Shit My Dad Kept

February 23, 2017

You know when there’s bad weather, and you see a news report about the weather – because the weather becomes news as well as weather – and they say “Do not travel unless absolutely necessary,” do you ever wonder who the people who travel when they don’t need to actually are?

Hello everybody, my names is Jake.

So I went over to mum’s today. I tried to chicken out of it at seven this morning, but mum assured me that the skies were blue in Halifax. So I struck out for the great metropolis of my birth.

It wasn’t fricking blue skies when I got there.

I had things to do prior to seeing mum, and it’s safe to say in the time I took to carry out these side quests I became what I like to call PWT.




I got to mum’s, though, and it wasn’t all bad as she’d lit a fire which was roaring away, and had a coat hanger on standby to whisk away my jacket and let it dry. And she looked at me and went “awww, your t-shirt’s all wet.” Which it was. Any t-shirt not covered by jacket was PWT. But a bit of time in front of the fire would be fine. I’d be dry in no time.

I had occasion to go to the loo – the cold wind having cut very much to the quick on my bladder.

And it’s safe to say that I didn’t have to worry too much about my t-shirt being wet. Because when you looked at it, my t-shirt had made a valiant effort to stop my trousers getting wet, and they in turn had made a similarly valiant effort to stop my undies getting wet.

All those had failed.

But due to the cold, I hadn’t even realised that I was basically as wet as I would have been if I had jumped into a swimming pool immediately after leaving the house.

Absolutely pissed wet through.

And when your mum’s in the house you have to draw the line at taking all your clothes off and sitting in front of the fire wrapped in a blanket. It’s generally frowned upon.

So instead I took myself off into the garage and busied myself sorting stuff out in there.

It was bloody cold in that garage.

The absolute perfect place for someone who is, basically, wearing wet clothes to be. Bear Grylls would be appalled. I should have had all my clothes off and rubbed myself down with snow, or something, to warm up. Instead I was trying to work out why dad had a pot of about 17 toothbrushes – all too filthy to use for cleaning anything – tucked away on the shelf of a unit.

Next to a box containing a lot of frying pans without handles.

And thirty-six candles (nowhere near as funny as four) – in case of a power cut – placed at the back end of a garage that is hard enough to traverse in the light, let alone the artificial darkness of an electrical failure.

And an old radio alarm clock that rattled and had yellowed with age.

And a box of assorted metal things including what appeared to be a perfectly good cheese knife.

All of which are the tip of a very cluttered iceberg that, for reasons no-one really knows, we’ve been putting off sorting out for a year or so…

Who knows what else we’ll find.

After all, dad once found something that used to be a hedgehog…

Just Drive

February 22, 2017

Mum rang today to say she’s “having the drive done tomorrow,” which immediately conjured up horrible images of scruffy people with next-to-no-teeth – you know, the sort of people that have a horse on some string – going door-to-door trying to get people to let them do their drive to “get rid of this bit of tarmac” they had left over from something.

Probably a theft from the tarmac factory, or something.

As it happens, I’m going over to mum’s tomorrow to tackle the garage – it’s been a year, we really should do something – so I’ll be around to make sure he’s not some kind of conman charlatan type who thinks he has found a vulnerable old lady he can squeeze for all she’s worth.

It’s funny because it always used to be a thing with my parents that you never went with anyone who just showed up at your door. That was one of the rules.

There were many.

Never open the door to old women selling apples was another. Because, apparently, our rules came mainly from Fairy Tales. I’ll never forget the time my mum kicked the spinning wheel away from my sister just before she pricked her finger on the needle and fell asleep for one hundred years. That was a lucky escape. Which I have entirely made up for comic effect.

Other rules were things like never buy the last of anything, there must be something wrong with it otherwise it would have been bought already.

So it wasn’t all Fairy Tale-based. Although you could, in a way, relate that to Jack and the Beanstalk because why had no-one else taken those magic beans, hmmm?

Anyway, so the rule about hiring itinerant workers has gone out of the window completely. And there is a small part of me that does worry about the whole vulnerable woman-nefarious workman dynamic you see on Watchdog and things of that nature. And I love the fact that my mum, during discussions in which she haggled him down on price, kept mentioning discussing it with her son and that I will be there on the day that he happens to be there. Which is a complete coincidence, but he doesn’t need to know that. I’ll just be in the garage staring at him through the window and doing that thing where I point at my eyes and then at him in a menacing fashion.

Unless he’s massive, in which case whatever mate, help yourself.

But there’s another part of me that thinks, and knows, that neither me nor mum can in any way be arsed enough to weedkiller the drive, pressure wash it, scrape up any remaining weeds and re-sand the whole thing. Not now. It’s reached a point where it’s above and beyond the scope of our interest to do it. It’ll be fine to maintain it from this point onwards, but no, getting a man in to do it is amazing. It has been abandoned to the elements over the last year and has begun to look a lot like a ruined city in a post-apocalyptic movie.

Even if he turns out to be the slipperiest of all conmen, if he at least does the weedkiller and washing bit before vanishing with the money then I’m happy with that…

Roof Of Purchase

February 21, 2017

As Storm Doris blows past the house, I think it’s fair to say that smug mode has, well and truly, been engaged when it came to the timing of the roof repair.

It’s nice, if you happen to wake up in the middle of the night, to not lie there wincing every time the wind blows and it sounds like the roof is lifting off.

There are also quite a lot of plus points when it comes to not waking up covered in roof dust, or hearing the drip-drip of the leak that came and went.

And, so far, it’s entirely free. Our friendly neighbourhood roofer hasn’t sent us the invoice yet.

So I find myself in a strange position where I have to chase someone to ask them if they wouldn’t mind letting me pay for the work they’ve done. I’m happy to pay for it, I would prefer not to – obviously – but I really should.

My parents once managed to not pay for a mattress for the entire time they had it. It’s the stuff of legend.

I’ve made it four days into this roof and the guilt is eating me up…

True Movies

February 20, 2017

I was doing some ironing today and so found myself in the very, very enviable position of trying to find something on Freeview to watch while I pressed the creases out of this that have fashionable creases in them to annoy me.

I’m sure that I must have just picked an incredibly bad time to tackle the ironing, as there was a veritable slew of shite across all the channels but summarised primarily as Big Bang Theory or Top Gear.

I stuck with it though and eventually stumbled across Murder, She Wrote. Which is also dross, but at least it’s a couple of years since you last saw it rather than – as with Top Gear and Big Bang Theory – about two hours. And, if nothing else, it has now afforded me the opportunity to do an impression of Jessica Fletcher being menaced by a horse for Carole’s enjoyment.

Murder, She Wrote was on the True Movies channel.

It’s a) not true and b) not a movie.

It has no business being there.

But there it was. Large as life. With an angry horse and everything.

I mean, I am sure that horses do get angry in real life. But the circumstances here – that fictional novelist Jessica Fletcher’s fictional niece was accused of murder and it had to do with a horse look-a-like who didn’t like carrots (I’m not even joking, this was the plot point at which the entire dastardly scheme fell open) – are not at all factual.

Unless I have got it wrong. And Jessica Fletcher is a real person. And wherever she goes murder is sure to follow. Or, on the odd occasion, get there just before her. But you think I’d have heard of that on the news or something. It would have come up, even if just in an “And finally…” segment. Like that guy that survived both of the atomic bomb blasts. Jessica Fletcher would at least be an anecdote about how she’s always near a murder.

But then, if Trump was watching it…

It’s Time To Play The Music

February 19, 2017

In 1938, a confused populous heard the radio broadcast of H G Wells’ War Of The Worlds and believed, for whatever reason, that it was real.

More recently, there is a fair-to-middling chance that the leader of the free world and ratings winner, Donald J Trump (the J is for jackass) has seen something on TV which he believes happened right there and then in Sweden.

There are two possibilities.

One is that he saw a documentary on Fox News which featured a historic act of terrorism – or something of that nature – in Sweden and thought that it was an account of something which was happening right there and then. Which he then referred to during one of his appearances. While speaking out about all that fake news that’s going about these days. Like DJT’s claim that his was the highest electoral college results since Reagan (whatever the fudge that means) or that people turned up to his inauguration.

The second possibility is that he saw a chef being bested by a variety of seemingly sentient vegetables and the odd chicken, while speaking what appeared to be some sort of gibberish Scandinavian-esque language, maniacally waving a cleaver about.





February 18, 2017

Carole has tackled the thorny issue of the bookshelves today.

We have a lot of books. Some people would class it as too many. For us, it’s very much not enough. We love books. We love reading. We don’t necessarily read the books we already own, though. Preferring, instead, to acquire other books to read. And so we build up shelves and shelves of books that are waiting to be read.

Which is what Carole has turned to today.

She’s sorted them out, tidied them up and found that a few of the books on the shelves that are to be read have actually already been read. So they are charlatans and ne’er-do-wells in literary form.They have now been relocated, and things are much, much neater.

For now. It won’t last. I expect another batch of books to arrive at some point and throw us into further chaos.

But, excitingly, we’ve also managed to get rid of some books. Duplicates, or books that have been read and are so excruciatingly terrible that they must be removed for the house posthaste and forthwith.

Do you know how many we’ve manged to get rid of? Carole proudly announced it this afternoon.


Let’s put that into some perspective.

Imagine you ran an orphanage and had, say, one hundred orphans.

Now imagine you’d found someone who could adopt one of your orphans.

But when they arrived, it turned out that they could only take the arm of one of those orphans. And not even one of the big ones. Just a small arm. Of an underfed orphan. Maybe not even the whole arm. Just up to the elbow. A bit past it if you’re lucky.

That’s the difference four books makes to our orphanage.

I bloody love it.


Food For Thought

February 17, 2017

Carole’s trying to watch what she eats at the moment, since she has become this health goddess which stands before me and says phrases like “Pretty Mudder” like they’re supposed to mean something and aren’t just two words that have no business being close to each other. And I’m not even sure “mudder” is a word.

Anyway, as part of this, I have had to hide things which she may go crazy for. Like human catnip. There was a time when Freddos had to be hidden and given out upon request. That has since stopped, but so has the ability of a pack of Freddos to make it past the weekend, so you see the sort of challenge we face.

Tonight, there were biscuits in the house. Snacks and goodies that Carole had purchased for a thing she went to yesterday. I was told that it would be best if they weren’t in the house when she got home tonight, but they were. And after two biscuits of the original four had vanished, I took a stand. No more biscuits would pass her lips this eventide.

I was like a McVities Gandalf. Or something.

Anyway, during a particularly violent skirmish in which Carole threatened to bring to the fore all of her combat training, I did what anyone would do. I opened the front door and skidded the biscuits – in their tupperware – down the path.

As I let go of the box, I imagined the laughter we would have. Ha ha, we would say, do you remember when you wanted a biscuit and I threw them outside. That was funny wasn’t it. And then we went and got them and ate them anyway. Ha ha. So the whole thing was for nothing, really. Except this anecdote.

That’s what I thought.

The bloody lid came off didn’t it.

So what we saw, in painful slow motion like at the end of a sporting underdog film, was two biscuits and a piece of dry carrot cake slide across the path. They were protected from the elements above by the body of the plastic box, but alas the lid had parted company upon contact with the path and the baked goods were just grazing themselves against the concrete slabs of the path.

There are moments when even the five-second rule has to be thrown out.

And so did the biscuits.