Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Fear and Loofahs in Las Vegas

dentist jokeSchool as normal. There is a new lunch-time Karate class, but I don't want to do it. I prefer fist-to-fist combat, apparently.
Anyway, it's now 8 weeks until the dreaded SAT tests, which will determine what selection of classes I go into next year at my new school.
And it's one more day until I find out what school I'll be going to. What a whole bunch of future-related trousers-of-time decisions. Will a new universe be created every time a choice is made, or is that just something made up by cosmologists to get tenure and free lunches in the canteen?
Also, Bud may get a job with the government, but probably not Prime Minister.
Yesterday at Scouts during the 'Saluting the Flag' bit, Child A thought it would be funny to do the special salute recently made famous by a well-known German gentleman. I suppose as long as next week, we do the Black Power salute, then the Mr Spock salute, then the Double Rimmer, then a 21-gun salute....

Monday, 27 February 2017

Virtual Zombies

kid on toboggan in frozen city centreWoke up as usual, was nearly ready to go when Jof noticed I was walking like a zombie, lights on but nobody home. She let me go back to bed, which I did. Then she told me to take my school uniform off and I did that too.
That gave me a good extra hour's sleep and that made all the difference. I was in work by 10 something, early enough to get maths and half an hour on the Virtual Reality machines (a box with an iPad stuck in it). The teacher could see where our eyes were looking on her screen so she took us round all manner of historical scenes and we went in a volcano and all the other stuff that you do in VR when you don't have access to special films.
stripy curtains boys bedroomOur parents have decided to re-invent Wednesday Park as 'Monday Park' with a twist - we do it ourselves. So, Ben came home with me to get changed and we met someone in the park so it took us 40 minutes to get home and then it took us 40 minutes to get changed because of loitering and not getting off our botties so by the time we got to the park, poor old Robert had given up and gone home.
This rolled on with consequences for BensMum and I'd forgotten to take the keys so we all stood outside in the cold waiting for Bud to come home, hoping that Robert would forgive us one day.
We'll do better next time. Still, we did have time for X-Boxing while the parents did the Park autopsy.
In Scouts we were told about the next Survival Camp in Africa, or was it the Jamboree. Anyway, you need £4,500 so I'm going to have to sell a lot of cakes.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

FIRST® LEGO® League UK and Ireland Final 2016-17

I woke up of my own accord and got dressed at 0531 just as Jof was coming up the stairs to get me up. It was a strangely energizing experience, much like getting up in the middle of the night to go on holiday.
Even though we left the house at 0600, we still had to wait to cross the road, but then the streets were empty. I joined the crowd outside school reception and we waited ages for Lucy and then got in our hired minivans and joined the empty motorway.
In 2 or so hours we got to Bristol, having seen the sun rise and the roadside verges full of magpies, obviously out there getting the worms. I read my book for most of the 120 mile journey.
The conference facilities at UWE (University of Western England) are huge and the carpark was already full when we arrived. We found our little allocated area and got changed into our team shirts and hats, which we get to keep.
FIRST LEGO League UK and Ireland Final 2016-17
There were 48 teams so we sat in the audience seating area for the opening ceremony at 0900. 2 comedy presenters cajoled us into cheering and shouting and passing inflatable plastic animals back and forth and Jof wanted to steal the giraffe.
Then a lady presenter came on and explained the fire alarm procedures and it all kicked off! There were 8 tables arranged in pairs and as 48 teams had to have 3 rounds, it was pretty busy with teams setting up and getting their countdowns and getting sent away again.
We started our session at 1015 and you get a couple of minutes to set up your robots after the Referees had reset the board to ground zero. Then you get 2 1/2 minutes to complete as many missions as you can: some teams were very hot on change-overs with little frantic fingers working away.
It is not all about robots, we had to do our presentations and demonstrate teamwork and innovation and learning and we all swapped freebies with the other teams to fill our goody-bags.
In our first round we forgot to put on the main attachment and then possibly pressed the wrong buttons a bit and it didn't really work at all so we got 9 points, while the top team got 231.
lego ahoy meon junior school team
After lunch it was Round 2 and our drunken robot fell over and trashed some obstacles and maybe the attachment arm was upside down a bit but we got 63 points, a vast improvement. We actually got 3 points but where the other team in the table-pair had turned the rotating device, both teams get the 60 extra points for the rotation mission, and we'll take them because this put us in 27th place. Your points don't add up over the rounds, you just get 3 chances to score your highest score.
Gradually as other teams did their runs, we dropped to 31st place: 'Feathered Fulshaw' had a naughty robot that couldn't be bothered but at least they got off 0 points, there were no Norwegian scores left at the end.
By Round 3 we were worried that we'd been cursed with malfunctions. Because we'd won the regional finals in order to be here, and against a load of teenagers too, we knew we were fully capable. But it wasn't working for us today and when they said volunteers please, who's doing Round 3, we all tried to hide behind each other and become invisible. Ben drew the short straw and we scored 30 which was not enough to get us into the knockout round.
balloon animals competition
Our robot went mad, did a little tits-up dance we hadn't programmed it to do and decapitated a reindeer while falling over again. 8 teams went through to the knockout round but we didn't so we put our bags in the van and watched the balloon challenge which was to dress up as an animal of your choice using those long sausage balloons as props. The emu won the prize (which was the inflatable giraffe that Jof coveted), but I reckon the horse was better. I handed out the cakes that Jof made and they went down very well indeed.
In the end, 'B6 Berellium' won it but 'Tech HEDs' will be going to the USA too. Note, both teams clearly shaved and drove themselves here today, being at least 19. On the way home I got severe leg cramps and we all got back to school at the same time and Jof made us some very welcome supper and she accidentally told me that the head-teacher doesn't mind if we go in 2 hours late tomorrow so you can be very sure I'll be doing that. It was a bizarre and very long day.
FIRST LEGO League UK and Ireland Final 2016-17
So, we might not have won any prizes or set the world aflame with our incandescent performance but we all joined in totally and had a really good time team-working and it was one of those experiences where you're super-glad to have a free T-shirt and some goody-bags and memories and 119 pictures and videos and the only non-staff/governor parents to bother to turn up and support you.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Pint of No Return

At 0600 I woke up knowing I was in the Lego League National Finals. So I leapt out of bed and banged a sleeping Bud on the bum and said hadn't we better get moving, it's 0606 and we're supposed to be at the school at 0615. That's tomorrow you Norbert, he said, crapsticks I said and slunk off to bed again.
flip out cosham party timeSo it was tough to wake me up at 0830 and he took me to acting for a 9am start.
Planned parts of the day:
Play rehearsals
'Film and TV acting' extra class at 10am
Swift lunch and Flip-out with the PuddleBoys
Quiet afternoon in preparation for tomorrow.
Bud absolved himself of responsibilities by going to yet another beer festival in Gosport and Jof did the shopping at Giant Tesco.
At the theatre I learned about Film and TV with the runner and the gaffer and the rest of the film crew. Gunwharf was set on fire and the road in front of us was full of emergency vehicles. In Flip-out we attacked generally and all fell down in the section with the suspended punchbag.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Calm before the Storm

road traffic accident near missFriday. For many, this means cathartic release from the stresses of the week for those with Friday on their minds, a half-day, a half-arsed day, a reason to thank a god of your choice, or a chance to wake up at 2am on the sofa with a second bottle of whisky still open on the table and white noise on BBC2.
But for Jof and I it was a time for quiet contemplation, gentle laundry, comfortable sofas and the last registered day of half-term. OK, so we went out into the briskly breezy outside world and visited the park.  
Storm Doris had ruffled the still-hibernating trees and dislodged the last of the dead branches. Thus, the ground was covered in the redacted dry twigs of last years' growth, amongst the brave new shoots of the new spring bulbs, a Crocus contradiction and Daffodil doublethink.
milton park portsmouth tennis courtsAh, we thought. The Scout Group is doing a skills-demo and camping sleepover soon so they'll need tinder (not the online discovery tool for like-minded bearers of red-hot desire, but stick-thin young scions capable of red-hot fire) so we got a free plastic bag off some woman using the bottlebank and brought home a sheaf of firestarters, because the Group Quartermaster needs all the help he can get.
chocolate dip on shortbread fingersYou know the way models in adverts have to look overjoyed to be holding the Yogurt or toothbrush or garden tool that is paying their fees? Well, I tried. But ground-breaking magazine 'Bingo Life' just made me think of dentures, colic and flatulence.
bingo life magazine and young fanApparently I have some kind of Lego-related national competition coming up. So, in honour thereof, Jof baked cakes and created other chocolatey culinary delights and I helped decorate them. So here we have Marzipan Lego blocks (6, 8, and 12 nobbers) and some cupcakes with Lego motif and some shortbread fingers with chocolate dip and some marzipan fingers with chocolate drips and brewer's droop.
For Film Night we saw 'Gremlins', a 1984 Spielberg kiddie-oriented spookathon that freaked me out for the first section and then made us all laugh. The gunseller from T1, 2 guys from Beverly Hills Cop and numerous others from the 80s graced its frames and it was good to point them out.
So if that's the calm before the storm, can't wait to see the eye ...

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Underage Welsh Bird (5) ............. Mynah

car driving with snow on roof
Despite the fact that it's half term and Jof is on holiday to look after me, I spent another 7 hours in theatrical childcare, along with 99 others (the fabled 99 problems).
Actually, I don't mind as it's my chosen profession and ultimate destiny. And by the age of 11, I'm sure that everyone who has already chosen a profession will indeed go on to make a successful career in that field.
So, Jof took me in and we did a proper hour of warm-up with songs and dances and warbling and ululation. Our singing tutor was there and she is very into wide mouths so we had to stick 3 fingers in our mouths and do the woomba woomba song from the Lion King and my jaw cracked like a gunshot and I was worried that I'd broken a tooth but it was just my flip-top head activating and now I can sing with 4 fingers shoved in my gob, eat your heart out Y2.KY Jelly (the lubricant that allows you to insert 4 digits instead of the usual 2).
Child B was even naughtier than before and very gobby and he is now on 2/3 of his 3 strikes-and-you're-out so let's hope he is out sooner rather than later.
2 days ago another wartime bomb was discovered just around the corner from the theatre which caused evacuation (of both houses and bowels) and traffic issues. Today we had extra weather from Storm Boris-and-Doris which brought woo-ooo noises and rattling windows during our lunch break: our own dedicated weatherbomb combo. By the afternoon it had passed.
solent afternoon winter storms southsea seafront
And we made up dance moves based on swimming warm-up actions and attacked each other with imaginary Tasers and sang songs and it was another long hard day.
So here is a picture of my Airfix Warplane (sitting on a first World War 6-pounder shell casing) that I painted for Scouts half-term homework. It is a resilient crate that has completed millions of missions and been sold down the line through various air forces and is now in camouflage mode with an extra bomb on the top.
camouflaged fighter jet plane mofifiedThis breakthrough in cloaking-technology-enabled aggressive aircraft design is for when the enemy gravity well is above you, or you're hiding your last bomb and then you turn upside down to release it!
Incidentally, I am also a successful Lego designer and will be competing in the National League Finals on Sunday. Watch me romp home here, on Youtube.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

HorrorZone! HorrorZone!

local man paralysed after eating 413 chicken nuggetsRight in the middle of half-term (half-half?) so planned swimming. Known accomplice "Robert" asked to come which made it twice as good.
Sadly the whole world was at Havant Leisure Centre and the pool was packed so we went for a trip down memory lane to 'Horizones' the child-friendly sweatbox next door. This is where I broke my first bone and had birthday parties and none of us Puddlers are strangers to its ball-pits, padded walls and long bouncy slides that make your pants go up your bum.
This time we had to make do with Jof chasing us and fast-tracking through rope mazes with tight corners and sudden drops is not her speciality. But she battled on until her knees gave way and was accosted by numerous unaccompanied children who see her as a Mummy figure, because she just can't help being helpful. We got an hour of hardcore softplay.
soft play area for birthday parties havant
Later, the pool was emptier so we went in there too but 40 minutes was pretty well it for our attention span and we decamped for chippy comestibles upstairs. Amazingly, the sausages and chips had got cold between the adjacent kitchen and our plates but we ate the cheap fare anyway.
Then it was back to Bobs and a relaxed afternoon on the sofa.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Singing the Naff way

make your pooper angry burger king sign failTo make up for my tough day at work yesterday, Jof took me to the cinema to see 'Sing', a cartoon film for which I'd seen the advert.
A theatre facing hard times puts on a singing talent show and many charismatic animals (it's an all-animals film) with many personal issues bring a range of talents to the screen, with hilarious consequences.
collection copper ha'pennies pileOf course, I loved it because I am capable of enjoying so much more than Schwarzenegger movies, and Jof liked it even though its naffness levels are high. Despicable Me 3 looks good.
The Spinnaker Tower holds some new attractions, apparently, but it's still a lot of money to ascend the heady heights to see what they were. I guess some people will pay that much to get high, but not us.
Here is one of the things I found during my room clearout: a tub of old ha'pennies. Well, as there are no new ha'pennies and we have some much older ones in my real coin collection, I'm ditching these ones.

Monday, 20 February 2017

A Strung-out Jury

organic human juice supermarket sign display funny
First day of half-term: so I spent 7 hours of it working. I am in the next production at my theatre and play the role of Portly. Previously I thought I only had 4 lines but discovered that I'd missed one, and the whole cast is in the pivotal jury scene where Toad is convicted of gross toadery, and at that point we all have another 8 or so lines.
So we gathered at the theatre at 10am and boy was it packed. Because there are kids involved, we have to have 4 or so groups of the minor characters so green group play one performance, blue group play the next day etc, so nobody has to do too much.
That meant there were about 100 actors all doing an hour's warm-up and queuing for costume measuring and Child B is back (he was ditched a couple of years ago for being disruptive) and he's even worse and gosh it was a big long tough day.
During her copious free time, Jof likes to go swimming or gymming and that's where she was when her car broke down. Cue a Trump-style twitterstorm of frantic text messaging to get me picked up and her back home safely. In the end Bud got to me before I'd finished and Jof was escorted home by the rescue wagon and they'll fix the malfunctioning spark plugs tomorrow.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Some Lead in Your Pencil

kids room clearout felt tip pensWell, it was open day at Jof's Gym and swimming pool so we planned to go. But you aren't allowed to use the gym until you're 16 and the pool is just a small one with no redeeming features and a surfeit of grannies, so instead I tidied my room. Voluntarily.
Mine is a big room and it's not as if it's full of rubbish because we do ongoing clear-ups anyway, so I ditched a few books, some kiddie-style light sabres, a load of coloured pens, half a bag of clay and some short pencils. At least the short pencils went into the fireplace for the annual christmas burn, because every year we keep all the bottle-corks and coconut shells and other woody trifles for midwinter disposal. And that was it, despite the fact that all my mates were probably playing in parks or having country walks or doing something worthy outdoors. Those Youtube videos aren't going to watch themselves, you know.
Later I looked at my script for 'Wind in the Willows'. I have 4 lines. 4.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

A Portly Tadpole

pound coins being phased outWoken up abruptly at 1030, something about having to have breakfast. The panic-newspapers said that we have to get rid of all our pound coins by October because otherwise they will be withdrawn and we'll all starve.
So we had a look in all our swimming bags and down the back of the sofa and stuff, and found 125 of them. I have a golden halo, which proves I'm a god, hoho. In acting we watched 'Jack Frost', a puppet-show done by 3 girls with big painted eyes, fairly freaky.
Then all 2 of us went through our lines of Under Milk Wood which is full of hallucinations and is quite child-unsuitable if you actually read it. They said I should be Toad's kid which is technically a tadpole, I looked quite amphibian-sperm-like in my zipped-up green hoodie. I play 'Portly' as well as lots of other bits, and I have been given my script for Wind in the Willows and it's huge and I applied for my child performers licence and we had lunch at 430. Later, I mostly did very little while The Dynosaurs Of Rox CD (with multifarious musical interludes from artists living and deceased) was burnt onto 2 new CDs for in-car entertainment while I had sausages for supper.
yachts in solent

Friday, 17 February 2017

Skyclad Custom Cuties

death to children bouncy ballWell, today was a small watershed in the rippling tides of man in that it was half-term. I got in late - well almost - because Lucy's Dad accosted me outside and cadged a lift to the Festival of Lego next week. This is fine as my official biographer-photographers will be going anyway.
After this delay I made it into the spelling test by the epidermis of my pearly whites and got 10/10, so there. Speaking of which, my Lego-related article made it into the school newsletter so I got a by-line and self-portrait once more.
We had our last PE lesson of the 1/2 term. This may not sound particularly valuable for all but the most porkily obese student, but it was the last PE-Dance lesson in which we were supposed to emulate Mr Michael Jackson and his leprotic Zombie posse in 'Thriller'. There are only so many extremities you can lose in the prosecution of this dance, and I believe we have lost quite enough over the last few weeks, thank you. Apparently next term it will be 'Street Dance': let's hope it's Electric Avenue.
2 schoolboys on a bed playing gamesAfter school Sham came round and we played tablet games together: our playdates are so normal and trustworthy and standardized that we will only get busted when we are 15 and we phone home collect from Prague saying the nice strip club owner says we owe $15,000 for lapdances and can we have our passports back please.
On the subject of Lego, I have invented "Custom Cuties", adult companion-bots you can custom-build from cunningly moulded off-the-shelf parts, like Lego Heroes for grown-ups. Then, following my enormous Lottery win, I shall sail off into the sunset with the 7 or 8 Cutie-Bots that are right for me on a ship named "Avast Improvement" and yeah, whatever.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Impolite Society

Gosh, school is so normal. Maths, English testing, will it never end? But at least there was one funny bit. We are getting ready to write our 'Reminiscences' of life in the second world war, being evacuated as kids caught up in a conflict not of our making. And of course, to make our account more realistic and authentic, we wrote it on antique paper. Well, we made some of our own, ancient scrolls being in short supply nowadays. We got some normal paper and daubed it with wet teabags to give it that mildewy patina, like those clever art forgers selling copies of Jesus's original will.
So for a while, the whole class was teabagging frantically, quite a sight. And I found out that Nanna had written her 'Reminiscences' of when she was actually a child being evacuated in the actual war.
highway sign windows operating system failAt home I proved again that I have Trumpeting Bottom Syndrome (anal inventive), just right for the impolite society of which I am a part. During one lesson we were talking about poison gas precautions during the war and Child A farted super-loudly just when the teacher was walking past him. Even she giggled, but she still sent him out.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017


white freak dogs thin facesWell, a mixed day with all sorts.
Child A kept calling me Max-Diarrhoea so I grabbed his arm, looked him in the eye and threatened him à la Vinnie Jones in Lock, Stock and the Sale of the FFCentury. My acting skills were effective!
Child B claimed she didn't know what fish fingers were but privately I dispute this position, the teacher said nobody's that posh.
In English Reading I was one of the Mentors and had a pupil all of my own to encourage to speak English as great as what I do.
But in PE the playground was being rained on. Normally we'd just go into the assembly hall but it was being prepared for Teacher-Parent day: we couldn't even run up and down the stairs for half an hour (and that is what I would choose to do, honest) so we had to go into our classroom and talk about maths! In PE!
upside down boy on comfy chairAt home Grandad phoned me and we talked about everything for 25 minutes which kept the short one happy and Grandad too. And I had 3 yogurts and a custard for snack-time, that amount of Calcium just has to be worth an extra inch on measuring day.
At Teacher-Parent day I got a quite-good-actually with 2 special targets. One is the centuries-old one which is check your work for silly mistakes, just in case you've put 'I ate 10000 cows' instead of 0.0001 cows, and to learn the pointless names of things like psychoactive pseudo-transient subjunctive santa-clauses, because the SATs insist you have to know them. For supper Jof made us meatballs with 3 kinds of pasta. Now that just has to be worth an extra pound on weighing day.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Cupid, Stupid

emu ostrich in the back of a car failYet more maths tests. Yet more English comprehension tests. In fact, we're practically Yetis.
Yet more talking in class from Child A. He got his 3rd Red Card which qualifies him for a parental phone call - another couple and he'll get some days off! But he did get my Ex a rose for Valentine's day, at least he made the effort. By now, most of the class are somebody's Ex. Some people have split up and got back together and split up again, maybe they're Zs, or at least Ys. The cream of the crop of Valentine cards go to the teachers. I bet every year they think to themselves "Well, last year was tempting but this year I think I'll really leave hubby for this 11 year-old that picks his nose and leaves it on the underside of the desk". Everyone knows it's not until secondary school that this sort of thing becomes a reality. Apparently.
nikon coolpix cameras comparisonJof picked me up from school. This is not because I need an armed escort or a chaperone on such an amorously auspicious day, but because I wanted to show her the Lego Robots. She was duly impressed with their size and complexity. The Institute of Engineering and Technology will be live-streaming the event on their Facebook page, but the Team and I will be there! As, you know, we're legendary winners and all that.
Possibly because of this a new camera arrived in the post which is newer, better and does even zoomier zooms than the last one so we can all look forward to some epic photography. As long as we remember to take the right one, er.
Later we played Totopoly to try and recreate the game where all the horses died. They shoot horses, don't they?

Monday, 13 February 2017

Gluing open the Doors of Perception

spelling error on literacy sign failIn school we did a 'Warm-up' which was 30 questions on a set text. Warm up? More like slow down.
The Lego Robotics Team had a full session all together: we only have 3 days left before all the Lego Robots are packed away for transportation to the Great National Inquisition so it's getting a little fraught.
scout uniform book of scouting reqrementsWe played a game where dictators sat one side of a fence and dictated instructions to us builders the other side, to see if I could make an identical copy of their example piece, following only their description. I am chief builder, nice to have a proper job. We all have a job title and little vetted script in case the BBC or the Times Newspaper or the New Scientist magazine want an interview, and who wouldn't, we're such stars. Titles are: Fun (mostly about the Robot's name), Strategy (mission priorities), Design Process Engineer (choosing most efficient claw), Mechanical Design Engineer (me, lightweight combat chassis with 6 attachments), Programming (CAD on laptop), Innovation (claw appreciation) and Trial Run (fridge mission demo).
plastic aircraft gluing painting scouts projectIn the afternoon I practised my Under Milk Wood lines, evolved my Spore Jabber-Wookie, and went to Scouts, but not before I'd elected not to buy a Valentine's card for the one that deserves it.
They had been using the free noticeboard from Bud's old work to play a game in which Blue was crap apparently, and then we played a game (in our Patrols - Lion, Merlin etc. I am a Merlin) where you had to remember 20 random objects on a tray, not a conveyor belt.
We came top equal with 20 and the losers only got 19 so they'll have to make it a harder game next time. Then we continued making our Airfix model planes. My friend (who shall remain nameless, for I have forgotten) and I have the same planes so we added brutal accessories and played Bomb-London. Mine is called Bloodwing and has supra-chop-o-swords while his has grenade launchers. We have to finish painting them over half term, but somebody trod on Flynn's. Afterwards the room stank of glue, a most heady atmosphere for creative thinking.

Sunday, 12 February 2017


I like weekends, can I have more of them please. Settled down for the long haul on Youtube but then Jof's phone was playing up and she demanded I accompany her to Giant Tesco to get it fixed, and to get me out of the house. After a while I got bored and walked home without her.
EA games spore But then Bud bought me 'Spore' which is quite an old game now but only costs £8 as long as you've got 4 Gig free on your hard drive to install it. You are a spore of some kind of generic basal lifeform trapped in a comet shower, along the Panspermia route. You get to choose a type of planet to land on and then you emerge from your spore and start eating. Mine is a watery planet much like the one I've called home for a decade, and I landed in the ocean and chose to be a carnivore and started eating wiggies and single-celled organisms. Pretty soon I was having sex and I gradually evolved and grew. I have named the planet Mungletonia and I have named my personal beastie a 'Jabberwookie'. I am now a fearsome land-based creature with a symmetrical body plan, a scorpion-like rear appendage and a hankering for meat.

Saturday, 11 February 2017


Excellent. Up last again and fortified myself with scrambled eggs. There is a game out there in real-world-cyber-land called 'Spore', and I want it. You can build yourself a wiggie of any shape, kingdom, phyla, class, order, family, genus and species and evolve it and have adventures. It's only £8 but I can't get it on my X-box 1 so it'd mean clogging up the PC for even more hours than I already spend on it Minecrafting.
groundlings theatre drama school actorBut then I went to Acting and I now have 5 parts in the Under Milk Wood play. I may not have quite as many lines as text-hog Sydney, but on 2 separate occasions, I have to have a conversation with myself, being a total of 4 characters. I have a little trouble switching between accents which have not previously been a strong talent of mine, but I did get commended for having a 'jumpy' voice ie able to jump between tones and pitches with the greatest of ease, like those magnificent men in their flying machines. Outside there was that special snow again, definitely snow not rain, but unlikely to sit, accumulate, or drift anywhere.
Because it is Saturday, Jof demanded cake and maybe ate too much and had to sit quietly on the sofa which gave me Mine-time, and Bud coin-time. So we listened to the end of Elton John Live in Australia with the big orchestra and Cross Canadian Ragweed playing a dance hall in Tulsa with some rude words and tried out the Beatles with their Magical Mystery Tour. They had too much headache medicine when they wrote that, if you ask me, while he polished Belgium and Yugoslavia.
Saturday Night is Film Night. So today we got 'Final Destination' from a charity shop, having passed up the chance of £20 worth of random assorted Lego because I'm past that now. The film was heavy on portents and trippy suggestiveness and the shadow of death himself waiting behind every breezy curtain. Yes, it was creepy. But before long, I was volubly predicting the future mode d'emploi and method of demise and modus operandi and it was all rather fun. Then it was milk and bed, but I'm still 11, what more can I ask.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Two and one Half Snowflakes, Please

motorcycle against lamp post RTA crash
lego bricks danish land minesToday was mostly a day of maths and cold temperatures outside, and in the hearts of the math test examining body. Apparently approximately 2 1/2 snowflakes were detected in little-known made-up settlement "Segensworth", but we didn't see any.
I am in the Lego Team. This is a good thing, for our inferior and insignificant enemies are crushed underfoot by our advancing armies, although they all wear safety shoes because it is Lego we're talking about after all. But I do miss out on the odd bit of coursework, like this week's spelling words. In the test, on words we'd never seen before (honest), I got 0/10.
In eNglish, weev done our leter to the hedteacher about the streeet party and the barstadizashun of the Littal red rhyding hood story and the sqishing down a neuspaper artikle to fit in a tweat of 140 caricters, so now we dun a battel of Brittan dyery entry. I rote about being a Hurrycain pilate in a doggfight over the inglish channal and my plain got shot dahn and i went in the warter, phuket.
In Gardanning we made ower byrd feedahs and I droo grape veins and sentypeeds on it.

Thursday, 9 February 2017


dogshit revolving door funny failGot another SATs exam result back - Mathematics. Normally I get 38 or 39 out of 40 which would be entirely acceptable, but have never achieved the perfect 40. This time I got 34 - and all because of a silly mistake where you don't put the comma in the right place so you use 2,500 instead of 25,000 and get the answer wrong: most galling.
And in a highly fishy development (I won't carp on about it) Child A sat next to the Maths Champion who always gets 40 and got up to sharpen his pencil an awful lot during the test and got 39, where he would normally be expected to get 25.
So in honour of my class-topping English victory earlier in the week, I have decided to write a Showergel Opera (because soap can dry the skin).
Follow the devious storylines and hilarious goings-on at foreign-owned city-centre supermarket Lildi! Cry as shelf-stacker Piotr gets paid in Euros for the 4th week running! Sing along as genial loading bay operatives Aleksandr and Romas sing rousing medleys of comradely worker-marches straight from Babushka's knee! Will Mateusz the Manager get to do overtime with Aurelija or will she go back to ex-employee Darius? Will Arad and Giannis realize they are perfect for each other in a country where their love is not a burn-at-the-stake offence? Have your heart warmed by Thibault who proves that you don't have to have a face like a ferret chewing a wasp to work in stores! Meet sole local employees 'Dave', the man with the big house because of the industrial injury and for whom Thursday is deodorant day, and disgruntled former railway worker 'Mark' who will never get over the loss of his dream job and will never cease to grumble about it!
Cheer as the Lildi team, once separated by continents and cultures, are brought together by the challenges of the National Minimum Wage and Houses of Multiple Occupancy!

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

A Byte from the Truth Fairy

treading on lego blocks on a kids bedroom floorSometimes my daily report is so lacklustre it is a matte marvel of minimalism, with a Gallic shrug and an apologetic face.
I enjoyed PE and thought French was boring, nobody gave me any house points and I didn't get any more exam results. But I'll get to do more Lego robotics tomorrow.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Not-Valentines Friendship Disco-a-Rama

danger this will kill you signYet another mini-milestone (metre-stone?) in my life: the final Valentine's Disco at this school.
Of course, you can't call it the Valentine's Disco in case a rival minor deity or historical character that didn't get their own special day or niche religion or whatever it is takes offence, or perhaps they're trying to remove the amatory pressures, expectations or threat of growing up from those who are still too young.
orange squash school valentines discoSo anyway, because Jof is a school helper, she turned up really early and I met her and became a deputy helper, again.
meon junior school milton portsmouthDebonair Dude 'Ben' latched onto us while waiting for his helper-Mummy to arrive and that suited us just fine. Jof said we should get extra House Points for being so helpful. I acted as Bartender for the Years 3+4 Junior disco and got my own chair behind the drinks trolley. We haven't really got to the stage of secretly adding undiluted orange squash to the punch cauldron.
In the bit between discos I swept up all the detritus with 2 giant brooms and deposited my mess into Lucy's waiting dustpan.
During the senior noisefest I did square-dancing to Cotton Eye Jo with Okely-Dokely until he realized what we were doing and ran away, and we played tag instead. Crunchygirl vomited in the playground and we brought home 78 unused cheese sandwiches, gosh there'll be some fat ducklings this springtime. At home Jof and I had tired feet.

Monday, 6 February 2017

The Bells! (Crouch and Grimace here)

bored husband wife shopping shoesToday we got some of our exam results back: I got 117/120 in English, top equal in the class - proves I'm English. Maths results to come: let's see if I'm maths too.
Scored a punishment loss-of-tablet-privileges for the second day running by jumping on Jof while she was having supper. Hey, gotta show her who's boss.
But what we were all waiting for was Campanology. One of our Scout Helpers is a bell-ringer and she has the ear (possibly with Tinnitus) of the local bell-banging group and so we got the chance to ring some bells of our own. This goes towards our Creative Badge, part of the highly coveted Chief Scout Gold Award, and again proves that the higher up the Scouting ladder you go, the better the activities, already we've had shooting and the calendar is looking full.
We took Tall James and drove through the rain to the same church where we shoot each other with lasers every year while the parents drink beer. I have also done the tower tour twice, first time when I was 4 years old.
Getting in the locked church was not an issue as a rival Scout Group were holding a meet in the café so we noisily barged through while saying hello to the nice old District Scout chap who organizes the Swimathon and Cross-country.
We gathered as a babble-gaggle and climbed the long and winding spiral staircase to the bellringers room.
5th portsmouth scout group creative badgeThis is the one with the little window into the main church, and we'd already seen the lights on from the churchyard. We sat daintily round the outside of the vast room and listened to the wise words from the official bellringer.
st marys church fratton portsea bellringers roomMany plaques line the walls describing special long peals for special occasions, some taking actual hours, must be fun for the locals. And on some plaques it was a Peal of bells, and on others it was a Peel of bells.
We all trooped up to the bell-room itself, past the clock which is a massive bit of brass Lego wheels in a big glass box like a railway ticket office. You could see the staircases going up to the roof, including the final one which traverses the void in spectacular fashion. We have at least 4 pictures on Google Earth from the roof.
st marys church fratton portsea bellringers roomHe explained about the bells, some weighing nearly a ton (20 hundredweight in their language) but all from 1938, how thoughtful to put them in just before the air raids started.
Downstairs, we all got a chance to pull the ropes on the down-swing and also to do it on the up-swing too, but we all had the silenced bells with their clappers tied up so as not to wake the neighbours. Also we had to tuck our neckerchiefs into our shirts so as not to get well hung. But it was still really fun and I want to go back onto the roof again.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Wine and Biscuits

Well blow me, they got me up early, and I really didn't want to. If you forget your Little Scouting Book of Scouting Requirements, the bit where the responsible adult signs to say you've earned a badge can't be filled in, so I had to go to church to meet the paramedic to get my life-saver badge.
scout emergency aid badgeJof took me and I had convinced myself I could just meet the guy and run away again without having to praise madly and raise my voice to the heavens in religious exultation. And on the Facebook invite it said 0900 so we got there 15 minutes early and nobody else turned up until 25 past so we stood there like lemons for ages.
By then I was not in a good mood and when the line of grannies stood there with their carbolic perfumery, I was good to go, and stuff the badge. But the nice Scout leaders worked their wondrous magic in getting me out of angry mode and I got to carry the flag!
wilkos lego pick and mixThe service wasn't bad actually as long as you remember the basic underpinning tenets are pretend, and even Jof enjoyed the teamwork-camaraderie aspect, although we didn't know when to stand up or sit down so we crouched a bit and did what everyone else was doing. We forgot to take money for the collecting bucket and there was a sermon about salt, and how a little bit makes your meal better, but adding too much makes it horrible again. And I got my badge book signed.
Later, Jof invented a new punishment for when I've been sulky or argumentative, it's to go and help her do boring stuff, and any further arguments get extra boring duties. So I accompanied her into town to buy stuff for the Red Nose Day event at her workplace. I got to fill buckets with Lego and spend the rest of the day on Minecraft so it's not so bad.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Dumb Ways to Die: Cadavers in Crevices

Well, woke up with a 7 in it and thought to myself that I didn't have to get up, so lay there and considered things for "5 quarters of an hour".
yucca plants protected ecosystem
But sooner or later the day has to start and for me, it started with more Youtube videos of a bloke crashing a cyber-van off a virtual bridge. 2 scrambled eggs later, a plan was hatched to make me go out and stop watching the videos.
This is the kind of annoying thing that these keen parents insist on, to get the son and heir outside into the sun and air, just like that railway poster advert. So we parked down by Beach Road and they talked about houses for sale god they're boring and we came out by the sunken Rose Garden and we circled that one a few times, for it is lovely, and I showed Jof where I hide and always win when playing hide'n'seek with Ben and the JBs.
southsea shingle beach dead creaturesBut on the seafront, there was death aplenty. The storms, plus the dredging being undertaken to make the port approach deep enough for the new aircraft carriers, has put the starfish population in severe jeopardy and millions of them wash up and air-freeze to death on the shingle. They are accompanied by crabs and shells and anemones and shoes and seaweed and cigarette lighters and dogfish egg sacs and rubber gloves, and they all sit there at the high tide mark whiffing something chronic.
And they also get stranded in the crevices between the giant granite chunks, put there to stop the sea destroying the wall. We found many. Later, we threw stones at the radar targets and met Baby Edward, not so baby now he's at my school. Another son and heir out getting the sunshine, you see.
In acting we practised Under Milk Wood, which is our new play, and full of madness it is too. There were only 3 of us in the class (one new boy) so we are all likely to get parts. I have to annotate my script because Mrs Beynon is pronounced Bunion, due to being Welsh, which is not strictly her fault but is a disability nonetheless, sorry to pointless Welshies.
Meanwhile, Bud bought 7 new coins for my collection from the antique shop that supplied my Evacuee suitcase (see 2 days ago), half crowns, thruppenny bits, and some piastres from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, as you do. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan employs Piastres, Fils, Quirsh AND Dinars, most confusing.
Sydney has discovered Dumb Ways to Die. This was originally a railway safety advert for not killing yourself on the Melbourne Metro, but also has a song, game and probably followers too. The song is mildly amusing for the first few plays but she clearly has heard it before, eat a 2 week-old fridge pie, use your willy as piranha bait, what does this red button do, etc.
portsmouth harbour sea defences
Now, we all have our foibles, fallacies and mini-mental blocks. I am a man who has enjoyed full-on Schwarzenegger movies since I was 8, and can quote, refer to and generally discuss the gorier aspects of such bullet-fests far more competently than I can analyse the English comprehension texts in our school literacy classes. I can accurately say gosh isn't that the guy who played 3rd mutant transvestite Martian prostitute in Total Recall, or that's just like when he dropped the guy off the cliff in Commando, saying I know I said I'd kill you last, but I lied.
But I have an issue with squirmy squelchy aliens, after the Simpsons episode where Krusty falls into the bowl of worms. So Saturday-Night-Is-Film-night new movie "Flight of the Navigator" (1986, brick-sized mobile phones, computers the size of HMS Illustrious) held terrible fears for me and I threatened to go upstairs and read at 7pm.
old portsmouth harbour yacht basin
But then it was funny and I liked the music and all is now cool in movie-terror-land, just you wait until they say watch 'Short Circuit' with me.
Other images posted today are just to suggest that sunny Southsea Saturdays can be as crisply rendered and historically rich as you like, possibly better than a view of the lorry park of the gasworks at Grimsby.