The Late Kids

 

I was once at a customer’s house and he was discussing his young grandaughter’s first couple of weeks at school. He wasn’t a fan of her headmistress and complained,

“She stands in front of the school once the bell goes in the morning and tells the late parents they must make more effort to be on time, can you believe that?!”

My response,

“Yes I can believe that, your daughter is obviously a very selfish person and it sounds as though she has been late on a number of occasions already within the first two weeks for you to know that this is something the headmistress does every day. Does she think it’s a good thing that she’s teaching her child that it doesn’t matter about being on time and that everybody will just wait for you because the whole world revolves around her. Does your daughter care in any way that somebody has to take time out of their day to take your grandaughter to her classroom, where her teacher has to stop what she’s doing with the twenty nine other children just to accommodate your grandaughter and her selfish mother?”

Well that’s not quite true, he was after all a customer and I was trying to secure payment from him for services rendered. I believe my true cowardly response was something along the lines of,

“No, that’s terrible”.

There is one child in my older son’s class whose mother doesn’t have time (can’t be arsed) to feed him in the mornings. So she stops at the bakery opposite the school and buys him a sausage roll which makes him ten minutes late every day. He then spends the first twenty minutes of school wandering round the classroom eating and dropping said sausage roll all over the place. The other children aren’t allowed to eat in the classroom and this child can’t possibly start work until he’s finished his sausage roll so everyone ends up disrupted. The child is behind in terms of learning and is well known as a child who frequently misbehaves in the classroom. I’m not qualified to suggest there’s any link.

Now, I appreciate that getting children ready for school in the mornings is a nightmare and there are going to be some mornings where there are catastrophic failures in the process, so I am not talking about parents who are occasionally late with their children. I am, however, talking about mums who are late at least four out of every five days, week in week out.

There’s one mum at our boy’s school who is on time perhaps one day every two months and lives a one minute walk from the school.

The link between all of the mums at least is that they are immaculate, hair like they’ve just stepped out of the salon, make up that could have been done by Estée Lauder herself and smelling like they work behind the perfume counter at Boots. We’re not talking usual effort for a day at the office either, we are talking an effort that most women would only make if they were going to a black tie do or out to the races. Surely some of that preening time could be used to help your very small child to get ready in the mornings or is that too obvious?

Is it just me who this bothers. Does anyone give a toss about being on time anymore?

Death by Calpol

“Do you think if I was going to kill myself I’d use Calpol?”

I loathe pointless unenforceable bureaucracy!
So we’re all ill, I go to Tesco and buy Benylin for the missus, Benylin for me and Calpol for the kids.  Go to the till with some other shopping, cashier putting it through when she suddenly stops.

“I can’t sell you this” pointing to the Calpol.
“You what?”
“It’s your third product containing paracetamol, it’s a suicide risk”.
“You what?”
“The till has stopped me selling you the Calpol because you already have two other paracetamol products.  It’s to protect you”.
“From Calpol?”
“Yes”.
“Do you think if I was going to kill myself I’d use Calpol?”
“…..”
“Don’t you think I’d die from sugar overdose before the paracetamol killed me?”
“Nothing I can do sir, the till won’t let me”.
“OK, put it to one side and put it through in the next transaction”.
“I can’t do that”.
“I guarantee that would work”.
“I can’t”.
Person in the queue behind me, “Give it to me I’ll get it in my shopping and he can give me the money”.
Cashier, “That’s not allowed, he’s still getting three paracetamol products”.
Me, “With which I’m going to top myself?”
“Yes”.
“OK, give it back to me I’ll get it at the next till”.
“I can’t do that”.
“OK, give it back to me I’ll put it back on the shelf for you”.
She bizarrely gives it back…
“I’m now going to buy it on the till next to you”,
“You can’t do that”.
“Watch me”.

I know it’s not the cashier’s fault and that she’s just enforcing the ‘rules’ but seriously?!  Even if I did want to kill myself with Calpol what on earth has Tesco got to do with it?    Also, the two pack rule applies regardless of the amount in the packet.  You can actually buy own brand paracetamol in Tesco in packs of 90.  You are allowed to buy two of these which gives you 180 pills.  If you bought them in 16s they’d stop you at 32.  If you really did want to kill yourself in a hurry and only had enough time to complete one transaction then there is a way!

Lads Weekends for Fathers

One of my best mates has just invited me on a lads weekend away. To be specific he’s asked if I want to fly out to Spain on a Friday afternoon and come back Sunday. I’m struggling with a few things. Is it appropriate for me to go, is it something I really want to do anyway?!

Let me put some context round it. As I said one person is one of my best friends from school and an ex business partner, so I know him very well. He isn’t single, lives with his girlfriend but he has no kids, has no intention of having kids and I’m not sure if he even likes kids? Three of the other people going are people who I would say I’m friends with, we get on well and I invited them to my birthday party in the summer but I can honestly say that I’ve never rung any of them or even been out with any of them individually. I like them but they are not what you would call, my mates. The last person going out I have never heard of or met.

We’re going out to see another bloke who runs a bar in southern Spain and the plan is to stay in his flat. The five people mentioned above are all close mates with him, I am not. I don’t dislike the guy but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t like me. I’m not sure of the reason, I’ve never really been bothered enough to find out. We’re very courteous when we see each other don’t get me wrong, but there is a weird vibe.

The other thing to be aware of is that my wife has given the green light! That could be the most worrying thing of all! As blokes we all know that when a woman says, “Go ahead…” it’s definitely not giving you permission, it’s half a dare and half wanting to see you make the right decision. It’s the classic giving you enough rope to hang yourself situation.

I didn’t beg or try to persuade her, she just told me to go ahead straight away. If you beg to go and she eventually says, “OK” then you are in even more trouble my friend. If she appears to have given in at the end of a long row/discussion by saying “OK” then that means that if you should choose to take that path, then she will be thinking long and hard about how you can pay for it afterwards. Thankfully that’s not the situation here.

To be fair she has said that because I spend so much of my time at home looking after the kids then I should go out and enjoy myself, so in this case I think I do have permission. With the caveat of course that if I do go then it can be thrown in my face in any argument in the future regardless.

When I’m talking about appropriateness I’m lucky enough to not be talking about money. We can afford for me to go and it’s not going to eat into kids/family budgets. Besides at this time of year the flights are only £80 and I’m not going to be paying for accommodation so it’s hardly a trip to Vegas.

Yes it would seem that I am going away and enjoying myself whilst she looks after the kids all weekend after a full week at work, but this opportunity has come up for her before and she has turned it down. I have given the green light when the opportunities have arisen for her and I was completely genuine about it. Her friends with kids have gone away multiple times but she has always said no. She says she works all week and doesn’t see enough of the kids as it is, that’s fair enough, she works far longer hours than any of her friends, all of whom would probably be considered the primary carers in their family lives.

Should I consider leaving my family at all for frivolous reasons, even just for two nights? Well yes quite frankly. That’s not a consideration, having kids is a massive responsibility and number one priority but life is for enjoying for everyone, if you don’t get a break from the norm you go crazy.

If this was a stag do then there wouldn’t be any thought going into it. I’d be there no matter where it was. Stag dos are sacrosanct, we both know that, but unfortunately at our age stag dos and hen dos are few and far between.

If it was just a couple of nights away in the UK it probably wouldn’t be a discussion either. For example if we were going up to Manchester to see a band or watch the cricket then I would be there like a shot. Moneywise it would probably be more expensive considering how much it costs to travel by train in this country.

My last consideration is can I be bothered. It isn’t a special occasion, it isn’t a group of my close friends going. To be honest I think the answer is no, I really can’t be arsed anyway!

Romanesco Cauliflower and Carrots

One of my favourite vegetables has just appeared in Tesco! I first came across a Romanesco Cauliflower when it was delivered in a box from one of those organic vegetable companies and if truth be told when I first laid eyes on it I had no idea what it was! When I heard the name I wasn’t massively excited. I mean cauliflower, hardly the most dynamic of vegetables. I don’t dislike it, I don’t like it either but I will eat it. It’s basically a tasteless mush if you overcook it and has an unpleasant bitter taste when you undercook it. Mix it with cheese sauce, top it with bread crumbs and grill it and turn it into cauliflower cheese, now you’re taking. But the reason that dish is so nice probably has more to do with the cheese, rather than the cauliflower.

Anyway, a Romanesco cauliflower may have the name ‘cauliflower’ in the title, it may grow like a cauliflower with leaves around the bottom and a lumpy flowering part in the middle, it may also be from the same family as a cauliflower, but a cauliflower it ain’t. In fact it’s only in the UK where we add the word ‘cauliflower’, in most other places it’s just called Romanesco. I guess that’s because it wasn’t that long ago when cauliflower, carrots and peas were the only vegetable we ate so they added the ‘cauliflower’ to make it less scary for us!

Once you take the leaves off then it bears very little resemblance to a cauliflower, it looks more like broccoli on acid, the kind of broccoli you’d expect to see in Alice in Wonderland. It’s a better raw eat than cauliflower and it’s flavour in much nuttier and more earthy.

As well as eating it raw it can be sautéed, or cooked through. You can add garlic and lemon, stick it in a curry or make Romanesco cheese, as above! Romanesco absolutely soaks up flavour so go nuts!

Here’s an accompaniment to a Shepherdess Pie I made last night. It’s simple and very tasty.

Ingredients

  • One Romanesco cauliflower
  • One large carrot 
  • 1tsp dried marjoram
  • 1tsp dried thyme
  • 500ml vegetable stock

 

Method

  • Break the Romanesco small florets
  • Chop the carrots into chunks – Cut the carrot in half then cut it in half again lengthways.  Chop each part in half lengthways again, push the halves together then proceed to chop into 1cm cubes
  • Place a large pan on the heat and bring the vegetable stock back to the boil.  Chuck in your Romnesco and carrot and the herbs and mix it all up.  Put the lid on the pan, keep it on a medium to high heat and leave for 10 minutes.
  • Serve with a slotted spoon as an accompaniment

Tip: Use a large enough pan so that the Romesco isn’t fully covered by the stock.

 

 

40 Things That Make Me Feel Old

I was born in the mid seventies. To me the olden days are kind of from the Second World War backwards. Everything in black and white. I have never been able to watch a black and white film because I cannot relate to it it any way. I have never referred to the seventies or even the sixties as the ‘olden days’. Nineteen sixty nine was only seven years before I was born! It therefore shocks me as to what my seven year old refers to as the ‘olden days’.

Me: Got a film for you to watch T, Honey I Shrunk the Kids.
T: Is it a new film or from the olden days?
Me: Newish film I suppose. Not the olden days.
T: How many years ago was it made?
Me: Twenty six.
T: That’s the olden days, daddy.

Now granted I was completely unaware the Honey I Shrunk the Kids was made back in 1990. I freely admit that twenty six years ago is a very long time in the mind of a seven year old. I am also prepared to confess that if you said that something happened over a quarter of a century ago to me that I too would have to concede that the event does seem like it happened a long time ago.

But if you tell me that something happened in the nineties then in my head it happened very recently. The nineties wasn’t that long ago. OK, so this might actually be my problem.

The eighties and nineties were my era, this is where I spent my childhood and the formative years of my adulthood. Anything after the millennium has passed in a flash so I am consistently shocked when I hear just how long ago things happened, especially films. Here’s 40 things which make me feel old.

1. Ralph Macchio, The Karate Kid, is 54 years old. That is three years older than Mr Miyagi was when the film was made.

 

2. Ghostbusters is 32 years old. I remember being taken by my scout leader with two other eight year old boys to see this. Can’t see that happening nowadays!

 

3. The year 1990 is as far away as the year 2042. I’ll just leave that one hanging.

4. Britney Spear’s ‘…Baby One More Time”, was released 18 years ago. I don’t like any music after 1999, I must therefore love Britney.

 

5. Mario has just been released as a download on the Apple App Store. Mario first appeared in the game Donkey Kong, thirty five years ago in 1981.

 

6. Who remembers watching Wacaday with Timmy Mallett during the summer holidays? Seems like only yesterday…wrong! Wacaday hasn’t been on for 24 years…

 

7. Where were you when you first played on a Playstation? We were blown away by it, Resident Evil, Destruction Derby and the like. This console was released in 1994. That’s 22 years ago!

 

8. If Bart Simpson aged like the rest of us do he would be 37 years old. Maggie would be 24.

9. I remember my wife coming round my house to watch The Simpsons on a Sunday night when she was first my girlfriend. The Simpsons is now in its 27th season.

10. Who remembers Maude Flanders dying on The Simpsons? She fell off this mortal coil 15 years ago.

 

11. Children who are starting their second year of GCSEs or first year of A Levels were born after the year 2000.

12. The first episode of Friends was 22 years ago.

13. Remember the anticipation and the sadness after the last episode of Friends? That was 12 years ago. The characters would now be between 46 and 48.

14. Courteney Cox is now the same age as Rue McClanahan was when she started making The Golden Girls.

 

15. Remember growing up with John Candy being in every comedy? National Lampoons Vacation, Home Alone, Cool Runnings, Uncle Buck? He’s been dead 22 years.

 

16. If The Wonder Years was shown on tv today it would be talking about the year 1996.

 

17. Similarly, That 70s Show started in 1998 and was set 22 years before. If it was on today it would be taking place in 1994.

 

18. The first Harry Potter book was released 19 years ago. The LAST Harry Potter book in the original series was released nine years ago.

 

19. The baby on the front of Nirvana’s iconic Nevermind album is now 25 years old and has tattoos (including Nevermind across his chest).

 

20. Remember the littlest and cutest daughter from The Cosby Show? She’s 33.

 

21. Kids born in 1998 can now drink.

 

22. Macauley Culkin is now older than Daniel Stern who played Marv (one of the crooks) in the movie.

 

23. The premier of the Twin Peaks series was 26 years ago (1990).

 

24. Remember The Sopranos? One of the greatest TV programmes ever made. Remember the youngster, Christopher? The actor that played him is now 49 years old.

 

25. How about Newt, the little girl from Aliens. She’s 40.

 

26. Remember how weird it was when Lisa Marie Presley married Michael Jackson? I’m surprised, that was 22 years ago!

27. Who went to the cinema and jumped out of their skin when the velociraptor jumped through the ceiling in Jurassic Park? That popcorn went flying off your lap 23 years ago.

28. The baby from Look Who’s Talking is now 26.

 

29. Still don’t really get karate performing reptiles aka the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? You’ve had quite a while to get them as they’ve been around since 1984.

30. Remember the scandal when German Halloween left the Spice Girls? That bombshell was dropped on us 18 years ago.

31. Still think of Diddy as Puff Daddy? He hasn’t gone by that name in 15 years!

 

32. I know that we can remember a time before mobile phones, but even the game Snake on Nokia Phones is now 18 years old!

 

33. The Office ended on a poignant moment when Dawn and Tim finally kissed. That happened 13 years ago.

 

34. Recall learning about the nine planets of the solar system and the order they are from the Sun. Not any more, Pluto isn’t a planet and hasn’t been considered one for nine years.

 

35. One of the defining moments of our time, the falling of the Berlin Wall, happened over a quarter of a century ago.

36. As did the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

37. Princess Diana has been dead 19 years.

 

38. 9/11 was 15 years ago.

39. On a happier note the classic Christmas tune Do They Know It’s Christmas? It’s 32 years old this Christmas.

 

40. Last but not least, don’t forget we remember a time before the internet! The internet stemmed from developments initiated in the 1960s, but initial public and commercial use started in 1989. However, when I first started work in 1998 my office didn’t have the internet at all! How much has changed since then?!