I Think My Daughter Is Planning A Great Escape…


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My daughter is going through a phase. It’s just the age, people tell me. She’ll grow out of it. Thing is, I’m not so sure it is just a phase. I think it’s all part of a much grander, devious scheme. You’d think I’m talking about some evil, megalomaniac genius here with what I’m about to say. And to that I’d say ‘Oh, so you’ve met my daughter then?’.


So what’s the phase? Collecting small-to-medium sized stones, filling her pockets with them and then ‘redistributing’ them in useful areas such as car seats, cups, your pockets and in bed (s). What I think her actual plan is: to dig a tunnel with her fellow nursery pupils, so that they can escape from nursery whenever they want.


This occurred to me the other day, after I’d collected her from her maternelle (the French name for nursery) and picked up her coat, as she got out of the car. This is heavy, I thought to myself. I soon realised why, as stone after stone fell out, forming piles on the car park floor. You may think I’m exaggerating by describing it like this, but it looked liked someone was staging a mock-recreation of The Blair Witch’s burial mounds. And that was after a good handful had been left in her seat as well. She just grinned at me, in a slightly sinister all-I’m-lacking-is-a-white-cat-to-stroke kind of way.


Blofeld ain’t got nothing on her, you wait and see.


The neighbour saw me, said hello and looked at what I was doing. I explained the stone-fetish. ‘It’s just the age’ she said to me.


Except she didn’t say it like that – in English – because she’s French.


So a few stones, OK, I get that. But these quantities? It’s been over a week since those stones were left on our – relatively busy – car park and they’re still there, they have strength in numbers you see. Either that or people actually think if they move them the Blair Witch of the car park will get them and…I don’t know, scratch their cars? Adjust their seats? Tune their radio-stations to a channel that plays Clean Bandit’s Symphony on an endless loop?


I can just picture her though, sat in a chair while drinks are brought to her, hunched over her tunnel-plans, gaining favour amongst her peers with her scheme to tunnel to the playground. All the while hiding this in plain sight by having all the kids ‘redistribute’ the displaced stones in useful areas that they will blend in to with ease, such as baths, stairs, inside shoes and underneath car brake pedals. She’ll egg them on with promises of slides, sunshine, fun and games and no adults around.


All the while hatching her master plan.


To have the tunnel emerge in the local chocolatier’s parlour…


I’m sure I’m wrong though, it’s probably just a phase. That’s what everybody keeps telling me anyway…


The Kids In France Are Losing Their Marbles Over Le Jeu Des Billes…


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When I was a young whipper-snapper I used to play with marbles all the time. I loved them. Oilies, ball-bearings, clear ones, ones with bubbles inside – pretty much what you can see in the pic above, they really rocked my world. Because I was 7, and it was a much, much simpler world. There were no Gameboys*, no iPhones, nothing really electronic to distract you at all. We had fun and it was very, very simple fun; all you needed were a few kids (easily done) some marbles (easily won) and a grate/manhole cover (easily found). Then it was a simple case of playing the game against your opponent, whoever touched the other one, or managed to get their marble in the ‘goal’ (generally one of the small indentations in the grate) was the winner and claimed the other player’s marble as their prize.


Skip forward 30-odd years and the world is vastly different, there are many, many distractions available for kids – inside and outside of the playground – and yet marbles (or billes as they are known in France) are making a massive comeback.


For us it started as a reward system, if the kids behaved we would give them treats. The kids soon got wise to this though, and so were being good and then immediately coming to collect their prize. I had started out with Kinder Eggs: big mistake – have you seen the prices of these things? If you think they are bad in the UK, come and buy some in France, if you buy more than four a week your mortgage-repayments may suffer. So I looked at other, cheaper ways of keeping them on the ‘straight and narrow’. My son had expressed an interest in marbles, but in a collector’s way, not for any kind of game-playing reason. He’s a bit of a hoarder is my son, and he likes pretty, shiny things – a bit like Gollum but with a more annoying voice (love you son xxx).


So, off daddy went to look on Amazon and eBay to price up some marbles – and back daddy swiftly came, after seeing the prices + postage and packaging, and then checking his bank balance. No that wouldn’t do, that wouldn’t do at all.


Then the answer presented itself: brocantes. Yes the people at brocantes don’t charge extortionate prices for marbles, and they can be haggled with. I can’t haggle with Amazon – he doesn’t want to know. So when you roll up and eagerly eye a big sack (or tin, sometimes they are in pretty tins which your children will immediately purloin from you) and ask them how much, they may say ’50 centimes, pour dix’ (50 cents for 10) to which you can then reply ‘Combien pour tous?’ (how much for them all?) and you will then generally be able to walk away with twice as many billes as you would get on Amazon/eBay for a tenth of the price (and that’s not an exaggeration). You see the brocanteurs haven’t cottoned on to the fact that France has gone mad for marbles yet, but when they do…well expect to see the prices start jumping up, particularly among the more savvy ones (i.e the ones who aren’t just clearing out their recently deceased granddad’s house, and actually do it for a living).


So with this stock of marbles I was able to effectively, and very economically, reward good behaviour. As well as using them as leverage if there was any bad behaviour too – a double whammy a carrot AND a stick. This went on for quite a few weeks, and the kids amassed quite a collection of marbles, so much so that repeat trips were required, more for variety than anything; but that was OK, there’s always a brocante when you need one.


Then a funny thing started happening – my son started taking his marbles to school with him. Nothing new here, he often (read: every day) takes something in to show the kids. But then he’d start showing me his collection and mentioning how cool they were, and I didn’t recognise all the billes, these were different billes. Where were these billes coming from?


‘I won them from Yohanna’ he told me one day. ‘We play them together, me Yohanna, Alice and the other kids, and I’m good at it’. He then went on to play a game of marbles with me, a bit different from when I used to play, but essentially the same game. However I think I should amend my son’s phrasing as I think he meant to say ‘I’m good at cheating at it’. Unless of course it’s only with me that he plays marbles by guiding his marble towards mine, with his hand maintaining contact with his marble at all times. I don’t mind though. I’m not bitter.


Plus I’ve still got more marbles upstairs than he has (literally, as in upstairs in the house, not metaphorically, the kids have seen to that).


It wasn’t isolated to his group of friends either, as I first thought. We started to pass harried looking parents arguing with their kids. ‘He’s moaning to his daddy’ my partner translated on one such occasion ‘Because daddy forgot to put his marbles in his school-bag’. You can see them every day as well, in the playground, huddled in their groups playing away. It’s so refreshing. Here’s a past-time, from the past, which I had long thought to be firmly in the rear-view mirror enjoying a new lease of life. I can’t comment if it’s the same the world over, I haven’t researched it intensively; but it’s great to see here. No screens, all outdoors, a communal atmosphere – just good, clean, wholesome fun.


I did worry at first when I learned that they were playing this game, as my son can get quite (read: very) attached to things. Particularly shiny, small things (again, like Gollum). But he doesn’t seem phased at all by his very, very gradually dwindling pile of marbles. He’s just happy playing. Plus he knows if he’s good daddy will restock his collection – effectively making me the backer to his gambler (well, it is a form of childish gambling if you think about it). So that’s been a weight off my mind.


The real concern is when his sister starts playing…


…because she loves shiny, precious things even more than her brother – like Gollum, but more aggressively protective – (love you daughter xxx) there may well be blood on the playground floor if she loses her marbles…


*Yes, yes, it’s a dated reference but you get what I mean

I Love T’choupi And Now I Am A Big Boy…


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Today I had a good time as I went to the library and I read a good book called ‘T’choupi jardine’ and it was good because I understood every word and I felt that was a massive achievement even though my kids and partner laughed at me and the librarian looked at me like I was ‘different’.


I love T’choupi because he spends time with his daddy and they have fun and it is a great book and he helped his daddy in the garden and then they planted seeds and T’choupi thought his flowers would grow but daddy said ‘No you must wait T’Choupi’ which chuffed T’choupi off a bit but that’s kids for you. And daddy asked T’choupi to go in the house but T’choupi wouldn’t because kids never do what you tell them and he wanted to stay outside and watch his flowers grow but they didn’t because it was not time for them to grow yet which he would know if he had listened to his daddy.


I like T’choupi,  and I am a big boy now because I read the whole thing and I understood it all. OK, page 7 was a bit tricky but apart from that It was great and then I had a lollipop.


(Review by Phil, aged 41 and 3 quarters).

Strange Things In France This Week….


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Here’s a couple of oddities that have crossed my path this week in the land of love and wine. And cheese.


They just seemed a bit…odd – see if you think so too…


I saw this in my local Intermarche, a chain of French supermarkets that sell just about everything, however I think they may have overstepped the mark here:



Selling an overpriced fridge adorned with a Union Jack… is the manager having some sort of a bet as to who can sell the craziest item in our town? If I go to my local Aldi will I find a washing machine for sale decorated with the German national flag for 350 Euros?



I then Received my first batch of contact lenses, from Vision Direct in France, excellent service, arrived really quickly and they are settling into my Anglais eyeballs a treat. I do, however, have to question their choice of free gift that came in the packaging. 10% off voucher for next time? Complimentary bottle of contact lens solution? No, they went for something a bit different….



How old do these people think I am? But, more importantly, one packet of Haribos? Do they know what will happen in my household if the kids see this lonely item? Do you remember the scene from The Dark Knight, where the Joker, after defeating a fellow crime-lord and staring his three lackies down, informs them he has an opening in his gang, but there’s only one place? He then  gives them a broken snooker cue, and tells them to fight it out.


Well, the results of the one-pack-of-Haribo situation will be just like that.


Only with more violence.

Bourges: There & Back Again – or – Why Do Satnavs Always Do This To Me?


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I’m off to Bourges today, hooray! It’s the longest journey I’ve undertaken on my own, completely solo, without the steady guiding hand of my partner. It’s OK though, because I’m bringing my ‘trusty’ satnav with me. So nothing can possibly go wrong.


Which basically means things will possibly go wrong. I mean, why else would I put the word trusty in inverted commas?


Anyway the reason for this trip is the procurement of a Nintendo Mini SNES Classic, a sold-out item that I have managed to reserve at Micromania, in the Carrefour shopping centre in Bourges. It’s an in and out job, I just want my piece of retro-gaming nostalgia and then I’m out of there and back home, so I can get stuck into said bit of retro-gaming nostalgia. The journey there is trouble-free, it’s effectively a straight line, with the odd slight curve, and then a left turn at the end. Easy-peasy.


I’m out of the car, in the shopping centre and heading happily back to the car, hard-to-find gaming-system in hand before you can say ‘Well that was unexpectedly easy’. Then it all goes wrong.


I boot up the satnav, head out of the car-park and confidently press the ‘Go Home’ button. It’s not till I’m sat at the traffic lights that it dawns on me that something is wrong. It’s 10.30 a.m, it took me an hour to get here, so why is it now saying I won’t be home till 7.30 p.m? It’s saying that because I haven’t updated it since we moved to France, so it thinks ‘Go Home’ means home to West Yorkshire.


In England.




So I frantically choose ‘recently found’ as I watch the traffic lights change, keeping one eye on the car behind me, which has taken up the standard French position of being just one inch from my rear bumper. He seems to be aware that there’s an Englishman in distress in this car. At least that’s what his eyes tell me. I can see all these nuances because he is parked an inch from my rear bumper. It’s standard practice in France you see.


New info input the satnav seems to take an age to ‘recalculate’. I love the way my satnav says this. It sounds like someone underwater. A lady underwater, maybe Aqua Marina from Stingray, a TV series with marionettes that I used to watch when I was young and we didn’t have Youtube. She was a mermaid who helped the main character defeat his nemesis. She must have made an impression because I can’t remember his name, or the main bad guy’s name. Although now I think about it I don’t think she could talk. So maybe not her.


As the lights change – giving me just enough time to receive updated information without causing my bumper-hugging friend behind me to actually attempt to mount my car – I follow the new route and pull a hasty right turn. Hasty, but not illegal. I’ve driven about 5 yards when the drowning-female-tones inform me that the route is once again being ‘recalculated’. I recognise this area though, I think to myself. I’ve had a bad Chinese buffet here*.


Then lady satnav makes me take a right turn and I’m in completely uncharted territory. I know now that I have to listen to her every command, because I’ve just remembered I forgot to bring my phone, and the scenery is starting to look a bit creepy.


Picture in your mind the locales used in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes and, particularly, Deliverance. Transpose those locales to France – so basically take the yellow filter off the lens – and you can see why I’m getting worried. So many abandoned buildings. So many abandoned rusting cars. Who did they use to belong to? Did I see a curtain twitch in that window just then? Was that sunlight glinting off a shotgun’s barrel?


I once saw a film called Calvaire, set in rural France, about a traveller who breaks down and gets taken in by a local farmer. The local farmer gets confused, and thinks the traveller is his dead wife. Did I mention the traveller is actually a man? Hilarious scenes follow where the traveller is forced to dress like a woman, and a pig is raped. The theme seems to be that there’s nothing much to do in rural France, except rape pigs and then dress up stranded men like women. Oh and the traveller gets raped too.


I only watched it once.


So films like this plus my overactive imagination, as well as my complete lack of any means of communication – bar screaming – make me feel all kinds of worried. The roads get narrower and narrower, and the buildings look ever more sinister.


Satnavs always do this to me. A straightforward route to wherever I’m going is followed with a ‘scenic route’ on the way back. The worst one was one in the UK, when I was driving to Wales. That journey involved lots of animal skulls, men with few teeth, and a road that would have been better suited to rally-driving. I think satnav manufacturers are actually angry farmers, who try to make people drive down their windy roads, so that they can accidentally run them over in their cars with their tractors.


Like I said, I’ve got an overactive imagination.


Just as I’m despairing of ever getting out of this rural hell, and begin thinking that I actually died back at the traffic lights, and am in a hell of rusting tractors and scared-looking farm animals, the satnav tells me to turn right and I see a vision: the main road home. I breathe a sigh of relief as I head back down this familiar road, winding the window down (something I was loathe to do ten minutes earlier) so that the sweat down my back can dry.


I smile at the driver behind me, as I drive home, imagining him smiling back at me. Actually I don’t have to imagine it, I can see it. He’s a she, and she’s not smiling. I know this because she’s driving an inch from my rear bumper. It’s standard practice in France you see…



*I have yet to have a good Chinese in France. They are edible, and you can’t really complain, but it’s a bit like that scene in The Fly, where he puts a cut of meat in the teleporter, cooks it, and then invites his lady-friend to try it, and compare it with a non-teleported piece of meat. One’s fine the other one tastes synthetic. Well that’s how I always think of Chinese restaurants in France, when comparing them to the UK ones. 

My Son’s Lego Creations…


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My son is very, very creative. He’s seldom seen without a colouring pencil in his hand, drawing up a storm. He’s got a great unique style too, something I don’t have, but can recognise. I like to think I’m OK at writing, but he blows me out of the water when it comes to drawing. Lately he has been turning his attention to his large collection of Lego, and the results have been fantastic. I should add that he didn’t use any pictures, guides or anything like that, they all came from memory and imagination…



His Optimus Prime robot, the body is the weak part – because I built it! – the face is amazing, he’s watched a couple of the films but that’s it, which makes this all the more incredible to me as he doesn’t own one single Transformer toy.




Batman Bobble head with a, in his own words, ‘tapered back’. I was so surprised that he knew the word ‘tapered’ that I didn’t immediately appreciate the craft that had gone into this. 




A Hospital waiting-room for his figures.




They went through a phase of really liking all things Emoji, after watching that terrible, terrible film several times. This is ‘Laughy Tongue’ Emoji.




A great little vehicle, if there’s a sequel to Mad Max: Fury Road, and they need some tips on car designs, they know where to come.




I think this is probably my favourite, we started working on this together, as he wanted to make a Lego version of Midna, a character from the Zelda series of games (Twilight Princess to be specific). I gave up as I just couldn’t figure out how to do it, and went for a coffee. I returned and he’d created this – a fantastic interpretation by anyone’s standards. I love the hat, the eye, the colours…everything just works. And he’s only 6-and-a-half years old.




Hard at work on his next marvellous creation…

The Tale Of The Two Babies And The Bath Thief…


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The two babies came downstairs one day to discover a very big surprise was waiting for them – their very own bath!


They were very, very happy about this and got in straight away!




They were pleased to be in the bath as they had been wearing the same clothes for over a year, and so they absolutely reeked.


They also wore those clothes in the bath, because that’s what you do in a bath isn’t it.


‘This is nice’ said Winky-Eye Baby, as he pretend-sploshed water all over his (her?) clothes.


‘Yes it is’ replied Onesie Baby ‘It’s about bloody time too. I thought my clothes were going to be classed as a biohazard if I let them get any dirtier’.


‘You do know there isn’t actually any water?’ said Winky-Eye Baby, with a worried frown on his (her?) face ‘It’s all just pretend. Don’t tell me you’ve been at the bleach again?!’.


‘It’s real if you wish hard enough’ said Onesie Baby.


‘Well, why don’t you shit in one hand and wish in the other, and see which one fills up first’ replied Winky-Eye Baby.


After their bath the two babies had a lovely game of ‘High Fly’, a fun game which involved them being hurled as fast as they could be at walls and doors, by their boisterous Mummy. She was a very loving Mummy, but she loved in a quite violent way, and so if the two babies were real she would probably be doing about 25 years-to-life in prison for infanticide.


Though if they were real it would probably raise more questions about how a three-and-a-half year-old could have babies.


After their game the two babies decided to have another bath, but were shocked to discover it had been stolen!


Who stole it?




‘It’s that fucking cat!’ said Winky-Eye Baby ‘As if it’s not bad enough that we get used as a teeth and claw sharpener by that thing, now we will have to clean out its hairs before we get back in!’


‘And we might catch toxoplasmosis’ he (she?) added.


‘What’s toxoplasmosis?’ Onesie Baby asked.


‘Its that disease from cat shit that killed Tommy in Trainspotting’ replied Winky-Eye Baby ‘Mind you he was a junkie with AIDS, so we should be alright’


‘Plus we’ve got no central nervous system’ added Onesie Baby.


The cat did look awfully comfortable though, and the two babies worried they would never get their bath back, but just then he woke up!



‘Oh I do hope he doesn’t bite my head again’ said Winky-Eye Baby


‘That’s not the worst thing they do’ replied Onesie Baby ‘I’ve heard when they get older they hump you’


‘No I think that’s dogs’ countered Winky-Eye Baby ‘Plus he’s having his bollocks off next month so it shouldn’t be an issue’.


Just then Mummy arrived, and the two babies had beaming smiles on their faces at the prospect of getting their bath back. Or they would have done if in fact they could smile, and weren’t just moulded lumps of rubber.


‘She’ll sort that bloody ball of fur out’ said Winky-Eye Baby.



‘Yes we’ll soon be back in our nice warm bath, I can’t wait!’ squealed Onesie Baby in delight.


However the two babies were in for a shock…





‘What a bitch’ said the two babies together.

Cultural French/UK Differences: Estate Agents vs Agence Immobilieres


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Estate agents and agence immobilieres, one based in the UK, the other in France. They ostensibly perform the same function: to sell your house in the quickest possible time or, alternatively, to help you find that dream home.


There are however a few key differences between the two…


Average Age:


Estate Agent: 20 – 30


Agence Immobiliere: 60 – 70


Location of business premises:


Estate Agent: Centrally located in heart of city/town/village


Agence Immobiliere: Centrally located in heart of city/town/village



Likelihood of finding dogs on said business premises:


Estate Agent: Very Low


Agence Immobiliere: At least one.


Will they smoke on said business premises?


Estate Agent: Smoking on business premises is illegal in the UK (so not while you are there)


Agence Immobiliere: Smoking on business premises is illegal in France (so not while you are there and occasionally while you are there)


What’s the lighting like inside said business premises?


Estate Agent: Bring sunglasses


Agence Immobiliere: Bring a torch


How they will greet you the second time you enter said business premises:


Estate Agent: ‘Hello, can I help you?’

(Translation: ‘What do you want? I’m nearly at level 80 on Candy Crush Saga!’)


Agence Immobiliere: (after warmly shaking your hand/kissing you on both cheeks) ‘Bonjour Monsieur/Madam (insert surname here). Ca va?’

(Translation: ‘Hello Mr (Insert surname here) how are you today?’)


How they will greet you the fourth time you enter said business premises:


Estate Agent: ‘Hello, can I help you?’

(Translation: ‘What do you want? I’m trying to upload my photos from the Ibiza trip to Facebook!’)


Agence Immobiliere: (after warmly shaking your hand, kissing you on both cheeks) ‘Bonjour (insert Christian name here) voulez vous une cafe, ou une boisson?’

(Translation: ‘Hello (insert Christian name here). Would you like a coffee or something to drink?’)


Likelihood that your agent will be related to someone else in company:


Estate Agents: Low


Agence Immobiliere: Them and that other person over there, you know the one that looks like a younger, female version of them? They ARE the company.


Routes to market for your property:


Estate Agent: Targeted email campaign, Facebook campaign, personalised brochure, open house days, local area leafletting, placement on multiple websites.


Agence Immobiliere: Placement on website of agency, discussion in queue at bakers, discussion in queue at butchers, discussion in queue at gunshop, discussion whilst out walking dog (s).


Number of Photographs that will be taken of the properties:


Estate Agent: a minimum of 10 or so photographs, depicting the interior, the exterior and everything that could possibly show the property in its best light.


Agence Immobiliere: A minimum of 1 or so photographs, sometimes the same photograph, 3 times, showing the same aspect, just slightly closer each time.


Will the agent ever take photographs as if they were taken by someone who has had a restraining order imposed on them and is not allowed within 100 ft of the property and thus has to resort to taking photographs when the house is fully shuttered on an overcast day from quite a distance away?


Estate Agent: Never


Agence Immobiliere: All the time



Will you move furniture around to get a better shot?


Estate Agent: Yes


Agence Immobiliere: No


Will they move people/animals out of shot?


Estate Agent: Yes


Agence Immobiliere: Sometimes


Have they mastered the art of taking a photo in a room with a mirror without appearing in said mirror?


Estate Agent: Yes


Agence Immobiliere: No


You are selling a house for over 200k, do you think people will want to see more than 3 photographs, one of which is of a bush?


Estate Agent: Yes


Agence Immobiliere: No


Do you think this looks like a good photo to have on your website?




Estate Agent: No


Agence Immobiliere: No


So why is it there Agence Immobiliere? Don’t you understand the term ‘correct photo orientation’?


Estate Agent: (Sniggers)


Agence Immobiliere: (shuffles feet)


I don’t know what you are laughing at Estate Agent, here’s one of yours:




Estate Agent: (shuffles feet)


Agence Immobiliere: (Sniggers)


Do lots of your properties look like they are haunted?


Estate Agent: No


Agence Immobiliere: 75%


If you are selling a property who will accompany the prospective buyer?


Estate Agent: Ostensibly the estate agent will arrange all viewings, with the promise that you will not interact with the prospective buyer at all. In reality they will text you to tell you that they have ‘gotten held up’ and ‘could you be a gem and show the house for me?’. The buyer will then arrive 30 minutes late (or early) because the estate agent hasn’t relayed the correct information to them. This will only happen 8 out of 10 times though.


Agence Immobiliere: The agent, his/her son/daughter and his/her dog (s).


Potential timescale for the sale of a property?


Estate Agent: Days/Weeks/Months


Agence Immobiliere: Months/Years/Decades


How they will greet you when you enter their business premises after the successful completion of your sale/purchase:


Estate Agent: ‘Hello, can I help you?’

(Translation: ‘What do you want? I’m bidding on an ab-toner on eBay and it ends in 2 minutes, I need it to look good for my next holiday to Ibiza!’)


Agence Immobiliere: (after warmly shaking your hand, kissing you on both cheeks) ‘Bonjour (insert Christian name here) voulez vous une cafe, ou une boisson? Comment vont les enfants? Merci encore pour votre enterprise’

(Translation: ‘Hello (insert Christian name here). Would you like a coffee or something to drink? How are the kids? Thanks again for your business’)


Meeting My Daughter’s New French Teacher…


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Opportunity Missed and Taken Green Road Sign and Clouds


I go to the wrong door. This is the second time this week I’ve gone to the wrong door. That’s because today is Wednesday and it’s dinner-time. All the other days I’ve collected my daughter from her Maternelle at 4.30pm*. They move them after dinner-time you see.


They also change the teachers.


So the teacher I have met the other two days this week is not the one I meet today. Today is the day I meet her actual class teacher, not one of the other ‘cool-down’ teachers – the ones that seem to take them when all the hard, morning work is done, and they just have to keep them awake till their parents take them in the afternoon.


Or should that be evening? I only as as they keep saying ‘bonsoir’ to me. When does afternoon become evening? I would ask but I don’t know how to.


But I digress.


So this is the first day I’m meeting my daughter’s new teacher, and also the first day she is meeting me. As I approach the door a pleasant looking middle-aged lady is there to greet me. She looks at me quizzically at first and I peer in the door and pause.


She’s probably meeting lots of parents today for the first time, I think to myself. Lots of parents may not be able to pick their kids up at dinner-time, so it may fall to their other half, or grandparent, to collect them. I could trade her in, I think. Maybe get one of the less aggressive (when it comes to food) ones. Or the less violent (when it comes to cuddling me) ones. Or maybe I could get another boy? I’ve always fancied having two boys around the place.


My eyes scan the room. So many options.


But probably best not to pick one of the Chinese ones.


I’d save a fortune on biscuits, smoothies, marbles and psychotherapy-for-cats sessions (oh yes, I do believe that’s in the future). I wouldn’t have so many bruises on my arms, legs, torso, face etc etc. I would be able to eat my food, without someone else constantly monitoring the quantities consumed. Without someone else asking me, why I’m eating more of something? Why I’m having another one? Why am I wearing that top? Why am I having a shower? Why am I going outside? Why are we going in the car?


Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?


But it would just be the same, I realise. So maybe it’s better the devil you know?


Well, that plus the whole kidnapping another kid, getting arrested etc. etc.


So I admit who I am, forever dooming myself to coming to collect this bundle of questioning fun, that eats all my food, makes me buy her marbles, and gives the best – if slightly violent – cuddles.


Oh well, if I change my mind there’s always next year’s new teacher….



*In case you are wondering my partner always, always drops her off in the mornings, and I take my son to his school, just across the road. My daughter is very clingy to her mum in the mornings and my son likes me to chase him to his school. I’m better at running. My partner is better at being clung to.


We did try it the other way round once. We call that day ‘The Day Of Tears’. We won’t repeat that.

Cats Are Useless At D.I.Y….


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Bought some furniture, decided today would be a good day to build it. Mother-in-law suggested I might like some help from her partner.


He has a short fuse. I have a short fuse.


Not a good idea.


I don’t like building flat-pack furniture with other people. The instructions suggested I should build this item with other people:




If I built this unit with 2 other people I would soon be on the front page of the French newspapers for killing 2 other people.


I really, really don’t like building flat-pack furniture.


I had an idea, maybe my new feline friend could help me:




He didn’t seem too interested, and repeatedly failed to pass me any dowels, either of my screwdrivers and not one single screw.


He was a ‘silent’ partner throughout the process. Probably for the best really…




Furniture built + cat still alive = result.


I still really, really don’t like building flat-pack furniture.