Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Eggs, Sperm & Facebook

The other night, I got woken up at the three o’clock in the morning by my frantic wife! I knew something was wrong from the way she was shaking me and whispering ‘wake up! Wake up’.

‘There is someone downstairs’ she said.

‘Who? What time is it?’ I sleepily asked.

‘It’s three in the morning and there is someone downstairs. I think it’s a burglar’ she whispered.

‘A burglar? Naah! I think you’re just being paranoid’

‘No. I am not. He is making too much noise. Actually, I can hear voices too. There must be more than one. Wake up and go check’.

‘More than one and you want ME to check?’

‘Are you scared?’

‘No. But..err..maybe it’s your dad’

‘No. My dad is asleep. I can hear him snoring’.

‘Ok. Ok. I’ll go and check’

‘Wait! Do you think I should call the police?’

‘No. We don’t even know if it is a burglar yet. Let me check first’.

So, I quietly tiptoed downstairs with a toilet brush in one hand and a can of lynx deodorant in the other. I could hear people’s voices. They were female voices! All the lights were on as I slowly walked towards the kitchen.

Around the dining table, sat my three children. They were drinking milk and having the weirdest conversation anyone could have at that time of night!

‘Men have something called sperm inside them and women have eggs’ the eight year old was saying.

‘How many eggs?’ asked the five-year-old boy.

‘Two’ replied our resident oracle.

‘Do I have eggs?’ Asked the six-year-old girl.

‘Yes. All girls have eggs inside them’ replied the oracle.

‘What is a sperm?’ asked the boy.

‘It’s like a tadpole’ said the oracle.

‘What’s a tadpole’ asked the six year old.

‘Urgh! You don’t know anything! A tadpole is a baby frog’ replied the impatient oracle.

‘Where is my sperm?’ asked the boy.

‘In your tummy’ said the condescending oracle.

‘Are my eggs in my tummy too?’ asked the six year old.

‘Yes’ said the oracle.

‘Do you have eggs too?’ asked the six year old.

‘Yes. ALL girls have eggs’ replied the irritated oracle.

‘Can my eggs break?’ asked the six year old.

‘Yeah! If you run too much or fall down you will break your eggs and then yellow stuff will come out of your bottom’ said my logical boy.

‘No. I don’t think you can break your eggs. They are protected by your body’ said the oracle.

‘Not even if I jump real hard?’ said the six year old.

‘No.’ said the older girl.

‘How about if I punch her real hard in the tummy?’ asked the boy.

‘Urgh. I said NO!’ replied the exasperated oracle.

At this point, I decided to sneak slowly back to the bedroom and try to sleep. My anxious wife was standing by the bedroom door as I passed her to get to the bed and looked shocked to see me glide past her.

‘What are you doing?’ she whispered.

‘I am going to bed’ I whispered back.

‘What’s going on downstairs?’ she asked.

‘Go and have a look’ I said.

‘Oh grow up and tell me what’s going on’ she said.

‘It’s the kids. They’re all awake, having milk downstairs and talking about how babies are made’ I yawningly replied.

‘NO!’ said she.

‘Yes’ I replied ‘of course, I think this whole thing is a dream and I’m dying to wakeup so I can tell you all about it’ I added.

‘The kids are downstairs and you just left them there without doing anything? What if they drink bleach or something?’ she incredulously asked.

‘The egg and sperm massive are a tad too advanced for bleach and other childish accidents’ I replied as I covered my head and tried to adjust my pillow.

I woke up the next morning to find out that it was not a dream. Seems the middle one was thirsty and woke the others up to accompany her downstairs.


I got home yesterday to be confronted by my six-year-old daughter. She held my hand and dragged me to the PC without allowing me to change or even take my shoes off.

'Look!' she said. 'I've got a facebook account'.
'You're not old enough for a facebook account' I told her.

'I know' she knowingly replied 'I lied about my age'.

'Lying is not nice' I told her.

'Will I get in trouble?' she asked.

'No. But you have to delete the account' I said.

The eight year old jumps in and says 'I have a facebook account too, am I old enough?'

'I don't know what the age limit is' I said 'but I think you're too young too'.

'She is the one that created my account for me' said the six year old.

'This is fraud' I told them. 'You can't pretend to be an age you're not'.

'Mum always lies about her age' said the eight year old.

‘That reminds me, where was your mother when you were creating these accounts?' I asked.

'She was here. We asked her if it was ok and she said yes' replied the older girl.

'Do you have a facebook?' asked the younger girl.

'Yes. But I am old enough to have one. It's boring anyway' I replied.

'Can you add me as your friend?' she asked 'I don't have any friends' she added.

'That's because most children your age can't write properly' I said.

'I can write!' she protested.

'I know you can. But not well enough to have your own facebook account'.

'I can WRITE' she insisted.

'Yes. Yes. You can. Can I go and change now?'

'Does this mean I can keep my facebook?' she asked.

'We'll talk about it when I come back'

I went to change and when I returned the older daughter said ‘Dad, give me the name of a college.’

‘I don’t know the names of any local colleges. We’re new to this area, remember’ I said.

‘Give me the name of any college’ she replied.

‘The college of Outer London’ I said.

She started typing. ‘What are you doing?’ I curiously asked.

‘Oh. I am updating my profile. You said I am not old enough, so I am trying to make myself sound older’

‘More lying?’

‘Everybody does it’

‘But you are not everybody. You know it is lying and you’re teaching your little sister to lie too. Do you realise this is actually illegal?’

‘Illegal? You mean I’ll get arrested for lying?’


‘Oooh! I didn’t mean to lie. I swear I didn’t know it was illegal. I don’t want to get arrested, daddy’.

‘Hopefully you wont. We’ll just have to find a way to make your use of facebook legal’


‘I’ll create two accounts for you under my name’

‘Yay!’ Said the younger one.

‘That’s embarrassing’ said the older one.

‘That’s the only way you’re going to use facebook. Take it or leave it’ said I.

‘I don’t need a facebook account’ said the boy calmly ‘I always use mummy’s one’......

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Boss Is MAD!

Everyone complains about their bosses and how crazy, unreasonable, rude or fussy they are. But nobody has a boss like my boss.

He was not always my boss. In the beginning he was merely a senior colleague of mine. But fate, fortune and, probably, a secret CIA experiment all conspired to eventually make him my boss.

I always knew he was a buffoon. A harmless buffoon, I thought. But you only get to know the depths of someone’s buffoonery when they get some power and are let loose on the world. George Bush? Bah! He’s nothing to MY boss.

Here are a few conversations I had with him recently:

Boss: I just received a letter from some charity for the homeless. In it, there is a blank Christmas card that I am urged to fill in and send back so that it can be passed to a homeless person and cheer him up during Christmas. I am planning to enclose some money with the card. It is nice to help the underprivileged, is it not?

Me: Giving to charity is always nice.

Boss: These homeless people are probably all hopeless drunks that have wasted their lives and chose to stay on the margins of society. But to help them from time to time, even though I do not agree with their lifestyles, makes me feel good about myself. Like Tony Blair always said, we need to give back to society.

Me: Hmm

Boss: I am going to write something along the lines of: hope this card reaches you in good health and that you spend next Christmas under your own roof. I have enclosed (with this card) a gift that Santa gave me (you know he’s busy at this time of year).

Me: What if the card is given to a Brazilian homeless man who does not speak English? He might not get your humour.

Boss: What humour? I was not joking. Beside, there are no Brazilian homeless men. They are all illegal immigrants.

Me: Hmmm

Boss: I am going to enclose five pounds with the card and a post-it note with the words ‘lucky, lucky you’. Five pounds is nothing to me but everything to a homeless man.

Me: This time you are joking, right?

Boss: What is it with you and jokes? Are you saying I am being offensive?

Me: No. I just think whoever receives your card might misinterpret your words and think you are patronising them.

Boss: We are talking about homeless people here. I don’t think they have the intelligence to read into things the way you do. You worry too much.

Me: I suppose I do.

Boss: Ok. Ok. I am going to add the words ‘I am not being offensive’ after ‘lucky, lucky you’.

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from our Head Office asking me about some issue that needed clarifying. My boss was dealing with that issue and had all the paperwork for it. I passed him the e-mail and enquired as to what I should do next.

Boss: I have never dealt with this issue. You did.

Me: No. I have never come across this information before. In fact, I remember you telling me about it a few months ago. Are you sure you don’t have the paperwork for it?

Boss: No. Maybe the secretary was dealing with it all.

Me: But it is not part of her job.

Boss: No. No. She dealt with it. I now remember asking her to do so. She has the all the paperwork. I will go and get it from her.

He went to the secretary and she told him she knows nothing about the matter. He returned and spent ten minutes telling me how incompetent she is then went back to her to make sure she does not have the paper work. He spent the rest of the day running between her office, his office, the offices of other colleagues and then returning to me to tell me how incompetent they all were. He then went back to his own office and started searching. An hour later, he came back to me and said the following:

Boss: I found the paperwork. You know, it is lucky that I am so organised and file things methodically. That is the problem with this company, nobody files things methodically. I really don’t know how this office could function without me.

Me: Where did you find the paperwork? Was it the secretary?

Boss: No. I had it. If I was like you or the others I don’t think I would ever find it. Thank god that I file things methodically.

On the same afternoon, someone came to him to inform him that they will be going on Paternity Leave. They wanted to take the whole two weeks off and did not know what the exact rules were. After talking to them, he came to gossip about the whole thing.

Boss: You know Ian is going on Paternity Leave?

Me: Is he? No, I didn’t know that.

Boss: Yes he is. I tried to advise him not to go. He doesn’t earn that much already and cuddling a baby for two weeks is really not something that is worth starving yourself for.

Me: You told him that?

Boss: I like to look after the welfare of my staff. But what is it with the poor and sentimentality? He can see his baby when he returns home from work. You see your kids when you return home from work, don’t you?

Me: Err, yes. But I don’t think it is the same thing.

Boss: Rubbish. What does a new born baby need with a father? It is the mother that breastfeeds them and has a bond with them at that early stage.

Me: Yes, but the mother will be tired from the ordeal of giving birth and would need help.

Boss: What help? Babies sleep for 23 hours of the day when they are that young. The mother can sleep when they sleep then wake up and feed them when they wake up. It is this politically correct society that we live in that spoiled these people.

Me: I don’t think it will be a good idea to share these views of yours with Ian. He might misinterpret them.

Boss: There you go worrying too much again. I am sure Ian knows I am a caring boss and that I only have his interests at heart. I might even push for a pay rise for him when the time comes. He does not earn much you know. I really don’t know how he is going to raise a baby on his income. Do these people ever think before doing things?

Me: I am sure he thought about it and planned things before deciding to have the baby. You do realise that the average salary in this country is £25,000 don’t you?

Boss: Is it? How are these people managing?

Me: Hmmmm

Boss: I still think it is my duty to advise him on savings and other monetary issues. He will be a father soon and I’d hate to see him have money problems when he has such responsibilities and obligations.

Me: I know you mean well but to imply that he might not be able to look after his baby may offend him.

Boss: Why do you always assume that people will get offended? People are not as soft as you. Do you really think if Ian was that soft he would have been able to survive on his meagre salary?

Me: Hmmmmm

Boss: Exactly. Don’t worry yourself about these things. I know how to deal with him and even if he was offended at the start, I am sure he will forget all about it once he hears about the pay rise.

Me: What pay rise?

Boss: I told you, I am going to try to push for him to get a pay rise. When I tell him that I know he will realise that I am on his side and wont worry about this nonsense talk of being offended and what not.

Me: Sure.

Boss: I’ll talk to him on Monday.

Just to add here that Ian (that’s not his real name of course) hates my boss. This is because one day when this boss of mine was talking about the cleaning company we employ and how bad they were he said the following to Ian:

Boss: These cleaning companies are a joke. We pay them so much to wipe desks, clean and take rubbish out. Honestly, it is a job you or I can do. Actually, if you wanted to, you can supplement your salary by setting up one of these companies and get your wife to do all the cleaning.


Just to complete the picture, my boss is in his mid 60s, single and still lives with his mother. I always tell myself the only reason I did not strangle him yet, is that I am so cool I can have the globe twirling on a finger of one hand whilst picking my nose with the finger of the other. But oooh I’d love to kick the brown stuff out of this buffoon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


When you’re a child you worry about being told off by your parents, elder siblings or teachers. You look forward to growing up and becoming independent. I never really understood the meaning of independence before but now I know it means not being told off by anyone. Well, other than your bosses at work but that is only when you mess things up or are constantly late. Even then, you are not really being told off, not like how your parents used to tell you off. You are an independent adult and you do what you like.

The other day, I had to walk my eldest daughter to school before heading for work. We strolled along talking about her literacy class and the Victorian era. This is how the conversation went:

Daughter: Queen Victoria was a horrible lady.

Me: Is that what your teacher told you?

Daughter: No. I saw it on Dr Who.

Me: But Dr Who is not real. It’s just TV.

Daughter: I know THAT. But the woman on Dr Who looked and dressed exactly like the painting of Queen Victoria that our teacher showed us.

Me: That does not mean she was horrible.

Daughter: Was she nice then?

Me: Err. I am not sure it is that simple. She ruled for a very long time and must have done horrible things. Anyway, is it not too early in the morning for all of this? What are you going to do at school today?

Daughter: There is a literacy competition in school today. Our class is going to talk about Queen Victoria. What shall I say when it’s my turn?

Me: Just tell them she was horrible. They’ll probably agree with your Dr Who logic.

Daughter (squinting her eyes at me): Stop making fun of me.

We were by the school entrance by then and I had no time to explain. She walked away without saying goodbye.

I had a very bad cold and was coughing as I walked to the tube station. Someone smoking a cigarette walked past me and I managed to inhale some of the smoke. It has been three years since I last had a cigarette. But with my annoyance with Queen Victoria and this bad cold of mine, I suddenly had a very strong urge to smoke a cigarette. One cigarette could not do any lasting damage, could it?

I walked to the nearest shop and bought me a golden B&H and a lighter. My throat burned as I inhaled my first puff. Maybe I was just out of practice and needed to inhale a few more before getting that great feeling back. I did. I started coughing madly and had to lean on some wall to get my breath back. This smoking business was not for me. I threw the cigarette away and carried on walking to the station as I wiped the tears from my eyes and attempted, but failed to control my coughing.

When I returned home that night, my wife, my mother and my eldest daughter were all sat in the living room and having a heated conversation. Not Queen Victoria again, I thought to myself as I walked in.

Wife: Did you go to the shop near the school today?

Me: Yeah.

Wife: What did you buy?

Me: Err..Chewing gum.

Wife: Are you sure?

Me: Yes I am. Why do you ask anyway?

Wife: Because when I went to get our daughter from school I passed by the shop and the owner commented about not realising that YOU were a smoker.

Me: Maybe he’s talking about someone else. I don’t even think he knows we’re married.

Wife: Strange! Our neighbour’s young daughter also said she saw you this morning when she was on her way to school. She said she was on the bus when she saw you walking to the station with a cigarette in your hand.

Me: Oh yeah. THAT? My cough was getting worse and I thought a cigarette might help.

Wife: How long have you been secretly smoking?

Me: I have not. It was only the one cigarette. It is no big deal.

Wife: Why did you lie and say it was chewing gum then?

Me: I don’t know. I did buy chewing gum though.

Wife: Of course you did. Secret smokers need something to hide the stinky smell of their mouths.

Me: No it wasn’t that. I just did not want to put people off with the smell.

Wife: Same thing really.

Mother: Starting to smoke at your age? What were you thinking?

Me: It was one cigarette, mum.

Mother: That’s what you said last time.

Me: That was twenty years ago! You’re not being fair here.

Mother: Smoking is bad for you and you know that.

Me: Stop talking to me as if I am some child. If I want to smoke, I will smoke.

Wife: She’s right; it is bad for you and YOU ARE acting like a child now.

Me: I don’t need any of this. I have a really bad cold, a headache and I am tired after a long day at work. Lets just drop the subject.

Wife (muttering to herself): Not before you drop the habit.

Me: I am not a child and I will have nobody telling me what to do. In fact, I am going to go and have a cigarette right now. As of today, consider me a smoker.

I stormed to the back garden and lit a cigarette from the full packet that I still had.

I have been smoking ever since and I hate the smell, the constant coughing and the taste. But I am an independent man and will not have anyone telling me what to do.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

At The Doctor's

After leaving work last night, I went to register in a new doctor’s surgery. I was not happy with my old doctor and needed a change.

I walked in to the reception area of the surgery and they give me a form to fill before meeting the nurse who would register me. The clinic was full of waiting people and the seating arrangement was such that any new person walking into the surgery and speaking to reception would have an instant captive audience.

After filling the forms and giving them back to the receptionist I had to wait until she finished answering a phone call. She then looks up at me and passes me an empty bottle and a plastic bag. I looked at both and absent-mindedly asked her what was I supposed to do with them. She gave me a stern look and said ‘the toilet is the second door on your right’. She then went back to arranging some prescriptions and patients’ files. I nervously shuffled my feet and walked towards the first door on the right, but it was locked! I turned around to see if the receptionist was looking at me but she seemed to be lost in the overload of papers on her desk. Beyond her, on the far left, were my captive audience and they were ALL looking at me as I stood there with an empty urine bottle trying to open a locked door. An old Asian lady was giving me a motherly sort of smile and pointing at the door next to the one I was struggling with. I weakly smiled back at her as I felt my way for the right door and quickly slipped in.

Once inside, I remembered that I always empty my bladder just before I leave work and wondered if I had enough urine left to fill that bottle. I knew everyone at reception would be checking it out as soon as I came out of the toilet and I did not want to seem like some sort of sub-human that cannot squeeze out a few trickles to fill such a tiny bottle. To cut a long story short, I failed on the first two attempts. But, on the third attempt, like an OPEC nation that was being shunned by the others because of its dwindling oil supplies, I found new reserves of energy I never knew I had. I could have filled a full box of those tiny bottles.

I didn’t want to come out of that toilet. I knew I was going to be judged by my waiting audience as soon as I stepped out. It suddenly hit me! What if everyone waiting out there had had to go through the same process? What if they did it in less time than me? What if I was being timed by that old Asian lady? I did spend five full minutes in the toilet after all. Would that mean I’d come last?

I knew I couldn’t spend the rest of the night hiding in that toilet. I had to come out and face the music. So, I told myself I needed to be bigger than this petty surgery and judgmental audience. I am going to go out with a sure foot and puffed up chest. If they want to judge me, let them judge me. I am looking down on all of them anyway.

I opened the door and stepped out whilst holding the urine bottle slightly away from my body. I stole a quick glance at my audience and noticed they were all looking at me. All apart from the old Asian lady who was busy looking out of the window. But she soon noticed me and gave me a reassuring smile. I walked over to the receptionist and asked her what I needed to do next. ‘Take a seat, the nurse will call you when she’s ready’ she said. I didn’t wan to take a seat. I preferred having my back to the audience. I didn’t want to turn around and walk towards them with a urine bottle in my hand. But I did.

I took the furthest seat from everyone else and tried to hide my bottle behind my chair. An African man walked in and came to sit beside me. He looked at me, nodded and then looked away. He picked up a newspaper and tried to read it but gave up within two minutes and started using it as some sort of fan. He took his jacket off and undid a couple of buttons on his shirt then sat back breathing heavily. He picked up the newspaper one more time and fanned himself. I knew what he was up to but still ignored him completely. I was in no fit state to have a conversation with anyone. I was carrying a bottle of urine.

‘My sister is diabetic’ I heard him say.
‘Huh’ Said I.
‘My sister. She is diabetic’ he repeated with a smile.
‘hmmm’ Said I.
‘She is younger than me and always had problems with her condition’ He added.
‘Ah’ I said, as if that last comment made lots of sense.
‘She once fainted on a bus and they had to take her to hospital. She almost died’ He said.
‘Sorry to hear that’ I said.
‘She’s not dead’ He said
‘Glad to hear it’ I quickly replied.
‘They say it is hereditary’ he said.
‘What is?’ I asked.
‘Diabetes’ He said.
‘Yes. It probably is’ I said.
‘Does anyone in your family have it?’ He asked.
‘No’ I replied.
‘So you are the first? Sorry about that’ He said as he patted me on the shoulder (luckily not on the side that was carrying the urine bottle).

‘First what?’ I asked. ‘I am not diabetic if that is what you’re asking’.
‘Ha-ha. I am sorry, I don’t know why I thought you were’ He laughed embarrassedly.
I smiled at him and started looking out of the window. He fidgeted about for a bit then slowly started moving his chair away from me. When I turned round to look at him next he avoided making any eye contact. He only kept looking at my bottle!

The nurse called me and I quickly skipped into her room. She had a student nurse with her and both women were fussing over my form.

‘Why did you not answer the part that asks if any member of your family ever had a stroke’ the nurse grimly asked.

‘I did. I circled the word NO’ I said.
‘We don’t circle here we cross. Remember this for next time’ she quietly said then told the student to cross the YES.

‘You didn’t answer the question about the drugs you were on in the past’ she said with one eyebrow raised.

‘Well, err, I never had any serious complaints in the recent past’ I meekly replied
‘But you had some previously?’ she asked.
I was not expecting this sort of interrogation and was not really prepared for it.
‘I had a Peptic Ulcer eight years ago but it is gone now’ I said.
‘Do you remember what sort of drugs you were on then?’ she relentlessly asked.
‘Not really. It was eight years ago after all’ I replied.
She was not happy with a reply and told the student nurse to write in that section the words ‘patient can’t remember’.
She asked me to stand on the scales to be weighed. She told me to stand straight and look ahead. ‘ I always ask them to look ahead when weighing themselves’ she told the student nurse.
Next, this four feet tall nurse had to determine my height. She asked me to stand straight again, moved the loose bit about and measured my height.

‘Five nine and three quarters’ she said to the student nurse. ‘Lets say five ten’ she added.

‘I am six feet tall’ I said.

‘No you are not’ she warmly said.

‘But I am. I have recently checked my height and was six feet all. How could I lose two inches just like that?’ I said.

‘Maybe you did it wrong. You are five nine and three quarters if you want to be exact. Five ten at a push. Lets even say five eleven. But you are not six feet tall. Trust me, I know what I am talking about here’. She argued.

‘Ok’ I said.

She moved across the room and picked up the bottle of urine I gave her earlier. ‘Is this your urine’ she loudly asked.

‘Yes’ I mumbled.

She stuck something in it and called the student nurse to come and look. They both had their back to me as the nurse quietly explained something to her student. They were taking about my P? The thought brought a smile to my face.

The nurse told me that the registration process was over and that I could book an appointment with a doctor within 48 hours. As she was telling me this, she caught the cheeky smile on my face and visibly tensed up!

‘The surgery’s policy is to severely deal with any people that abuse or mistreat our staff. I hope you UNDERSTAND’ she, severely, said.

‘If you’re ill, make an appointment. If it’s urgent, go to A&E. A simple cold or flu is NOT an emergency, do you Understand?’ she madly added.

‘Yes. Yes. I understand’ I mumbled quickly and was ready to shuffle out of the room.
‘It was nice talking to you’ she said with a warm smile on her face ‘Have a good evening’ she added before turning her back on me and starting to explain a few more points to her poor student nurse.

I walked out the room and noticed that most of my old audience were gone. There was only the African man and the old Asian lady left. She smiled at me and gave me the thumbs up. He pretended he didn’t see me.

I am going to book an appointment to see if my new doctor is as mad as everyone else in that place.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Cats and Children

Recently, my cat has started going out and disappearing for hours. On Wednesday, it disappeared again and did not return.
My train journey home yesterday was horrid. There were delays, crowded carriages and rude people all over the place. When I finally managed to get home I was angry, fed up and totally exhausted.

As I walked into the bedroom and started changing my clothes I noticed my three children standing by the door and staring at me with expectant looks! From the look on my face, they knew not to start talking until I’ve finished what I was doing. As soon as I did, they all burst into the room and started talking at once. ‘He’s lost’ they said. ‘He probably got hit by a car’ they shouted. ‘He has not been home all week’ they pleaded!
I waved my hand and they all stopped talking. I asked them what the matter was and who was this person that was dead. They were talking about the cat of course! I told them it was ok and that cats often disappear for days then come back. They did not believe me and begged me to go to the back garden and call the cat. ‘He listens to you’ they said. ‘If you call him he will come’ they reasoned. ‘Please do it, dad’ they begged.

I was standing in the back garden shouting the cat’s name and hoping the neighbours would not hear. My eldest daughter pulled a face and said ‘you’ve got to shout louder. I’m standing next to you and I can’t hear you, how do you expect the cat to hear you?’
My three-year-old son volunteered a suggestion about cupping my hand and shouting as loud as I can. He started to demonstrate before his sister stopped him and repeated that the cat only responds to me. I did as my boy suggested and screamed the cat’s name at the top of my voice. Nothing happened. My eldest said ‘you probably got his attention now. Do it again’. I hated being ordered around by these children but knew they will not leave me alone until I did what they said. I screamed again and again.

My wife came out looking all worried and annoyed. She asked me what was I shouting about (even though she heard me already and knew it was the cat’s name). I told her I was calling the cat. She ordered the children into the house and asked me to try to keep my voice down as she walked back in and shut the door behind her!
I stood there looking at the closed door and seeing visions of a burning house, fleeing children and strangled wife. I suddenly felt something rub against my leg. It was the cat. He heard me after all!

Later, as we sat down to have our dinner, my five-year-old daughter asked me if I wanted to hear a poem about cats. I was hungry and tired. I was in no mood to hear any poems. I looked up at her and was about to tell her to leave me alone. She looked so innocent and so eager that I could not bring myself to do or say anything other than nod my head in approval. ‘Maybe it is a new poem she was taught at school’ I told myself. Maybe it’ll be good.
She stood up facing me and with her hands behind her back. She looked all serious and grave. She cleared her throat and spat out this gem of a poem:

Miaw, miaw, miaw, miawwMiaw, miaw, miaw, miawwMiaw, miaw, miaw, miawwMiaw, miaw, miaw, miaww

She took another breath and I hoped the words to this poem would start now. She was gesticulating and pulling sad faces as she continued:

Miaw, miaw, miaw, miawwMiaw, miaw, miaw, miawwMiaw, miaw, miaw, miawwMiaw, miaw, miaw, miaww

I stormed out of the room and went to bed. When I woke up this morning after having more than twelve hours restful sleep and feeling very new and refreshed, I met my wife in the kitchen and happily greeted her. She was in a very sarcastic mood and hinted about her unhappiness with my leaving her to deal with the kids on her own last night. All the weariness of the previous night came flooding back as I half heard her making a sour joke about her going to the back garden and shouting out my name to see where I disappeared to!
I changed my mind about breakfast and left the kitchen. It took me less than five minutes to get dressed. As I walked back to the kitchen to retrieve my mobile phone, two of my children came running after me and told me that the cat was missing again. They wanted me to call him back. I refused and started walking towards the front door. Barring my way stood our resident bard! She looked upset. ‘You didn’t tell me if you liked my poem’ she wailed. I lied and told her that I did. I gave her a kiss and walked out humming her poem to the tune of the national anthem. When I stood outside, alone, with no cat to find, children to worry about and wife to please I wished I were single again....

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Shocks and surprises

What is life but a serious of surprises and shocks! You’d be minding your own business and happily strolling down the street when you decide to stick your hands in your pockets and are surprised to find a collection of coins or notes that you didn’t know you had. Or you’d lazily lay on your sofa and press the buttons on your remote control when you suddenly come across a classic movie that you didn’t know would be broadcast today! Some surprises are pleasant and some are shockingly painful.

My family never stop surprising me. There I was the other day, returning from work, with my shoulders hunched, my tie loose and my spirits (as often are after my tube journey) down. I did what I normally do when I reach my house, I lightly tapped on the outside of my living room window so that someone would open the front door. I have my own keys but I refuse to use them. I’ve been working all day and the least I expect my family to do for me is open the front door.

My four year old daughter came running to the door and started talking to me through the letter box. She was very excited and kept on saying ‘dad, dad, I have something to tell you’! I patiently asked her to let me in first then tell me whatever it is she wanted to share with me. She said (with a touch of irritation I felt), ‘but it’s very important’. I, again, and with fatherly love oozing from every part of my being, asked her to open the door.
‘Don’t you want to hear what I have to tell you?’ she asked.
‘Of course I do, daddy’ I tenderly replied.
‘ It’s very important’ she said.
‘I know, daddy. But first you have to let me in’
‘How do you know?’ she asked.
‘Know what?’ I absent-mindedly replied.
‘I really have to tell you’ she said.
‘Open the door’ I said.
‘Don’t shout at me’ she said.
‘I’m not shouting, daddy. Come on darling, please let daddy in’ I said.
‘You never listen to me’ she said.
‘I’m sorry’ I said, ‘let me in’.
‘Last week you promised to buy me chewing gum but you never did’ she said.
‘Stop talking to me through this letterbox and open the door’ I said.

She moved away from the door and started crying. I knew she was not going to let me in unless I heard her story first. I apologised and asked her to tell me.

‘Granddad is dead’ she said!
‘Which Granddad?’ I quickly asked.
‘Mummy’s dad’ she said.
‘REALLY’ I said (half shocked at his supposed death and half relieved it was not my father she was talking about).

‘Yes’ she confidently replied.
‘Mummy must be really sad’ I said, ‘open the door and let me go speak to her’.
‘Mummy is on the phone’ she said.

I started thinking about the endless phone calls we’re going to get and the non-stop visitors, and I almost died myself.

‘Open the door’ I said.

She finally opened the door and ran in to announce me. I followed her to the bathroom where my wife was helping my three year old wash his face whilst holding the phone to her ear. She was having a sort of serious conversation. In fact, it looked so serious that she only acknowledged my arrival with an empty nod and carried on repeating the words ‘I know’ and ‘that’s life’. I panicked! I stood facing her with a solemn look on my face. I hoped that my already hunched shoulders and dejected spirits would convey my feelings. There was no need to fake sympathy.

She kept looking at me as if I was doing something wrong or was not supposed to be standing in front of her at such a difficult time! Could it be that I would have to fake my feelings after all?

I put a hand on my waist and looked at the floor as I despondently shook my head from side to side. My four year old aped my moves and my three year old laughed at us. The wife hastily ended her phone call and asked me what the matter was.

‘I’m sorry to hear about your dad’ I said.
‘My dad?’ she asked.
‘I’m sorry’ I repeated.
‘Why?’ she philosophically asked!
‘We’re all going to die one day’ I comfortingly said.
‘My dad is dead?’ she excitedly shouted.
‘Sorry sorry’ I whispered as I attempted to give her a caring hug. She pushed me away and repeated the words ‘my dad is dead!’.

Her eyes were open wide and they were looking straight at me. She didn’t know that her dad was dead. This was genuine shock. I felt sorry for her and tried to hug her again. She pushed me away and repeated those four words ‘my dad is dead!’. I so wanted to make things better and tell her that he was not dead and that this was just a joke I made up. But it was not a joke. It was true, my four year old told me. MY FOUR YEAR OLD!

I looked at my four year old, I looked at my wife, I looked at my four year old again. It suddenly dawned on me that I’ve been had! My wife looked at both of us and seemed to understand. She looked a bit hesitant as she asked ‘did SHE tell you that my dad was dead?’

‘Is he not?’ I said.
‘I don’t know. I don’t think he is’ she dismissively replied.
‘Well who told her that your dad was dead then?’ I defensively asked.
‘Why don’t you ask her’ she accusingly replied.

I looked at my four year old. She started crying and blamed her six year old sister. We all ran to the living room and clustered round the six year old who was busy watching a cartoon on TV.

‘Did you tell your young sister that her granddad was dead’ I shouted.
‘Which one?’ she innocently asked.
‘How many sisters do you have’ I said, ‘this sister’ I pointed at the four year old.
‘Which granddad is dead’ the six year old coolly asked.
‘Your mother’s dad’ I said.
‘Oh! I never liked him’ she said ‘I like your dad better. He always buys us sweets’.
I softened up and had an idiotic smile on my face as my wife barged in and shouted ‘You don’t like my dad?’

‘I don’t like him as much as daddy’s dad’ answered my favourite six year old.

‘Even if you don’t like him, that doesn’t mean you can spread rumours about him being dead’ shouted my wife.

‘What’s a rumour, dad?’ asked my wily six year old.

I was about to explain the meaning of the word rumour but my wife overrode me and shouted ‘Why did you say your granddad is dead?’

‘I didn’t, you did’ said my six year old.

‘You didn’t tell your sister that her granddad was dead?’ I gently asked her.

‘NO’ she replied.

We all looked at the four year old. She started crying. As we both tried to tell her off for telling lies we heard the three year old scream. He flooded the bathroom.

Friday, May 18, 2007

D E A T H !

I think I’m dying. It’s not a joke. I really think I’m dying.

I’m not sure what it is I’m dying of but I suspect it may be food poisoning! Three days ago, I had a takeaway. It was the only meal I had all day. It was a delicious meal and as I was eating it I was telling myself that I should have takeaways more often. But, three hours later, I was sat in the toilet (and on it) groaning away like a man holding his middle finger and trying to extricate a stuck ring! My stomach feels very tender, my back hurts, my thighs ache, I keep trying to stop myself from vomiting and I feel dizzy.

The food poisoning may kill me but it’s really not the reason why I think I’m dying. One of the real reasons for my imminent death is the shortness of breath I keep having every time I go to sleep at night. This has been happening for years but, lately, it got even more uncomfortable. You see, I’m the type of person that can not go to sleep with any lights on in the room. I have to sleep in total darkness or I don’t sleep at all. Therefore, every night, when I go to bed, I have to completely bury myself under the covers. But when I do, I feel claustrophobic and struggle for breath. On nights when I’m very tired I only need to hide under the covers for five minutes before I completely fall asleep and then, naturally and unconsciously remove the covers away from my face. However, I’m now getting old and my reflexes are not as good as they used to be! Where in the past when someone threw a punch at me I’d arrogantly (and quickly) crouch, touch the floor and then uppercut them all the way to Guatemala, I now merely touch my knee before breathlessly poking them on the chin. Before you start shaking your head and wondering what has that got to do with my sleep let me tell you that the answer is EVERYTHING. Just think about it for a minute, if my reactions have become that slow when I’m conscious and fully awake can you imagine how bad I am when I’m sleeping? What if one day, after I’ve covered my face and finally fell asleep, I forgot to take the covers of?

This is what happens to all those people that die peacefully in their sleep you know. I don’t want to die peacefully in my sleep. I don’t want to make the grim reaper’s job easier! In fact, I suspect that Mr Reaper despises this type of death. He probably considers such people a second-rate sort of corpse. I’m a man of principle, I want to amount to something in life and would also want my death to count. Accidental suffocation is not something I’d want to go to my grave with. Besides, I don’t think it’s a peaceful death at all.

Still, I know I’m dying. I’m not talking in a hundred years time when I’m a toothless old man. I’m talking today, next week or if I’m lucky next month at the latest. I’m not paranoid or a hypochondriac. I’m a reasonable, practical man. And when a reasonable, practical man finds a boil on his head a reasonable, practical man has good reason to fear death!
I found it whilst having a shower. Just as I put the shampoo on and started to happily shove it about the greying hair, I felt a sting! You see, on average, I frequently feel a sting in one part of my body or another as I’m having a shower. But that’s usually because I’m a clumsy person that walks into things and accidentally scratches his hands or legs. I only find out about these scratches when I’m having a shower and applying the shampoo, soap or shower gel. To feel a sting in one’s head is something totally different though. How in the world did I manage to accidentally scratch my head? I don’t even have long finger nails; I eat them all away with worry about being suffocated in my sleep.

This was a big boil. It was like a tiny volcano right in the middle of my head. It was gently spitting out hot lava and I felt its sizzling stings. I am going to die, I know I am. When this boil finally bursts and all my intelligence turns into yellow puss I’m going to fall asleep and forget to take the covers off my head!

I’m not sure if all of this is related, and I’m afraid to ask a doctor lest he confirm my looming death. But I get these headaches! I’m talking real, painful and blinding headaches. Sometimes I blackout for split seconds; usually when I’m trying to touch my knees and poke someone’s chin. I see lightening in my eyes and hear thunder in my ears. Whenever that happens I try to hold my breath and wait for the MOMENT. It would be great to say that at that time I lament the whimper and wish for the bang, or sit and do a hamlet-like soliloquy. But, truly, and I have to tell the truth now because I may die at any minute, all I say to myself is that: I’m going to die. Oh. My. God! I’m going to die. I’m GOING to DIE!

The wise people I spoke to all told me that everyone dies one day. But if I’m going to die I want it to be a special thing. I want people to talk about it in years to come and see how heroic I was. But no, I don’t want to die in a war or anything like that. Because what guarantees do I have that my side would win the war if I stormed the enemy’s front lines and died fighting? What if my death becomes nothing but the desperate actions of a glory-hunter? I don’t want to die in that way. In fact, I don’t want to plan my death. I want it to just happen. I want it to be peaceful. I want to die with an upset stomach, a blinding headache, scratches all over my body and a big dripping boil in the middle of my head. Nevertheless, I suspect that this is not going to happen. I already have all these problems and I’m not dead yet! Maybe my in growing fingernail is what will tip the scale!

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