Thursday, 31 March 2016

Nod Nod, Wink Wink

I had a relatively busy day yesterday and was still reading at 1130 so I requested 14 hours of sleep-coma. It was closer to 10 hours in the end but never mind. Then it was dragon-gaming until he made me go out.
spare pews in church storehouseWe hung a sign in the Scouts lockup saying warning, asbestos on roof. I met Harry and talked Pokémon. Then, in another Scout-related task, I met the fabled Vicar's Garage. I mean, it's just a big old garage full of junk where the Scouts keeps its old trailer, but every time they refer to it, they make out that it's rude and go Fnur, fnur, oo-er missus, know what I mean, Squire, said the actress to the Bishop. This is why I don't trust adults, because they're all mad.
Anyway, I resisted the urge to climb the many ladders and looked at the spare pews out of the church and lots of ancient artefacts like bits of old bell rope and a dead lawnmower and some empty fertiliser and garden poison pots from 1953.
Then we met Poppy and Georgina and Brian the Beaver Leader and that was my outside work done for the day, hurrah for Minecraft in which I named my 10th dog 'Ollivander', after the first guy to get Exploding Tummy Syndrome in Alien. Extra-Swimming was on for the 4 of us who turned up, apparently we should all have moved up to the Academy last week but the photocopier broke down so we didn't get the letters.
Tonight: Back to the Future 2, required reading for occupants of the 37th century, like me.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Mynde The Gappe

bronze iron age axes swords Up before I needed to be, I was ready and waiting for the taxi before it arrived. At the railway station I met Elizabeth who was off to see the Tower of London so we compared phones and added each other as contacts and found seats in the 'Quiet Area' of the train, hoho, and played Dragons loudly for 60 miles.
This was very good indeed for us and the assorted parents as we kept each other entertained for the entire journey. She is seeing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the Crown Jewels so we told her about the silver tureen big enough to bath a baby and she left us at Waterloo Station to go and find it.
We entered the underground network and disappeared into the night. Everybody is in a hurry on the tube and we were pushed along by the rising tide of humanity and took the Northern Line to Tottenham Court Road, changed to the Central Line and emerged, blinking, into the rarefied light of St Pauls.
From there the Museum of London was visible down a nice old street called St Martin Le Grand and we got a walkway over the road to the museum and killed 25 minutes looking at axe-heads and dead geezers and gold coins and mammoth tusks and iron spearheads and wattle and daub.
crime museum uncovered police evidence museumWe barely looked at the Roman occupation but the dark ages and the medieval period were quite fun with the religious architecture, Lord Mayor's rings, strongboxes for treasure, silverware and chain mail.
But our time (15-20 with good behaviour) in the Metropolitan Police's Crime and Evidence Exhibition was up. It has an age-related warning about possible nightmares but I've seen so many Schwarzenegger movies I'm past all that. The Krays sound nice.
This gruesome yet compelling collection has been growing practically since the beginning of the first Police force in the 19th century and we couldn't take photos but I can report that the guns and knives and drugs and the real hangman's ropes and terrorist bomb kits and the acid bath for dissolving bodies and the weapons cunningly concealed in household objects and the inventive murder weapons (butter knife, cyanide syringe-in-a-briefcase and arsenic-loaded flypaper) were all rather fun.
eating pret a manger on steps of st pauls cathedralThe cabinet of 'Real or Fake?' pistols shows you how difficult it is to be a Policeman when you don't know if the bank robber is holding a spud gun or a real gun. This is why the Police have kept everything, to help train new recruits. In the shop I got a London Underground Hat and a London Underground T-shirt and a book about the London Underground and one about the horrors of Newgate Jail.
I liked the knuckle-dusters with integral knives, the morning star, sword stick, naily golf ball-on-a-chain, coshes and false binoculars with spring-loaded nails in the eye holes. The anti-horse nail bombs were less pleasant. They have screens for feedback so I left some, others left messages about bogeys on the glass cabinets etc.
I couldn't quite be bothered to go round the rest of the museum so we exited stage left and found a Pret a Manger outside. On previous visits we've spent an hour in a posh restaurant getting food but this was much easier. For less than a tenner we both got big sub rolls (and I got a chocolate mousse).
Deciding not to eat on the move like so many Londoners around us, we bypassed the investment banks on Gresham Street and sat in the spring sunshine on the steps of little-known parish church 'St Paul's Cathedral'. We saw £1 coins in the fountain but I didn't go in.
palace of westminster medieval tower wallsMy sub roll was so nice 10/10, would eat again right now. This opens up significant possibilities for future trips to London as these Pretamanger places are everywhere.
Diving back below the surface of the city, back of my neck getting dirty and gritty, we tubed it to 'Bank' but did not visit Threadneedle Street. Instead I confidently hared on up the escalator to the Waterloo and City line, came right back down again with mild embarrassment and followed the signs for the Circle Line to Westminster.
We had to wander lengthy passages, up 7 escalators, down 5 others until we reached 'Monument' and got our train. I was getting tired legs. We have been to Westminster many times, it's practically our default location but this time we skirted around the good old Houses of Parliament and found the Jewel Tower.
medieval cathedral cloisters westminster abbeyThis is the only remaining part of the old Palace of Westminster, offers in the region of 800 years ago when kings were kings and teeth were hard to come by and it was the corner tower of the old castle walls, scars still visible today.
The woman was very nice and let me play with her giant keys and wooden crossbow. I liked the vertiginous stone spiral staircase (no inspiral carpets) and one of the doors is labelled 1621 and Henry the 8th I am I am used it as a furniture store after his gold and silver was moved to another location.
The tower is not very big. We bought some chocolate for Jof and I illegally invaded the old moat and looked up the old drainpipe.
Right round the other side of Westminster Abbey is the Pyx Chamber, accessible through the Dean's Courtyard. This small dark subterranean room with big thick walls and a door with 6 locks is another old treasure chamber and the only other place we can get into free of charge with our English Heritage card. There was a 15th century oak chest for priest's capes.
st edward confessor king englandIt did mean we could explore 2 sets of medieval cloisters (very groovy) and see Britain's Oldest Door (950 years and counting) and that's when I started taking pictures on my phone. We could NOT get into the rest of the Abbey on our free ticket because of the armed priests on the doorways and it would have been another £29. A chap at Bud's work has a family coat of arms up in Henry the 7th's Lady-chapel (just by the Lady-garden) and we had planned on looking for it but the £29 factor put us off. I did get a medallion and pewter model of the Abbey in the shop. Quite heavy on religious finery, as I recall.
Also, we were supposed to cross Lambeth Bridge and go to the excellent Promised Playpark in Archbishop's Gardens but my tired feet were throbbing a lot and I elected to walk across the slightly nearer 'Westminster Bridge' again to the London Eye, with slight stop-off to sit and play with my phone 100 feet above the roiling Thames.
This has been a bone of contention since I first met it 6 years ago. On the day I climbed to the very top of the dome of St Paul's, I didn't want to ride the Eye. In the years since, Jof said that she wanted to rotate upon it with us as a 'Family Outing' so we have studiously avoided it, going out to plenty of other perfectly good places.
boy in precarious position over river thames bridgeBut today we rebelled and bought some very expensive tickets. The Queue was very short and we were served by the obligatory Australian (see previous post on the London Dungeons) and joined the main Queue. The polite chap who couldn't grow a proper beard told us that we had to exchange our tickets for some other tickets in City Hall so we went there, with confusion, annoyance and our perfectly good tickets.
Queue #3 was very big. I elected to sit on the radiator and play on my phone while he queued to gain official ticketed authorisation to join the queue. That got us back to Queue #2 which enabled us to have our bags searched ("Did you bring your flick-knives today, Sir?") while he surreptitiously wiped a metal-detector up our legs and then we joined Queue #4.
I can tell you, it's a Big Four-Queue to the entire Coca-Cola London Eye Customer Transit Experience.
ferris wheel london eye passengerAs our pod inched ever closer, we could see the staff procedure. A pod disgorges its human cargo and 2 staff members with mirrors on sticks run on and sweep for bombs left under the central benches. Then, Staff Member #3 runs on and sweeps for litter and the pod is deemed fit to accept another dozen tourists with assorted languages and 37 cameras each.
The wheel does not stop turning (how are we supposed to dance?) under normal function but when the litter-bomb sweepers have a problem, it stops temporarily. You can see for miles and we saw the Queen's house and Downing Street and Waterloo Station and the Mobile Phone and the Shard and the Prong and the Wombat and the Cucumber and the Tate Modern and a tiny bit of Tower Bridge and lots of little tiny humans and busy boats and London Buses.
london underground hat shirt coins telephone boxNext time I'll take Jof. Once we'd been disgorged, I squashed 6 different pennies in the tourist souvenir coin-squashing machines and didn't look at the guitar busker or the street magician but did do some sterling work in the recently renovated wooden climbing park right next to the Eye.
This park used to be a regular stop-off for me but they destroyed it and now it's back with a vengeance and a new name - Jubilee Gardens. The logs are rounded and high up and for a while there it was quite hairy until my gymnastics training kicked in and I traversed the whole installation without using the ropes or touching the Hot Lava.
Then I was thirsty so we bought lots of beer at Waterloo and only just found a seat on the 12th carriage of the 12-coach train and visited Worplesdon and Godalming and Jof said she'd pick us up.
I occupied 3 seats horizontally and gradually people got off so it wasn't so obvious that I was hogging. I had a shower-bath and was quite tired really, although I quacked and hooted a lot and my light was switched off for me (against my will) at 1130.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Golden Snatches and Sunken Benches

southsea model village easter egg competitionDays off with Jof are often relaxed so I got up at about 11 and after Brunch we made it out onto the mean streets of Pompington to see what we could see.
Yesterday we had to adapt our plans a bit but in this life, you adapt or die and so we went to the Southsea Model Village. Not a Communist Utopia like good old Naughty Korea, this is a partially dismantled wartime fort which has been home to a dubious collection of pottery figurines, a rather inventive railway and a lot of bad jokes for a number of years. The council can't possibly redevelop the listed building so it remains a post-modern nightmare-kitsch throwback to times past with badly-maintained fences and a hankering for a saucy postcard outlet. We cycled down there, because having done it yesterday, there really was no excuse not to.
They advertise a "stunning new refurbishment" which was one elderly chap going round painting one porcelain villager per day. To be fair, MyDogSighs (a talented local artist who we have met) has done another splendid mural by the entrance to the rifle bunker (doubles up as Santa's Grotto in wintertime) and both the Castle and the water features have been cleaned up.
lumps fort southsea model villageThey had an Easter competition to espy as many golden eggs as possible. You can see one at the top of the head of my shadow. The original maximum was 17, apparently, we found 15 but you can't be sure if some of the gold has been snatched. One kid said he'd seen 21 and we all laughed at him. I won some sweeties. We all won sweeties.
The obligatory malevolent yellow-eyed cat was missing which made Jof sad but there were plenty of local youths climbing on the wooden rose frames in the rose garden next door and I tried out the zipline of death in Canoe Lake Swingpark and then we were hungry.
I am due to visit London tomorrow and Bud had prepared a picnic bag. We had raided it totally and then decided we wanted hot food anyway. So we found the newer seaside eatery (the one that Jof didn't like last time) and I had Haddock Crunch and she had Croque Madame (like Croque Monsieur but with extra fried egg) and everybody had chips, hurrah.
cafe bench buried in shingle after winter stormsOutside the seaside eatery they have benches of all nations. The slight drawback being, it's on the shingle beach which is an unpredictable, moveable feast, practically feminine in its random indecision. One day you can sit happily at the sunny benches, the next day the angry sea has moved the beach around out of spite and you can't stick an apologetic leg in without risking dismal death by drowning.
In gymnastics I had to do conditioning circuits which made my legs tired. In half-handstands you're upside-down for 30 seconds and it made my ears go pink. At supper, Bud did a silly speech about how the phone and entire LAN network was down at his work and the IT department said raise a ticket online and give us your contact number, I got hiccups laughing.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Bottom of the Ninth

tenth hole golf course portsmouthI didn't have anything scheduled for today, so we invented some stuff. The night was confusing because Storm Katie came through and for hours the house was going woo and rattle and thump, but in the morning it was all still there. Some people lost slates and tiles (An Inconvenient Roof).
Today Bud got his first mobile phone, forward into the 17th century! Then we all cycled south against the gales to the Tenth Hole Golfarium and Tea Rooms. For years we've been eating there but I've never been allowed on the golf course because I wasn't 10 years old, up until this year.
So we got some golf bats and the little cup-on-a-stick called a tee and a ball each. Well, I'm not going to make world champion any time soon. With intense tuition from the experts around me (0) I got it to the point where I could line up my feet towards the impossibly distant flags (some are 100 yards away), practise my swings successfully, and then right at the last down-swinging minute, I take 1 step to the side, bend my legs, drop my shoulders and hammer the golf racket vertically downwards into the ground.
portsmouth weather winter storm damageSometimes the ball goes sideways and hits me on the ankle, sometimes not. It does not matter how many times I practise the keeping-everything-straight business, as soon as there's a ball to hit I try to chop it executioner-style. On the way round we picked up extra balls and tees and pencils and other detritus abandoned by previous players and the whole time, we battled against the typhoons coming in off the sea, making the wire fences sing and our noses run as we tried to work out which golf stick was which.
But I had a really good time and we laughed and Jof got stuck in the chasms and the canyons and I went sideways a lot but who cares. I came last but that means I got to hit the ball more often, who's the winner now, eh? Next to the golf pitch is a cricket ground au naturel, ie 6 inches deep in monsoon water. We will be going there next week to destroy it. This meant we'd earned lunch and bonus chocolate cake of impressive girth. We were due to see the model village (now with refurbishments!) but the biting wind had more than a hint of rain in it so we did the Butterfly Museum instead where I looked at the skulls and bees and dead bats and bought 2 plastic marine mammals to squirt at each other in the bath. There were no butterflies.
Spent another 20 minutes arguing about what film I didn't want to watch. It's so unfair making me watch back to the future, who cares about what I want, life sucks.
Watched back to the future with supper. It was brill! I couldn't stop jumping up and down and cackling about it, stuff going to bed.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Haven't a Cur in the World

pink armies occupying russia continentDue to a combination of a late night, no alarm clock, and the Man from the Ministry changing the time while I was asleep, I got up first thing this afternoon. So I spent ages on Minecraft, playing with the Blender-Dragons and breeding dogs. You can name them anything you like (which is asking for trouble with 10 year-olds) and set them to Love Mode and they have babies. But you can't train cats. I had to kill all my cats because they were interfering with the chickens. If I was to kill all my dogs, I wouldn't have a cur in the world, aha.
Finally even I'd had enough tablet-time and ordered a game of Risk. I (Green) sometimes go that little bit too far and leave myself with a huge amount of countries, all with one army. I also like to leave extra armies in Argentina and then later, wonder why. Jof (Black) makes sensible efforts to conquer continents and sit on them, but capitulates instantly as soon as any nearby army picks up its teacup. Bud (Pink) moves only a little bit at a time, building huge walls to hide behind and taking one country at a time to get cards. Here we see the hordes of pinko commies busy threatening nobody.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

A Wheely Good Day

amusement arcade solent wheel southseaAs is traditional for mid-holiday shenanigans, I woke up at 930 and was just jumping on Bud on the sofa when I saw Sydney outside my house, walking her dog. I was still in my pyjamas (lucky, on most days I'm naked) so didn't rush outside to greet her, but invited her out to go on the Ferris wheel that has just been erected by Pirate Pete's.
She replied 8 times which seemed positive so we went to her house and met the dog and drove to the seafront and asked the Wheel man if we could go on. There was a bit of discussion about whether it was open due to high winds but they let us have our very own 6-person gondola and we went round 3 times! Gosh, how we cheered.
You can see lots from the 35 metre apogee and so by the time we'd landed, we knew we needed to play Pirate Golf.
pirate golf course southsea amusement arcadesChoosing the 'Warrior Trail', I beat her by 7 shots, possibly because she went for a maximum 10 on 2 holes. She has a very cheaty swiping motion and in some cases, practically swept the ball along. I conveniently forgot that I used to do that. In the end, there was no choice but to do the 'Victory Trail' as well (another £7) and she beat me by 1 shot! She reads my blog so I have to be polite.
Outside, we tried the remote-controlled galleons and mine was fast but hers didn't work at all and we had to call the man out to get her £1 back and then we wasted our £5 allowances in the arcade of flashing lights. Splitting it down into 2ps and 10ps we made it last ages and we played air-hockey even when the blowers switched off and then came home for pizza and X-box.
During a guided house-tour, I discovered she is just as pants at me at darts in the garage, but she can reach the top of the board to get them down again because she is taller than me and hardly teased me about it at all. Plus she loves Minecraft on the X-box, I see a decent future in this one. We gave her back after 5 hours and that left me free to relight the lounge fire and watch another film. This turned out to be "Terminator 2", the iconic Uber-killer film that I first encountered 2 years ago when I was 8, and represented the beginning of my love affair with Schwarzenegger and other action movies. During this film I learned how to pick a Yale tumbler lock, why using the word niggers is no longer socially acceptable and how the malleus, incus and stapes help transmit sound waves to the brain. And you just thought it was about guns and bombs and knives and stabbing weapons.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Friday. Ooza good boi, den?

Started the day with a dragon, feeling much better. The sun came out, and then so did I with a trip to the park to kick an under-inflated football around. I have inherited ball skills from both sides of the family so am doubly disadvantaged, but got the fresh air anyway.
wine corks and wood for sitting room fireA man came to take the games table out of the garage. This is all part of the big clear-out and we prepared tonight's fire with its 54 wine corks and 3 cooking spatulas. Jof took me to Giant Tesco (past lots of loud football fans) where I got her 3 large Easter eggs for £10 and she got me my first phone in a complicated transaction. I spent hours playing with it and it writes down what you say which surprised Jof.
Then another man came to take away the pool table. He has Too Many Children and is challenged for entertainment. He has his own minibus. We lit the fire and I put on all the kindling and was left with only logs, who needs forward planning anyway. The guy who has failed to collect the Scout tents that he bought 15 days ago still hasn't made it to collect. Watched Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull in which everything gets destroyed.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Life in the Fast Lane: On Stage Again

25 highland road southsea arthur daleysHooray for those naughty teachers and their insane lust for power (and their insistence on having extra days off). I managed some meaningful interaction with Jof before she left for work hoho and got right on down to some serious Dragon-building.
But you can't have a day off on your day off so we drove down to a new shop that has recently opened and took some of our winnings from selling the gunshells. Hampshire Coins and Artefacts appears to be a couple of likely lads renting a cheap shopfront on Highland Road to do Arthur Daley-style coin and note deals and allow lots of time off for metal-detecting. When we got there, they had put a little sign on the door saying we're off metal-detecting. This was no good for us so we went swimming.
boy introducing the next act on groundlings theatre stageI am due to miss my Thursday swim because of being on the stage again so I got in with my free card and he paid but nobody ever looks at the ticket anyway (ever) and we did an hour and 15 minutes of lengths in the fast lane, splashing, diving, messing about underwater in the slow lane and fun. Swimming is always good.
Coin man was still detecting so I ate luxury prawns and luxury custard and watched Alice in Wonderland. I ate bacon and noodles because of why not and arrived at the theatre 135 minutes before the curtain was due to rise. 20 minutes before we were due onstage, the guy who was scheduled to do our intro bailed and I had to step in, learn the lines (and ad-lib a little) and cement my position as the reliable go-to presenter for the producer in need.
groundlings theatre school showcase curtain groupThe whole show was a mish-mash of all the various groups from young to old, actors to singers, each doing a spot. The grey-haired group did confusing excerpts from some sketches, brave solo singers came on and the microphones thumped and may have been turned up too loud and gave us a juicy howl-round.
We did a tableau of the four seasons with interpretative dance including shoots of spring, a sheep and so forth. I intertwined competently with Sydney who had dangly diaphanous veils and I wore my christmas jumper and woolly hat.
The close-harmony singers were nice, the bank manager did a monologue and there was another inventive soloist who used many new musical notes previously unknown to science and then we did the mass clap-along and we got home slightly after 10pm. I was tired but my head was buzzy and my tummy angry. Jof gave me drugs and Bud gave me milk.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Olivia the Ghastly

havens corner church crazy religious warningsAs ever, the last day of the school term is a half-day at best. Some people had to finish off their work but Ben and I didn't, so we got to play an online Minecraft game in which you have to defend your house against various invading Ender-persons and Ghosts and Ghasts and Skeleton Zombies and all the usual.
boys bedroom full of pokemon cards and legoWe also had a class trip to the Girls' Academy by the church with the giant tower that features on my homepage. They have a real stage with spotlights and an orchestra pit (well, an area for the band) and actual curtains and they put on a performance of Oliver! for us. But because it is a girls' school, it was Olivia! the musical, and in our humble (ever so 'Umble) opinions, it was dreadful.
ford mondeo estate boot big enough for 2 boysOf course all the parts were played by girls apart from one teacher who was dressed as a Roman and only made woo and gaah noises. Once we were released from this torment, I took Ben home and we made Lego rifles and he had the idea of making them double-thickness so we could put a bullet in and then we got in the boot of the new car to check it out.
At Wednesday Park it was very busy indeed and even though our group was 10-handed, we were outnumbered by very very little people and the park was full of mummies protecting their tiny offspring from our fast-moving football. Of course, we were those diminutive dingbats once. Eventually we were turfed out into the wider park area for safety and kicked the ball over the thatched roof of the barn which is really high.
For pudding I had luxury custard and a bloke failed 2 days running to come and collect the stuff we'd advertised on Gumtree. What is it about free stuff they don't like?

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Eating your Cake and 'Avin' it Large

product knockoff fail funnyTuesdays are surprisingly busy days. Well, not all of them, there was that Tuesday in February when I didn't even get dressed until gymnastics.
Today I carried Jof's Easter Cake in to school, while wearing my swimming rucksack.
Yet more angry bomb-throwing sand monkeys blew themselves up in Belgium, possibly because Santa didn't deliver or they couldn't get a girlfriend.
meon school southsea FOMS cake saleAnyway, in our last School Tuesday Swim, we had fun-time and played tag in the water. I evaded capture by swimming under people. In Religious Instruction we had to make our own symbols (hear the status symbols clash) like the cross or crescent moon or pyramid with sun above and I made a big M with figure diving. Perhaps I could have done 2 figures diving like the Kappa logo with the 2 people back-to-back and made an M that way.
During the walk from swimming, Child B was telling us about his time in the Army Cadets. He has an orienteering challenge where he has to carry his life in a rucksack, hike for 4 hours to some woods where they release chickens and bears and pheasants and cows and they have to shoot an animal while not being captured by the hunters behind enemy lines and cook the dead animal on their porta-stoves. He says that one cadet won by chopping an eagle's head off with a penknife so as not to alert a nearby hunter with the sound of gunfire. I would also like to be a cadet.
antique swords armour portsmouth historical dockyardAnyway, then it was Cake Day in the assembly hall and we all ran with our 50ps and the winning cake was a giant egg with an icing chicken inside although it would have been better with a dinosaur inside. Jof's cake came SECOND so I got a prize bag of jellybabies which I took to acting rehearsals. There's a new one for Monopoly - Win 2nd Prize in a Cake Contest.
But there is no rest for the wacky and I had a hurried meal at home and left to resume my previous occupation of arms dealer. The chap on the dockyard gates hardly wanted to look in our heavy bag full of artillery shells at all and we got £80 off the nice chap in the gunshop and looked at all his swords again and then we said that the money can go on funny foreign coins and a trip to London so he gave me a genuine Roman coin for my collection as a bonus. It might be Greek.
Then, by Jehovah, we went to the theatre where I met Sydney and that's when the day really started.
We went through our roles and the littlest kid wasted our time and Sydney lost her shoe and at the end we gave her a lift home while I emailed her mother to say where we were. Jof had a bath ready for me.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Spring Clearout

african white giant mushroom
In school today 80% of the class had to stay in for break and lunch because they hadn't finished their coursework. Amazingly, I had, so I was free.
It's just a short hop to the Easter holidays and following my extended gaming day yesterday, I was raring to go again. But Bud was in the garage preparing to offload our pool table (never used, sat in the garage for a year after the previous owners kept it in their garage for years) and the 3-way gaming table (never used).
So he kept needing me for photos which meant I couldn't fight quite as many dragons as I would have done if I wasn't molested by pool cues and dusty tables.
Clearing out the garage means rediscovering long-lost items. So we got out the duplicate gunshells and have already arranged to flog them to a fence down the docks, or rather an antiques dealer in the dockyard. And we realised that we haven't lit the lounge fire all winter, so that'll clear out a bit more.
15 mm howitzer cart elec start bofors 40mm trampolines-gb rotating 3-way games tableWe've collected all the wine corks, the broken slat from my bed, a small wooden elephant we found at the seaside, the legs off my Lego crafting table, a pound of pistachio shells, the firework I found on the garage roof, and many other flammable delights, and we'll burn them all, baby, at the weekend.
Just when I was watching cartoons, Flynn came to the door to remind me that it was Scouts so we hastily swapped Pokémon cards and I told him that Charizard Mega-EX 3rd Evolution is worth £1 million because there's only one in the world, owned by the Queen. He didn't believe me. In Scouts we played cricket and learned that the Umpire's decision is final even if you think he's wrong, and we made paper aeroplanes and got hot.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Dragon Hatchers but not Cradle Snatchers

playdate with computer gamesAt last! The event I wanted to delete Saturday for has arrived. First I had to hoover the house but I don't mind, then Elizabeth came for a playdate.
I specifically requested an audience with Elizabeth because at the New Year's party, she showed me the dragon quest game and I've been playing it ever since. She brought her ipod and we basically sat on my bed and played for 3 hours. We hatched dragons and fought amongst ourselves. She showed me yet another new game called Beat The Boss and I am currently saving up for a rocket launcher, as you do.
easter cake eggs chicks green icingRight at the end we came downstairs for fruit and chocolate and I was told not to show her Schwarzenegger movies as she's only 9 although she'd probably like them.
Meanwhile, Jof spent the whole day making a Cake of Many Layers. Easter is soon apparently which is when you make cakes covered in inedible chickens and green icing and farmyard-based confectionery and she actually used a supreme ruler to position the steps of her patisserie pyramid and she had to wash up, like, 8 times.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Swiggity Swooty (I'm coming for that booty)

kid playing dragon quest on tabletI was really angry when he told me to put the tablet down and get dressed for Acting. So in a fit of pique I asked whether he'd looked up the public swimming times at the pools I can get into free, and he said no, and I said well I didn't want to do it anyway, although really I did. Incidentally, my forehead is sore where I banged it with my cooler-shaker at the music festival yesterday.
So, in Acting we went over our lines and performances for the showcase production next week and we could hear the teenagers whispering from behind the curtain and if the little boy doesn't behave himself next week, he'll be out. But I was paired up with my girlfriend Sydney. Last night I drew a love heart on the shower-screen with the arrow through it and S&M underneath, nothing to do with whips and chains though. If I'd put M&S it wouldn't have been about quality menswear at sensible prices either.
boy and mum giggling on grey sofaThen I got so much of what I truly wanted (screen-time) that my legs seized up. Even later, Jof (with her new haircut) taught me to crochet-knit and we giggled so much there was nearly a Trouser Incident™ and I got hiccups. Even even later, I selected 'Demolition Man' for supper viewing, with Sly Stallone and W. Snipes Esq, and the civil servant from Yes, Minister and lots of guns and bombs and electrical discharges and Blue Cherenkov Stasis Pellets and a socially uneven post-violent Utopian Society. Bed and instant sleep was 1116 and at exactly 1216 I dreamt a loud demonstrative swordfight where I shouted a bit.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Skippers, Movers and Shakers

Well, this time I didn't have to wear school uniform on a non-uniform day.
First, we got the bus to the inner-city school where we sat and learned about the beat and clapped along to the rhythm of various well-known soft rock ballads such as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and then we went outside for break.
wedding video in old church funnyThis was epic because they have a much better playground than us with a tennis court in it (although I made the mistake of describing it as a f***ing tennis court) and an obstacle course and a 4-floor wooden climbing hut with an 8-loop curly slide coming down from the top. We all loved that.
But then we had to do our performance and we did individual demonstrations and then a combined effort. First, the trianglers tinged. Then the shakers shook. I was a shaker but this was a seated performance so my options for artistic dance interpretations were limited. Then the drummers banged. Then the strigilators scratched. It was deafening.
The teacher blew his whistle (well, we could see him kissing one and going pink, but we couldn't hear it over the infernal cacophony) and they gradually toured the class shutting down the noisier kids until we were all silent, minutes later. Child C broke his own drum.
Then some bright spark dropped his bangstick onto his drum and we took that as a sign to restart and we all banged and scraped and tinged and shook all over again.
Back at our own school we did skipping for Sport Relief, as many skips as you can manage in a minute. Caitlin did 111 but I only managed 8, because timing your jump right is tricky for a first-time skipper. But I got 2 certificates, one for effort and concentration during swimming and one for effort solving maths problems with clear reasoning! Maybe I won't have to be a roadsweeper when I grow up. My swimming teacher says I can move up to Silver Hat as soon as I increase my lung capacity. My plan is to breathe heavily for a while, I know there's this thing called running but I'm having no part of it. Later we had a chocolate platter to die for, let's hope I don't get heart disease.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

A Cooler Shaker

Ocean Acidification
So yesterday I was told that my name had been pulled out of a hat like an errant rabbit. This won me a trip to an inner-city school to perform in a Music Festival, and today the instruments were handed out. These are all percussion instruments so we didn't have to learn to play the Polynesian Nose Flute or Medieval Slide Trumpet overnight, basically, of the 30 of us, most got drums and there was a smattering of triangles and bean-shakers.
anti submarine mark 10 mortar shell case2 would-be musicians got the double-ended shakers, I got the single. Apparently we will all get our 3 1/2 seconds of fame performing solo onstage, I reckon all the drummers will simply try to outdo each other with noise and possible membrane perforation (either of the drum, or the eardrums of the audience) so I have to stand out in some way. I have therefore elected to shake my tush in groovy fashion as well as the shaker, and practised my funky moves at home with a 1962 Mark 2 Anti-Submarine Mortar, as you do.
In Extra-Swimming I had an ongoing splashing game with the girl in the yellow hat with the big smile, why not.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

My Woodchips Bring all the Boys to my Yard

sacred heart spelling failIn school today my name came out of the Magic Hat once more and I was thusly selected to attend a music festival at a neighbouring school. Quite what kind of music I will be required to perform has not been made clear to me, however I predict that if it's singing, I'll Boss it, if it's playing an instrument I will face hardship.
giant yellow tennis ball from sports directThen we raced home past the 2D Quidditch players and went to pick up the JBs from their school. While I have collected various children over the years, this was a new one for me and we parked nearby and walked in past all the other kids leaving.
tag game in park with a ballI knew many of them, from Scouts, sailing, YMCA and all these other activities that I've done. We gained ingress via an open door because when you're 10 and you look like you know where you're going, nobody looks at you.
We had a quick look around the school and found the security doors leading to the reception area where we could see the boys waiting for us, and went through those doors from the inside and we drove home. We traded stories of religious punishments and might have possibly mentioned the entirely fictional nature of all the jesus fables and made up new superpowers for him, none stranger than the ones already ascribed to him.
It might still be March so it was quite cold in the park but it was bright and there was a LittleMax and a GreenGuy and the Owens and BabyEdward and a big old crowd of others. My Giant Yellow Tennis Ball died last week but it's lucky us chaps have 2 balls because we could carry on our excellent hard work with nary a break in play.
We did 90 minutes before we transferred ownership of the JBs over to Ben like the little orphans they aren't. My feet were tired.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

An Awful Lot of Trousers

private hire luxury coach human bus
Refreshed, I awoke at 0710 and read for a bit. This is the life, apart from where we lost the swimming relay because half of our best swimmers were put in another team.
Today we got our order forms for the week-long residential school trip where we practise leaving home. It makes it very clear that we shall be outside for a lot of the time so big shoes and many socks and trousers are on the list.
And because there is a special law that dictates that as soon as you have put on your last pair of trousers, thou shalt spill hot chocolate right down them, I shall be taking spare trousers for the spare trousers with possibly some tertiary redundant leg coverings.
A Short Treatise on Punishments.
As you know, regular as well as targeted punishment is a vital part of any balanced upbringing and is so often the cause for whippy, leathery peccadilloes amongst Her Majesty's Judiciary. But in recent years the accent has shifted away from basic corporal punishment towards structured negotiations, deal-making, and vague threats of privilege erosion, rather than instant, stiff penalties for transgressions.
Thus nowadays a 'punishment' may take the form of a cessation of X-Box play for a week, suspension of football rights or cancellation of the promised sleepover etc. This approach is doomed to fail because children live only in the minute: so if they get what they want now, they will ignore any possible consequences and indeed, do not believe the parent or care-giver will follow through on the threats anyway. No child believes in Santa any more so third-party proxies are impotent: what child will knowingly be good for 364 days on the promise of a Lego Millennium Falcon when he knows full well it has to be purchased months in advance.
single wooden bed broken by kid jumping on it
In today's pitifully liberal society, a good birching or six-of-the-best has been knocked into the long grass so the short-sharp-shock I am given in extreme circumstances is a nasal explosion. He grabs my head and blows up my nose. Setting aside for one minute the sudden aroma of coffee or beer, let's concentrate on the revolting burbling noise as a gout of my own sinus fluid goes the wrong way down my throat. Believe me, I hate it and it is the only true threat to stop me in my tracks.
So today I tried to get my own back. I attacked him with my increasing size, strength and bodyweight and nearly had him. This meant several minutes of giggling, fighting and tussling where it was never quite clear who would prevail as what I lack in muscle, I make up for in speed and determination.
So Jof came in to tell us off and cheated of my victory, I went to my room fizzing with energy, jumped onto my bed and face-planted it in a display of simple youthful exuberance. But my steadily increasing size meant a greater impact value which cracked one of the support struts and that earned me lots of shouting. It will have to be replaced with a plank from a pallet from Bud's work. Goodness knows how adults don't break their beds all the time with their greater weight and the nocturnal machinations I know so little about.
Keen-eyed viewers may detect a previous pallet-plank from a previous exuberant impact ...

Monday, 14 March 2016

The Good Ship Mungo

no regrets i've had a few funny failBack in October of last year, we had a special memo from the school telling parents that we would be walking to the seafront, learning about coastal erosion, and floating our boats on Canoe Lake as part of our "Waterworld" topic.
My boat (The Good Ship Mungo, powered by a Helium Confusion Reactor and based on an interstellar vessel of the same name that first flew in 2089) has been stuck on a shelf in the Art cupboard for the intervening period.
school visit to eastney beachDue to adverse weather conditions, this trip never happened. But today, it did. Amazingly, everyone else knew it was a non-uniform day even though it clearly states 'comfortable shoes with their normal school uniform' on the order sheet.
We walked down to the swimming pool, and meandered along the very long beach road and stopped off for some fun at the park and floated our boats. I was not allowed pictures of this event but I can tell you that mine floated really well but as we were all stationed the wrong side of the lake (for the wind direction) they could only bump into the side again and it was all rather unsatisfactory. One of my schoolfriends had to have the boat that Jof made - I renamed it the Capsizing Disaster but that wasn't fair as it did float.
After we'd walked all the way back again, my feet were throbbing like Rudolph's nose in the hayfever season. I reckoned we'd done 6 miles but I could be wrong.
cut open tennis ball on head as hatkid needs a haircutOn the way home, I stopped off for a minimally invasive procedure, the agreed haircut. Here is a selfie from the beach trip as a 'Before' image, and one from afterwards. If I grow my hair I look like I've got my own Van de Graaff generator so mostly I go for the good old Grade 2. This time, I asked for short sides and a bit more on top. She thought I'd be too old for a lollipop. Wrong again. Incidentally, one of the giant tennis balls got a puncture so had to be thrown away. Never mind, it only cost £5 and we've had months of use - and we've got a second one. In Scouts we learned about Leprosy.
Jof made a special supper for Bud. Knowing that the chilli sauce you get in the shops is never hot enough, but NOT knowing that the specially purchased "Dave's Gourmet Insanity Sauce" IS, she added a less scientific 'Glop' or was it a 'Blotch' or a 'Glug' to the sausage-in-beans casserole instead of the more usual 4-8 drops. Never mind, at least there's always a pizza and 17 toilet rolls in the freezer, and the knowledge that the noxious fumes emanating from the saucepan made her sneeze 11 times in a row and she had to sit down.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Il Bambino Fastidioso

barn in milton park portsmouth playersI had only one appointment today and that was a visit to my Scouting friend Matteo. I passed the time by playing Dragon Attack and so forth on the tablet, because my arrangement is one hour of screen time per day during the week and infinite at weekends, so I absolutely make sure I don't put it down in case they renege on the deal.
As it happened, I allowed myself to be taken to the park for some footballing and Jof was even worse than me and fell over and we always got it stuck in the prickle-bush of doom and 2 small boys joined in and we tried to retrieve some balls trapped under the chicken wire holding the roof on to the old barn in the park.
sunny march dayAfter a quick lunch we went to Matteo's house. They have a nice double-width one on a street where not all houses are nice and they have the decent floor tiles like we used to have in the old house. Jof followed as I'd forgotten the tablet and we did some Pokémon and some tableting but there was a big problem. It was 3 years old and was his little sister. She was very annoying and messed up our Pokémon card piles and kept getting in the way and it didn't matter how many times we tried to lock her out, she just came back in with her bleating and drippy nose and nonsensical babbling. Gosh, lucky I was never like that.
In the end his parents took us all right back to the same park to make us run around and the solipsistic sister got in the way of the swings and didn't take her turn properly on the slide (I was Slide Warden) and I got home after about 3 hours. Jof says it is a kid sister's prime job to be annoying but they start to look better once they get to about 16. Bud says that all kids only care about themselves being the centre of attention which is why she couldn't handle us playing Pokémon without her.
So once I'd done some more hours on the tablet and made Jof do my homework, I felt better. Tomorrow: The Good Ship Mungo.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

The Island of Dead Swans (Every which way but Goose)

The day started interestingly. Bud brought home the new car before I'd even finished my bacon sandwich. Then, I was just going up the stairs naked when there was a knock on the door and the Ebay buyer came to collect my brand new practically unused scooter at low low prices and then we drove to the theatre, and we didn't stall the new car once.
southsea model village canoe lake splashpadI took my natty suit along but we didn't need it, my 'Showcase' performance is season based so I will need winter clothes instead. I was paired up with my girlfriend Sydney which was fine by us.
Because it was such a nice day I was persuaded to cycle to the Model Village. Jof gets lots of local knowledge and she'd heard a whisper in the Elephant about the Village getting a makeover. But when we got there, they said they weren't open until Easter. What a swizz.
But this left us right by Canoe Lake with a bag of torn-up croissants and hot cross buns so after a quick go in the park, we fed some swans. They weren't particularly impressed with my bready offerings and moved so slowly that a lot of it was stolen by seagulls. Crumbs!
seabirds crapping on sunken pedalo ducksWe had credit money as the Village was closed so I demanded we take out one of the pedalo swans, although we got a green duck. I have been in these things before and it always ends in anger. This time was no different as Jof wanted to go one way and I wanted to go the other, which is mostly in little circles, backwards, in sawtooth patterns, into the island of dead swans, into the sleeping actual swan, or into the pedaloes of other lake users. It was a very long 20 minutes fighting over the steering wheel, although we did see the cormorant (or was it a shag?) adding to the huge pile of guano on the island.
Jof told me off a lot and Bud rocked the duck from the back seat not for the first time and she shouted a lot and I found it very funny. You get a £1 voucher for the café with every £7.50 swan trip so we had ice creams as the sun went down and Jof lost slabs of chocolate off her magnum ice cream and I laughed even more. A Jof with a chocolate deficit is not a happy creature so we rode home in the cold and we played Lego. Film Night was supposed to be 'Schoolgirl Sex Orgy Spankathon III' apparently but it turned out to be Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, so easy to get those mixed up, bed elevenish.