Saturday 18 April 2009

Postal strike

When I was a young lad I remember a postal strike. I can't remember what caused it, but I do remember that it went on for months and months and the same way that summer holidays used to last for ever, and every day was sunny. I think the leader of the postal workers was called Tom and he had a fabulous handlebar moustache. The worst thing about the strike for me was that I used to get a science partwork sent to me on a regular basis...I guess it was every fortnight, but that detail slips my mind now. And with the strike, I didn't receive it. And that was very disappointing. Once the strike was resolved, it started arriving again, and for amny years afterwards, long after the series had finished, the arrival of the post was very exciting.

In more recent times, and as my face has become a little more wrinkled and other parts of my body have begun to sag, the post has taken on a different meaning. Usually it consists of just bills or junk mail, or bits of official correspondence. And as I increased the number of propoerties I own the amount of post has become a torrent of unwanted paperwork, filled with nothing but bad news (at worst) or uninteresting information.

As a result I've become increasingly reluctant to look through it, and I guess I've developed a fairly finely tuned sense of spotting which envelopes need to be opened and the contents actioned. I guess I get it right around 85% of the time; the 15% has led me into some fairly difficult situations often only resolved by a nasty fight with a government bureaucrat or banker. On one occasion though, an envelope I wouldn't normally have touched was accidently opened to reveal a cheque for £2000.

This year, the situation had reached a critical point, with a pile of unopened post that was about five foot high. Some dating back to the last millenium. So rather shamefacedly, I've just paid someone to open every envelope and sort the contents into manageable files - each flat has a file, and within that the various suppliers and organisations associated with it. There's a pile of miscellaneous stuff that should be kept, but isn't easily categorised.

Sadly no more cheques were found, but equally Gwen (no, not Auntie Gwen) hasn't come running up with any threatening writs either. It's a great relief to have it done; the house is tidier for it and I can clear my conscience too.

But I wonder now if I'll be able to pluck up the courage to open every piece of mail that pops through the letter box, and deal with promptly as I should. Answers on a postcard please.

Thursday 16 April 2009

On a knife edge

Yesterday on the morning of the boy's banishment we were chasing around trying to find some wrapping paper for Grandma in Wales' present. For some curious reason that meant I put my hand in his coat pocket (not an obvious place for wrapping paper I'll grant you). And therein lies our next problem.

A knife. No not a butter knife hidden away to avoid the washing up, but a full on 'blade'. Which locks into place to create a fearsome weapon.

Knife culture has become quite a thing in the UK recently, and there's many a teenager that has paid for it with their life. Of course, most youngsters who've been caught carrying claim it's for defence. As indeed it probably is. But simply the act of carrying a knife can lead to terrible, tragic consequences. In this case, I'm not sure the idea was to even carry was simply an object to have and to hold. But for me that was irrelevant, especially as it had been bought surreptitiously on the Sorrento trip where he'd been tasked with keeping a record of everything he'd spent.

Having spent the previous evening doing father-son bonding by hanging new blinds around the house (Boys and men do DIY you know), it all fell to pieces again.

It was a very angry father who put his son on a train to Cardiff

Tuesday 14 April 2009


In fairy tales of yore princesses get banished to catles or towers distant. In greek mythology errant deities are sent to the underworld. In more recnt times political dissidents disappear to Siberia. On a lesser note it's not unheard of for people to be sent to Coventry.

After a truly miserable Easter the boy is being banished to Wales until the weekend. Hopefully the few days apart will enable us both to get our heads straight and everything back on an even keel. And at least Grandma in Wales will be truly delighted to share her 80th with both her grandchildren.

The boy was already in the doghouse after several conversations with the school had revealed a lack of commitment - not just with school work but with extra curricular activities including the swimming squad (dropping out when there were no immediate galas coming) and school play (lines not learnt by dress rehearsal. And this was crystalised by a poor school report.

For months there has been a plan to have professional portrait of the boy and his sister taken to give to his grandmother. This was set to be taken in Brighton which suited everyone. Last week it transpired the venue had shifted to Woodford. It didn't suit me as I'd prefer to spend the weekend in Brighton or his sister who had to drive two and a half hours to get there. As it was Saturday it had meant Good Friday was spent kicking our heels. I had reluctantly agreed that he could spend Saturday meeting his friends. It turned out this was his girlfriend and the long walk in the woods was certainly not focused on the dog they were supposed to be looking after.

Saturday pm, he announced he was planning to spend the next week helping friends with their revision. My eyebrows did a bit of a Roger Moore at that, and given the above, rather suspected thise wad just a way of seeing the girlfriend. His response was erm forthright, as indeed was mine. The upshot (at that point) was that it was his decision how he revised, I wouldn't tell him what to do, but he needed to be aware that IMHO it wouldn't lead to the good results he needed to get.

The boy has limited computer access to retrict time spent on MSN and prevent the viewing of in appropriate material. It transpired over the weekend that to get round the restrictions he had sneekily watched me log in to my laptop and had been using it when I was out.

I got barely a grunt of acknowledgement for the Easter egg I bought him and not even a creme egg in return...but then I did have to buy my own Christmas present.

Of course now I've put it all down it doesn't seem so bad; but then I've always thought of the blog as therapeutic. But in any case there are some trust issues, and my relaxed approach to parenting which has worked well in the past clearly needs significant modification now that boundaries are being stretched, challenged and broken. Can I have my little baby back please?