestrians and the jams and the medieval street pattern (up Silver Hill, past Parchment, onto Jewry, past Southgate, Westgate and Tower) did not help our cause. The motorway home was quite full but for those heading west, the large crash outside the Gosport junction created a tailback all the way to the Eastern Road and I was glad to get home.
Film night was 'Bruce Almighty' in which the nutter from the Truman Show teamed up against the voice of the white-bearded prophet in the Lego Movie to wreak havoc across the USA. That was when I truly realised how much those above me like me, and I went to bed bursting with patrilineal pride.

Sunday, 18 December 2016


little christmas presentsA slow start for some slow people. The Spinnaker Tower had its top half in the clouds and the Isle of Wight was obscured by fog, as were our heads.
Jof wanted me to help wrap little presents for her work and that was good, because it wasn't me playing on the tablet or PC. But that only lasted a while.
I am growing my hair to keep my ears warm. Everyone else in my class has a hairdo or a stylish cut, but even though this 'blank slate' is a golden opportunity to have a new style, I've chosen Grade 2 again. After christmas.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Puddlers Xmas Party 2016

christmas party for kidswestaget swimming pool and leisure complexI was up at 8 something to watch some Minecraft videos before I could be told off for it. Very slowly we got our acts together and headed off back to the Westgate swimming pool in Chichester as everywhere else was closed or didn't have the diving board open or whatever. And us chaps continued our marine battling while Jof tried and failed to separate us.
kids watching star warsAfter a quick hot meal we hit the JBs house for the annual Xmas party which is often messy. The PuddleDaddies abandoned us all in favour of the pub while the PuddleMummies tried to get us to go away.
I kept my present for the tree and at the end I tried to go to sleep in the front room but they kept treading on me so I got upset and went home.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Christmas: and Inter-Species Sexual Relations

grappler police bumper safety escapeAt last, the final work day of 2016 for those who are not already unemployed. As we had the option of no-school-uniform, who was I to argue and off I went.
It was a fun day with a giant quiz in teams of 5. One boy hogged the picture sheet where you had to name the star and say what film or programme he'd been in, I was the only one to get Sly Stallone in Rambo. But mostly it was meaningless pants about pop songs and one of our team just played with his Pikachu so we lost dismally. And I got injured when we were sitting in a line and Child A poked me repeatedly in the shoulder with what he openly declared was his penis but was in reality a purple pen and it hurt so I kicked him in the foot.
classroom noticeboard spitfire silhouetteFortunately, I had brought in my Eevee (another Pokémon) so we had 2 Pocket Monsters in teddy form and had a Pokémon battle. We invented a variety of new moves such as Kiss (opponent does no damage next go) and Hug (similar attack restrictions) and Sexual Relationship (produces baby). This was ace for Okely-Dokely who wanted to join in so his right hand became the product of the union and again, I guess you had to be there. Apparently this bears some resemblance to ancient game 'Postman's Knock'.
Other people got to watch the film which was 'The christmas nativity' so a close escape there. We have a new topic for the new term which is the Battle of Britain: this is good for me as we've just bought the DVD and I already salute at Spitfires, because I know about the old saving-our-botties thing. Then I went home and killed zombie villagers for hours because srsly, what else does one need. Jof passed her special test at her work and we all forgot to ring Grandad.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Madness Organization of Importance

chinese fake lego millennium falconSo, there I was, eating my breakfast, when Jof barged in and told me off for not getting her up.
Not in my job description, I said, being a ten year old boy.
Anyway, at school I finished my newspaper article about the trial of the villain 'Goldilocks' with details of her known associates and possible aliases.
During break-time 3 of my known associates and I played a game in which 2 of us were mental institution guards like at Pescadero State Hospital in Terminator 2. One played the murderous madman and one played the Doctor (medical not time-travelling), who chose to approach the inmate without our help and was killed.
school project make a christmas cardFortunately he had a brother (also a doctor) but he was Tasered to death as well on the way to the cafeteria and Brother #3 didn't last long either and then Inmate #1 declared himself immune to Tasering and well I guess you just had to be there. We called ourselves the Madness Organization of Importance, call us now on 0800-BARKING.
And I made an xmas card specially for Bud with a nice front but a deadly troll inside. I cut out a jesus-cross in yellow felt and wrote "christ the lord for christmas" on it because he totally loves that kind of thing, Praise Level: Archbishop and all that.
And on one of the jobs boards there was a superb opportunity. A student at the local University advertised for a couple of child actors to be part of a film, to be shot locally. With my finger hovering over the 'Apply' button, I looked further down the ad and it said ethnicity - Black African. I came up with the idea of boot polish myself but then rejected my own idea as I don't like wearing stage make-up.
Tonight's comedy classic: "The Running Man" with 80s hair and classic one-liners like "Oi, Lightbulb" and "Only in a re-run".

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Sing Sing Sing the Farting Story

flash sale joke stall Decades ago, Grandma used to be a Music Teacher who sadly sometimes had to teach the infants group, which is pretty much playing the piano to them and getting them to sing simple songs and xmas carols in front of their own parents without wetting themselves. For the rest of the classes at least she could do Mozart and the rise of Rock'n'roll and the origins of the G clef and all the Italian notations and stuff.
And every year, a song called Wee Willie Winkie was part of the syllabus (Key Stage 1 hadn't been invented then, this was at expatriate schools in Africa and Saudi in the 1970s) and every year, all the kiddiwinks used to giggle and squee at the 'Willie' part of the title, and it's all very vexing but what are you going to do, they're children.
Has this in any way changed over the last 40 years now that everyone's on Tinder and Grand Theft Auto and Snapchat? No. Because 75% of the year group were under threat of missing the Friday end-of-term party because of laughing during the line "round yon Virgin meek and mild" even though they were technically laughing at themselves (well, most of them).
And some were chastised for singing about the farting story instead of the xmas story and the very angry teachers said if we hear it one more time you're all going to be kept in over the holidays.
meon junior school xmas carol concert
I was one of the good kids and we shall inherit the promised land which is to choose our own film for when the rest of them are banged up in the slammer doing their porridge. Still, the whole school lined up at one end of the playground in our xmas jumpers and the piano was wheeled out and we sang several well-known xmas ditties in a variety of levels of effort and I hid right at the back which is easy as I'm relatively short.
carol concert in playground
Earlier, we had the xmas dinner which was turkey and sprouts and stuffing and a sausage and I don't mind the sprouts half as much as everyone else makes out although they do leave a sulphurous smell in your mouth. Later, Flynn came to the door and I gave him a tin and a half of Pokémon cards and he promised me a Mongolian banknote.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Laugh Long and Prosper

annihilator warning sign failWhile the educational aspects of school are an important part of my life, so often it is the extra-curricular activities that stick in the mind.
Today we practised our singing, happy in the knowledge that after tomorrow, we shall never have to sing here again.
And we worked on our final drafts of our case study for Goldilocks v The State of La-La-Land and discussed ways of incorporating gutter press reports into our narratives without placing undue influence on the independent jurors.
meon junior school christmas fair stallBut then it was the School Xmas Fair. Being a man happy to stand behind a trestle table in a position of authority and order people about, I have extensive experience as a stallholder in the various fairs and fetes that Jof has helped bring to a waiting public.
This time I was on "Guess the number of sweets in the Jar" (50p a guess, contestants to write their names and classes in the little box on the matrix, as well as their guess). Estimates ranged from the low 30s to well over 100 and while business was slow at the start, by the end we'd taken a decent amount of money and my guess was 2nd closest. If you have access to a Tardis, the answer was 48.
meon junior school xmas fair cakesWe also did the Jarbola although the number of jars was a bit limited. Ingrid won 2 in one go but others found they had a handful of duds, it's all down to skill, I guess. The jars didn't last long and we were seconded onto ticket-folding for the raffle and I even found time to buy some sweeties from the rather impressive cake stall.
Later I had a bit of tablet-time but then Flynn arrived and we shot each other with Nerfs for a while before driving north to Flip-out, where the local Scout Association had booked out the entire establishment.
Amazingly for voluntary groups of a be-prepared type, the Brownies had brought 90 screaming little brown people without booking so it was a little hectic, with a disturbingly aromatic changing area. We collected our special socks and watched the special safety video and once the Brownies had gone, we invaded in force and took the whole place over like a load of soldiers visiting France.
portsmouth district scouting association eventOnce the house lights had gone off and the place was in Disco Mode, photography is challenging due to adverse lighting conditions so this one is of the massed Scouts working hard in a bouncing arena when you could still see where you were going.
We played manhunt and bounce-attack and see-who-can-drink-the-most and we all got hot and pink and on the way out, our Dear Leader gave us all a wrapped present. Flynn opened his on the way home and declared the chocolate bar called a "Double Decker" to be harder than his school desk. This is because he regularly bangs his head on the desks even though he's told not to, and the choccie bar was harder. Jof had dinner ready for us and I was pooped.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Impotence and Cupcakes

bathtub on a fireplace OK, so the day didn't start well because it was only dampy-drizzly and I went in without a coat and once I'd gone too far to go back, it rained lots and I got wet and cold.
But there is a work colleague who is making my life hell. It isn't just me, others are affected, but my own head makes it worse because I'm trapped by the situation. If I stand up and lump the Problem Child in the face then I get the suspension and the angry letters from the headmaster, but if I don't, then Problem Child is the winner and will return time and time again to steal the lunch money of my life. I am not naturally pugnacious or large in stature so this all makes me feel a little helpless. It may change when we go to different schools, but that doesn't help me now. Secretly I want to be like the others that have already punched Problem Child in retaliation for similar slights but for now I'll wait.
cupcakes baked by childrenNow, you won't know this but Xmas is coming up soon and for this, we are expected to make Xmas cakes and take them into school to be judged and resold to aid school funds, definitely a theme developing here.
It is stated in the rules and conditions that these festive cakes must be completed by a child so when Jof baked the basic cupcakes, we ensured that they looked bad enough to have plausibly been made by a child. Fortunately this happened automatically.
So she got lots of cake decorations ready and we spilt half the pot of mini shiny balls all over the floor and had great fun cutting out alleged holly leaves that looked more like dead fish and I did a Santa coming down the chimney which looked like the Eiffel Tower stuck in a tennis net and all was fun.
I did a different design for each and we added some crunchy gingerbread bears from Sainsburys with varying numbers of legs and clouds of glitter and balls and squirtles of icing in special biological shapes, and all 11 came out well enough to win the Great British Bake-off as long as all the adjudicators had been eating the wrong mushrooms again.
toothpicks sticking in a banana hedgehogThen we had the leftovers problem. Primarily, gobbets of marzipan: but also a bowl of melted chocolate. We used an old trick we invented once to store millions of dead matches (when we had an old-fashioned oven) which is the over-ripe banana. We sacrificed a banana and stuck toothpicks in it to hold the chocolate marzi-balls off the surface because they stick dreadfully.
Of course, these choice titbits don't go to the school for resale. In fact, I might just say that we baked some cakes, honest Guv, but they were eaten by the dog. Also, the boilerman came and fixed the boiler in 20 minutes. Now it's so quiet you keep thinking something's missing.