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Members Musings April 2018


By Jonathan Dodd

Jonathan Dodd

Where’s the camera?

I’m reading a wonderful book at the moment. It’s called ‘Daemon Voices’, and it’s by the miraculous Philip Pullman. I first encountered him when somebody asked me this innocent question – “Have you read ‘Northern Lights’? It’s really good”. Sometimes I can be a little put off by these invitations, especially when they go on and on. I remember once going to visit some friends from work for a meal. After the food, they asked me this – “Do you like Frasier?” I said I’d never seen it, and they became suspiciously delighted. How do you tell people that you don’t want to do something when their hearts are set on it, and you’d rather spend time with them talking, or go home, or chew your leg?

They promised that they’d only put on one or two of their favourite episodes, and I had to sit through three, with them looking up several times, to tell me how good it was, and then ask me whether I was enjoying it or not. Funny how people sometimes tell you how good something is before they ask you if you think it’s good. I made polite noises, and vowed: 1) never to go there again: 2) Never to accept weird invitations from weirdos to watch their favourite TV sitcoms, and: 3) never to watch that awful boring unfunny Frasier ever ever again.

Of course, I was completely influenced by my mood at the time, and Frasier is probably quite good,

However, sometimes a book or programme or film is recommended to me and I understand that it must be good, because they don’t make a song and dance up about it. They present it, in the spirit that your cat might present you with a dead mouse, as an offering of something precious, and I’m incline d to try it on that basis. His Dark Materials, of which Northern Lights is the first of three books, is undoubtedly a huge work of great significance, and one of the best stories ever. It went straight to my top five favourite books, and to the top of my best-written list.

I recently read La Belle Sauvage, the first book of Mr Pullman’s second trilogy about the same world, a sort of prequel to the original, and I’m frustrated that I have to wait years for the next two books. I also recently watched a TV programme about him and his life, and I found him to be a lovely man, who I could have listened to for ever.

Anyway. Back to Daemon Voices, whose title refers to the central conceit of the world of His Dark Materials, which is an alternative universe not totally dissimilar to ours, in which all humans are accompanied by a daemon, in the form of an animal that represents part of themselves. It’s a strange idea, but you get used to it, and it’s charming and magical and wonderful. Children’s daemons change shape all the time, but at adolescence they settle into one form, and that often seems to be in harmony with the type of person they become as adults.

Daemon Voices ids a set of essays and speeches and forewords that Mr Pullman has written over the yeas for various events or volumes of stories or other books, and hey contain his thoughts and ideas about writing and story. I’m absolutely loving it. I particularly like his dry, calm exposition of every sentence. He knows what he wants to say, and how to say it, and that’s exactly what he does. You feel, as a reader, completely in his hands, safe and in good company. There’s much to learn and appreciate. He’s very keen on using proper English, and being clear about who the characters are in each scene, and particularly, where the writer should place himself, as if he’s a camera making a film.

This is known as Point of View, or POV for short, and it’s important because each of us as writers need to be aware not only of what we’re writing, but of what we’re telling or showing our readers and what we’re not revealing. If the murderer is in front of us, that tells us one thing. If the murderer is out of sight, that’s something else entirely. The same event occurs, but the reader is given different information about it. He talks a lot about film directors, who all talk about ‘story’ and ‘plot’, far more than writers do. Because of this, and the need to produce images, they spend a lot of time framing each scene to produce the effect and response they want for the audience. David Mamet, one of the greatest film writers, always thinks about where you would put the camera before finishing every scene or chapter, whether it’s a book or a film.

I rather like this idea, and I’m going to think about it from now on.

And I’m going to ask you this question – “Have you read ‘Northern Lights’? It’s really good”.

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Members Musings March 2018


By Jonathan Dodd

Jonathan Dodd

Deadlines? What deadlines?

There was once a television play about some philosophers going behind the Iron Curtain for a scholarly conference. It was called ‘Professional Foul’, and was written by a young Tom Stoppard, and shown in 1977. No, I didn’t remember that, I had to google it. It turned out that none of these philosophers wanted to go to the conference, but it was the only way they could watch an important international football game, but that’s another subject. One of them had a pet theory, which he called “Disaster Theory”, and it has inspired me for decades. Here’s how it goes:

We all need principles. They’re the way we define ourselves as we journey through life. But principles are just things we make up and decide we’ll try to follow. And nobody has ever kept absolutely 100% to their principles anyway. Without them society would never have got started. But there may come a moment when our principles are going to come up against something where we’re going to need to make a decision – whether to survive or not. At those moments what we need to do is to reverse the whole idea behind the principle. Turn it on its head, and do the opposite thing.

For example, you’re a life-long vegetarian and your plane comes down on top of a snowy mountain. Everyone’s dead but you. Help does not come. Do you die heroically in the freezing snow, or do you survive by eating the only food available – your fellow dead passengers? There are true stories in which both scenarios were chosen, and the results were less interesting when people stuck to their principles, because they died. The people who survived had a certain amount of rearranging of principles to make, but in general they managed to do that, and no doubt went on to live useful and more-or-less happy lives, as far as we know.

That’s an extreme example, obviously. But the idea remains good in many situations. Recently, after doggedly producing a column for every week for five years, I realised that I simply wasn’t going to be able to write one. The deadline loomed, my mind was very passive-aggressively blank, and I knew I wasn’t going to produce anything. I wracked my brains trying to think of something else that I could do, but nothing was forthcoming.

So I let it go. I reversed the principle, decided the world could do without my column for one week, and went off to do something far less stressful, and it was good. Everything was back in place the next week, and I feel much better for it. There comes a time when principles become something like a dead-weight around your neck, and you’re doing something because you have to, because you’ve always done it, and you’ll be letting something down if you drop it. But that’s when your principles become more important that other things, like your creativity, or your imagination, or just your sense of fun and enjoyment in what you want to do.

So there’s no need to knock yourself out if you don’t manage always to come up to your high expectations of yourself in your writing. We’re not trains, and tracks aren’t good for us, no matter how safe they feel. Sometimes you need to let yourself go off somewhere, and take in some unexpected sights and thoughts. Look at yourself and your journey from some other viewpoint. You’ll see so much that is good about what you’re doing, and you may find ways to fix the things that aren’t quite right. And that includes the joy you experience in your writing. It has got to be fun.

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Members Musings February 2018


Maggie JonesPets Galore by Maggie Jones

When I think back to when I was a little girl, I realised that pets played a very big part in my life. My mum’s black & white cat Johnny came with us when I was four and we moved to my Nan’s shop in Charing. Here we seemed to have pets galore as we inherited two mad Labradors, a yellow one called Peggy and  a black one called Sally. That wasn’t all, out in the orchard were a few scraggly chickens, and also my Nan’s cat, Alex. Fortunately, the goat who’d eaten my grandfather’s trousers off the washing line was no longer around.

Over the years we had many cats, Inky a black one and Mon Sherri, a beautiful fluffy cat we re-homed from my aunty, and who my mum refused point blank to call him in using his given name. That was quickly shortened to Sherry. Personally, I think that was because my mum was partial to a glass of it.

When I left home I soon realised it wasn’t the same without a pet, so along came a beautiful half Persian ginger cat, Sam. Sadly he was run over and I couldn’t go throw the pain of losing another one that it wasn’t until I moved again I thought about getting another cat.

It was my intention to only get one, however, when I went to look at the kittens, there were three, and in my defence, the place was awful, not somewhere I could possibly walk away with one, leaving the other two behind.  So I took all of them with me.

My reception when I got home wasn’t a warm one. But Harry or Henrietta as she turned out to be a girl and quickly that was shortened to little H, Lottie and Billy lived with us for a few years, until we re-homed Lottie with my brother-in-law. He’d lost his cat and I was having my daughter. We thought it might be too much having three cats and a baby.

However, that didn’t last long and we did get another cat. They say you never own a cat and that’s true. When Dinky wandered into my garden and made herself at home with my other two, it dawned we were back to being a three cat family again.

I’d tried to find out if she belonged to anyone without any luck, so Dinky was ours.

When we moved to the island, all three cats came too. The journey from Kent was horrendous. All the cats were crying and so was I.

Over the years, as with life we’ve had to make that awful decision to let our beloved cats go to the rainbow bridge. This was always very painful and many tears were shed.

Currently, I have a ginger & white short haired cat Wizby who has been my best friend, during some really awful times. I’ve sat and cried and laughed with him and he’s never judged me. He’s also driven me nuts, especially when I buy shedloads of cat food he likes, only for the next time I put a dish of it down he gives me such a withering look that I know it’s going in the bin.

One time when he did that, I decided instead of keep trying to push it on him I would take the unopened packets to the Cats Protection Society.

My daughter had got her cat from there a couple of years ago  and I was so impressed with how much the society did for unwanted and stray cats, helping them find their forever home.

So a couple of years ago, I decided that instead of sending Xmas cards, I would donate some money to an animal charity.

The first year I did this, I donated to the donkey sanctuary on the island. But this year, was the turn of the Cats Protection Society. Not only did I give a monetary donation, but Wizby kindly donated some food he no longer wanted. (Didn’t like anymore)!

So if anyone who reads this musings decides they would rather support a worthy charity instead of sending Xmas cards this year, Wizby and I  know a great charity with the Cats Protection Society.

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Members Musings January 2018


By Fiona Trowbridge

Growing Old Disgracefully

I’ve recently hit a mile stone – at least that’s what they call it when you have a big birthday.  However, I don’t feel any sense of achievement at reaching that age nor do I feel the chronological age I’ve been assigned, so how is one expected to celebrate such an occasion?

I believe the normal ritual would be to gather with a group of people, called friends, although some would undoubtedly be on my ‘limited view’ list on Facebook.  I would be expected to wear uncomfortable shoes, usually known as high heels and don clothes that I’d find particularly restrictive; in that I wouldn’t be able to partake in parkour should I feel inclined. Conversations would be stilted until lubricated by alcohol and elderly relatives would point at my friends while talking loudly and derogatorily about race and homosexuality. This would be endured for 5 hours or more, until the last inebriated ‘friend’ stumbles into a taxi. Only then would I be able to relax, fall into bed and get on with life as normal, aged 50 and 1 day.

As you can probably tell, that kind of birthday celebration didn’t appeal to me but the pressure was on as friends and family started asking me how I was going to celebrate my ‘big’ birthday.  Some people asked excitedly if I was going to have a party – they would be the ones who enjoyed the scenario above.  Others asked if I was heading off to some exotic location as I had been known to do in the past.

I thought about it a lot but as it drew closer, I moved further away from either of those ideas and decided on celebrating my birthday for a whole year. A birthyear if you like.

I came up with a plan and decided to do 50 personal challenges.  Some would teach me new skills or overcome a fear; others would develop things I’d already learnt or try out something new.

It wasn’t as easy as I thought coming up with 50 things that I’d never done before.  They also couldn’t cost too much or I’d be adding ‘make yourself bankrupt’ to the list before the end of January.  They also couldn’t be challenges that would take a long time or I’d still be completing the list by the time I turn 60.

Initially, I managed to generate 29 experiences before starting to discuss the idea with friends.  To my surprise they were as interested and enthusiastic about the challenges as I was and offered numerous ideas, none of which, I’m glad to say, involved parties or long haul flights.  Although a few of them couldn’t get away from suggesting I eat live insects and other such delicacies but I blame that on the recently aired I’m a Celebrity Get me out of Here.

As you read this, my list will be almost complete and week by week, I will be updating my Just Giving page with pictures and stories of my progress.   The idea seems to have inspired others to think about birthdays in a different way and I’m pleased to say that 4 other people have come back to me and said they are now creating their own lists.

So my challenge for you in 2018 is…When was the last time you did something for the first time?

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Members Musings December 2017


David WeatherspoonBy David Weatherston

Just because Christmas is nearly upon us again, I don`t want any of you thinking that being Santa Claus is just about scoffing mince pies and knocking back gallons of cheap sherry from Lidls on Christmas Eve!! It`s an all the year round job with lots of presents to make, reindeer to look after, and the inevitable problem of “elf and safety” issues from time to time!

With such a busy schedule to maintain I occasionally have to ask some “mature” gentlemen to help me out and I know that on your beautiful Island one of my colleagues occasionally has to stand in for me at The Busy Bee Christmas Grotto. I have explained to him that in keeping with the strict Department of Education guidelines he must never ask children where they live as we obviously know; courtesy of my new smartphone app which enables me to find everyone on Christmas Eve apart from the children in Lower Ventnor where there is little wifi reception!! He is also under strict instructions NOT to ask the children if they have been “good” throughout the year because if their behaviour has been even slightly wayward at times it can obviously be psychologically damaging for them if this is brought out into the open!

The gentleman standing in for me at Busy Bee has told me that in previous years he has had to cope with a variety of problems on a daily basis that have ranged from; terrified screaming toddlers to stroppy teenagers, and a hen party who arrived from the pub en route to a Spa afternoon and all wanted to film the bride-to-be dancing with Father Christmas!! Later that same afternoon he was asked if a rather large lady could sit on his knee while her mother videoed her asking Santa for a “quick divorce and a new fella “for Christmas!!”.

On Christmas Eve the reindeer have a long and stressful journey round the world and Rudolf in particular always welcomes some nourishment and refreshment on the way. If you are contemplating this they would love some carrots, hay, or perhaps an apple; but probably not the chicken nuggets and battered sausage that little Amy was intending to leave them last year!!

I feel I must now be getting back to the toy workshop where everyone is working twenty four hours a day in order to fill all the stockings, and I really must get that order off to Amazon for some of those latest Star Wars figures! So it just remains for me to wish you all a VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS and PLEASE remember to let the fire go out in the hearth before I come down your chimney on Christmas Eve!!

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Members Musings November 2017


Fred CanavanWait for it…

by Fred Canavan’s

Have you ever noticed how much of a writer`s life is spent waiting?  Take this month,for example. I was lucky enough to have been short-listed three times in September. Once in Ireland for a short story, and twice in Spain for a short story and a piece of flash-fiction.  Now, the waiting begins. Will the phone ever ring – is it even plugged in? How many times a day does a sane person check their emails? And then the doubts creep in – like that black slimy sludge seeping under the door in one of those 1950`s American sci-fi films. So – and just to put your mind at rest – you read your entries for the ninetieth time. Then it hits you. Slap, bang wallop! Your stories? They`re a pile of poo! Badly written cliché-ridden predictable piles of poo.  So, that`s first prize – and a nice fat cheque – gone.

      Then you think – here come those doubts again – well, I`d settle for second prize. Yes, that would be acceptable wouldn`t it? Mustn`t be greedy after all. You check the prize list. Second prize would buy you a weekend in London for two, and a show. That would do nicely, thank you – but is the story good enough or does the pong of poo still permeate the air?  Yes, you decide, it`s still a bit aromatic – just look at all those adverbs for a start! Check the prize list, again. Third prize?  Mmm…should get self and wife a decent Sunday lunch  for two and a bottle of wine. Yes, that`s all right –  in fact I`d be pathetically  (whoops, more adverbs!) grateful. But what`s this in the small print? “Four further prizes of twenty pounds may be awarded at our discretion” What! Twenty measly quid? What does that get you these days? Fish and chips for two and a bottle of Chateau Collapso? Well, they can stick it straight up their – ah, wait a minute. Twenty quid, eh? Well, its recognition isn`t it? Of a kind…better than nothing, anyway. So, the wait goes on…

          October 13h

        And that`s what happened! Twenty quid, a `highly commended` and anthology publication in the Irish competition. Oh, well. I like fish and chips as it happens – though where to get them on the IOW is a bit of a problem, and Chateau Collapso`s not too bad – if you need a door stripping. The waiting goes on…and on…and on…

         October 17th

         Email from Spain; I have won…Nada! Also one from a competition in France that I had actually forgotten about.  Long-listed at first – but I did not make it to the short list.  Merde!

          So, what now? Switch on the coffee pot, open the Bourbon Creams…and wait.  But why don`t I have a swift game of internet chess first? Or solitaire – or checkers –or anything? Just to take my mind off the waiting. I will get back to work on my novel, honest I will. I won`t just fritter away the day…promise.

         October I8th

         There, told you! I didn`t waste the day. I wrote a poem entitled `Retirement` which you might find on Members` Shorts ( be warned, I`m currently in my John Betjeman phase) In the meantime, I stare out of the window.  East Cowes is grey, dull and damp – but you knew that, already. I slump in the chair. Is it too early for a gee-and-tee?  If only something would happen! It`s the waiting, you see, Carruthers. It`s the damned waiting that drives a fellow mad…


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Members Musings October 2017


Jonathan DoddBy Jonathan Dodd

The Fiction the Whole Fiction, and Nothing But the Fiction

A few years ago I was running a writers’ circle in Newbury called WordWatchers. We used to hold two short story competitions every year. These were never the same, because we kept reinventing them. Sometimes we were very strict on wordcount and title and sometimes we didn’t specify either, and sometimes we allowed different media, as in a poem rather than a short story. Rather like life itself, we made it up as we went along, and we learned as much from when it didn’t work very well, as we did when it went swimmingly.

We used to run these with a complicated method of blind judging. We each received a book with all the stories in, but without names, so we could only judge on the basis of what we read. We spent so much time trying to guess who wrote what, that we introduced an extra competition, to see who guessed best. I was amazed by how difficult it was to recognise each other’s styles. People even started laying out their stories differently, or using fewer semicolons, just to make it harder. I remember the argument we had early on, when we were discussing how we should judge, and what criteria we should use, when I said I marked down for bad spelling and punctuation.

Funnily enough, the biggest furore was about the content of one of my short stories. The month after the get-together when we found out who won and who guessed best, we always had a post-mortem meeting, where we discussed each of the stories. Mine concerned a policeman and a rough sleeper, and it was set in Newbury. The rough sleeper turned out to be the last living member of a family that had once owned most of the land that Newbury was built on.

I didn’t know any of the history of Newbury, but I needed it to fit my story, so I invented my own history, incorporating it into the story, and I wrote it to appear as true as I could, because I needed to highlight the downfall of the family. It didn’t win, of course. I only ever won once. I never understood why nobody understood what I was trying to say, and the brilliance of my writing. Of course, we all thought that.

One of the things that most people mentioned about my story was how fascinating my grasp of the history of Newbury was, and how much research I must have done. This pleased me immensely, as a writer, because that was what I was trying to convey, within the context of the story. But, for the sake of veracity, I had to inform them that I made it all up. They all started shouting at me, and I couldn’t understand why. It hadn’t occurred to me that my readers, all writers themselves, would be angry with me for making up a fictional history of a real place in a fictional short story.

They were angry because they believed the history I created, and they told me that I should have added a note to say that I had played fast and footloose with history, in case anyone believed what I had written. I thought that was a silly idea. We had a lot of strong discussions, because we all felt very passionate about writing. We never fell out, because we were all fast friends, but I think that was the occasion when we came the closest.

I’m still wondering about this. What do you think?

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Members Musings August 2017


Martin MorrisBy Martin Morris

A Ghost Story

My weddings and funeral suit was too tight over my belly, I can’t remember the last time I wore the bloody thing.  It must have been when I married that that old cow Janice five years ago. She isn’t wearing white to the ceremony this time though, she’s all in black. If she weren’t dead in a that box in front of me, I’d be putting her in one.

I needed a drink and the wake at the Stag hotel was seeming far, too bloody far away.

Janice’s uncle Jack is shaking my hand and telling me that Janice will always be with us, but I’m sure I can smell whisky on his breath, or maybe it’s my own soured lungs from last night’s red wine. Various other members of my dead wife pester me with their empty condolences, all looking like miserable sods. I could see where my pitiable old cow had got it from. Not one of my family had bothered to come, it curdled my belly to think about how they ignored my existence.

While the vicar whined on about love and eternal something or other, I had to hold my hands tight together to stop them shaking. I wish the pompous idiot would get it over with, I needed a drink badly.

After mumbling through the last hymn, I was ready to watch the box slide through the red velvet curtains, then go and drink to the passing of my old bitch Janice, and to the fact the police no longer seemed interested in the events of that night.

As the hymn came to an end and before the vicar could continue, the doors at the back of the crematorium swung open and a man in a weird turquoise uniform escorted in a skinny girl. She was dressed all in black, lost in an oversize jumper, with wild uncared for and bedraggled black hair.

I recognized the little brat, from our two prior meetings at the mental institution that Janice had dragged me too. We went to visit her insane Goth daughter, who was coming towards me down the aisle. I remembered the black lipstick and the overkill mascara and those eyes, all too well. They were black and deep like circular voids to hell and as I looked into them this time, I did not see the contempt and distaste, that she’d looked at me with in the mad house, now they burned with hatred.

As I stood there, she walked up to me and threw her arms around me in a fierce embrace of commiseration, but the words she whispered into my ear were full of a cold malice, that made my spine freeze

“You cannot hide, but you will see my mother’s face in every place you turn, you cannot run far enough, that she will not find you. You shall pay for my mother’s murder at the cold dead hands of your victim.”

I tried to pull out of her embrace, but the grip of her bony body was as tight as an iron binding and I couldn’t struggle out. It felt like being enfolded in a skeletons clasp.

How could she know about what had happened last Saturday night, she couldn’t know that I’d pushed her drunken sow of a mother down the stairs. She’d got what she deserved though, that bitch had been out with her slut friend Trisha in town, all dressed up like a slag. She knew what she’d get, when she came home all smarmy and yelled at me.

 ‘Get stuffed, I’ll do what I want. I’m not living like you want me too anymore.’ She’d shouted.

The police had been suspicious because of our history together, the multiple trips to the hospital and neighbours calls to the police when she’d made me angry. But because she’d been drinking before she came home and there were no blows to her face or body, they were disinterested. She had just broken her neck in an unfortunate accident.

I attempted to mollify her mad daughter, she was probably just angry, she couldn’t possibly know the truth. I was disturbed and fearful of the promise of murder that shone in her black within black eyes.

“It was an accident.” I sputtered “There was nothing I could do.” I said in an unattractively high-pitched complaint and cringed at my whiny voice.

She released me and stood back. She said nothing, but her black within black eyes said ‘liar’. She turned away and went to sit at the back of the church, radiating malevolence.

I watched Janice slide through the velvet curtain and I couldn’t stop my hands from shaking, though now it was from anxiety, my stomach contents seemed to be reaching up my throat. When the service ended, I looked back and to my relief Janice’s crazy daughter had already left.

After making the right noises at the crematorium, I stopped in at the wake and managed to get several free drinks, that only cost me the time to listen to long stories of Janice as a child or young woman and the same endless empty condolences, repeated until my teeth hurt. Eventually, despite the free drinks, I made my excuses and set off for the local supermarket for a bottle of whisky to settle in and rejoice at home with.

My alcohol infused cheeks felt warm in the cold afternoon air as I walked and I arrived in the booze aisle of the shop, feeling quite merry. I picked out my favourite bourbon. I thought why not, it’s a celebration of my new freedom and the fact Janice’s life insurance would surely pay out soon. I lifted the bottle of Jack Daniels off the shelf and relished its promising fresh weight in my hand, then looked up.

Ice ran through my veins and constricted my chest with a clamp around my heart. The bottle I held fell from my nerveless hands to smash unnoticed before me.  I saw Janice standing twenty yards away from me, motionless at the end of the line of bottles. She was naked, her skin waxen white and her head was canted at a perverse angle. She couldn’t look any deader. Her mouth was working slowly as if she was trying to speak. I heard ‘get stuffed Callum’ spat out in a voice full of congested phlegm, and I fled.

I ran until I was breathless and I was carrying a stich that had developed in my side, my liquid swollen belly ached and I slowed to a laboured walk. I kept looking back, but saw no other nightmare apparitions appear and I began to relax and feel stupid about my idiot mind playing tricks. I was a bit drunk and stressed about the day’s activities I thought. I needed to relax and unwind. So, when I reached the corner shop I bought another bottle, then set off to my house around the next corner and down the street.

I stopped outside my front door, put my shopping down and fumbled out my front door key. I was trying to jam it in the lock when I heard a voice that sent an ice shock through my chest.

Callum, Callum? where are my clothes you shit?” the congested voice said behind me.

My hair seemed to stand on end and my bladder ached painfully I glanced behind me down the steps. Janice stood there, her flesh pasty white in the drab light. A bone jutted out of the skin of her tilted neck, it glistened wetly out of the wound.

I tried to force myself through the door in front of me, until I finally remembered to turn the door key. As the door opened on me, I fell through onto the floor and scrambled onto my back. Before I could slam the door shut with my feet, I saw Janice’s angled head appear, wobbling as she walked up the steps.

Callum…Callum…CAALLLLLUMMMM!” Janice’s voice rose as she shouted my name, until it became an unnatural mumbled scream, that chilled my mind and seemed to vibrate in my ears. The banshee scream cut off as I slammed shut the door. I lay on the floor panting, my heart beating out of my chest and my scalp prickling. No further sounds came from beyond the door.

Eventually I stood and put my ear to the door and listened. The only sound I heard was the sound of a passing car, with my heart beating fast again I snatched open the door. There was nothing there waiting for me. I grabbed my bottle of Jack Daniels off the step and slammed the door shut behind me. I ripped the plastic off the bottle top and twisted the cap open. I took a long glug, I had a desperate need to fill the hole of fear and shock that had opened in me. I wanted the alcohol to wash away the ghost that had risen in my mind.

I vaguely remembered falling fully dressed into bed last night, but the light that was filtering redly through my eyelids told me that it was the next day. I kept my eyes shut to escape the light and my aching forehead grumbled at the movement as I shifted to turn over away from it.

Wake up Callum, wake up. Why can’t you ever get up in the morning? You never do anything around this house.”

My eyes snapped open with shock and almost face to face with me was Janice’s corpse. Her features looked to have sagged under the weight of her decaying skin and putrefying flesh, her eyes were yellowed and glazed with deathly cataracts. Her face hanging at an angle from the protruding and shattered bones of her neck.

How about a kiss my love?”

Janice opened her lips to speak, exposing the source of her voices congestion. Maggots spilled out, as they swarmed in the cavity of her mouth, feeding on the juicy morsel of her tongue.

My brain screamed as she dangled her head towards me and in visceral revulsion I threw myself away. She grabbed my arm to hold me back and the ice cold of her grip, was hot agony on my skin. I tore myself away and ran from the room, shutting the bedroom door behind me with a slam, stumbling downstairs as visceral fright drove me on. I had to cling on to the bottom banister as my stomach revolted and the alcoholic remnants, bitter gall and a cold pie I’d eaten last night splashed on the hallway carpet. I looked at my arm which was stinging, it was livid red and looked as if it had been scalded.

I heard the door opening upstairs and despite my shaking limbs and the bitter liquid in my mouth, I grabbed my jacket off the rail in the hallway with my car keys in and threw it on over the T-shirt I’d been wearing last night and the jeans I’d been too drunk to take off. I grabbed my trainers off the shoe rack and ran for the front door.

Callum? Where are you going Callum? Don’t you want to go to bed with me?”

My stomach churned again, as her parody of sexual invitation slurped and gargled in her maggot filled mouth. My stomach felt hollow with empty desperation.

The only place I could think to run to was my brother, he wouldn’t welcome me, but he would still give me harbour up north until this nightmare had gone away. It had to go away, that bitch wasn’t haunting me if she couldn’t find me.

“You cannot hide, but you will see my mother’s face in every place you turn, you cannot run far enough that she will not find you.”

I heard her crazy daughters warning in my head. Had she drugged me somehow? That was it. When she had grabbed hold of me, the mental little cow had stuck me with a needle and some sort of hallucinogenic drug. I drove out of town and I started feeling comforted that I had solved the insanity of the last twenty-four hours. I stopped at a motorway services and bought food, coffee and water for the rest of the journey. Deciding to avoid the cases of larger on offer. My big brother wouldn’t like me turning up, half cut with an arsenal of larger in front of his little kids, not after the last time I had got drunk at their house.

I sat in the car and nursed my coffee while I ate a slightly plastic tasting egg and sausage sandwich, but was feeling much better about the scares of this morning. I started dreaming in my head what to do about Janice’s malicious little brat. Maybe I should go to the police, if the drug was still in my system. But now the effects had worn off I was sure I wouldn’t get anywhere.

I restarted my onward journey, beginning to wonder If I might not be wasting my time with this trip and putting myself through an unpleasant reunion with my brother. I was coming to the Humber Bridge and a mist was floating on the road ahead, I began to think it might be a sign as I chewed over the necessity of going to my brothers at all. Maybe a night in a hotel would be plenty to escape the drug’s effects.

The bridge seemed quiet, which was unsurprising for mid-afternoon on a Tuesday, the mist made the end of the bridge and opposite side of the river invisible. As I passed beneath one the suspension bridges standing column’s and looked up at the construction above and the thick wires that supported the bridge stretching away into grey nothingness, I belatedly caught shadows in the road ahead. I slammed on the brakes and swerved erratically around the figures lurking in the mist, I managed to just miss a man dressed in old dangling rags, I caught a glimpse of his face, which was hanging in the same sort of tatters of flesh.

I couldn’t control my forward motion and swerved with a jarring impact that smashed my face into the steering wheel, as I caromed into the concrete wall at the edge of the bridge.

For an unknown amount of time I lay with my head ringing against the steering wheel, feeling blood dripping hotly from my nose. Eventually I managed to force myself to sit up.

The mist was still swirling outside the windows, the world disappearing and being recreated as I watched. When I looked to my right, I saw the shadows of figures moving towards me and dread filled my chest. With my head pounding I forced the door open and almost fell out as it opened. Checking the figures were still distant I pushed myself out and round to the other side of the car. Then froze when I saw more people in the mist approaching me from that direction. I fell back against the car, I had nowhere to go. The first person was being revealed from the mist, it was Janice who was walking towards me, her head tilted like an expectant dog, her skin sagging with the weight of her rotting innards. Along with her, came other figures of dead peope, in every manner of rot and decay, an ever-increasing number of shambling corpses followed with her, grinning skulls with scraps of flesh and gaping eye sockets, all accompanied by a high-pitched wailing which I realized was coming from my hurting chest.

Janice was upon me and she grabbed my head in her cold hands, that burned my flesh where she gripped me. I screamed in pain and she pressed her maggot filled lips against my open mouth, setting fire to my face.

I opened my eyes as the agony filled me, more of the dead reached their hands out to grab for my skin and it seemed like I had been set alight.

In my blurred vision, I could see Janice’s mad daughter in the dead’s midst, her black within black eyes capture mine, sucking me into the void of their glare.

“The dead have come to claim their own” The girls voice echoes in my mind.

Janice releases me from her deathly kiss and I stumble away to the wall, my mind broken and numb as the fire of my scalded body drives all thought from my head, apart from escape.  I reach the wall and fling myself out into the mist. The cold air seems to cool me as I fall and despite my plunge to the water below probably meaning my death, I feet relief.

I keep falling and falling, getting colder and colder until it seems my body had become encased in ice. I land with a thump, that threatens to smash my ice ridden limbs. I feel nothing now though, no sensations in my body or on my skin. I look in front of me to find myself back on the bridge I Had leapt from. The figures of the dead stand around me, but they are no longer interested in me. All stand and wait on the mad daughter’s pleasure and she is standing by the car that I had crashed in looking down and then back at me with burning night eyes. On the road by the smashed car, I could see the body of a man. She reached down and turned his face towards me and I realized, it was me. I hadn’t survived to leap from the bridge. I looked up into her face and she gave a hooked sneer of malevolence and called me and the rest of the dead, back into the void behind her black within black eyes.

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Members Musings June 2017


By Val Jones

ValA funny thing happened this week which I would like to share with you – a seagull crashed landed in our garden. You might not think that was funny but it was raining cats and dogs at the time and my brave cat ran as though her life depended on it straight in the house and hide behind my chair.

When the weather had abated a bit, my brave hubby sallied forth to deal with the situation. It turned out that the poor thing was wrapped in fishing line. Lola (the cat) will usually take on anything which lands in our garden, but I think that she found a fully grown herring gull a bit above her pay grade as household cat.

My hubby emerged from the garden soaking wet with a bedraggled gull held at arm’s length and not in a very good mood (both the hubby and the gull had battle scars). The gull was deposited in the greenhouse with food, and I was told abruptly to phone the RSPB. By this time it was well into the evening.

Did you know we don’t have a branch of RSPB on the island?  I had to phone the out of hours one in Hampshire. They were very helpful and took the details and then they dropped the bombshell and said they could not come out that evening as it was not a life threatening emergency.  They would pass it on to RSPCA in Rookley who would attend the following morning.

This left us with an irate lodger trying to peck his way out of the greenhouse, a cat scared to death and an unhappy hubby nursing his cuts and bruises. What an evening!

The following morning, a man from the RSPCA arrived at our door.  He expected to find a dead bird – but no – our guest was alive and in a very bad mood. You think that he would grateful for a free nights B&B!

Because the fishing line was severely cutting off the blood supply to both legs, he was obliged to remove it while still here.   I take my hat off to him, that bird put up one hell of a fight! But eventually he cut the last piece off. So the RSPCA man decided that the gull needed a check-up (good luck with that) and duly took him to Rookley.

This is where I get on my high horse. How can people be so thoughtless as to leave fishing lines just lying about? Many birds and animals become wrapped in it and die as a result. Our wildlife is precious to this island and we should try and preserve as much of it as possible.  That’s it! Rant over! Well now, I feel a lot better.

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Members Musings May 2017


By Karen Haverson

We are all guilty of the busy excuse; I say it all the time.  I must text the word busy as many times as I text apologies to friends and family for not meeting up with them earlier teamed with belated Birthday/ Christmas greetings and promises to organise a day out soon.  And I run everywhere, not out of choice I hasten to add but simply to claw back some of the time I’m usually running late by.  You see the reason I’m always rushing or running late or stressed in a seemingly disorganised state most days of the week is that I have a large family.  Five children and a significant other (man I very much love but run round after) in total.  I have four children still at home on a full time basis.  Currently I have two children at Primary School, one at High School, One at Sixth Form and my eldest is currently studying Engineering at Uni.  This is a typical day for me.

5:45am Alarm sounds, I jump out of bed swearing to switch it off allowing myself until 6am as I have managed to iron some of the clothes for the day the previous evening.  I lull myself into this false sense of security that two hours and fifteen minutes is indeed enough time to get ready and leave the house by, I close my eyes and …

6.00am Alarm Sounds, this time my partner (significant other) swears and asks me as he does every other morning why I need two alarms to wake me up fifteen minutes apart.  I inform him that I prefer it that way then I can trick myself into believing that I’ve had a lie in!  I groan and switch it off whilst fighting off the hoard of cats that I’ve collected since becoming a parent as its simply not enough to stretch yourself to the limit with a houseful of children but it is essential to surround yourself with at least four needy attention seeking cats who wish to live under every step that you take!  I relent and force myself out of bed continuing to river dance down to the back door to shovel kitten kibble into their bowls but not before I have put the plug in the bath and set the hot tap running.

6.04am I tackle the laundry, folding and piling clean clothes into the individual baskets dedicated to each child, and another pile for me to iron for the day.  Mondays is swimming lessons and so that bag needs packing.  Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays is football and various other sports related clubs so this needs washing and packing into another rucksack. Thursdays is Cubs, a whole other source of frustration as they change the night and/or times last minute and somehow never manage to let me know!  I load the laundry from the washing machine into the tumble dryer for the first of sometimes five that day and reload the washing machine.  I live in hope that one day soon I might actually see what the bottom of the laundry basket looks like!

6.25am I suddenly remember that the bath is still running and dash back along the hallway narrowing missing more cats before catching the bath at near brimming point.  More quiet swearing ensues as I allow the overflow pipe to take care of the excess and I dash through to the kitchen to make a start on lunchboxes.  Lunchboxes are one of my least favourite jobs.  I hate them.  With all the five a day healthy eating and nut ban it’s a complete minefield.  Don’t get me wrong I completely understand it must be awful for any parent or child who is affected by nut allergy, it’s a very serious concern with sometimes fatal consequences and this shouldn’t be ignored but I blame the supermarket packaging.  I ask you, I picked up a seemingly harmless looking, low sugar and salt biscuit alternative the other day and turned the pack over to be informed that it “may contain nuts” and that’s not all, I picked up another only to be informed that it was “made in a factory that also makes other products containing nuts.”  Seriously I do not want to be the one who sends their kids in with the “Nut Grenade” and has their child and its lunch diffused by the food police aka lunchtime monitors (the politically correct name for the more commonly known archetypal Dinner Lady!)  Anyway I make the sandwiches and add the various other items along with the accepted and expected piece of fruit that makes it way out and then returns every day for almost the week until it becomes squidgy and is chucked away but I’ve done my duty and made sure at least one of their five a day is present!

6.35am Oh No!  Litter tray has been utilised and the almost a teenage son is sauntering past it commentating with every possible rude toilet expression he can summon whilst chuckling to himself as this age group cannot resist when it comes to bodily functions!  I thank him as I do most mornings not to be quite so disgusting and asked him how he would like it if I were to make such comments when he came out of the loo.  His reply was just more chuckling; he wanders towards the direction of the telly to watch an episode of Spongebob Square Pants for the hundredth time.

6.45am After cleaning the offending litter tray and washing my hands I go in search of clean towels for the bath and make the mistake of passing my bedroom door whereupon his Lordship (significant other) as I refer to him when I’m trying not to call him a nasty name in front of the children is sat up in bed watching the news.  “Karen, can you get me some breakfast please” He asks in his sweetest voice, I’m all ready to retrieve the contents of the litter tray to serve him whilst he lavishes in bed simultaneously watching the news and scrolling on facebook!  I take the opportunity to turn on my laptop as I must check the Homework App again and the dreaded emails.  Ingenious that now I can check my entire son’s homework with a log in on the internet but alas another thing to remember as well as checking all the newsletters from all the relevant schools to make sure it’s not mufti day today!

6.50am I gather the clothes for the day and switch on the iron whilst begging almost teenage son to find himself some clean underwear and eat his breakfast without slurping and finally belching as loud as he can.  He rewards me by congratulating himself on the loudest yet!  I firmly reiterate the disgusting nature of his behaviour and insist he finds his clean underwear immediately.

7.05am I am still ironing and more of my cherished offspring are awake.  My already teenage daughter has her first meltdown of the morning because her white jeans aren’t clean.  Aaarrrggghh I calmly invite her to take some responsibility for the washing herself but my comments only seem to light a fire under her already irritated state and so I choose to make a very parent choice and “pick my battles wisely.”  This is Mummy language for a total shocking cop out and is a choice motivated solely by fear!  Anyone with a teenage daughter will know that she is either building up to, during or getting over her monthly cycle and there is no good time to tackle a difficult moment because they are all mostly difficult and unavoidably it will blow up in your face spectacularly!

7.15am Ironing for the day is complete and another bed headed sleepy child has emerged demanding weetabix with milk!  Our youngest child is just five and started school last September.  Being my fifth child I thought I had this education thing licked and couldn’t wait for him to be bringing home his first reading books from school with the same word on every page.  This was until last month when he started bring home a homework book on Mondays that is to be completed by Friday each week.  Every week we get tasks such as “read these words with your child and then stick them into the book on the learning wall when your child is secure in reading them.”  We had a whole sandwich bag full of words!  Our son has come home and told us that the other boy in his class has learnt them all and so we have to stick in all the words too.  Except that our son is not secure in reading them, he is still sounding out his words “Cer Aaah Ter errrrrm I know Mummy Tock!”  The other day I mislaid the words and was still swearing and cursing the other clever reader child and his smug mother at nine o’ clock the other evening until I found them in his bag wedged in his oversized library book all about the in and outs of the Millennium Falcon!

7.25am Weetabix prepared with milk and another child emerges and manages to be in the way of Teenage Daughter still swearing under her breath, I know she is, and manages to step on the toe of newly emerged sleepyhead who then makes Oscar worthy performance due to the pain of his swashed toe.  Teenage Daughter leaden with bags of cosmetics and deodorant and hopefully coursework hastily apologises whilst she flies out of front door claiming she is late for the bus and they all should get out of her way!  As she slams front door and other son is still wincing and complaining I sigh.

7.40am I have lost fifteen minutes somewhere and I cannot find them much to my distress as I’ve not yet got into the bath and almost teenage son has decided to try to engage me in a conversation about a video on Youtube that his friend showed him all about Coconuts.  He still isn’t in anyway dressed and has forgotten to find clean underwear; I am concerned over the content of said video and ask him to show me.  Fortunately it is just a harmless random video all about coconuts and I am left wondering who on Earth has the time to spend making these mindless videos complete with theme song all about coconuts and the morons didn’t even check the spelling of the word coconuts before they made the video live spelling it with a “K”.  I am bemused.

7.50am I am coaxing my youngest three children to get their clothes on and clean their teeth if they’ve finished their breakfast.

7.59am Weetabix with milk is finished but youngest child has informed me that he has spilt a bit on the floor and one of the cats is now helping himself.  I try and tackle the task of getting him into his school uniform.  I have a set of underwear for him that sports a different day of the week.  This was a big mistake because now I am dashing round the house trying to track the correct pair of pants as he has worked out that today’s pants should have a picture of a fire engine on them.  I am still very aware that I have not yet got into the bath.

8.05am My youngest child is now dressed in correct underwear and full uniform and is sat watching the news with his father in bed whilst I run the cold tap in the bath.  I remember that I still need a towel having been distracted earlier and dash off whilst the tap runs unchecked for the second time this morning.

8.07am I plunge into the bath and start washing my hair at record breaking speed whilst now barking one word commands at the children still bumbling about in various states of undress.  “Shoes, Coats, Homework, PE Kit!”

8.10am Shivering in a towel, looking like Alice Cooper sporting yesterdays mascara smudged around my eyes I hastily apply the cleanse, tone and moisturising routine.  It looks so refreshing and glamorous on TV but I am against the clock now very aware of the fact that almost teenage son has to catch his bus at 8.25am and I still need to drive him out of Narnia where we live to his pick up point.

8.15am “Pack your bags into the car, please come here so I can fix your tie” I have the hairdryer blasting in one hand whilst helping my youngest son to get his shoes on.  My other children are oblivious to what I have asked and are still checking out the internet for other videos about coconuts!

8.18am With fresh Mascara in hand and wiggling my feet into a pair of shoes I check the mirror to see if they match my outfit when almost teenage son stumbles in claiming that he has forgotten to make the invention he created in his lesson last week.  I sigh loudly and ask him as calmly as I can whilst grabbing my coat and leading him to the front door simultaneously checking the windows are shut and the straighteners have been switched off in teenage daughter’s room, turning lights off as I go.  Almost teenage son informs me that he invented an electric Taser pen to help combat bullying and he had to mock up a prototype of it for today.  I pass my laptop inwardly groaning that I should have checked the Homework App earlier.  He has a pen in his hand and fortunately at the last second finds a hairclip and a roll of electric tape to construct his invention in the car.

8.20am The car is sailing up the road packed with children, homework and various sports kits as I pass all the neighbours bins neatly wheeled to the kerb and shake my head that it will be another month before the already putrid black bins will be removed, I must write myself a note for next week’s recycling!

8.25am Almost teenage son has been successfully dropped with his newly fashioned Taser pen at the bus stop just as the school bus is emerging, a small but very valid triumph for me and I cheer much to the bemusement of my remaining children.  I turn up the radio and sing like only mothers do to Tiffany; “I think we’re alone now” as ironic as this sounds.

8.40am Park up at the school, the nearest parking space at this time in the morning is miles away and so upon vaguely hearing the bell ringing in the playground I jump out of the car, unload the two youngest children with all relevant equipment for the day and start to trot with them towards the school gate.  My youngest son is intrigued by the recently cut grass on the verges and kicks this at his brother on his way.  My other son is annoyed with my younger son and so grabs him and tells him in no uncertain terms to stop it.  I intervene pulling them apart whilst still jogging towards the school gate aware that it will be shut any minute and I will have to do the walk of shame around to the office where I will be asked to explain to a rather aggressive Rottweiler in a skirt who has never been late for anything why it is that I am late.

8.50am With the two youngest safely deployed to their classes just before the gate is closed I am back in the car and on my way to a mummies gathering that I have been invited to.  This is one of the major perks to being a mummy with children of school age, your social circle widens and occasionally you are invited to go along and indulge in cake with a hot mug of tea and a catch up with other women who share your pain.

10am Time to leave the mummy gathering as the conversation has progressed to swopping birth stories and other fanny anecdotes.

10.10am On the way to the supermarket to purchase more of the five a day goodies and nut free offerings that may be on the BOGOF deals of the week.  Also to find interesting and new ideas to cook for tea, they will of course only be met with “I don’t like that” by my children.

11.50am Finally back on the drive to unload the shopping and not quite sure how I managed to spend so much time doing it but now for the task of getting it to fit in the fridge and freezer.

12.25pm Sat in the front room with another cup of tea politely ignoring the ironing board as it nags me to get ahead of myself for tomorrows onslaught.  I also notice the dust on the telly and the Lego scattered on the floor.  A list starts to form in my mind as I remember that it’s another family birthday tomorrow and I’ve forgotten to buy a card or present for the proceedings.  I hastily write a list down and remember that I’ve still not checked my emails.  With that the door bell goes and as I open it I see my rather tasty window cleaner is standing there, “I’m doing your area today shall I make a start?”  He has no idea!

As I retreat from the door I suddenly remember in horror the complete devastation left after this morning’s school run.  We live in a bungalow and so it’s now a race against time to get each room clean before he cleans that window.  Fortunately he starts with the front room and I resign to the fact that he couldn’t possibly see the dust on the telly from the window so I dash into the dining room.  The sewing machine is out and the off cuts of fabric left over from my daughters latest sewing project are piled high on the table, the sun is shining through the window and one of the many cats is lounging on top of it all turning to look at me as he stretches and yawns.  He has a rude awakening as I hastily shoo him off and launch the fabric mess into the bin in the kitchen.  The sink is piled with breakfast dishes stuck fast with Weetabix!  I rush on to the boy’s room rushing to make beds tidy and place their colossal pile of teddies neatly on them.  I open the wardrobe and hoof the pile of recent dress up outfits’ strewn over the floor from a previous playing session into the abyss along with anything else littering the floor.  After jamming the door shut I rush into my room grateful I got there before him to remove the dirty washing left on the floor by his Lordships side of the bed, tugging the duvet over the bed and smoothing it just as I hear him clatter round with his bucket and squeegee.

I open the door to teenage daughter’s room; it looks like a crime scene!  I resolve to tiptoe carefully across the ransacked space only to shut the curtains of this room, it cannot be rescued so quickly!

On to the kitchen now to empty the sink and fill it with fresh water in the hope of at least submerging the concreted Weetabix bowls, I leave the tap to run over the ample squirt of Fairy liquid.  I grab the recycling and whisk it out to the green bins.  On my way back in the house I dive down to the utility room to swap the washing. I spot the cat bowls with more kibble on the floor now than in the bowls and swoop for the hoover to remedy this.

1.05pm Suddenly remember tap is running and dash back to kitchen only to be greeted with puddle forming on the floor and the window cleaner pointing through the window stating the obvious as I make polite smile and try not to swear.

1.20pm Window cleaner is paid and on his way still chuckling at my expense, washing up still not achieved and Weetabix still firmly attached.  I am rescued by a nice lady from a Cancer charity who has called on the phone to see if I will be holding another coffee morning this September, it’s only April.

1.50pm Phone rings again but this time it’s my youngest son’s teacher just to inform me that my son has been a bit silly with one of the other boys in the toilets and now he is dressed in his PE Shorts as the other boy had weed on him.  I am not really sure what to say except to reassure her that I would talk to him about his behaviour when he got home.  I wonder how he came to become weed on but this train of thought will get me nowhere!

2.10pm I remember whilst polishing the dust from the telly that has annoyed me so much that I’ve forgotten to have lunch.  I will do it in a minute after I’ve checked those emails.

2.30pm Managed to iron clothes for tomorrow, this is a major break though and should be celebrated with a cup of tea.

2.35pm Kettle is on and a couple of bits of toast to inhale before the school run.

2.45pm Back in the car to pick the two youngest up from school.

3pm I’ve managed to bump into the mother of the child who has weed on mine earlier and managed an embarrassed smile as I collect my youngest donned in a full winter coat and a pair of shorts sporting his skinny pale legs black socks and shoes; he looks like he lives in a shopping trolley under a bridge somewhere especially since he now sports what looks like a large yoghurt stain down his jumper. My older son eyes him suspiciously and asks me why he is in his shorts.  I begin to reply when my youngest son announces to the entire playground that he got weed on today.  I escape by the quickest route.

3.15pm we park in town to purchase the present and card I had forgotten earlier.  We are in hurry and so rush into the local card shop only to see the most obvious transvestite stood looking at the card display.  I snatch a look at the boys to see if they had noticed and both were eyes wide and mouth agape.  I could hear my older son’s mind ticking over as he was about to ask the most awkward question whilst this poor person was in ear shot and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to answer it without dying of shame, not to mention the person whom the question would be about.  I just knew as my younger son’s face broke into a cheeky grin that I needed to leave quickly to bat the questions in a more controlled place.  Without thinking and as if in slow motion I swooped down and grasped their hands in each of mine and informed them that we must get some sweets and as I rose again I managed to knock a card stand sending it sailing towards the floor I grab it with master precision and leave before any further issue much to the stares of the counter staff.

4.20pm With present purchased and a promise to make a card with the boys we are driving to pick up almost teenage son from the bus stop.  As he jumps in the car both younger boys chime “We saw a man dressed like a lady!” and they fell about laughing.

5pm Swimming lessons.

6pm Home again to start making tea.

6.30pm I suddenly remember that it’s the Easter Garden on a Plate competition for the Primary school and all entries must be entered tomorrow.

7pm Tea is served, teenage daughter is scrolling on phone whilst my two younger boys are colouring in paper plates in preparation for sticking on fluffy chicks and almost teenage son is completing some homework that I finally managed to print off the App.

7.05pm Eldest son video calls to catch up with the family whilst we are shovelling our tea down.  The bath is running again, the washing machine is spinning and the tumble dryer still going strong whilst the washing up is still soaking in the sink.

7.30pm Two boys are in the bath, water all over the floor.  Teenage daughter is still laughing as the boys regale their eldest brother with the story of the Man dressed as a lady and that the youngest got weed on.  Eldest son shares his news of the week, another great grade on his coursework and he has been to work the past two evenings at the pizza place.  He then proceeds to tell us how one of the lads who lives on his floor in halls has gotten into the habit of washing his face in my son’s sink whenever he comes into the room, my son thinks this is most odd behaviour and explains how uncomfortable he finds it but his face suddenly forms a grin much like my youngest son had earlier when he tells us that he then dries his face on my son’s towel.  My son tells us that the funniest thing is all he can think of is “I wiped my arse dry on that towel this morning!”

8pm The boys are all in their pyjamas and are getting into bed.  My Daughter has now hijacked the bathroom and we have all bid my eldest son a good night.  I read them a story and turn out the light.

Washing up and laundry is a work in progress and more ironing must occur either this evening or in the morning.  I reflect on the day and the job that I’ve done, I’m not always perfect but I love them all. One day they will all be grown with families of their own and if I am very fortunate I will still be a good part of their lives and hopefully they will look back on their childhood with fond memories and their children will give them as challenging a time as I have with them!

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