Happy Halloween Or Not As The Case May Be…

I love having children. Sure the fun of wiping noses and cleaning bottoms does wear off, but the fact that they will believe ANYTHING YOU SAY never will. For example:

Picture it: Sicily 1947…. ūüėČ

Picture it: Scotland 2014 on a lovely autumnal walk home from school one afternoon.

Fin: *holding my hand* Mummy?

Me: Yes pidgeon?

Fin: We have a disco tonight.

Me: Oh! Oh that’s tonight! Well we’ll have to….

Fin: *interrrupts* And I don’t want to go.

Me: OOoooh. Okay….any specific reason or anything I can help with?

Fin: I just …don’t like Halloween. I don’t like masks, I don’t like dressing up, I don’t like those plastic rubber scary clown masks that look real….

Me: Yeah. They’re awful.

Ave: *sings* Scary clown maaaask!

Me: Well I don’t have a problem with you not going if you don’t want to ….

Random classmate runs up, panting and shrieking.


Fin: *looks at me in that ‘Oh come on! Think of something woman!’ way* Yeaaaah…aboooout thaaaat….

Ave: He can’t go ….because Mummy says……*looks at me in that ‘hope you have a parachute out of this crashing and burning plane’ way*

Me: *fumbling* YYEEES! Fin…can’t go…….beeeee….becauuuse……

Random kid :*eyes popping around like he’s watching turbo invisible flies* Yay…because…..

Me: *blank stare* We’re..*looks desperately at children who are looking desperately back at me*….Kling..on. We’re Klingon. Against our religion. He can’t go.

Random kid who should be minding his own business anyway: *pants* Yay. Okay. I had like..an uncle that was or something so …that’s cool. I’ll see you tomorrow! *runs off in random direction, trailing backpack across the grass*

Fin: What the……

Avery: *matter of fact/autism style* Finlay doesn’t like masks or Halloween. Awwww! *cuddles brother* Poor Finlay!

We walk home where I show Fin on the computer exactly what a Klingon is.

Fin: OOOOoh. My. GAWD Ma. Gross.

I cant believe he’s complaining when I cleverly relieved him of his disco duties. Tsk tsk. Ungrateful!

happy halloween


Fun With Printers

Amy sits down at her computer desk. She looks lovingly over at Old Faithful, her printer. She give him a nice little pat.

Amy: Hello lovely Lexmark! Today we’re going to print out some nice emails. Would you like to do that?


Amy: Okay, so I’ll copy and paste this note from James into Word. Fine. That’s done.

Printer: (Lights up ‘Printer Jam’ light)

Amy: Um, okay, but I haven’t touched or clicked anything yet so I….

Printer: (Pulsates ‘Printer Jam’ light)

Amy: Right! So something fell down inside, obviously. I’ll just lift up your bonnet and have a look. (Moves closer to printer.)

Printer: click

Amy: No, no, no….I haven’t touched you.

Printer: click, click

Amy: HA HA! Soooo, you must have a printer job left from this afternoon or something. Fine. I’ll just….wait, wait…it’s what? Control panel, and then you find..

Printer: WHIRL WHIRL HUMMMMM WHIRL WHIRL CLICK CLICK CHUGGA CHUGGA CHUGGA CHUGGA (as the printer grabs all the paper and churns it through, shooting paper out at 300 miles per hour and spreading black ink in a three mile radius.)

Printer: click

Amy: Oh you stupid piece of ¬£$$***…..Oh I can’t believe what a stupid ¬£%%* !!!……

Printer: ……

Amy: Right! I’m leaving it! I’m leaving it! Stupid! Stupid f*cking¬†machine!


Amy leaves room

Printer:…….(lights up ‘Printer Jam’ button.)


Adventures in Skyrimland

I love gaming. It’s fair to say that if I didn’t have life commitments like raising children and keeping the cats fat and happy, I would have a mouse or controller in my hands for most of my life. I’m not particular¬†about what kind of game I’ll play but I’m not good at cooperative shoot ’em ups. It has been kindly requested over the years by several people that perhaps my special skill of always getting in the way and screaming ‘Oh my god, we’re all going to die’ might be¬†better suited to a different genre. I had a look around and decided that perhaps Skyrim would be to my liking. It is promoted as a game where you can do anything that you like. You don‚Äôt have to be some kind of big shot fancy pants gaming expert to play this game. Anyone can play. Well, I‚Äôm anyone so I decided to give it a go. Here is the brief summary of my first few hours of play, Amy style. *Attention grammar trolls! This part is written conversationally as someone talking to you so there isn‚Äôt always going to be whole perfect phrases. I will dangle participles before your very eyes as it‚Äôs SOMEONE TALKING. Go get a brown paper bag, hyperventilate into it and then rub your dictionary with special dictionary polish until you feel well again.*

So you wake up on a sort of wagon thing, all tied up prisoner style with other prisoners. Everyone is talking about this and that and then we all gather around and some rebel or other gets his head loped off. Oh dear. That’s not a very good start is it? Dear me, have I done something wrong already? Ah no. I haven‚Äôt as I am spared because a gigantic dragon is setting the place on fire! Hooray! I‚Äôm running randomly around but anytime that I touch anything the game helpfully reminds me that my ‚Äėhands are bound‚Äô. Sooooooo run into an open fire and burn them off? No, no not that. Run around randomly?¬†Stumble around¬†while everyone is on fire and screaming oh so helpfully? Is anyone screaming directions? No,¬†it would appear¬†not.¬† Hemmm….oh wait. There‚Äôs a little arrow at the top of the screen like a little compass of some sort. I guess I should have read the¬† instructions first. Nah! Reading the instructions goes against every fibre of my being unless it‚Äôs flat pack furniture or Lego. Oh lookie! I‚Äôve found someone with that same little arrow over their head. They talk to me and seem to be interested in me following them to safety! Hooray for me! I figured out the first ten minutes of game play without having to go to youtube and looking up gameplay videos. Nice.

Nothing major happens and then you are let loose on your own. My stars, it‚Äôs a big place Skyrim. There are mountains pretty much everywhere so maybe best to find a road? Or wander? Oh a little wander slightly off the road? Good enough.¬†Up ahead of me a bit on the road is a farmer with a cow. The cow has some sort of festive paint on it. Hooray! We‚Äôve found someone to follow and that‚Äôs good isn‚Äôt it? Surely they will lead us to a barn or a town. I talk to the farmer who says he has everything in order as he‚Äôs off to give his cow to the giants as a sacrifice. He keeps walking while turning to me every few seconds to say ‚ÄúRegardless of what happens, after this I‚Äôm going to the pub.‚ÄĚ I don‚Äôt know anyone here and I like beer so guess what farmer? You‚Äôre my new best friend. We walk for a bit until we come into a camp with woolly mammoths and giants. Wow. Freakin‚Äô woolly mammoths man! This is going to be good!¬†The¬†famer walks up one of the¬†two giants and has¬†a bit of conversation that I can’t hear. The giant listens and then¬†cracks the farmer’s¬†head in with his big¬†giant head cracking club. Ah dammit. The cow runs over to me and starts eating grass. The giants turn their giant heads¬†in my direction and¬†look at me with interest. I stand in exactly the same place, not breathing, not moving and trying not to crap myself. At this point in the game I have what amounts to paper armour and a wooden spoon. If they decide to get me, I‚Äôm going to be a little stain on the ground next to a grass chewing painted cow. The giants¬†turn their gaze towards the horizon and it would appear¬†I’m¬†off the hook. I remember to SAVE GAME which is just about the most important thing to do as you never ever NEVER know who is going to wander up to you in this game.

Is the farmer still there? Maybe he‚Äôs okay and just knocked out a little bit, right? He did say that he/we were going to a pub so surely he wouldn‚Äôt lie to me…..right? I sneak over and find the farmer dead as dead can be. I sigh and look around for some obvious form of help. Nothing. ¬†I look at the cow. I look at the mammoths. I make sure the giants are still looking at me¬†from a¬†distance. I look down at the farmer. Ooo there‚Äôs a little ‚ÄėSearch farmer‚Äô icon. Is that maybe…wrong? Looting a dead person? I look around. I look at the mountain. I look at the cow. I loot the dead farmer. He has two gold coins and some pocket lint so even in Skyrim death he was about as helpful to me as in Skyrim life. Frickin‚Äô idiot. Sooooo the pub will be around here somewhere right? I will avenge your death good not at all helpful farmer by drinking every mead and ale the very second I lay my hands on it, especially since I don’t have any food. Later in the game I will find¬†cheese and potions to cure my ills¬†but not¬†yet.¬†Some say that there‚Äôs a kind but not terribly bright drunken adventurer out there in Skyrim who spends her days looting dead farmers, getting drunk and following cows. I just wanted to let you know that those rumours are absolutely true.

Nicely Done All and One

There once was a wanderer casually wandering
Over the mind’s eye and far far away
He stopped and he visited inside my visage
Leaving a few kind thoughts on the way
“Be nicer, be loving, be decent, be thoughtful
It surely can’t hurt and mostly it helps
Try to be humourous and pay close attention
When children and old people share what they think.”
It seemed  good advice when I read through it twice
So I decided to write it and share it with you
Don’t be suspicious when you feel malicious
Try to do what that decent old wise guy would do
(It might even make others be nice to you too)

The Reverse Silent Treatment

I am very angry at you
No matter what you say or do
I am NOT ever speaking to you
Never ever again

It seems that you always say
How to do everything your way
I may be little but I will say
I will not be doing it no

Maybe you could help me do it
Maybe then I could get through it
Perhaps if there was a little incentive
Somewhere at the end

Fine ok we will try it your way
I will not hear any sigh of despair
No rolling of eyes or nasty stare
I am ready to pick up my underwear

Four Times Four Is…Oh My God…MY EYE!

Autumn is finally gently sweeping her way across Scotland. The leaves that have managed to cling onto their trees through many a blustery day are now embarrassingly Technicolor and have no where to hide. Oh sure, the first couple of stares are quite electrifying but now it’s starting to become a bit unseemly. They look around, check the wind velocity with their wee wispy fingers and fall slowly down. It’s a glorious time for walking to school with the boys. We’re all bundled in wooly jumpers. We were¬†happy with our environment and ourselves until…¬†Parental Visitation Day.

The idea behind Parental Visitation Day is a good one. You as the parent get to view your children busy at work like tiny uncomfortable turtles¬†rocking desperately on their backs, waving their helpless feet in the air. Oh yeah, sarcasm. It’s a good idea in the way that most good ideas start: on paper. In reality land where we all live it’s just BAD and WRONG. Here’s why: a horrific concept called ‘audience participation’. That’s right. We ALL get to join in. It’s not only the wee kiddies on display but mom/dad/carer/grandparent gets to be humiliated as well. Calloo cally! Let’s sell tickets and make it a fund raiser.

The first child’s teacher was easy on us. All she did was make us listen ever so carefully to our children singing paying special attention to lyrics, pitch and gestures. Why you might ask? Because we’ll ALL be doing it the second time round! Wooooo! It’s Extra Amateur Night here at primary school and I forgot my accordian. I don’t mind singing, I really really don’t. I do however mind hopping around like caffeine filled Born Again at a ‘High On Life’ convention (you know who you are..) while the teacher shrieks the inevitable phrase ‘I CAN’T HEAR YOU!’ Yeah, you can’t hear me. I just learned the song and choreography thirteen seconds ago. What am I, Bob Fosse? Hells no. I’m a middle aged mother of two, dancing and prancing and making up clean lyrics as I go. I’m doing my best lady, don’t push it.

The second (and thankfully last so far) child’s teacher had more evil plans in mind. I have no idea what the actual name of the game is but it was a sort of hybrid of dodge ball and times tables I like to call ‘Time Table Death Ball’. The teacher shouts out a sum “Three threes!” and then lobs a ball at you as fast as she can. The student or parent has to not only catch the ball but recite the correct sum while throwing the ball back. The idea, I would guess, is to¬†see how quickly you can shoot out information out while at the same time being coordinated enough to catch AND throw accurately. This¬†is surely a¬†game¬†of¬†unnecessary¬†frustration. I’m forty one kids. I’ve been around, I’m university educated, an avid reader and life long learner. I know some stuff and yet, I spent the afternoon sporting a gigantic red mark because I got nailed by a small playground ball. She shouted the sum I was to figure “Six eights” and then whipped the ball (I’m putting in as hard as she could…because I do truly believe it was as hard as she could) as hard as she could AT. MY. HEAD. Lucky for me, I’m a tall drink of water so I just got pinged in the chest instead which is oh so much more dignified wouldn’t you agree.

I’m imagining at this point as I’m rubbing my throat and upper chest and trying not to cry that perhaps other parents are suffering the same or worse fate around the school. Perhaps they have now a special Visitation Activities Ward at the hospital where well meaning parents are having their injuries nursed. I’m hoping they have also planned a special¬†Teacher Visitation Day where the teachers get to come and see the parents and carers in their natural environment. I’m ordering supplies of extra bouncy and super resilient playground balls bulk on eBay just in case.

Why I’m Not Allowed to Write Romance Stories

It all started when she walked into the front¬†room of her home (let’s say) or possibly the home of¬†her parents. It was a large home with many many rooms, hallways, alcoves, boudoirs and such. There were too many details¬†to burden a writer with typing out or trying to describe at any length. Let’s just go with the idea that¬†the house¬†was real classy and leave it at that. Think buttresses and hedges and you’re almost there.

Lady Ashley Catherine Von Hubberton Islac the Third was watching the butler unpack her Rolls Royce while she¬†draped over¬†the car¬†in designer clothing that swished when she walked. It was¬†not enough swish¬†to trip her up as that would be common aye what what. Her shoes always matched her handbag and perfume smelt nice. Lady Ashley delighted in doing regular people chores herself like buying magnums of champagne and scoring her own drugs. She was a looker: great hair, nice teeth and¬†whatever else turns your crank. She was¬†the ‘hooker with a heart of gold’ dame in an upmarket gentleman’s companion way type of gal.¬†Her natural good looks were made possible by lots of surgery. The ‘good looking’ bit’ is closer to being¬†true¬†as long as you viewed her in air brushed photos only and always¬†remembered to photoshop the face lift scars out.

She felt guilty when watching others physically labour away, but not enough to actually carry things herself. She mimed carrying things so that she would have¬†a little¬†real life work experience should a casting director have their car break down outside her mansion. “Why there’s one breaking down now”, she helpfully noticed.

The door of a very richly made limo type shiney expensive vehicle swung open. A handsome looking man stepped out and their eyes met, without any visible squinting for distance. He had oh let’s say a soothing deep voice, flouncy hair and looked a bit of a gym bunny but not like that Fabio guy that used to do those butter commericals in the 80’s way. Lord no.¬†That guy¬†was creepy. This fellow was a combo platter of¬†a rock band/surfer/surgeon good looking.¬†He was the type of guy that was¬†gorgeous by dim club light¬†and strobe lighting set on the highest setting. He annouced himself, his job, his raison d’etre, sang some Broadway hits, kissed some babies, rallied congress, donated blood, saved a puppy while giving CPR to an endangered animal and other heroic gestures. He ended the first round of dialog saying words poignent enough that Lady Ashley knew that he was the one for her, like ‘I really admire people that know where a kitchen countertop is. It doesn’t matter to me if they feel a bit guilty when they watch someone do physical labour. I could never score my own drugs but it’s a quality I admire in others’. It was big time connection stuff that¬†made her feel ¬†they would always be¬†together. The kind of connection they had could¬†only established by a being a couple in a past life or attending the same summer camp.¬†It was the¬†kind of love that poorly made pottery and coloured sand layers in bottles cannot break.

He entered Ashley’s home in some fashion, probably man handling a door, tearing a window out from its frame or masculinely shimmying up a drainpipe. They made small talk for twenty pages or so, exchanged longing looks, shared clich√© stories about their family, their¬†upbringing, and what have you. Body parts were exposed, chests heaved and a¬†bodice was¬†ripped. Afterwards there was some kind of separation thingie like a war… or a war… and he went away for at least thirty pages before he came back again. Sure there was some starry eyed¬†longing if you like, why not? Throw in a few chapters of Lady Ashley obsessing over some gardener or domestic help to get her through if you think that would help. Postmen and pizza delivery guys flowed non stop through the mansion¬†you bet. She never did have her pocket book or the exact change.

Finally there is some clever plot device explaining how he almost didn’t make it back but then he did. When he crawled up the drive, she didn’t recognize him and he almost didn’t recognize her with the amnesia that came and went like bad radio reception. She announced she was pregnant with his child and that seemed to tune his station right¬†in. Fond embraces followed and absolutely no reference was made to the former constant stream of stallions traipsing through her home but the gardener was always paid three hundred times his normal salary.¬†Loose ends were tied¬†up and there were happy endings¬†all around.

The Mommy Mambo

No one taught me about parenting
I went to the shop and bought a kit
Ah cha cha

I make do with the tools I have at hand
And two hands is at times not enough
Ah boom boom

When they are sleeping and dreaming and lullying around
And I find the quiet I have looked for all day (and finally found)
I think I might have done a real swell job….and then they wake up
(Boo hoo).

I Can Ride My Bike With No Handle Bars

There are cars coming toward me, spraying up water behind them and drenching my windscreen in a wave of road water with every passing one. I’m happily driving along the Ochils, listening to the radio and the rain hitting the sunroof overhead. The trees are soft and fuzzy looking. I wish that my hand was big enough to pat them as I imagine that they would be as soft as a puppy’s tummy. The road curves, it bends and eases as I ease along with it. All is right with the world. I’m happy to be alive. There are good decent things happening in the world and today I’m really feeling them. I know that we cry at the papers and weep at the television, curse the mailman, hate the reporter and anyone responsible for bringing bad news to our world..but… all the bad news does not counter all the good news making the world a bland neutral vacuum. New babies are  happy events, a person falling in love with another is glorious and old people holding hands is still good that couldn’t be overridden by anything.

Each of us is responsible for our own happiness. We cannot afford to lay down our current happiness and opportunity for people who have hurt us in the past, bad parenting or being at the wrong place at the wrong time. To do that is to hand over future happiness to strangers instead of cultivating the trees of potential ourselves. To live a life that has been lovingly self made will be the best thing we ever do for ourselves. A self driven life also has the power to make us long to make that same great life over and over again, constantly producing our own joy.

I had opportunity this week to help a friend through a not so nice time in their life. It wasn’t anything sinister, just a friend asking for advice. Friendship is important and should of course be nutured. In this particular situation I can’t help thinking that although my help was appreciated, how much better that outcome would have been had the person tried (with the possibility of failure) all on their own. Being told that you are strong is helpful. Finding it out for yourself is breathtaking and empowering.  Rather than doleing out however helpful advice, I prefer to run along side their bike and  hear the shouts of happiness as they realize they are riding all by themselves. Part of being helped is seeing your way clear to the eventually task of being independent, the master of your own destiny.

In my life, I have learned to ride my bike with no handle bars. Sailing along sure and safe, I have learned and absorbed a lot of lessons of life (so I always wear a helmet and never turn my eyes from the road no matter how cute the man is fixing his car by the side of the road….). I know who I am, what I want and where I stand. I also know that the reason that I can do that outside of lessons learned is when I stop and look back, I see all the lovely people who have supported me. When I fell they patched me up, hugged me and put me back on the bike. No one offered to ride it for me  because
it’s more fun to ride for yourself. For that alone I am ever so grateful. They wave to me every time I start off down the road. When I turn my head into the wind, I know there are still there for me when I fall off again but are cheerfully happy to see me travelling the road on my own.

If Dinosaurs Were Around Today

If dinosaurs were around today
We’d get plenty of work done without pay!
They could carry away the rubbish and trash
And recycle for us it in just a dash

If dinosaurs were around right now
The ground would thunder boy…and how!
We’d never get any sleep at all
With tricerotops crashing through the walls

If dinosaurs were living with us
Just imagine the size of a cross town bus!
Restaurants would be quadruple in size
The carnivore menu would have human fries

If dinosaurs were currently out and about
I’d crawl under my bed and never come out
I’m pleased that they have had their day
As I prefer smaller animals around to play