Opening Up a Curly-Wurly of Whoopass

A while ago, probably a couple of years, I hit Carole square in the face with a Bagpuss. It was one of those moments that you could never hope to repeat in a million years. Up to then, the best thing I had ever, ever done was bounce a Pritt Stick off the floor and get it to stick squarely to the bottom of a cupboard door. Or maybe the time at uni when I was in my room and throwing a roll of sellotape around. It managed to slide through the sellotape sized gap that the window was open and fall three storeys to the ground below. Or very nearly the ground. I was observed, by a fellow student, getting my sellotape back out of a tree.

So, I hit Carole in the face with Bagpuss. I’d done that thing when someone you know is downstairs and you’re upstairs and you call them to the bottom of the stairs as if you have something amazing to show them. But you don’t. You have something to throw at them with hilarious consequences. In this case it was a Bagpuss beanbag.

I’m not that good at throwing things. My aim is not brilliant and my throwing skills are not exactly on target. But, somehow, everything lined up perfectly and Bagpuss flew, with Grade A precision, directly into Carole’s face. And then she disappeared from sight. I genuinely do not know what happened in that instance. I may have knocked her clean off her feet, or she may have just staggered backwards clutching her face in complete shock, while the bean-filled fat, furry catpuss lay on the carpet, staring up at her, mid-yawn. The reason I don’t know is because tears were streaming from my eyes. I was laughing so much I was actually crying. I know that’s a terrible thing. I know. I don’t know how I sleep at night. But it was hilarious.

Recently, I’ve done the same with a curly-wurly.

We keep them in the fridge so they’re all cold and shatter into bite-size pieces rather than trail a string of caramel as you gnaw a bit off. Carole wanted one. I took one from the fridge and threw it into the front room. Again, the fates were there for me, and the curly-wurly crashed down on her head. It was, by all accounts, quite painful. Indeed, when she demanded that I allow her to hit me with the very same curly-wurly it was painful. But then, the driving force behind that was an angry woman and not a quite rubbish throw from me, so the results may be skewed.

Once I’d answered all the questions about why I would do such a thing, and why I would laugh at the obvious pain and suffering that my beloved Petal was going through the incident was forgotten. We moved on. Nothing else was said.

Until Sunday.

Sunday we were in a similar situation to the previous curly-wurly incident. She wanted a curly-wurly. I wanted to throw the curly-wurly. Having learnt from previous mistakes, however, I added a disclaimer stating that I couldn’t guarantee that my throw wouldn’t hit her on the noggin but that was not was I was attempting to do. She agreed to this, verbally – I didn’t have time to draw up any official documents. And so I unleashed the curly-wurly.

I missed her entirely. Not a chance it would have hit her.

Apart from the fact that Carole tried to catch it. The key word there is tried. She didn’t catch it. She deflected it. Upwards and backwards. In the general direction of her head where it came down, end first. Judging by the number of times she said “ow” it must have hurt a little bit.

Sadly, I was laughing to much to be of any help.

Cut It Out

So, the car’s pretty much a rolling deathtrap. For a while now it’s done a little thing where it’ll click and then cut out when you either apply the brake or go round a corner. If you take it a garage or ask an AA man to come and have a look at it they’ll find nothing wrong. Nothing. Not a damn thing. It’s one of those intermittent faults that could happen days or even years apart. But it’s a fault and it’s definitely there.

A quick google of “Peugeot cutting out” will yield a gazillion results, all bearing an uncanny resemblance to our story. The car is fine, then it clicks, lights up an engine warning light and gives up. It’s even been the source of a Watchdog investigation. Anne Robinson and her fierce-faced friends have looked into it and Peugeot are well aware of the problem. So aware, in fact, that were you to take a car to them to be checked out they’ll lift extortionate amounts of money from your pocket for the pleasure, the untold pleasure, of you letting them have the car in the first place. They’ll download new engine management software which you’ll have to pay for. They’ll run copious diagnostics and replace bits and bobs that you’ll have to pay for. And then, at the end of it all, they’ll turn around and say “Yeah, it’s an intermittent fault and for that reason we can’t really say if we’ve fixed it or not.”

It’s a frustrating situation to be in.

On the one hand, we could look at getting the car fixed. You know, Carole’s had it a while and she loves that car. That much is evident from how upset she’s getting at the fact that she’s lost all faith in it. She can’t trust the car like she used to. Hell, she’s even stopped calling him Pedro as much as she used to in a desperate effort to distance herself from his four-wheeled death ride.  We’ve had a look at Pedro’s worth on various car websites. He’s not worth that much. He’s got a ding on his arse – a couple now, in fact –  and is probably worth slightly more for the fact that there’s a few loose coppers and some car parking money in the central console.

On the other hand, we could look at getting a new car. Or a new old car. A car that is, at least, new to us. And while that’s all well and good there are a few issues. While deciding on a car and a method of paying for it are quite important things, especially with all the job shenanigans that I, and potentially Carole, will be going through in the next few months, they’re not the main issue here. A lot of our new car woes boil down to the feral children and their fricking football. Is it worth spending however much money on a new car only for it to be covered in football marks within minutes of parking it outside the house? We seem to have graduated to the “boot it up into the air really high and see where it lands” school of football now. Sadly it never lands on and of them, preferring to bounce around the street instead. Added to that, we’ve learnt that the children have a hard time controlling the ball anyway as, just this very weekend, the wind grabbed the ball from them and fired it directly at our front door.

I know.

When I was a child I often wished that I could have witnessed a form of freak weather phenomena like that. A rogue gust of wind with the strength to pick up a heavy football and throw it, full pelt, into a door. An experience like that would never have left me. I’d have talked it about it at school for days. I would have instantly wanted a job in meteorology in the hopes of seeing it again.

I suppose, in hindsight, the little bugger could have just been lying through his teeth.

It’s hard to know when you’re faced with a child who is many, many times smaller than the thick coat he is playing out in.


Stick Up

There’s something to be said about the optimism of whoever it was that decided to put a resealable strip on a packet of chocolate.

It’s almost as if, by the addition of a vaguely sticky piece of paper, the chocolate manufacturers are saying “Look, I know you want to eat all of the lovely chocolate in this bag, but you can’t. It’s bad for you. We’ve worked out a portion. You should just take that out – let’s say it’s eight chocolates – and seal the bag up again. No, no, you can seal it now, we’ve put a special sticky strip on it. Look. I know. You would think that was a waste of money wouldn’t you?”

When Post-It Notes were invented, amongst all the important developments they made, one of the main things they focused on was to make the strength of the glue inversely proportional to the importance of the information written on the Post-It Note. To put that into layman’s terms if you wrote your name on a post-it and stuck it somewhere it would stay there indefinitely but if you wrote “For the love of all that is good, do not forget to turn on the containment field before you leave otherwise there will be a massive disaster of epic proportions” or something similar – maybe “Buy milk” – you’d find that it would the note would have the adhesive qualities of something that wasn’t particularly sticky. The note, no matter how many times you stuck it to your noticeboard, monitor or keyboard, would fall off eventually getting lost. The containment field wouldn’t be set before you left. And things would go really wrong. Or you’d have dry cereal. It can go both ways.

You would, on the other hand, have a piece of paper reminding you of your name glued to the same surface until the end of time.

The resealable strips on bags of chocolate use a similar type of glue. They are, initially, stuck to the packet with such ferocity that you probably don’t even know they’re there. Some of you reading this are probably thinking “wait, there’s a resealable strip on a bag of chocolate? When did that happen?” The idea is that you peel back a section of the strip, roll the bag down and put the strip over it. The strip holds the bag closed and keeps the chocolate inside fresh, ready to eat on another day. I know, another day. These people live in a dream world.

The thing is, though, the strips don’t really hold the bag closed. At some indeterminate point, usually a few minutes after you’ve folded the bag down, the strip will go “Well, that’s enough sticking for me. I’m going to ping off and let the bag open. Sorry. I tried my best. I really did.” The problem here is that your chocolate is now, potentially, exposed to the elements. It won’t retain the freshness that the sticky piece of paper offered you. So, out of the kindness of your heart and appreciation for fresh chocolate, you figure it’s best to eat the rest of the bag anyway.

I’m beginning to think it’s a cunning bit of reverse psychology by the chocolate people. They trick us into feeling bad about eating all the chocolate by providing a seal for the bag which then fails, forcing you to eat all the chocolate while it’s still fresh.

Devious, devious people.




Nothing. Nada. Zip.

Today has been a day of nothingness. It was one of those days where you wake up in the morning and realise that there’s actually nothing you really need to get up for. Nothing planned. Just nothing.

A lot of that has come from the fact that the car, beloved Pedro as he is affectionally known, is ill. Possibly terminally ill. And if he’s not ill he actually possesses the ability to kill us. He’s taken to cutting out when either the brakes are applied or any attempt is made at cornering. As a rule, this is not a great thing and, when you think we bombed to-and-from Bridlington last weekend it’s probably just as well he’s done it now and not then.

I can’t drive so, for me, it’s not a massive deal. But for Carole, it’s a big thing. Every now and again she’ll shout out the name of place that she can no longer just nip to and we have to fathom out a way for her to get from A to B. The plus side of all this, however, is that it’s saving her money because she can’t pop up to the craft shop on a whim and come back with a load of card and things that she doesn’t need.

But the thing with the car is just one more problem for the pile – the already massive pile of things that could be better and need sorting out. There’s the car and the work situation – both my scheduled move to Leeds and the associated impact that will have on us, and the fact that Carole’s job could be under threat following the government’s excellent handling of tuition fees. And then there’s the fact that the house is slowly falling apart, and the fact that we want to move somewhere where the children are less feral. There’s also the fact that the lack of car is somewhat, at the moment at least, hampering any plans we had to go camping in a few weeks. And there’s probablyt some other stuff that I don’t want to think about because thinking about it means that we have even more to think about.

So it was nice to have a day of nothing. Just nothing. Nothing to worry about, nothing to stress over.

We can do all that tomorrow.

Show Me The Kittens

What I find, if I’m in the position to need to look for kittens that have been born in an unknown place in the street about a week ago, that the best time to start looking for them is after dark. And with no kind of torch or anything.

Of course not, because that would be ridiculous. Why look for something at night when you could have a perfectly good look during the day?

That was the question I was asking myself as, at something past nine last night, I was taking things out of our shed on the off-chance that a pregnant cat has popped in and kittens had, well, popped out. According to the cat’s owner, a woman who has millions of cats and lives up the road, the cat has given birth about a week ago and is still feeding the kittens and they’re somewhere around here.

We’ve never seen the cat before. We’re quite familiar with most of the cats that pass through our garden as Pumpkin has majestically failed to protect her territory every single time another whiskered creature sets foot, or paw, past the fence line. Countless times we’re heard the sounds of fighting, yelping cats and had to rescue Pumpkin with the aide of a jug full of water and a strong throwing arm.

On Saturday night, after we got back from Bridlington, we noticed one of the neighbours skulking around next door’s garden, peering in the shed with a massive torch. We assumed, as next door is home to one of the feral kids, that he had been accused of stealing another feral child’s plank with wheels nailed on or something. But no, turns out they were looking for kittens. On Saturday.

So why the hell did it take them so long to come and ask if they could look in our garden? Did they go back home and sit for a while and, just by chance, glance out of the window and were blown away by the sheer number of other houses with gardens that a variety of recently born kittens may be in?  I don’t understand why, at the weekend, they didn’t go door-to-door, asking if anyone had seen the cat or the kittens or both. Why did it take three or four days to get round to checking anywhere else for them? Surely, if they’re out there it would have been better to have established that last week.

As it happens, they weren’t in our shed. Or, more correctly, they weren’t in the shed as far as I could tell by the illuminating glow of my iPhone screen. But we left the door open, just in case.

And, if it turns out they are in there somewhere, we’ll hand them back straight away. Well, hand most of them back straight away.

Maybe just keep one.