Household Tips #4

Child labour.

It’s important as a parent to teach your children self-sufficiency. No one wants them returning, after they’ve flown the coop, with a pile of washing and a petted lip. No one wants to see them starving or malnourished for want of being able to rustle something wholesome up in the kitchen.

It’s vitally important to get the balance just right. The schools here actually issue the wee sods with ChildLine’s number. It hangs on the kitchen noticeboard. ParentLine’s number is pinned beside it, is slightly bigger in red type and is not a random phone number.

Neither number has ever been used yet.

As I said, vitally important to get the balance just right.

With that in mind, honestly, no other reason, I’ve attempted to ensure that my brood can cope for themselves.

My own parents did this for me so it was not quite such a shock to my system when I learned that toilets were not self-cleaning. That flushing in and of itself, while effective for elimination, did not clean the toilet. Who knew?

By the time I was in my teens I could pretty much make a meal for eight while reading a book. Burnt a few, right enough, if I was at a really exciting chapter. Tip:- place burnt side face down on plate and don’t cry or take a strop when your brother calls you on it. Just tell him to cook the feckin’ sausages himself next time.

I was definitely more of a Mary to my sister’s Martha but she never learned how to hang wallpaper and cut into corners first with your paintbrush before tackling the walls. I like all that shit. That and learning to use a jig-saw and various other power tools that were way more fun than a washing machine.

I don’t think my parents used me at all. I think they let me have a go. Some bits I let go. Like ironing. It was shite. Still is. Hate that odd-shaped appliance although it’s not unlike a sander and I’m quite fond of that.

Now, none of my kids have shown any penchant for power tools and they’re not too keen on household ones either. But I feel obliged to force them to at least become acquainted with which end’s up.

This is particularly important when using pots. How humiliated would they be if, when having their own guests round to their immaculate homes, they didn’t know their erse from their elbow or a saucepan from a frying pan?

I was horrified, as were each of my kids, when, in their first year of high school, they were taught how to make Empire biscuits during obligatory Home Economics. Quite impressive, till you learn that they opened a packet of digestive biscuits, spread some jam on one, iced its partner and topped it with a jelly tot.

Meanwhile my crew were all, ‘Can I make spag bol, Miss?’

No, that’s a lie. Most of them were. One, in particular, whose sole purpose in the kitchen, despite my best efforts, was to find out where I was currently planking the goodies, (never hide chocolate biscuits in the tumble dryer), came late to the cooking experience when he started a high protein stint that involved scrambling only the whites of eggs. Flinging six egg yolks at a time in the bin I discovered. Smacked him one on the arse for that. ChildLine was not involved.

Balance, you see. ParentLine was keen to learn about children’s worst excesses at that time. He was very gullible. Once argued with his teacher that the singular of sheep was shoop. Had to be right. His dad had told him. Goose, geese. Shoop, sheep. Oh, how we laughed! He did too. Years later right enough.

So, child labour. Raising weans. Got to get it just right. At least until the schools stop issuing ChildLine’s number. Or ParentLine is invented.


Some child labour, unlike this image, is actually education.


Household Tips #3


Sometimes known as Lazy Sod Syndrome. Or to others, Still On Vacation Virus.

Underexertion may manifest while supping coffee still abed doing a spot of writing. No pain was felt at this time but it’s difficult to say whether the addition of another pillow may have prevented neck strain. I may never know.

Signs of underexertion began when I toasted a couple of cinamonn and raisin bagels, lathered them with jam and strategically placed some homegrown strawberries and raspberries.

It may have been the cutting of those that did it. I think I used a stainless steel bread knife which was quite heavy and unnecessarily wieldy for the task. But it was handy and I didn’t want to exert myself by reaching to the knife rack. Why sully another tool when some bugger’s left one out on the work surface having not exerted themselves to return it to its home?

I felt a twinge then.

By the time I had carried my steaming mug, plate of goodies, kindle and cigs out to the garden to join my husband – I like to be armed with all accoutrements for comfort – the pain had started at the base of my skull. Feckin’ ouch!

Being a trooper of stalwart proportions I ignored it best I could, only allowing a slight ‘whatthefuck’ to escape my, as yet, unjammed lips.

Hubs was up a tree. Yes, it is chain saw time. Lobbing the tops of thirty foot conifers is pretty much an annual task – those craiters can sprout at some.

After dropping some fresh fruit on the patio from my overabundant bagels and cursing the loss of a particularly juicy strawberry the pain really began to hit.

Down the back of my neck and into my shoulders in an absurdly sweetly excruciating stretch or tension of muscle. Fuuuuck! 

Although my husband doesn’t always read my poetry, sometimes does and doesn’t get it, preferring instead others’ poems that I read to him occasionally (bastard!), he reads my pain very well, having attended all seven births of our offspring.

Not that this pain compared. But it was bloody sore all the same.

I don’t get a lot of pain. Well, other than the, ‘Do my legs really want to do another elevation?’, ‘Who needs stomach crunches, anyway, flab is fine?’ and ‘Why does this chair feel so much more difficult to get out of today than yesterday?’ type.

Those pains I can rationalise away.

Other pains I just feed and put to bed after entertaining for the day. I had them, got to do something with them.

My husband is not a swearing man. I do that for him. Along with a number of other things that have got nothing to do with this post. S’ok, usually involves cooking.

At my rather loud, ‘Fuuuck!’, that I think even wee Mrs. O’D possibly heard from behind her blinds, he ministered to my needs with some sort of deep heat spray he uses for buggered muscles when overexerting himself at running. I never need it. Running’s what water does.

It didn’t work. Although my eyes ran a bit.

Two ibuprofen, two paracetamol, a rather strange posturing on my bed, face down with my bum almost up in the air, helped. Kids thought it was hilarious. I don’t know where they get their black humour from.

I’m all better now. But I felt obliged to pass on this handy tip on the dangers of underexerting yourself. Better really just to get up and tackle what’s ahead face on. Not with your bum up in the air obviously. That’s just overdoing it.




The above is obviously not a picture of me. Miley Cyrus and I have completely different hair styles. You google images for ‘bum up in the air’. Maybe not. Quite cheeky some of them.

Wide Shut For Sixth

Out of that darkness, that pitch of oppression,

Out of that blackness, that void,

Out of that dank trap of timeless cessation,

Fluttered wings fully deployed.

Flapped they with fury till furies they fled,

Eons of hostile subverted,

Out of the dungeon where demons have bled,

Their intentions subtly diverted.

Out of the abyss the albatross flew,

Chains still swinging from claws,

Stronger the wings that have practised harnessed

Though aerial given to pause.

Out from down under, down deep but not out,

Out from Cerberus’ grasp,

Felt in the darkness, eyes rested shut,

Earthbound by blindfolded task.

Up through the channels, tunnels truncated,

Veering, uninjured as such,

Instinctively seeing, hearing the light

Guided by sensory touch.

There to the high plains, a leap with all faith,

Rattling links still attached,

Power encompassed in breadth of the stretch,

Night, by flight, fully matched.

Sometimes in darkness, especially in pitch,

Only blind sense will suffice,

Failing the five, depend on the other,

Wide shut for eye of sixth sight.


I had written the first eight lines of this yesterday just based on ‘out of’ then left it to brew. In comments with Paul I happened to mention that I close my eyes to see better in the dark, which is true. I don’t really know why I do it but it feels more natural to sense my way through darkness than it does to try to see. The rest was born from Paul commenting, by return, that it sounded like a life credo. Maybe it is. 🙂