Tuesday, 29 September 2015

somewhere in-between

Another way this world is divided is people who love animals and people who don't. I have purposely not called them animal haters because the world is not as black and white as that. There are many different shades. So there are some people who don't mind animals or are indifferent to them and there are people who hate them, and there are lots of things in between.  As you will know by now, I'm an animal lover.

It's probably unusual that I turned out that way because your grandma has a different approach to animals altogether. I think she was always respectful of them but I think she saw them as dirty and maybe the kind of things that were best kept outdoors. She does have a love for them, especially Kelda and her tortoises, but it's a them and us kind of love. To her they are still very much animals.

When we were very young some other children in the street had Guinea pigs and they had babies. I think everyone in the street was offered one and me and my sister were allowed one each. Your granddad made them a hutch and we promised, as all children do, to take the very best care of them and did for a while until it became grandma and granddad’s job to clean them out.

When we wanted to stroke them or pet them it was like a military operation. My mum put a special cloth on the kitchen table, I'm not certain but I’m guessing my sister and I had to put on our oldest clothes. We were then given pinafores to wear over the top and had a towel folded across our knees. Then your grandma gave us special gloves and masks to wear (that bit is me exaggerating) and after about an hour's preparation we were allowed to handle the poor animals for a while. And stroke them and fuss over them.

Then we had to put them back and wash ourselves thoroughly before the world could return to normal. In fact, I was always taught to wash my hands after stroking any animal. Now we have Kelda, I'd be permanently washing my hands and there would be no time for anything else. 

The other day I was having tea with my friend and his family. He has a little boy who is two and a bee flew into the room. His mum is scared of bees and made a bit of a fuss and my friend wasn't very happy with her. I think he was worried that her reaction would make their son scared as well. And it will be difficult as parents because how we behave will brush off on you.

When we go to the park, if there is a dog or sheep or even a cow or a horse I will call to them and try to stroke them. My friends used to call me Doctor Doolittle (because he could talk to animals). They say you should never work with animals or children but I think most of the time they're easier to deal with than adults. I think part of it is that they are much more aware of their senses and if a person is scared they feel that and become scared themselves. Whereas if they sense warmth or kindness or a lack of threat, they respond in a similar way.

Your mum is a bit more cautious. With dogs she thinks that their owners should have a bit more control over them. Actually I think secretly your mum is a bit scared of them, particularly big dogs who aren't on their leads. When we were in India last summer, we were in the jungle and there was a strange sound from the bushes. Your mum ran to me for protection and then wanted to go back to where we were staying.  I don't think it was anything to worry about but if it had been a big scary animal I'm not sure what she thought I'd be able to do! (I'm only joking. Of course I'd have protected her).

Now it's okay for me and your mum to have different ideas about things. That's what makes us a good team. It will be good for you to learn different ways but I don't want you to be scared of animals. I want you to respect them and see that our world is shared. It's not ours or theirs, it belongs to all of us but we can interact with each other and live together just fine.

Obviously you also need to learn that some animals are dangerous and you need to learn the signs they show so you know when not to approach them. I once was at a park and a goose decided to chase me because I must have got too near to its young. It was bigger than me and gave me a bit of a shock but I managed to run away and though it tried to bite me it missed and there was no harm done.

Your mum thinks I go too far and maybe give animals more credit for intelligence than I should or they're due but I'm not so sure, especially as far as Kelda is concerned. Hopefully you'll get to see for yourself because you will grow up with Kelda.

I think your mum is fond of Kelda but she finds her a bit disgusting too. Kelda has got long hair and sometimes, when she 'does her business' (that's your grandma's expression) she gets it stuck in her fur. Then she walks round the flat so it could get everywhere though I've never found it.  Sometimes she cleans it off herself with her tongue which sounds disgusting but that's what animals do.

Kelda's way of washing is to lick herself. She has a special sharp tongue which acts a bit like a brush. Sometimes when you stroke her she tries to lick you. I think she thinks she's cleaning you. Your mum thinks this is really horrible, especially considering where her tongue has been but I just don't think you can look at it like that.

My friends were laughing at me yesterday because I'd spent an hour or so building 'Kelda's cottage'. Kelda likes to hide in boxes and tunnels so me and your mum decide to build her a sort of tent that she can go in when we move into our new house. They thought it was funny because I was making things for Kelda when I should be focusing on you.

I think it was fun though and it was sort of preparation for you. I bought some wood and made a frame which you could have helped with. And then your mum used an old duvet to make a cover and again these are the kind of creative activities we want to do with you. We're planning on turning the garage into a creative room where you'll be able to make things and paint things and it won't matter if things get a bit messy.

You watch, we'll end up putting you in a pinafore and covering the table with a special cloth and your grandma will just look at me and nod in that told you so way. 


Your mum says that she started worrying about Kelda when you came along. She worries that Kelda 
will try and get in your cot which might stop you breathing. She worries because Kelda's 'business' can be very harmful to pregnant women and to you before you are born. She does like a good worry, your mum, but in this instance I can't really blame her. 

What we mustn't forget though, and I keep meaning to write this down and getting side-tracked, is that it's quite possible that Kelda knew you were here, or at least on your way, before we did.
In those days she used to sleep in our room, at first in between my legs and later right between me and your mum. At some point she started snuggling up to your mum, to her tummy, to where you were forming though we didn't know at the time.

Once we'd found out your mum was pregnant we worked it back. They say that cats might be able to sense pregnancy hormones or pheromones and so it seems she was snuggling up to you and looking after you before we even realised. Even the animals are going to protect you.

Kelda can be a little bit fussy and your mum won't let her sleep in our room anymore so that she gets used to not being allowed in the bedrooms before you come along. We're going to get her used to your things and your baby smells (hopefully) once we move into our new house but I'm sure she's going to look after you as if you were her own. 


Friday, 25 September 2015

A rusty sausage

So junior, that's what I've taken to calling you of late (half to entertain your mum when I pat her tummy and half to entertain myself), I've not written to you for a few days and that's partly a good thing, if I carried on at the rate I was writing it would be ridiculous and you'd have too much to read and not enough time to live.

There have been a few things I've wanted to tell you but none of them seemed to be substantial enough for a full entry - that sounds a bit ridiculous, there are no rules, I should be able to tell you what I want, when I want, but I've kinda slipped into a routine.

Anyway, one of the things I wanted to tell you about was manners. I've been thinking about this for a while but couldn't quite get it into a shape. I was in a meeting the other day and I needed to leave early so I asked my head teacher if I could please excuse myself. It's kind of a polite phrase and it's one of those things you must do if you need to leave but it's not quite time to go. It made me think of two things. It made me think of family meals and opening doors.

All my life I have always opened doors for people, male or female.  If I'm walking with someone and there is a door I will always open it for them. It's second nature. More recently people have commented on this. I was visiting another school and I opened the door for a colleague. She said, "I'm very much for women's rights but it's always pleasant when a man opens a door for me."

And this is a thing about this world. Everyone seems very bothered about everyone's rights and their own rights and the right and wrong thing to do and I think they forget sometimes, that just being kind or thoughtful or helpful is the easiest thing to do and often takes the least effort.

It also reminded me of family meals and this is something that is really changing and has massively changed over the last few years. When I was growing up we always sat around the dinner table at teatime and we always ate as a family. It didn't seem strange or weird or uncomfortable. It was good to sit down with your grandma and grandad and auntie and we all ate together. When we ate at home or at my grandparents we all ate together. And if we wanted to leave the table for any reason, we asked if we could be excused. It's sort of natural now. And I’d forgotten until I asked permission to leave the meeting.

Now the more I think about this, the stranger it seems. My earliest memories of when we first ate together included no watching television and no drinking fizzy drinks. The television thing changed, oddly enough, with a soap opera called Neighbours.  I’ve no idea why and you needn’t worry about it but we seemed to be all so addicted to Neighbours that we started watching it whilst we ate. At that time I don't even think I knew what fizzy drinks were. We always sat down around 5.30 and ate our tea together. We'd usually have three courses as well. Soup. A main and pudding.

Nowadays this doesn't happen so much. It seems the idea of family and being a family has slipped a little. Lots of people don't sit around at a table and eat any more. They sit in front of the telly and eat from a tray off their knees and don't seem to do that family interaction thing.

You know, your mum's family still eat around a table and that's a good thing but for some reason lots of people don't do that. That's one of the things about writing this for you. It acts as a reminder for me and your mum as well. I think eating together is an important thing to do. And to spend a bit of time with your family in the evening, talking about your day,  that can be no bad thing. I think me and your mum will try to make this a habit we keep for you, too.

The second thing I mentioned was fizzy drinks. I'm fairly certain when I was young we weren't allowed fizzy drinks around the table. Now I don't think there were so many fizzy drinks available then but the ones which were available, we weren't allowed to drink.

Once we were away on holiday, I'll have to ask your grandma where we were, although I think it was Blackpool, and I was watching a band play. It must have been the evening turn. I used to really like sitting close to the musicians. I think the drums attracted me then and at that point I didn't play any instruments.

The band were about to start and the bass guitarist snapped his string. He looked at me and asked if I'd go to his car and get a spare string. I couldn't believe how important I felt. I don't think the band were anyone in particular but I felt like I had the best job to do in the world. I brought him his string back, which he changed and carried on playing.

At some point he gave me the broken guitar string, which, surprise surprise, I still have, and he bought me a Ribena and lemonade. Now I'm sure I must have had fizzy drinks before but that tasted like the best drink in the world ever. And from then on I was allowed to drink Ribena and lemonade at home.

Some parents are funny about what their children can and can't eat or drink. I imagine they think it's bad for their teeth or their health or whatever. I've talked to your mum about this and I don't think we'll control what you eat in that kind of way. I sort of think it's important you discover what it is you like and dislike all on your own without us putting restrictions upon you.

Saying that, I don't really remember thinking one way or another about it. Though I do remember some farm yard crisps being advertised and my mum buying me them, only to find out that were bacon flavoured. We didn't have anything like that in our house when I was growing up so my mum made me take then down the road to one of our neighbours and give them to him because he wasn't Jewish. In fact your grandma and grandad still don't have anything non-kosher in their fridge other than Kelda's ham which is much to your auntie’s disgust.

For me and your mum this is another thing we have to think about. What you are and where you come from is important but neither of us have much time for religion. It will be stranger for me than your mum because I did have a religious upbringing of sorts. I think what religion taught me all the way along was that one way or another it was a way of trying to distinguish between people and make them different.  It seems to me that religion wants to say one way is different or better than another and that doesn’t really work for me.

I suppose what I'm trying to teach you today is, no one is better or more different than anyone else and more importantly manners don't hurt a thing, or cost a rusty sausage as I'd say to your mum. Be kind to everyone. Be polite to everyone. Open the door for someone if they are walking by you, it doesn’t cost a thing, hold out your hand if someone needs it. And whatever you might or might not believe, never judge anyone else for their ideas. Just do the best and be the best that you can. 

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Good Omens

It's funny sometimes when I start thinking about writing to you. I'll have an idea or remember something and then, more often than not, all sorts of things suddenly happen in line with what I want to tell you and the idea I had drops into place.  It might just be coincidence. I like to think if it as omens.  Like amongst this chaos, we are actually on the right path and every now and then there are little pointers which remind us of this.

I want to tell you about a concept which is quite difficult and I don't really know how we learn it. There's a funny thing in this world called personal space. It's really about how near you stand to someone and how close two people can be in a space without making each other uncomfortable.

I'll try and explain using Cole as an example. He's only just getting to know me really because I've not been in his life for very long and he's only three anyway so he's not been around for very long but he's learning the unusual rules of this world, as you'll have to. 

He explores new things and new people almost daily. As he was getting to know me, he'd run quite close, then back away. As he grew a bit more confident he'd maybe run one of his cars quickly over my leg, I told you he loves cars. He'd keep coming towards me but he'd never cross this invisible line of personal space. I don't know how he understands it as a three year old but he seems to know instinctively.

One day I broke the rules. Your mum was getting him ready to go out and she was struggling to get his wellies on. After a bit of too and frowing I bent down to help, held his boot and pushed his foot in.

He said very quickly: Are you touching me?

It was a funny thing for him to say. It wasn't really a question. It wasn't really a statement. It was somehow an understanding that something has changed and he'd noticed it. Somehow the rules had been adjusted and he wasn't sure how he felt about it.

When me and your mum went on our second date we went to see a play but it was a bit different and we walked around different places rather than sitting down. We didn't know anyone else and we hardly knew each other.

When you like someone you want to move more closely into their space but when you don't know them very well you are also probably more aware of the space and the funny rules that go with it than normal. So you are respectful of it.

It's an unusual feeling but a really pleasant one and something makes you want to break through that invisible barrier but you dare not. It's probably easier if you think of it with magnets. If you push two magnets against each other the wrong way you can feel a force but you can't see it. I used to push magnets around for ages because it felt so strange.

Part of me thought about reaching out and holding your mum's hand. I could see it hanging close by and it was near enough to touch but I also knew that at that point it was the wrong thing to do. As we got to know each other better, I told her all this and she said it was a good job I didn't try to hold her hand because that would have been weird!!

At some point in my sleep last night I must have been snoring and your mum decided to close my mouth. I didn't know that but had a very strange dream where my face was plasticine and someone was trying to reshape it. I think we must have a heightened awareness of our space, even when we're asleep.

Many things I have written to you about so far have been about real things that you can touch and hold and make sense of. But you must also be ready for all these secret and hidden things which no one seems to talk about or teach but happen anyway. If you misread some of these signals you can get yourself into a bit of bother.

You were nineteen weeks old yesterday and me and your mum have to start thinking about how we will parent you, how you will learn all these rules and how we can help shape you so that everything isn't so confusing.

Some people say that when babies cry you should leave them so they go to sleep and don't get over reliant on parents. Some say it's cruel and by doing that you're just teaching them to cope with sadness and rejection. There’s a proper phrase for it, I’m sure your mum knows it.


(She says it’s called sleep training and controlled crying that I’m talking about.)

See. These funny unwritten rules never stop happening, even when you’re forty. Me and your mum, we're looking forward to learning all this with you. We just hope we get it right and I think I want you to know, right from now, before you were born, that we'll always try our best. We might get it wrong sometimes. But we will always be trying to make everything the very best for you. Always.

Oh. And you must also know that all the personal space stuff goes out of the window when you're a baby. We get to hold you and cuddle you and squeeze your little podgy arms and legs as much as we like.



Saturday, 22 August 2015

Bees in Jars

Once upon a time I decided to sacrifice a car. I had a bucket load of toy cars when I was younger, I loved playing with them. In fact they are still in the same bucket and the bucket isn't a traditional bucket. It was a nappy bucket. Your grandma used to soak mine and probably your auntie’s nappies in it because disposable nappies hadn’t been invented yet. It’ll be almost an antique by the time you or your brother or sister plays with it.

For some reason I decided I wanted a broken car, like it had been in a terrible crash. Little boys love to pretend to shoot people, play with swords and crash their cars. Your cousin, Cole, has combined two of those things and shoots people with his cars.

So I wanted a car which looked like it had been in a crash. This posed several problems. The first was that I loved all my cars and didn't really want to break any of them. The second was that I had some sense that this was the wrong thing to do, that I might be in trouble for doing it. I knew each one of my cars, they all had their own personalities (and this was long before Cars the movie had come out) and I presumed that everyone must take the same notice. In reality, if one or two cars disappeared I'm not so sure anyone would have realized but I was convinced my mum would know and I'd be in trouble.

I spent a good deal of time narrowing down which car I would break. I looked at the fast ones and the old ones and the new ones and none of them really seemed to deserve to be smashed.  My will to damage one was however stronger than my will not to but I still struggled to choose one of them.

In the end I settled on a yellow one. It had doors which opened and a plastic roof to make it look like a convertible. I liked the opening doors but I also like the idea of trying to take them off. And the roof should have been convertible anyway so removing it seemed somehow fitting.

I held my breath, closed my eyes and attacked the car until there was no going back. For a short burst of time it was good fun and I created the toy world’s greatest accident. I took off the top and pulled off the doors and squashed the sides.

I'd always liked taking things to pieces so I couldn't wait to see what the insides of these fantastic toys looked like. I thought they might reveal something magical or secret but on the dissection front it really was quite disappointing.

And then I was left with the shell of a car. And really I'd quite liked that car and now it was ruined. I wasn't sure why I'd done it and I sort of regretted it. More importantly I couldn't really work out what I'd tried to do or hoped to achieve. I could remember the feeling of excitement of wanting to do it but now I'd done it I felt a bit silly.

I was left with the guilt of breaking one of my toys which I couldn't really play with anymore. I think I felt sorry for the car. Maybe that was my young mind not quite understanding what guilt meant. Or maybe I was overly sensitive or was learning empathy so by breaking something I sort of knew how it felt. And I didn't want my toys to be sad. To some extent I think I always thought everything had a sense of life and I was learning how it felt when it wasn't alive anymore and it was my fault.

Once my cousin and I caught a bee each in a jar and hid them. I don't know why we wanted to catch them and once we had caught them we didn't know what to do with them. We thought you couldn't ever release them because they'd find you and sting you and so the poor bees were left to die.

I spent a lot of time at night thinking of those bees and imagining their families missing them. Once or twice I wanted to creep downstairs and out into the garden to free them but I didn't dare.

I suppose that's the thing. I knew it was wrong, I could feel it was wrong but I didn't really understand why until I learnt it for myself. And sometimes you're going to have to learn things for yourself. Sometimes you'll have to learn the hard way. I think the most important thing is that you do learn. And you don't keep making the same mistake over and over again. Whilst you're learning try to remember that all life is precious and that you must also take care of the things you own. Once they are gone, they're gone, you can't bring them back.

Your mum has just added this and I think it fits:

I think boys are a little more self-destructive than girls.  I cut my dolls hair thinking I was improving them and then realised they looked better before but that was a lack of skill rather than wilful vandalism! 

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

The Baby Shop

 #29 The Baby Shop
I'm not sure what shape I'll be in by the time you know me but I've always been really active. I learnt judo when I was around 8 or 9, I played rugby for years. I play a lot of 5 a side and squash these days.

There's sporty active people flooding through both your mum and me so it's quite likely, whether you're a boy or a girl, you'll be sporty. There are, however, some other, shall we say less attractive features you might also unfortunately inherit.

Those being the Benedict nose, which is a fair old conk and the Benedict belly. If you're a girl, you might escape these things, but if you're a boy you might be in trouble. To be fair, my nose hasn't caused me too many problems. I've broken it several times now but it always looked broken even before it was. It's a broad wide thing and I think it made people think I was a fighter, which strangely enough helped prevent many fights rather than cause them.

The Benedict belly is quite a different thing. It seems, at least as boys, we start quite thin but the belly is always waiting to get us. Your great grandpa Charles had a fine belly and your granddad Jeff has worked hard to make his impressive. It's inevitable I suppose then that it will come to me. And maybe you, if you're a boy.

To be quite honest, it's already trying to rear its podgy head. I showed your mum a picture of me when I was about 18 and I actually had a visible six pack. Those days are sadly long gone. So today I decided to go for a jog. I think part of me still thinks I'm invincible like I was when I was twelve. Part of me still thinks I'm Peter Pan.

I set off to run round the local playing fields. Now for a forty-one year old, I am fairly fit, but I haven't jogged in maybe ten years. And suddenly my body decided to tell me this in something of a moaning shout and show me that maybe I'm not quite Peter Pan anymore.

My shins hurt, my back ached, all my old war wounds decided to come out and play and I'd only been running for about ten minutes. I am stubborn enough to not be beaten by that but I think once again I learnt an important lesson. I want to be fit and healthy enough to keep up with you as you run about (even though someone your mum works with thinks I'll nearly be a grandad dad). And keeping fit and doing plenty of exercise is such an important thing.

In this world of television and computer games it's really easy for children to become unhealthy, for tired parents to plonk their child in front of the nearest media so that everyone can have a good old rest. And that is absolutely the last thing we want for you. We're going to make sure we're up and about and we'll spend lots of time exploring the outdoors with you. If I carry on jogging, we might even get a jogging buggy so you and your mum can come too.

Now everyone knows that when you take up a new hobby or start playing a new sport, the first thing you must do is go out and buy the most expensive kit...

Obviously this is not the thing to do at all. When I was learning to play guitar, I had a three quarter sized guitar because my arms weren't long enough to reach all the frets. My friend bought a full size expensive guitar. He never learnt to play because the guitar was too big for him. I still play now.

For some reason we often think the biggest mist extensive things are what we need but the truth is we need to right equipment to get the job done, not the equipment that looks the best whilst we stand around admiring ourselves in the mirror, getting nowhere. The most expensive tennis racquet doesn't make you the best tennis player in the world. You must work hard, learn new skills and as you improve, maybe you'll buy better equipment along the way as and when you need it.

Saying that, me and your mum went to buy me a new pair of trainers to run in. They weren't expensive though. They'll do the job. And as you get older your learn that that's okay. It's unlikely I'll be running any marathons anyway.

We did see a back to school stationary kit and your mum joked that we could come here to buy you that one day. I said I wouldn't embarrass you like that because the pens were so cheap. Your mum said maybe you won't mind anyway and maybe you won't. Maybe you'll be strong enough to stand up for yourself and not worry about what other people want and have as long as you have what you need.

Don't worry too much about your shape or which brand of backpack you carry, you'll find the things which make you, you. I'm sure you'll inherit the best bits of both your mum and me and if you don't, we'll take you back to the baby shop and swap you for a cuter one. I'm only joking, that's my sarcasm which you're going to have to get used to pretty quick. Really, we know whatever shape you are, you'll be absolutely perfect, and in our eyes, whatever you do and however you look, you always will be. 

Thursday, 13 August 2015

The times they are a changing


You're going to live in the future. And I haven't spent too much time thinking about what that actually means. It's strange. We seem to spend most of our time living in the past. We know what life was like. We seem to look backwards and try to compare everything to that and then use that to tell stories or make sense of where we are going in the future.

But you're going to live in the future. You're going to be our future but it won't be your future. It will be your here and now. Lots of the things I keep writing to you about might not even exist anymore. This thing we call the modern world will be the past.

Today, on the radio, they said bubble wrap is about to be replaced. Nearly all kids love a good sheet of bubble wrap to pop and it probably won't be here by the time you're old enough to play with it.

I might try and save you some but I'll have to hide it from your mum because she'll probably tell me it's rubbish and needs throwing away. I'm a bit of a hoarder. My granddad uses to say, "You never know when it will come in handy" about all sorts of things and then store them in his garage and I think I'm a bit the same. Your mum loves to throw things away though.

I suppose though, I'm looking at my past a lot at the moment to remember and write things down for you. And there are some things that won't change. I can't wait to take you to the seaside and collect shells. I want to see your little face when you put the shell to your ear because it sounds like you can hear the sea even though you're not at the sea anymore.

Hopefully we'll be moving house soon and we're going to make the garden into an adventure place for you and your brother or sister. We'll have a swing and a climbing frame and probably a trampoline or whatever new thing has been invented by then.

I don't know if I've already told you but you've already been on a swing, or your mum has.  It was the other week when we took Cole to the park and she sat on the swing and swung with you inside. She wasn't sure you liked it very much.  It seemed to wake you up and it probably made you feel a bit strange.

I can remember my granddad pushing me on a swing when I was really young. He used to sing 'what shall we do with the drunken sailor?' and push me higher and higher and I'd wonder if we could make the swing go all the way round. The swing would make me feel a little bit dizzy and I’d think of the sailor walking around in drunken circles until he fell over.

We also had a climbing frame. I can't remember it when it was new but I can remember this bar you could swing on and when you looked up all the rust fell into your eyes. It was a great climbing frame though.  It was a spaceship and a time machine and an assault course all rolled into one. Don't worry; climbing frames right now are made of wood so they don't rust. Who knows what they'll be made of by the time we get one for you.

I do know I loved playing in the garden, whatever the weather. We're going to make it a really special place for you. There's already a little shelter at the bottom of the garden and I reckon me and your mum will turn it into a Wendy house for you to play in. I hope you'll be able to get lost in your imagination just by walking out of the backdoor.

Oh and last night I stayed at your grandma and granddad's and dug out the diplodocus for you. And guess what. It's actually a brontosaurus. You spend your whole life thinking something and it turns out to be something else. Typical. 


Monday, 10 August 2015

Second to the right, straight on til morning


It's hot tonight, probably the hottest night of the year so far. When the weather's like this it reminds me of my Peter Pan summer sheets. Your grandma always used to change my winter sheets to thinner ones in the summer. And these were my favourite. They were white and thin and cool and had all the characters from Peter Pan scattered all over them. We don't change to summer sheets anymore. We just have duvets.

(Your grandma has just told me that those sheets really were special. They were Disney sheets and they came all the way from America. When I was little you couldn't shop on the internet to buy things from abroad and there were no Disney stores in this country.  Your great grandma had three sisters who all lived in America and one of them sent them over just for me.)

I used to lie in bed and it was still light. I could hear some of the older children playing outside and it didn't seem fair that I had to be in bed. But then I was surrounded by all these wonderful characters and I think my attention was quickly diverted.

When you're little, lots of things don't seem fair and you want lots of things to happen instantly without waiting for them. I can remember learning how life worked in cycles. I think, strangely enough it was bicycles that taught me this.

You got a new bike and it was the talk of the street. You were dead proud and everyone wanted a go. Then before you knew it, it was someone else's birthday and they got a new bike. But the style had changed and theirs was bigger and better. Time works in funny ways when you’re little.  An hour can seem to last week and six weeks seems to last forever.  But then all of a sudden six months or a year passes and you don’t know where it went.

I can remember my friend got a small sized racing bike with drop handle bars and I was dead jealous. Your grandma said that I'd to wait until I was bigger and then they'd buy me a proper one, full size. It made sense what she said but I really wanted a little racing bike.

Soon enough my time came and I got a full size racing bike. By this time we'd all grown and my friend was too big for his small bike with drop handle bars but he was stuck with it. My bike was a bit too big for me and I had to sit on the crossbar instead of the seat until my legs grew long enough to reach the peddles. I did myself a few injuries coming off that cross-bar but I loved that racing bike. It's still in grandma and granddad's garage. Maybe you'll ride it one day, if it's not so old fashioned that it embarrasses you.  My dad worked his magic on it and transformed it from having five gears to ten.  Now most bikes have at least twenty-one gears, though I’m not really sure why you need so many on a push bike.

It wasn't a hard lesson to learn, waiting for something until I was big enough for it, but it seemed difficult at the time. To look at his shiny new bike which we were just the right size for was really something else. But waiting wasn't a bad thing. Maybe it made me appreciate things more. And if you think you really want something and then you still want it six months or a year later, maybe it's the right thing to have.

I think when you're young you spend lots of your time wanting to be bigger and to be grown up. But I'll tell you a secret. When you're a grown up, you spend a lot of your time wishing you were little again.

Also you need to try to listen to your parents, which will be me and your mum, (and believe me, I’m still getting used to saying that) however much you might not really want to. We've been around a long time now. We've been through most of these things. It might be worth trusting us once in a while even if it seems we don't know what we're on about or we're just being mean.

I promise we'll get you some summer bed sheets though, with people on. I hope they dance for you and help send you to sleep like they did for me. Don't worry so much about the sounds of the children outside. They might be making a lot of noise and you might wish you were with them, but they won't be up to anything much and you'll get your time and your moment to stay up late. Don't spoil it by being in a hurry to grow up. Enjoy being little because the magic lasts for such a short time.

I hope, by the time you read this you've had and enjoyed our moments of magic. I hope we bought you a fairy door and hid it by a tree at the bottom of the garden. I hope with all my heart that for at least just a moment, you really believed in fairies and that when you squinted your eyes, just before you went to sleep, you caught a glimpse of them flickering their glittery wings.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

What sticks in your mind?


Your appearance (though you haven't actually appeared yet) has made me think very much about people and the world we live in. People are funny in the way they try to make sense of the world. They have funny sayings, ways of predicting the future which suggests if this happens then it means that or if that happens then it means this. As people we seem to find it
so difficult just to live with now.  We seem to be obsessed with knowing what will happen next or finding signs which will give us clues.

I can remember being taught red sky at night, shepherds delight; red sky in the morning shepherds warning. And I thought I knew a real secret.  For some reason it made me think of shepherds in the desert looking at the sky and wondering for their futures.  Red skies in the morning or evening always make me think of this now.  We'll have to be careful what we say and tell you because the strangest things might stick in your mind and shape you.

I can remember being told: sticks and stones might break your bones but words may never hurt you. This one is trying to help you deal with the world. To teach you not to be worried about people calling you names. But sadly there are different types of hurt in this world and words can be very powerful when people want them to be.  Words can cause as many problems as anything else you let them and they can be more painful than broken bones.  You should always be careful with the words you use and how you use them with other people.

I suppose playing with words is really today’s lesson. People play with words and superstition to try and work out which sex babies will be. Often such sayings are called old wives' tales, though I don't know who the old wives were or why they told tales. We’ve come across quite a few in these last seventeen weeks. Cole's mum said that your mum's face was getting fat and that means she is having a boy.

When I played your heartbeat at school someone said, you're definitely a girl because your heartbeat sounds like a galloping horse not a runaway train! Your heartbeat is 140. Apparently above that is a girl and below that is a boy. So in your case we still don't know if you're a boy or a girl.  I hope that doesn’t mean you’re going to be awkward.

The way people use language fascinates me. In Knaresborough there was a woman called old Mother Shipton. She lived in a cave and some said she was a witch. Maybe the old wives were witches and that's why they had so much to say. In her cave was a petrifying well which is still there today. If you leave things in it, over time they turn to stone. I think there are a teddy bear, a boot and an iron in it at the moment. We'll take you to see it when you're old enough.

The word petrifying now bothers me because people misuse it. It means 'turn to stone' but people use it to mean scared. Sometimes words take on different meanings or people use them wrongly so often that their wrong meaning becomes right. That's one of the great and confusing things about our language. Unfortunately this backfired for me because petrifying now has two meanings in the dictionary and one of them now means to be terrified and I can't tell anyone off for misusing it.

I’m being a bit grumpy though.  Words are great things and I think we should be able to play with them and change their meanings.  After all, in this world nothing is quite as it seems. Ideas twist around themselves and seem to suggest one thing whilst pointing at another. I suppose this is a good thing, it means that nothing is fixed and everything can and does change quickly. This is just some of the fun you will have with all the thinking you will do and all the new words you'll get to play with.

These contradictions are an important part of life. They help us understand what is going on around us and remind us we don't have as much control as we think we do. This is definitely for the better. It stops us thinking we are too powerful and keeps us in our place. We get carried away as people sometimes and this confusion plants our feet back on the ground.

I do feel a bit sorry for you though. Me and your mum are both teachers which suggests you or your brother or sister will follow in our footsteps. Teaching is one of the best jobs in the world; we can't wait to teach you all these things. Schools are in a bit of a mess at the moment which is a shame. We've no idea what school will be like by the time you get there, we can't even think about which high school you'll go to, it hurts our heads. Either way it will certainly be another great big adventure for you. 

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Baby Traning

Your mum woke me up at 6 am this morning to feel your pulse. I'm getting more used to her saying my name in quite a serious tone when I'm fast asleep. Maybe this is baby training for when you're here and we need to tend to you.

Our latest game has been whether or not we can feel you move. At the moment neither of us knows whether we can actually feel anything or whether it's just our imagination. My friend said to me the other day that the maddest thing is when we'll actually be able to see your foot as you kick from inside. I'm not surprised your mum can't stop touching the little bump that is you. It must be the oddest thing in the world having a baby growing inside you. I'll never know what that feels like. 

I can't blame you for wriggling about though. I don't like being trapped in. I never have. When I was still supposed to be in a cot I used to somehow manage to appear downstairs. This confused your grandma and grandad, I was about eighteen months old so shouldn’t have been able to escape. They decided to spy on me through the crack in the door. They watched me stand in the corner of my cot and bounce on my mattress until I was high enough to throw myself out. They decided it was probably time for me to sleep in a bed. 

That's one of the best things about being young though. You often feel invincible. Things don't scare you so easily. If there's a problem or a barrier in your way you think of how to overcome it and throw yourself at it. If it makes you dizzy or bruises, you try it differently next time. 

I once tried to do a somersault off a settee. It seemed like a good idea at the time and perfectly possible. I threw myself in the air, kneed myself in the face and landed in a heap on the floor. I didn't try somersaults anymore but there was no harm done.

And that's how we'd like you to be. Ready for a bit of rough and tumble. If you really do hurt yourself we'll be there to pick you up and make you better but we'll also teach you to pick yourself up, shrug your shoulders and maybe try it again but differently. 

Now your mum is worried that she's stressing you and is worried about worrying but that's your mum sometimes. It's woken me up and disturbed Kelda. I hope you're ready for this odd little action packed world you're about to join. I'm going to try and get some more sleep. I need as much as I can before you arrive.

Last night I worried I wouldn't have anything else to write for you. Now I had to get up because I had these ideas and didn't want to lose them by going back to sleep. So it's your mum's fault I'm awake but it's a good thing too. 

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Be comfortable in your skin ...

We nearly bought you your first clothes today. It was a yellow baby suit with a rainbow on it. It's kind of unisex so you’d be able to wear it whether you're a boy or a girl and your mum was all over it because it was retro and she reckoned she could see me having worn something like that. I never did but it was pretty cool, halfway between a superhero suit and the cutest baby suit ever.

We would have bought you it but the tills weren't working. Maybe we'll go back for it tomorrow. Actually, we'll definitely go back tomorrow. If they don't have it then so be it. I think sometimes, when you see things like that, that you really want, you should get them. Otherwise you spend the rest of your time, possibly even the rest of your life, wondering.

I don't believe in that. I think, if you want something enough, and the right reasons stand behind it, you should get it. By tomorrow it might have gone, or things might have happened. If opportunity presents itself you should take it. 

This evening we went to my friend's for tea. Now amongst other bizarre twists of fate (I met him under a table when we were seven years old and we've been friends ever since. Your mum and his wife were at the same hen do and wedding but didn't know each other yet) his little boy, Joseph, has taken a shine to me and your mum. 

In particular he is really drawn to her hair. He doesn't quite know what to make of it. Last time we were there he grabbed it in handfuls. This time he wanted to rub his chin in it but didn't quite have the courage to actually do it. I don't know what it is about your mum's hair. But I get it too. I've told her many times about it. Especially when she wears it down. You'll see what I mean soon. 

And once she said to me she was going to tie it back. I think we were going to one of my family dos. And she said it was a bit wild and she didn't want to feel like she stood out. 

And this, strangely, is your lesson for today. When I was little I wanted to be tall. Then I wanted to be stocky. In fact, I could list you a hundred things I thought I might be or I wanted to be.

I'm not tall or stocky, though when I was young I grew more quickly than anyone else. I'm not fat either. And I think you can spend your whole life being self-critical and wondering about everything that you're not. And by doing that you miss everything that you are.

It is good to be self-critical. It is good to be able to see what it is you do wrong and how you'd like to improve. But sometimes it is more important to see what you do right. What you're good at. What makes you you. Don't spend too much time criticising yourself or other people. Most of the time, the things you worry about yourself, other people never notice anyway. 

When I was little I always had my haircut in a typical 70s bowl cut. As I grew a bit older I wanted a different hairstyle and started brushing it back. I remember spending hours trying to flatten one particularly stubborn tuft of hair which just wouldn't do as it was told. I was sure everyone would see it and laugh at me but no one even blinked an eye at it. This thing that I thought stood out on my head and waved a flag and shouted, "Look at me!" was apparently invisible to everyone else. 

Don't ever worry so much about what other people think or what other people say or even whether you look like they think you should. Don't worry at all. Be comfortable in your own skin. Be happy and confident and proud of who you are. And if something troubles you, talk to me or your mum or both of us and put it right before it ever becomes a problem. 

I'll see you soon in your seventies yellow baby suit. And I'll take a picture of you and your mum and I'll make her wear her hair down and you'll know exactly what I mean. 

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The Sound of your life

June 25th #23

Today I finally heard your heartbeat for the first time. We kept getting told we'd hear it and today we did. Now I'm not an overly emotional person but it really did bring tears to my eyes. I wasn't even there. Your mum went to her appointment and they said they didn't need me. Imagine!

Your mum sent me it on WhatsApp and I'll find a way of keeping it so you can hear what your heart sounded like before you were born, another absolutely crazy idea to hold in your head.

You sound like a little train chugging away, full of steam.  Your beat is faster than I thought it would be and you sound full of power and life. I sent it to your grandma and granddad and your auntie and I think your granddad got quite beside himself and asked if we knew if you're a boy or girl yet even though that scan is a few weeks away. I was so excited I had to go and play your heartbeat to the ladies in the office.

It's such a strange process, this being born thing. Sometimes everything seems to take so long and everything seems so far away and nothing seems to be happening. Then suddenly there's a massive change and each time you seem more and more real and closer to being with us.

And I suppose there's something to be said about this patience thing which I don't ever seem to have as much of as I'd like. I try really hard but I like things to happen and I don't like to have to wait.

My grandpa always said I needed to learn how to sit still and I always used to wonder why. I was always so restless.  I still am.  I’m not very good at sitting down or staying still.  My grandpa was interested in eastern philosophy.  He always said that when I was old enough he would teach me how to stand on my head and meditate.  I did try meditation a few times but it didn’t really work for me.  In fact, after a while, everything kind of went white and the perspective behind my eyes shifted and it made me feel like I did when I got delirious. Maybe some people just aren’t meant to stay still.
When we got your twelve week scan you were moving about so much that the nurse found it hard to take your ‘photo’. We said then that you were definitely mine.  Maybe you will be like me, always wanting to be moving and on the go. But there is something to be said about having a little patience, about having that ‘calm’ that your mum has. It's that thing about enjoying every moment.  
When we were in Tesco the other day I was talking to one of the women who work there (that’s another trait I got off your great granddad, talking to everyone).  She met your mum for the first time and she said that your mum has a calm aura.  That’s a good description of your mum.  You can sense the calm radiating from her (usually).

Me and your mum can't wait for you to be born but maybe we should try harder to remember and enjoy these moments as they happen. When we first found out your mum was pregnant we didn't know quite what to do with ourselves. And then we were waiting for your 12 week scan so that we knew everything was going to be okay. Then we were waiting for your mum to feel you move, next your heart beat and then whether you're a boy or a girl. Maybe we just have to slow ourselves down a little.

I think I could listen to your heartbeat over and over and over. It's the first sound I've heard of your life. There will be plenty of time for everything else. Right now I just need to think about the magic that I've heard today.

It's very easy to wish your life away, to always be looking for something else. You'll be a baby, then a toddler, then you'll walk and so on. What I'm learning is these things will only ever happen once and we need to hold them close for as long as we can.

And you should maybe try that once you are here and old enough to understand. Keep as many moments for as long as you can and hold on to them.  Maybe like little butterflies. You have to let them go but enjoy them whilst they last and then store some of them, just in case, just for rainy days, just because you can.

Monday, 3 August 2015

A Potted History (part 2) #22

Hello little bean (no matter how old you are you'll always be my little bean). Your dad has asked/told me to write my potted history, which you are now a part of and which will be a part of your potted history.

So, my mum is English as are her parents as were their parents. My dad was born here and his parents were from Jamaica, as were their parents, but I'm not sure about before that. That makes me, and you, a mix of things.

I quite like that we have that in common. We're neither one thing or another, yet they each play a part in our makeup, so we can claim any feature when it suits. When it comes to filling in forms, I have never seen a box for black/British/Jewish and I'm glad because I don't want you to feel like you are defined by one thing and that's that. There's some comfort in belonging but it can also become limiting.

Back to our history. Your grandparents on my side came together at a time when it wasn't common or particularly accepted for two people with different skin colours to come together. Apparently, people used to think that children born from such a match would be an abomination and would have terrible deformities. Ha! Well, we don't.

I don't think your grandparents had it particularly easy, and it's difficult to imagine what that must have been like, but love won. And it's something to be proud of because if either of them was weak willed or easily swayed, then we wouldn't be here.

Your grandparents met at school and have been together ever since! My mum told me that she used to get the bus home from school and your granddad would run along side the bus and try to keep up. They'll have some good stories for you when you're growing up - their world was just so different from what yours will be, but I'm not so sure that human nature has changed as much. Ask your granddad about car minding and about his dad! 

So the first time I went on an aeroplane was to Jamaica. We went twice as a family and I think my memories of both trips have merged into one. We visited a few different places and stayed with my grandma for some time too. It is a holiday that has stayed with me - the first time that I saw a green coconut, a lizard and children without shoes - we hope to take you there too at some point.

My grandma's parents are buried on the land that my grandma owned and now she's buried there too. The last time I went was 2004 and it was a completely different country to the one we visited in the 80s/90s.

My mum's parents will be some of the first people you'll meet and a picture of you will have a place under their television with all of the other grand and great grandchildren. This will be one of the many places that you can feel that you will always belong.

 Their England was an amazing place, but totally different to the England that you will be born into. They are a generation that lived through a war, went to dances, repaired things, shopped at greengrocers and dressed properly. There will be things that I say or do subconsciously because my mum said or did them that she does because her mum said or did them and that's just one of the many things that you will inherit.

I've no idea what you will look like, what your temperament will be or what you will become but I am so excited to meet you and watch you grow and me and your dad will do all we can to give you the best of us.

Love mum. x

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Kay Sera

June 23rd #21

Tonight I wonder about what you will be. And how much you already are. How much influence we will have and which bits are set in stone, if any. I have no lessons for you today. Just questions and I guess these are the questions my parents asked and their parents and all of our ancestors way back until maybe the time we lived in caves. 

When I was younger and I was ill, if I ran a temperature, I would get delirious. It's a very hard thing to explain. Apparently my mum did it too. When it happened to her, my granddad said he was going to count back from five or ten and flick his fingers and tell her that she'd wake up. And she did.

Unfortunately I was told this before anyone tried it on me so it never worked. Maybe it wouldn't have worked anyway. The doctors said it was because I had an overactive imagination. I don't think they really knew or understood.

It felt a bit like being awake and asleep at the same time. It felt like perspective shifted. So I could see the ceiling and the walls but they weren't solid. They seemed to shoot back and there was nothing behind them. Not an emptiness, not a blackness, there was simply an absence, a gap behind where things should be. 

I used to ask my mum and dad to tuck me in tight. I don't think they ever really knew why. I didn't know how to explain it. I think it was because if the sheets were tight to me, the walls and ceiling couldn't disappear. Or wouldn't. But they did. Once I remember putting my hand on my dad's knee and just feeling bone. 

I had this wallpaper in my bedroom and it had a texture on it. If you stared at it long enough, the bits that stuck out went in and the bits that went in stuck out. It's something to do with how you focus your eyes. There was a big craze of 'magic eye' paintings when I was at university and it was a bit like doing that.

The most vivid episode I remember was being in two places at once. I was at home on the settee, sweating, and I was in a cave. And I was saying, “I want my other mum.” And to this day I don't know if was talking to the woman in the cave or your grandma. 

I'm not trying to scare you my little wonder (actually I wrote little one here, your mum disturbed me to remove a spider and when I can back it said wonder and I kind of like that so it's staying) It just makes me wonder, if when you're sick, you'll be like me and your grandma, Part of me hopes not. 

Me and your mum, we wonder if you'll be smart. If you'll be arty or mathematical. I'm hopeless at maths, numbers make no sense to me. Your mum's more mathematical than I am, as is your granddad. We wonder whether you will have hayfever or bad skin. Me and your mum both suffer with bad skin so you might be in trouble there. Sorry about that.

We wonder if you'll be friendly or shy and if we have any control over that. Whether you'll be confident. Whether you'll be right or left handed. Whether you'll be one of those people who skate through life or whether it'll be a puzzle for you. Whether you'll be a boy or a girl. We still don't know at the moment. That might be weird for you to read, because to you, you always were but right now, you could be either.

We wonder who you'll look like: me, your mum or the milkman? (That's a dad joke. Apparently I have to practice those). What kind of hair you'll have. What your completion will be. Really none of these things actually matter. It is a strange thing to think about though. 

I think most of all we just hope you'll be happy. And you'll feel warm and safe and loved. We'll do our best to give you that. The rest we suppose is up to you. And we hope you enjoy finding all these things out and telling us about them. (Maybe in a few less words than your mum, because when she wants to talk, she can go on a bit. But maybe that's just a woman thing.) 

You'll be seventeen weeks tomorrow. You're nearly half way to meeting us for real. Sleep tight my little one. 

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

A Cardboard Box

June 22nd #20  

Imagination is a wonderful thing. In fact it's probably one of the best gifts we can give you and it won't cost anything, just a bit of thought and time and effort on our part.

There are so many fancy and expensive toys available and these are often pretty good but they can be pretty awful too. I can remember seeing adverts for things when I was young and getting so excited about having this toy or that. And this is the thing. How I imagined it would be was far better than how it ever was.

With a good imagination you can get lost in a cardboard box. It can be a house, a den, a spaceship.  It can be anything you put your mind to. We have a big box at the moment and as usual Kelda jumped straight in it. But it would be big enough for you to play in. We could cut out doors and windows and you could colour it in. It's often as much fun making things as it is playing with them.

Our washing machine was broken and the repairman came today. When he cleaned the filter amongst other things out popped a button. And that reminded me of your grandma's button jar. Now that was a truly amazing thing. It was full of all different buttons. I don't think any two of them were the same size or colour.

With a magic button jar, who needs Jack and the Beanstalk's magic beans? Don't get me wrong, your mum and I can't wait to read you all the fairy-tales and do all the funny voices. But wait until you have your own mum's button jar to play with. It kept me occupied for hours.

I've been saving buttons for a while now but they're not very exciting so I'm going to ask everyone to keep their eye out for fancy buttons for when you're a bit older. And I've been keeping a box of lost things. Your mum thinks I'm a bit crackers but I reckon you'll love playing with it.

We want to do all sorts to get your imagination going. We'll get you in the kitchen baking things, you're mum's a bit better than me at that but we'll all have a go. And wooden spoons and rolling pins, they don't belong in the kitchen; they belong in the games inside your head, along with a good saucepan.

Hopefully, when it's Christmas we'll make it look like it snowed inside and leave footprints for you to follow. When it's Easter we'll have eggs for you to find or at the Seder you'll have to find the afikoman. Your mum also says that there are treasure hunts we'll be able to do and set up. We’ll have a bit of a workshop in the garage/playroom hopefully and there we can take broken things to pieces and see if we can find the little people inside.

Toys are a great thing. I'd be a huge hypocrite if I said anything else. My flat is full of toys. But it's what you do with them or whatever else is around that makes things fun and different. Me and my cousin used to make tents and cars out of camp chairs and sun loungers. The stories you can tell and make up and the games you can play - that's what's exciting. You can be anything you like in your imagination. And if you can learn to fly using that, it will help you with everything else you ever do. 

Saturday, 25 July 2015

A Dress Rehearsal

20th June #19

You and me, we now have our first problem. It's a nice problem but a problem nonetheless. And this might be an issue you have with both your parents being English teachers.

The problem is this: how to start each of your entries. I've not really read back over them but I feel like (and those three words are a phrase I picked up off your mum) I'm keep starting them with... Today this and today that. Now any good English teacher knows that opening sentences shouldn't repeat themselves so this is now causing us both an unnecessary problem.

Last night (see, I've changed it) your cousin, Cole, spent the night with us. He's already three so by the time you come along he will already be your big cousin. (Which is hard to imagine because he's so little himself.)

And I suppose him staying was a bit like a dress rehearsal for me and your mum, for when you come along. To be quite honest he was really good and your mum did most of the work anyway but we learnt a few things along the way.

After showering him and baking cakes with him (well your mum did that, I'm still trying to make the most of a lie in whilst I get the chance) we took him to the park. He played on the climbing frame and the slides and then because it was raining he got his trousers (and probably pants) thoroughly soaked.

And that was lesson one for your mum and dad because we hadn't brought any spare clothes so your mum had to dry his clothes off under the hand dryer.

I think, to some extent, you might well have to get used to us both improvising. I don't know about your mum but it's definitely in my blood. Once my granddad and his friend found an old woman collapsed in the bushes. Without too much thought my granddad and his friend nipped down to his garage and reappeared with a wheel barrow, which they bundled her into before wheeling her home.

Whilst your mum was busy drying Cole I had my second parenting lesson and that involved making polite conversation with total strangers who were also parents and probably thought I was.

We watched his little boy walk towards the swings and though his dad shouted, "Cross the road properly." His little boy went through the process of looking left and right without actually looking left and right before crossing the road anyway.

Maybe today was mostly about lessons for me and your mum but him crossing the road reminded me of learning to cross the road. I can remember knowing I had to look left and right without really understanding what that meant. So I looked both ways without seeing anything.

I think this is going to be one of the puzzles that possibly we never solve. There are going to be so many things you need to understand and so many life skills we'll want to teach you and half the time you might not have any idea what we're really on about.

As teachers, I guess me and your mum are more than aware of this anyway. It happens in the classroom all the time. But we're all constantly learning and we'll learn from each other. I'm not overly worried about that.

When we took Cole on the swings, and your mum went on the swing, it seemed to wake you up and your mum had to stop. Maybe you're going to have my motion sickness.
Tonight we went to the pictures (again) to see Jurassic world, and the noise seemed to spur you into action again.

So I think what we've learnt today, other than to be better prepared when we take a little one to the park, is that you're becoming more and more present. And every time you move and every time your mum tells me she feels you, well, for once in my life, I'm genuinely lost for words. I have no way of describing how that makes both of us feel. That's the thing you’re teaching us. That invisible bond which is already there and can never be broken. 


I loved dinosaurs when I was little. I had a diplodocus (which I still have, hopefully there'll be a picture of it for you, maybe even the real thing. I have a curio shelf but maybe I need a special shelf for you for all the things I mention in what I write for you.)

My sister's class must have been studying dinosaurs and so she asked if she could put my diplodocus on their display table. I had mixed feelings about this. On one hand I was proud that my dinosaur would be displayed. On the other I worried that it was out of my possession and I might never see him again.

I can remember waiting for her after school with my mum on a Friday. But I wasn't waiting for her, I was waiting for my dinosaur to be returned safely to me.

My grandpa always talked to me about possessions. He said they weren't really worth anything. You can't take them with you so don't worry too much about what you own. What you have inside is more important, he would say. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I love my 'stuff'. Me and my other grandad were both hoarders. You never know when something might come in handy and if you've thrown or given something away, it's not there should you need it. All that being the case, anything I have will be yours anyway.

And maybe Cole staying this weekend also showed me something of this. He stayed without a worry. To stay in a strange house or flat didn't seem strange to him. It took me a long time, when I was little, to feel comfortable staying anywhere but home. It made me sad.

Me and your mum want you to be comfortable staying anywhere. Equally we don't ever want you to feel like you're staying away because we don't want you at home. I suppose it's a funny balance to find. Ideally we want a camper van. We want to be able to go on adventures every weekend if possible. My grandpa used to take my dad camping with his friends quite often and we'd quite like you to experience that.

So it seems much of what I'm telling you is a contradiction today. And that's important too. I suppose there are no hard and fast rules. You have to see what's around you and make a pathway which suits your nature and makes you happy. 

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Doing the right thing

Friday June 19th #18

Today I want to talk to you about doing the right thing. And this is going to be a difficult thing for you to get your little head around because sometimes it's not clear what the right thing to do is and sometimes it seems more tempting and even more rewarding to do the wrong thing.

I have spent the last two days in London. On the train down one of my colleagues left his kindle on the train.

(A kindle is an electronic book and whether that's right or wrong is something I might talk about later. Your mum is a big fan of kindles. I prefer books. Kindles might have overtaken books by the time you read this which would be a terrible shame.)

Kindles aren't too expensive, equally they're not the type of thing you want to lose. When we were ready to leave London, my colleague decided to check at the station and see if anyone had been kind enough to hand his in.

To his amazement, they had. And this is a lovely and important thing. It restored his faith, a little, in people and it was a pleasant reminder, in a world where often people are dishonest, that there are some good people left.

I must have had but of a habit of putting things in my pocket when I was little. Apparently I once walked out of the doctors will a little yellow man in my pocket. He's one of the strangest little toys I had. He only just looks like a man and he is tiny. My mum didn't make me take him back because he wasn't even a proper toy. 

I think your grandma regretted her decision though. I spent half my time playing with him and half my time losing him. I had a toy box which is probably yours by now, my granddad made it. And my mum once found me upside down in it with my legs hanging out. I was probably trying to find my little yellow man. (Of course, I still have him.  Eventually I found a toy car he could fit in and I kept him in there so I wouldn’t lose him).

When I was at Mrs Pollard's nursery school, I saw a toy car that I liked, so once again I put it in my pocket and took it home. I think I did know that stealing was wrong but I didn't see it as stealing as I'd watched that car and nobody played with it and it didn't really belong to anyone as far as I could tell.  The way I think I saw it was that nobody lived at the nursery so no one really owned the toys which were there.

I don't think I hid it from my mum and when she saw it, to my horror, she made me take it back the next day. This was a hard lesson. I didn't see why I shouldn't have that car and I didn't think I was doing any harm. But it was the wrong thing to do and I returned the car.

At some point later, my mum did buy me the same car. Maybe that was to reward me for doing the right thing and taking it back. I don't know. I still have that car which one day I will show you.

Now life does have its ways of teaching us lessons we don't always want to learn. When I was at university one of my friends was walking down the street and he saw a cyclist ride past. As they rode they dropped some money. He picked it up, thought for a moment about calling the cyclist, then changed his mind and put the sixty pounds in his pocket.

You might not believe me but this is a true story. A couple of weeks later he was out and he lost his wallet. He had sixty pounds in his wallet and he never found it and no one returned it to him.

I have mentioned karma to you before and this might be karma or it might just be coincidence. The truth of the matter is that it's always important to do the right thing. It might seem wrong at the time, it might seem like you're getting something for nothing, you might gain something that you really really want and find it difficult to part with. None of that matters.

If you lost or misplaced something you would hope that someone was good and decent enough to return it. You should also do the same thing. Always treat people how you would expect to be treated and always try to help out. You don't know the impact of someone losing something and not having it returned could have on their lives. Equally returning it will make them feel a little better about the world, just like my colleague. And it's these little acts which happen occasionally, which make this life that you now have, so very very special.