Monday, 29 February 2016

Dip me in Beer and Throw me to the Drunk Chicks

japanese road sign funny failWell, it was back to school again because you just can't avoid these things.
The teachers have started a Pokémon club because people have been getting into fights after being sold or swapped fake Poke cards - they needed a controlled exchange environment. Today someone still got booted out of the club for passing a dodgy Psyduck. I have changed tactics and am no longer going for the 'One of each' approach, I'm now collecting EX cards. I'm told they're all as worthless as each other but I'm sure that isn't true.
wynnster satellite 12 pod tents with groundsheetI also missed half my lunchbreak because a group of us were pulled into the IT suite to program a Lego Robot. Let's hope it doesn't rebel against its Humanoid masters.
I tried to negotiate a shorter run but failed. In fact, now when we stop for a breather, we actually stop instead of walking on, because if I make a particularly long speech (always) I can walk half the course, and he cottoned on. Last week, I said I had to stop running because my lips hurt.
5th portsmouth cub scout packThen we tried to sell some tents to make space in the Scout garage. I tried to look moody and bored but giggled.
Flynn arrived with some new Pokémons and I swapped some for a Poke badge and then we chased each other round the house killing each other with Nerf guns. Cub Scouts was loud with Dodgeball and another badge in Environmental Studies and James T played electric guitar and James S was promoted to Scouts.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Can Cows Climb Pyramids?

lego mayan pyramid and ak47Well, I was first up again and hid under the table in the lounge to play on my tablet. First to join me was Bud, he had breakfast so I moved through into the dining room and hid under the dining table to play on my tablet. I am going through a table phase.
Jof appeared in the afternoon but I was still naked so I put on some pyjamas, an upgrade of sorts. I have some homework and I was forced into doing it. 'Create a Mayan panorama' or similar, out of anything you like.
This was a situation begging for Lego, so we got even more of it down out of the loft and Jof helped me build a shallow-sided grey edifice and we populated it with gold, skeletons, an Indiana Jones-type on a horse and various animals and plants.
lego rifle gun I argued that a sacred cow should be placed at the summit but Jof says they can't climb steps, unlike donkeys, which have been known to ascend the tightly wound staircases of Minarets and not be able to get down again. I do not have a Lego donkey.
So we put a double-headed god at the top with a monkey for good measure, and I made a Lego AK57 (the improved version).

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Protest March (in February)

london film comic convention kensington olympiaThe day started normally with a taxi to the station, as always. But this time, Jof came with us.
This trip to the seedier side of London (Kensington) was conceived because of the London Film and Comic Convention (spring episode) taking place at Kensington Olympia Exhibition Centre. When Jof found out we were going, she insisted on making it a family event.
cat red dwarf photoshootI have now been to a few of these 'Comicons' and I like them for the many stalls of Lego, the action figurines, the Cosplay girls in their revealing outfits and the stars of stage and screen who will sign photos for a price.
We found a 6-seat bay in the train but very soon indeed it filled up and we were encroached upon by rugby fans, Chinese tourists and anti-Trident nuclear missile protesters with their lovingly hand-crafted placards.
london film comicon kensington olympia We ate our snacks and jettisoned the rest into the bin at Waterloo Station, a tried and tested method to delay the need for a lunch stop and to save carrying excess weight around.
It is not an easy journey to Olympia, we had to change twice and go on an overground train and most of it was very packed and quite whiffy. Our feet were already tired by the time we got there but at least the venue is right by the station.
We met Catwoman and I liked the authentic beard on the young Obi-Wan Kenobi Cosplayer.
Immediately I located the Lego mini-figures and the Pokémon card stall and we found a Ripley Alien and a bonus Terminator.
Jof kindly spent £20 on Pokémon for me (with a 5-pack tin and some out of the individually priced folders, I liked the warning sign above the stall 'Children left unattended will be sold to the circus') and then I met Danny John-Jules (Cat from Red Dwarf and Incomprehensibly Cockney Barfly in Lock, Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels) and he was a very groovy guy and we had a laugh.
london tourism downing street seat of governmentWe could have bought a life-size Bender Robot for £400 and more T-shirts than you could shake a silk screen at, a Dalek made of balloons trundled around and the Voldemort guy was good.
My other signed-photo target was Charles Dance because he had played Benedict the British Assassin in Last Action Hero. However, he had cancelled so I missed out there, what do we pay these people for? The guy who played the Predator was there and I wanted his autograph (£15) but you can't recognise him from the films due to the full-face makeup. Nick Frost and Chunky Rebel X-Wing Pilot were much more recognizable.
household cavalry headquarters londonLater, Bud noticed that I was no longer holding my £20 bag of Pokémon cards and I ran back and Danny John-Jules laughed at me as he handed it back. But then we'd finished really and Jof wanted to sit down and have lunch so we took a further 3 different trains back to Westminster where she rejected MacDonalds as it had nowhere to sit and we found an Italian restaurant called Locale behind County Hall.
I wasn't really hungry so only had some spaghetti, not cooked the way I like it (dull).
When we tried to contact Bune to arrange a meeting we failed by reason of missed calls, muted and possibly non-functioning phones and unanswered texts.
london tourism buckingham palaceThe original schedule of the day included a 2.7 mile walk to see the sights (something I would have yummed up any other day)and Bud made me do it even though I was getting antsy. We crossed Westminster Bridge, turned into Parliament Street to see the Cenotaph, some dark corner called Downing Street, rubbish old Horseguards Parade (where we just missed the Household Cavalry on horseback but certainly saw the manure mountain) and St James' Park.
We saw people protesting against Honduras, agitating against Mugabe and the familiar anti-Tridents.
I did a protest march of my own, scuffing my feet across Horseguards, declaring everything to be boring, tragically pointless and uninteresting.
We passed the Home Office, Foreign Office, Scotland Office (the Sporran Office), the MOD HQ and Jof fed the Mini-Cheddars to some passing squirrels which pleased some Japanese tourists but depressed me as I was foot-dragging my way through a nihilistic phase and why should I even exist on this pointless Earth.
the mall london MOD headquarters
After a while we left the ducks, geese, pigeons, seagulls and apparently, pelicans behind and saw the Queen's house which hid behind really large fences with gold statues everywhere but I was in a foul mood and objected to everything which wasn't me on the train home opening my Pokémon cards.
Thus, I have a lot of pictures of national landmarks with me playing the role of angry red penguin, with my hoodie up over my peaked cap. At Buckingham Palace some nice Germans asked us to take their picture as they snogged in front of the gates but I disapproved, the fountains were as empty as I felt inside.
Even Jof got a bit sad at my angry antics and we had a sit-down protest at Admiralty Arch and he even made us do the 200 yards to boring old Trafalgar Square with its poxy Nelson's Column and hairy trident placard wavers and even though Monopoly board names were all around us, I couldn't care less.
river thames from jubilee footbridge
Down Northumberland Avenue, we found the Charing Cross railway bridge with attached Jubilee footbridge to help us re-cross the Thames and Jof agreed that we were so tired we deferred the London Eye for a later date.
I notice the wooden climbing playpark in front of the eye Ferris wheel has been refurbished, so there's something to look forward to next time.
lego minifigures from london film comicon kensington olympia Back in Waterloo we selected the right train (usually we panic and get the one that goes via Basingstoke) and bagged ourselves a 6-seat berth where we took off our shoes and rested our throbbing feet on the seats.
I spent 20 minutes with my Pokémon (that's a pound per minute - great value!) and read 2 pages of the JK Rowling book about monsters that Jof had bought me to keep me quiet before declaring it boring.
But being on those comfortable chairs gradually brought us back to life, forgetting the gentle stroll that irked me so. We sped on through the night and the time did too, much better when you've got winnings to sort through. We got a cab home from the station and found our favourite sofa. Later, there were chips. I sort-of got to bed in the 11s, both wide-awake and dead-tired at the same time. Did I mention that Danny John-Jules was a really cool dude?

Friday, 26 February 2016

Dodgy Prawn Sandwiches

kid attacks with hockey stick escalatorI had an excellent day at work, of course. We started our new art project which is based on a French artist called Arrdoo-doo or something and what he does is draw a small animal and completely surround it with jungle foliage.
Apparently this French artist has never been to a real actual sweating hooting growing jungle but just cadges off other people's work and photos from folks who have got off their botties and captured the images themselves (and possibly Guinea worm, malaria and Dengue into the bargain).
Jof was tired having missed out on lunch because her pre-purchased yellow date-sticker-reduced lunch was a little on the ripe side, never good when it's prawns. So I regaled her at length and volume about our agenda for the morrow just when she really wanted to sit down with 9 cups of tea and a cake.
Later she remembered the film "Sharknado" so we invented Ratstorm and Snakano and Batquake, enough to make anybody giggle. And then I watched the Candide Thovex Youtube video "One of those Days 3" because you ought to.

Thursday, 25 February 2016


meaty homos plateful japanese food failTold Grandad about our upcoming trip to London and the planned walking tour of all the best houses. He was most jealous, I think he wants to join the family or something.
Anyway, it was a normal day in school with sit-down volleyball to emulate the Paralympics, draft essays about the emotional rollercoaster that is the fairground Ghost Train, and the creation of a new personal website to record our topic coursework, something I need practise in.
But I hastened home after work as I like getting to Extra-Swimming early (so I can practise diving) and I also felt the need for hot pasta and some HayDay.
After swimming came the dreaded 2 1/2 kilometre run. I am in 2 minds about this: I know I need to do it and appreciate the results it has already given me, but running is hardly a pleasure in itself and if it's cold you get this trans-epidermal thermocline where you're hot underneath but your skin is freezing.
eastney beach looking to southsea promenade sunset
But with determination and a sensible starting pace, I did the first half of it without stopping. Then we went to the seashore at very low tide, flat calm, to pay homage (throw rocks) to the Sea That Encircles The Globe (one of my favourite planets) and ran back and there was ice cream for pudding.
Gargamel (not related to Gilgamesh, Mesopotamian action hero of the 3rd Millennium BC) is the bad guy out of the Smurfs. He wants to kill them, eat them, enslave them or sell them into bondage, the archetypal antagonist. I mean, he's labelled as an evil Wizard but he doesn't want to destroy society, bring anarchy to the land or watch the world burn, he just has a smurficidal allergy to little blue mushroomy geezers, don't we all, perfectly reasonable.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Dick Greeting; Private Investigator

godlike creature scares plane passengers funnyAs I said, we're now learning Mayan. Of course, it's easy to get these fine and noble people mixed up with the Toltecs or the Aztecs or the Incas, whether they count themselves Mixtecs and spoke Nahuatl or not.
And then once you spread the tribes out over the various centuries of rise and fall, it's difficult to remember who sacrificed who, who culturally influenced, invaded or were subjugated by whom.
But you can't beat a load of obsidian-knived human sacrifice with the hearts held aloft and the blood running down the steps and the pyramids and blocks and tunnels and calendar stones and feathered priest-beasties and fish gods and hallucinogenic ritual chanting.
And given that they gave us pineapples, maize, avocados, chocolate, tomatoes, potatoes and sunflowers, you've got to wonder what we did for food before we found them. And killed them. And gave them interesting diseases and called all the survivors Jesus or Juan.
But if you've ever learned a new language in class, you always learn a sensible beginner's word like 'Hello' and then someone's older brother who's already doing the A-level tells you the translated word for 'willy' and even if you drop out of the class after 3 days, these are the ones you remember for the rest of your life.
assorted children milton park portsmouthSo now we know that 'Tepuli Mixpantico' translates to 'Penis Hello' and is of course the origin of 'Dick Greeting: Private Investigator' the character who spawned 3 books and 7 TV series on networks across Mesoamerica.
In other news, I have not been selected for the Great Swimming Tournament because I didn't take my swim-kit to school 2 days ago. It is from transient crushing tragedies like this that lifetimes of psychotherapy are formed.
He was late picking me up but I still managed my run around the park and some time on HayDay before we did Wednesday Park Proper. It might have been cold but it was not dark which just proves that spring is on its way and the park was quite full of known faces, and friends we have not yet met.
aerobatic training mission over south coast portsmouthWe all worked hard with the giant tennis ball and the consumption of sausage rolls and gradually some girls joined in our game of tag. One of them is the girlfriend of one of the core group and she brought some female friends and they tittered and ran away (but not too far) and is this where it's really all going to change forever?
Council workers in orange Hi-Vis jackets interviewed adults about their fear of local crime, and overhead, 2 jet fighter planes chased each other from Winchester to the Channel and back several times at low altitude. We were the last to leave, and it was getting quite nippy.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Fear and Loathing in Las Piscinas

you know who your friends are practical jokeSchool was normal. I was a little tired, but everything was normal, learning Mayan now, more on that tomorrow. Until swimming time. This is when I discovered that all 3 of us had failed to put my swimming bag ready by the front door, or indeed just remember it was Tuesday swimming, so my swimkit languished at home while everybody else had theirs.
In class activities, no soldier is left behind so I had to join the walking-crocodile and traipse all the way to the pool only to sit at the side in the parents-and-old-people viewing area, and watch everybody else have fun. This swimming session is not like my other ones, because there's, like, 30 kids and they all have to take a turn and be watched over, unlike in advanced lessons where there's 6 and we're all capable. So I had the chance to examine, and consider myself better than, many of my classmates.
Then on the way back, it degenerated. Child A said Child B was rubbish and was why they always lose. Which was true, but you can't say. Then Child C had a tussle with Child D and was moved to the back of the crocodile. Then Children E and F tried to move up the crocodile and tripped up so many people they were moved to the back. Then Child G (who likes using the N-word out loud) kicked Child H up the bum which is never a good move because Child H is really big and you don't mess with him and they had to be separated. So in the end, so many people were moved to the rear, we almost went backwards and the last shall become first etc, and half of us are on warnings and next time I'll go swimming, it's quieter.
tipner lake m275 motorway promenade cycle route
Instead of running around my local streets (because they're boring) I elected to run just before gymnastics because it's right next to a long sea wall with picturesque walkway where I won my bike medal (no training wheels) 6 years ago. We started strongly but after only 200 yards I went down with the pain of the century which was running after having my afternoon snack. I could only manage 100 or 200 yard bursts before I had to pant to a standstill with a threatened myocardial infarction. Problem was, my legs and lungs were fine, if only I hadn't eaten. I got quite angry about it.
He tried to lighten the mood by pointing out the tyres exposed at low tide, the pretty redhead taking pictures of her dog's bottom and the fact that the dog appeared to be dyed pink but when you're trying to hold onto your peanut butter sandwich and custard, it's all you can think about and then a man carrying his shopping overtook us and I nearly gave up.
But then in actual gymnastics I did a handstand for 28 seconds and managed 2 other things that I've never done before and my teacher says I might go up a group so all this running is in fact worth it.

Monday, 22 February 2016

What came first, the Pullet or the Bullet?

drunk girls passed out funny failGoodness me, doesn't the morning come around quickly when you want to stay up and watch another film. So at school today we tidied up the last bits of our old topic such as researching and presenting findings on our solar system.
I chose the old Powerpoint presentation and used as many amusing fonts, slide-changing special effects and display tricks as I could. I've heard of visual aid fatigue but I'm having none of it. But I put in lots of decent information and managed to answer questions on it, even calling the Earth my current home planet.
I really didn't want to go for my run because the only cure for tiredness is 14 hours of videogames so I moaned and chatted and argued and sulked the whole way round and after my snack I took it out on my Lego Heroes which are fortunately quite resilient to being chopped with a wooden sword from the shop at Fishbourne Roman Palace.
In due time, Flynn arrived and we took it in turns to loudly dismember purpose-built Lego Heroes, he was the Executioner and I was the Punisher, 2 Marvel Superheroes that have somehow failed to leave the drawing board. We resumed our ongoing battle between the Intergalactic Chicken and the Indestructible Bullet. So far, the chicken has moved to the Andromeda Galaxy and is hiding under dog's bottoms with a poultry-only forcefield: the bullet has cunningly disguised itself as another chicken (cry fowl at this point) to fox the field, and has duly inserted itself in the chook's chough*. We shall have to wait to see whether the chickadee can lay a bullet or a pullet.
*Member of the crow family

Sunday, 21 February 2016

HazMat: Will Travel

pokemon duel with duplicate cardsSundays! I love them. Breakfast was 1130 again and then Jof was suddenly doing housework and tidying up, because I had Matteo booked for a Pokémon playdate. He is in my scout group and apparently in the same school class as my friend Robert but claims not to know him. He arrived with his mother who can talk for England, or more accurately, Italy, and we disappeared upstairs to exchange cards. As it happens, all his are of an older variety so no good for me, and we chose to actually play Pokémon Trainer Attack and Klash-of-Klans and X-box and Lego Heroes and all the usual stuff. We'll have to see if I made a sufficiently good impression to be invited to his place another time.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Beasting like a Boss

Started the day by watching Sean Connery kill people on Alcatraz Island in 'The Rock' because we had to stop watching at 11pm last night so Jof could go to bed.
somerstown portsmouth health centre building demolitionTherefore I didn't have breakfast until 1130 and then he tricked me into walking into town to buy Pokémon cards. On the way, we went a slightly circuitous route (I don't notice as I rarely pay attention to my surroundings) and ended up in Somerstown, a delightful leafy suburb full of delightful leafy inhabitants. One of the oppressive tower blocks on this sink estate was being demolished so we looked at the drainpipes and stuff hanging out of the building, and then checked out the new swingpark that you can see from the road.
It was epic with 2 ziplines, a swinging basket, a massive dome of ropes with 3 floors, attached net to tubular slide, rope walkway which bounces, logs aplenty, a roundabout, twirling see-saw, turning wheel, quite a lot of locals of whom only a few were English and some little climbers for smaller customers.
We tried it all out, I beasted the rope-dome like a boss or did I boss it like a beast, so easy to get those mixed up. I ended up in a zipline race with a French boy (I consider all foreigners French) and steadfastly refused to leave the park for nearly an hour, just because I'm 10 doesn't mean I can't enjoy myself in the drizzle with the simpler things in life. I can recommend this swingpark (the half-demolished building in the background won't be there forever) but it's not on your normal route anywhere.
somerstown community hub play parkFrom there we walked into town and I got my Pokémon and the homeward march was through a different warren of council housing, gosh, don't we have a lot of it here. We got home at 3 and Jof had already eaten lunch, so we had pizzas and watched 'Fantasy Homes By The Sea' in Mallorca to see if we knew any of it, and looked up our hotel on Google Earth. After acres of chocolate, it was Film Night Decision Time. He wanted Aliens 2 or Last Action Hero, I wanted Con Air so Jof settled on Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark because she'd bought the box set and it just so happens that the Jones + Lost Tomb is my topic for next term. Babbled myself to bed at about midnight, roll on teenagerism.

Friday, 19 February 2016


In a break with tradition, I requested a free-day. Well, I always ask for a day where I don't even need to get dressed, but I rarely get them with Bud.
But this time we'd done enough exercise and spent enough money and seen enough new places and people this week so I got my wish which was nothing to do with the really large amounts of administrative OCD that was pending. The car had been going wrrrr....rrrr upon initial startup for a few weeks and you just don't need it failing to start when we're trying to drive home from Lyndhurst or Chichester or wherever so we took it to the garage and they phoned up to say what's wrong with it, then, works fine for us and we said try harder so they did and found work worth £379 of your Earth pounds, what do we pay these people for, I ask you. But all this not-leaving-the-house gave me the chance to play 9 different computer games in pyjamas, and gave him the chance to sort out my coin collection and add in the 45 new coins we got yesterday.
piles of assorted coins split into continents
So I checked in on him every now and then and took away all the coffee cups and then we paid the garage (not in coins) which was a load of old Poldarks (to coin a phrase) and I did swimming and was much better than everyone else at sculling so I was the demo-guinea-pig AGAIN and then at home we finished the coin sorting and we now have 1096 unique coins and gosh that's a lot. For Film Night I selected 'The Rock' with Connery and Cage because it's fun. OK, so I had to go to bed at 11 something but I was still happy.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Area 51: Lyndhurst

new forest lyndhurst hampshire church
He woke me up again which is becoming tiresome and I told him to go away. But yet again we had things to do and places to go and this time it was to meet up with old-timer 'Grandad'.
He lives in a mansion now so we got the gate and door-opening codes right second time and opened his door and there he was, and then the postman gave us his mail which is understandable as we all have the same first initial and surname so how was he to know, really.
Grandad enjoys the 19th century but has a digital camera so while Bud deleted all the pictures he had taken of his own fingers and saved all the pictures of Venice, Germany and all the other places he went to on cruises, Grandad taught me maths. He really can't help it, and this time it was areas and circumferences and we sat in his office and guessed about square inches.
We always have to go somewhere so even though Grandad had already chosen Nomansland, we drove to Lyndhurst, which is never a good thing. Because of the 1-way system of road management in Lyndhurst, it has consistently been voted crappest town to drive through ever, so we got stuck in the jams well before meeting the main triangle of the town. Finding a side street to park in, we walked in and joined the rest of the tourists who were busy outnumbering the locals.
sports car showroom lyndhurst
Lyndhurst is a pretty town on a little hill in the middle of the New Forest and while a lot of it is very old and a lot of it is very new, most of the high street seems to have been built between 1905 and 1910. Next time we'll have to go into St Michaels' church, for they have a very good roof.
Now, you don't have to be rich to live in Lyndhurst but it helps. The car shop sells Ferraris and Maseratis and similar models and that's where Grandad got locked in once when the security barriers activated and trapped him. Next to it is an alleyway to Coles Mead recreation ground which is a good park with a Pirate ship and some climbing frames and skatepark and zipline that doesn't zip very well and it was all soggy and muddy and some horses eyed us balefully as we climbed around translating miles into kilometres, something else Grandad was teaching me that day.
I chose 'The Mailman's Arms' pub for lunch which was not necessarily the right one and I had a burger while Grandad was defeated by Nachos. Refreshed, we hit the shops which are geared for the transient tourist trade and full of quaint boxes of cookies with New Forest ponies on the front and twee bottles of beer with names like 'Old Piddler' and numerous other tat that our brains don't even allow us to see like solar-powered dancing Elvises.
nazi memorabilia collectables war
But the last one was the best - Lyndhurst Antiques, right on the major road junction that causes so much strife for miles around. I discovered the basement with the coins and gunshells and swords and Nazi memorabilia and we spent so much time marvelling at them, Grandad thought we'd gone and left the shop. We bought 2 bags of coins from the little locked cabinet on the right and will probably have to sort out the whole collection tomorrow as it's getting cumbersome.
But time was running short, so with only passing tuition on naming parts of a ship, penny farthing design challenges and the disadvantages of Imperial units, we dropped him off at his manor and he gave us last years' calendar with its striking images of Angkor Wat.
In swimming, there were only 2 of us so we got lots of attention and Bud did 100 lengths and we ran 2.75 km and no, I didn't translate it into miles.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

The People on My Side

It's tough thinking of new and interesting (dare I say - educational?) things for the little people to do on half-term breaks etc. Always one poor downtrodden parent has to chaperone the child with too much time on its hands and today that was Bud.
But I have people on my side, and in this case Jof. When we were vacillating about going to Bath (full of Romans, and you can do the cathedral tower tour, but it's over 2 hours drive) she said well why don't you go to the Fishbourne Roman Palace instead, full of Romans, and only just down the road.
fishbourne roman palace west sussex
So that's what we did. We left the house at 10 and were there 22 minutes later, seeing Obscure Cousin Margaret's old house from the grounds. We were nice and early so 3 men in hi-vis jackets selected us a special car park space and we bought our tickets with the bonus of coming back free within a year.
Straight away there were dead people and alive people. The dead ones sat in their caskets and display cases and weren't communicative but the live ones tried to get me to dress up as a Roman or learn weaving or 1st century wax tablet calligraphy or many other worthy endeavours. I did none of the above.
But we marvelled at the ironware and the bottles and the plinths and columns and hypocausts and mosaics and box hedge layouts and even more dead geezers and the garden was nice with its own bronze age BBQ area but it was quite cold so I bought a copper pencil sharpener in the shape of an owl, yet another wooden sword and some reproduction Roman coins in the shop which was warmer.
I could have learned to cook like a Roman or walk like an Egyptian but I've got time in my life for that.
So we hopped over the A27 and got a suspiciously long-term car parking ticket and walked into Chichester. They have Roman city walls which were useful when the marauding French were abroad and you can walk on parts of them so we did. This led us round to North Street which had shops and I bought Jof some complicated chocolate to thank her for thinking of me although I shall expect some of that back in tax.
chichester town walls walkway footpathThe Pizza Express advertised on Google Earth was actually still open so we got in early and started with garlicky doughballs, my favourite. I battled with the same quiz on the kiddie menu and I just hate the word-unscramble. I managed to unscramble 'Ice Cream' on my own but the other 3 were still beyond me, I had to have 'Brown' of brownie spelled out for me before I got it. Meanwhile, the Pizzeria filled up with screaming brats, who'd have 'em. I discovered that 'Capers' are the most disgusting thing this side of Krak Des Chevaliers.
Back up South Street (packet of Pokémon cards) to West Street (did you see that one coming?) we looked up at the splendid cathedral and its bonus bell tower and were sad that they don't have a tower tour - but it was really cold and rainy and I wanted to go home. Near the end of West Street we found some small old antique shops full of small old antiques which was good for us as I collect coins. £4 bought me several new ones including those from such states as the Kingdom of Italy, Ceylon, the Dutch East Indies and Southern Rhodesia.
Reacquiring the car, I was just getting in when he said not so fast, my son, you haven't got your swimming bag out yet. I was gobsmacked. But this is not a case for the Social Services Child Protection Group, it turned out we were parked in the Westgate Leisure Centre car park, an idea from Dear Follower Fiona, who visits 'Chi' frequently for its upmarket chic-ness and better-looking everything. This leisure centre has a 50 metre pool with kiddie area and 1 large red flume with 2 drops and 2 circuits and a splashpark area and all the usual lockers and changing rooms that I understand. We laughed, fought and spanked our way around the complex drawing admiring glances, well it certainly made the other kids giggle.
chichester westgate leisure pools flumesIt was only £8 for up to 6 1/2 hours in the pools so we started. The deep end is 2.3 metres so you're allowed to dive. No board, but that meant I could bring my show-off diving back up to scratch and we flumed about 8 times each and the splashpark area has significantly warmer water so I called it the Sauna Room and it's got those tipping-buckets that dump water on your head and a circular squirter that looks like a jellyfish and we did hand-stands in the water and swam around and were only told off once for doing complicated dives and after 2 hours 20 minutes I was actually tired.
Now this is epic and great. Because, like when we discovered Romsey Rapids, this is a new place only 25 minutes away where I can take Poppy and the boys (on separate expeditions) and we know where we can get pizza and doughballs and rare foreign coins so all in all, that was a good day.
I showed Jof my pile of booty and she went to the gym even though she didn't want to. So I watched Harry Potter and the Poisoner of Azkhaban for only the 19th time.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Steers and Queers

Today was my official day off so mostly I set up my new Hay Day app with an old Facebook account I set up earlier. Obviously I was 13+ when I did that, so no problem there. Therefore the rest of the day was spent in a HayDaze aha apart from when it was time for my run.
Bud was working late and had delegated the task of accompanying me on my run to Jof. This turned out to be the wrong way round and I had to do the whole Regimental Sergeant Major thing on her with the shouting and cajoling and no you can't go home early or stop for a cup of tea and ignore the little kids pointing and laughing and at the end she hurt all over but life without pain has no meaning.
I got a bit of meaning myself in gymnastics when I went backwards over the big pork pie roller thingy and crumpled onto my own arm, for a minute there I thought I'd broken it again but in no time at all I was back laughing. Selected movie night: Star Wars 6 (with the Koala tribe) and bed possibly that little bit too late.

Monday, 15 February 2016

I can see my House from Here

spinnaker tower portsmouth glass floorI am not allowed days where I don't do anything at all so we drove to the theatre. In fact, I thought it was Saturday as we took the same route at the same time in the same comfy trousers, but then we used their free car park and went up the Spinnaker Tower.
milton eastney hayling from spinnaker towerNow, I have indeed been up there before and danced merrily upon the glass floor but it was a nice day and you can see the roof of our house so where better to examine your own chimneypots from than 105 metres in the air getting blown about in the cold wind.
beach the hard portsmouthI didn't buy anything, squash any pennies or get my official photo so they missed out there. But I did have giant fish and chips in the pub and later, searched for crabs with some random boy on the stony beach in front of HMS Warrior 1860. I did find a limpet shell and a lot of seaweed but no crabs.
I did my 2.75 K run but got such a bad stitch that I ended up being overtaken by grannies. My choice for the evening film - Jaws.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

The Elf Under the Table

boy hiding under dining tableSundays are for pyjamas, Hay Day and other computer games. So that was my plan, good for 5 hours until they said let's go to LIDL and score a load of those multi-vitamin juices that I (and all of my friends) like.
So we queued up with all the other Russians and Albanians and Poles and the granny with the big beard and we looked at the whiskies we hadn't heard of and bought lots of the foreign chocolates and you know, it wasn't all bad.
Then he proved he could still run 10 miles and we proved that we could still eat Valentine's day marzipan selections and harvest Bulgar wheat at the same time. I had been promised the rest of the game of Monopoly so I waited under the table which is like making a cage for yourself to keep the world out, and eventually we re-started and Jof died pretty soon and I made a deal with the devil (sitting opposite) to sell everything I had apart from £1 (a family heirloom so untaxable) and see how many times I could get round the board which was covered in his hotels before dying totally. He won with £6200 and I elected to watch the new Schwarzenegger movie called "Sabotage" he got in the charity shop yesterday.
DEA agent doublecross film
It was full of blood and bullets and tattoos and drugs and pretty soon I objected to the dialogue because while I have met movie scripts with Bulls**** and mother******* and all the rest, it just sounds child-like if it's f***ing every 3 words and it just makes it silly, and I was the one that said I can barely understand them because of all the f***ing. Jof wondered whether she would watch any more and OK there were a couple of nipples in the redneck Alabama strip joint but crack-whores are over my head and then we all started laughing about making predictions about who would be nailed to the ceiling next and who had stolen the $10 million down the toilet and in the end it was a family hilara-thon movie with chocolate and crisps (but not blackjack and hookers) although our next one might be Matilda (Roald Dahl).

Saturday, 13 February 2016

The 8 Levels of Energy

Started early with some chickpea-harvesting and dragon-fighting and village-invading that is the basic currency of online pointless-gaming.
*The new game on the tablet I promised to tell you about: Star Wars: you choose 3 good characters to go against the nasties. The rubbishest goods are the koalas from #6, they have attack damage of 6 and health of 6 so are only good as scouts. But if they espy that the stormtrooper bunker has no toilet and they have to wizz against a tree leaving the back door open, that'd be worth it. The worst good player is the upended shopping baskets that whizz around the smooth death star floors. They have healths of 1 and attack damage of 1 - its move is 'Sniff'.
I was wearing a dressing gown which is never quite enough but equally, just that little bit too much effort to go and put some pyjamas on.
assorted funny foreign coins collectionIn acting I took my Valentine's card (a more appropriate one this time) but Sydney wasn't there this week. We did the 8 levels of energy which range;
Sleeping Lions. Inactive.
Bambi on ice. Dozy but making the effort.
Where's my Keys. Wandering aimlessly.
Will I, won't I. Go up to various items in house, decide not to, and walk away again.
Factory Scene. Normal, everyday.
School bus is coming. (edgy, unsettled action, like coming up on acid)
Mum and Dad are home (and I haven't tidied my room).
Pepsi Max. (High-energy insanity)
Then we acted out various levels at each other and had to guess, then we went to Tesco to buy lunch (Pepsi Max level) and I sunk onto the sofa for the duration (Sleeping Lions mode). I didn't run because it was raining.
During this we got a new bag of funny foreign coins which scored 34 new coins for my collection! Later I insisted on Monopoly and it looks like Jof will die soon.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Anchorman: Kissing Day

monty pythonesque fish attackFridays are always groovy but this one was bigger as it marked the half-term break. Things were wrong from the start, Bud gave me breakfast and Jof didn't even hear us leave the house over the noise of the hairdryer (that's what we call the shouty woman next door - not really).
So I was driven to school right on time and I showed Bud the selection of psychedelic computer-generated patterns in the IT suite (next year I get to make 3-D layouts) and then he hid in the assembly hall while I did registration. He has experience of being invisible from previous employment.
This performance of the year 5 play was for the rest of the school, all of the normal parents having been royally entertained yesterday, as on the invitation form I brought home. But 2 stragglers remained and one was my official photographer and supporter.
flower designs from computerThe play is based on Star Wars and was a vehicle to show off the work done by the pupils of Year 5, for which the parents pay so much. Because of the fractured, fractal and fractious nature of the display, an anchorman was required to hold it all together (as in "And now it's back to the studio") and that was my task, shared with Ingrid and Grace. Or was it Liberty. I think they swapped half-way through.
Anyway, the overhead giant screen showed various images and video clips as the revue progressed.
The capture of Princess Leia's transport kicked it all off and that's when VaderVader and his Cohorts of Doom marched up the central aisle to the Imperial music which had to be played twice to accommodate the many marchers. Then us Judges commented on the spectacle, me with my fake spectacles, and then we handed over to roving fashion news reporters on Alderaan.
This meant the girls (and one boy) who wanted to look stylish and thin sashayed up the catwalk in pairs and did such a short pose that no pictures could be taken without one of those cameras that does the slo-mo of the bullet going through the apple and anyway they're 10 so it doesn't count.
meon junior school play Then some of my colleagues did the advert breaks and features on storytelling and bold artworks in hallucinogenic colours and VaderVader got to kill an art critic which is no bad thing and it's back to the studio.
On the giant screen we displayed some excellent 'Join up now' posters which had their roots in the Hitler Youth and the Deep Red Soviet, I mean, if that's fascism, count me in. There was a quick spot on the Latin derivation of the word 'Propaganda' (which Jof thought was a particularly well turned-out goose) and it was onto the Millennium Falcon for a game-changing scene in which Luke (broken arm, female) and Solo (forgot lines, edgy hairstyle), Chewy (authentic noises, giant teddy) and Leia (male, nope) changed the face of the future and it's back to the studio.
Then I presented a special update on the sleepover and the associated missing persons report of Paige, who was the only kid not discovered in the intense game of hide'n'seek, we really ought to do something about that smell and the flies coming from the basement.
Then VaderVader held up a sign saying "CLAP NOW" for those hard-of-thinking children in the audience and then Mr B came up and did yet another 10-minute recap and acceptance speech (I think he believed that Chewy was actually making those noises, not the electronic device cunningly concealed in his face-mask) and it was all over, our reputations intact until the next time.
darth vader and empire propaganda postersDuring school, I had finished my homework so I got AN HOUR on the laptops.
After school, it was half-term, hurrah! So we waited in disguise by the traffic lights (not kidding) and videoed the youths that kick our front door every day on their way home from school. They hadn't seen us so we intercepted them and we know one of them so we leant on him (literally, he nearly fell off his bike) and did the whole "You insulta da family, I thought we wuz friends" thing and threatened to release said footage to their headmaster and asked nicely if they wouldn't mind stopping.
Then the rain stopped so I completed my 2.5K run, because you have to do these things. My teacher asked me today how my runs were going, and in a separate incident, he stumbled across an online image of Ben and I playing Lego and found out one of my identities.
In Normal Swimming I did such an epic dive I banged my teeth on the bottom of the pool. It takes a certain amount of skill ...
Oh, apparently this Friday used to be 'Kissing Day' in Olde England where the girls couldn't refuse a kiss. Perhaps that's why the 5th of November used to be called 'Gosh what a lot of babies Day' before Guido Fawkes did his thing. Way after what was supposed to be bedtime, we laughed each other into intercostal pain about a game that I shall tell you all about .. tomorrow.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

A Cock-up on the Scheduling Front

untalented younger brother gets bit part in school productionAt last! The day of the school Star Wars-themed play. I had my updated script, my mug, my fake spectacles, my tailor-made suit, my adoring crowds and my confidence.
But I had no cameraman. Due to idiocy, which I hope does not run in families, Bud read my invite for 1430 today as 1430 tomorrow, so carefully failed to turn up today and missed the epic performance.
In addition, he sulked and blamed me until sight of the original document proved beyond a shadow of the flames of the 10th circle of hell that it was all his fault.
106 year old armenian woman with ak47Anyway, he'll attend the early matinee tomorrow while whipping himself with birch twigs and specially-imported nettles.
During recent rehearsals, R2D2 (played by the slightly undersized Gene in a wheelie bin) rolled away out of control and fell over which was so funny we kept it in, with C3PO chasing after him.
When he tweetles and beeps, he has to lift his bin-lid and hold up 2 beeping noise generators. Today, his beep-boxes overheated and he had to eject the smoking contraptions, luckily not gassing him in the process.
The girl playing Luke Skywalker (don't ask) had broken her arm yesterday but in true stage tradition, the show went on, she just didn't gesticulate so much. Everything went off fine, but you'll just have to take my word for it due to the missing cameraman/witness.
eastney esplanade marines museum portsmouthIn other news, the IT teacher showed off the tweet from the New Scientist magazine with me stuck to a metal shipping container using super-magnets, a good laugh.
polished silver spoons from ebayIn extra-swimming, I changed my tactics and held back during the warm-up and initial races and when it came to the proper races, I stormed it completely and won totally. Hurrah! Then, in a change to my usual afternoon run, we simply ran along the seafront to the coffeeshop and back, which was 2.5 kilometres in very different surroundings. We didn't have to cross any roads, the course was flat, and many other joggers were taking advantage of the evening light.
At home Bud showed me my new yogurt spoons. OK, so they're Victorian silver plated serving spoons for Xmas and other events, so I've got them like Arnold Schwarzenegger in The 6th Day which was a funny film with helicopters and the same bad guy as in 'Ghost'.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Proof: Spirit of Enquiry

scatter remains at disneyland post mortemAbout three and a half years ago, we posed a perfectly reasonable scientific question involving the neodymium alloy hard disc drive magnets that Bud can get from his work.
Considering we have used them from time immemorial to stick things to the fridge (like certificates, colanders, the dates the recycling lorry comes round etc), it seemed only logical to ask, how many hard disc drive magnets does it take to securely suspend one child, attached to a steel shipping container?
Well, we've all asked this question, there are internet forums for it and Anneka Rice once presented a show where professors with bushy eyebrows argued over it. Well, it takes a special sort of Professor to answer it, and the answer was 20, see original post here. The years passed and I was just answering a question in the august publication that is the 'New Scientist' magazine when I stuck this photo on, and they loved it and tweeted it to their million and a half Twitter followers.
neodymium alloy hard disc drive magnetsSo today I took in my Predator model and the teacher said how come you know so much and I said from watching the films of course, and he said gosh you can't possibly, that's a little above your age grade. Then he asked how many pupils in the class have Instagram or Facebook accounts and more than half of them put their hands up and he said he would write to the websites to get us deleted because we're too young, probably just jealous.
We did a rehearsal for the play and I've been given some extra lines and because I'm a Newsreader, I have a natty suit and people kept stopping and looking at my suit when they were supposed to be doing the Imperial March and well, I'm not taking it off, they'll just have to get used to it.
boy gurning for photo
Funnily enough, Valentine's Day has been a bit issue of late. There is a rush to declare yourself attracted to somebody due to the sudden focus afforded by the date and many partnerships have been forged, so I owned up about Sydney at my acting class. Jof says it is no bad thing that my partner is outside school.
So I decided to get a Valentine's card. I am past the awkward stage of carding my own mother, we all are. But also, not really ready for all the big pink declarations of undying love and semi-nudes on offer at the corner shop, so I settled for a simple one which only said 'I've thought about it long and hard and that's the way I like you', and there were hardly any hearts at all. But when the parents saw my choice, they indicated it might be wrong so I'll go to Card Factory and try again. I mean, how was I supposed to know, I'm 10.
So we took half a million leftover sausage rolls and ham sandwiches to Wednesday Park because there were complaints last week that we didn't bring food any more. We were on our own for ages until Ben and Owen arrived to help eat them, something must be wrong, hardly anyone was there. But we got our exercise and distributed some largesse, just not to Robert. Later we got some props and costume together for the Newsreaders - 3 mugs and a pair of old glasses with the lenses taken out. It's going to be epic!