Volume 3 – Chapter 151: Talking In Your Sleep

At some point during the night I was woken up by Carole shouting “Ow! Ow! Ow!”

Now, rather than alarm me as you may think it would, I can take all this with a pinch of salt now. And what it usually means is that Peppa has burrowed under the duvet and gone to sleep somewhere round our knees and has, for some reason, woken up feeling slightly threatened and stuck her claws into the nearest thing she can find.

Which is usually an arse.

In this case Carole’s.

And Carole with shout “Ow!” and then huff and puff a bit and lift up the duvet so Peppa can escape.

That’s what always happens.

Apart from last night. Last night something more magical happened.

Carole did all the “ow!” stuff, but didn’t really wake up. She didn’t huff or puff. She didn’t lift the duvet or release Peppa from under the duvet.

Now, ordinarily, as I think I have mentioned before, I usually pretend that I am asleep during these interludes so that I won’t get dragged into it or dragged into a conversation about what kind of wallpaper we should have in the bedroom at 3am in the morning because I am, apparently, a captive audience at this time.

But no. This time I couldn’t stay asleep because things were different. There was a disturbance in the force, as someone in a dressing gown might say.

“What are you ow-ing at?” I asked a still-sleeping Carole, not really expecting a reply.

“The needlebooks,” she replied. As if that was a perfectly acceptable answer to my question.

Now, the thing is, this is not unusual. Not by any stretch of the imagination. While I might wake myself up by loudly breaking wind, Carole is the mistress of talking in her sleep or sitting bolt upright and shouting “I’m not ready!” Or, for that matter, asking if we have any bell jars. Which we don’t, by the way. Not a one.

All I can assume is that as Peppa’s claws stuck into Carole’s bum cheek, her subconscious mind tried to make it better for her by somehow imagining that it was some kind of sewing accessory favoured by the older woman.

Every night’s an adventure…


Volume 3 – Chapter 150: You Have Ten Seconds To Comply

There’s an article in the news today that someone at the UN is trying to ban killer robots before killer robots actually exist because they are worried about them and, according to the news article, stop a “Terminator”-style future.

So, as long as we’re basing this on some kind of scientific fact and not just getting the willies that a film franchise from the 90s might actually come true.

Because if we are then can I start to be worried about the fact that people are wanting to clone mammoths? Because it’s all well and good starting with mammoths but before you know it some billionaire with a variable accent has bought an island that looks suspiciously like Hawaii and the raptors are testing the fences. And I think we all know how well that turned out.

The worry is that these killer robots will be working without any kind of human input and will be able to acquire targets themselves. And this is a bad thing because they might target and kill people who shouldn’t be targeted or killed. And, of course, that never happens when humans are doing the targeting. No-one is killed by friendly fire, no civilians are caught in the crossfire and whatever is supposed to be blown up is blown up. Of course when that happens, the humans responsible are disciplined in some way. I think that the UN chap is a bit worried that the robot will fight back about being turned off, having gained some sort of sentience not previously present in its programming.

But while he’s been watching Terminator and I, Robot and generally shitting himself about the impending robot-led demise of the human race (which we’re not prepared for because everyone always harps on about a zombie apocalypse, no-one’s prepared for a robot one) he’s forgotten one key thing. If he’s going to learn about the future from the films of the past then you can’t overlook the greatest robot in movie history.

Johnny 5.

For starters, Johnny 5 was a military robot. He was designed by the military as a killing machine, armed with a shoulder-mounted weapons pod. And yet when he came alive he chose to throw that away and fit it with a tool kit containing all manner of things including, inexplicably, a hang-glider. And lest we forget that Johnny 5 helped at least two people find love and stopped many a crime spree, even while bleeding battery acid and knocking on the pearly gates in a pile of rubbish by the banks of a river.

But the UN have chosen to ignore that. They’ve chosen to focus on the fact that in the future the human race might be living underground and the skulls of the dead will be the roads upon which robotic tanks will drive.

And that one man will be sent back in time with the sole purpose of putting a stop to the robot uprising before it even starts.

Oh, wait a minute…


Volume 3 – Chapter 149: Otter Awareness Day

It’s Otter Awareness Day today.

Which goes to show two things:

1) They will make a day for pretty much anything.
2) There are people in this world who need prompting to think about otters.

I’m not really sure how aware of otters you’re supposed to be on a day like today. I’m not sure if you’re supposed to have woken up this morning and just known that otters were out there, in contrast to yesterday when you just couldn’t what an otter could be apart from what the water from the tap next to the cold is in more common areas. And tomorrow, when Otter Awareness Day has passed, will we all just forget about the otters, as if they had never been here in the first place and we’ll only become aware of them on the specific day next year?

There aren’t many otters in the wild. In fact there might not be any. I’m sure there must be some somewhere in Scotland or somewhere like that, just swimming about, splashing around and generally doing otter-y things. But maybe that’s all just a cover-up because for 364 days of the year we’re unaware of otters. It’s only today that we become aware of them. Tomorrow they are but a distant memory again.

So there could be otters everywhere and we just wouldn’t see them.

Like ghosts. Whenever Most Haunted turned up somewhere they’d have tales of how countless people had seen apparitions or felt a presence, but whenever they were there nothing happened. Not a thing. Because it wasn’t ghost awareness day.

And that’s how the otters do it.

They take advantage of our unawareness to live their lives as they see fit. While we don’t know they’re there, they’re up to all sorts of things. Fighting crime, running small businesses and whatever else passes for an otter’s day-to-day chores. And we’re oblivious to it all because we haven’t been told to be aware of them.

And then otter awareness day comes along and it’s the day that all the otters fear the most. Because they can’t do anything. For an entire 24 hour period, the humans are aware of the otters for a reason that no-one really understands. A day has been ear-marked to raise the profile of the otter and the otters hate it. They don’t want the attention. They just want to be otters. They managed to dodge the spotlight when The Wind In The Willows came out. They don’t need to be dragged into the limelight. They just want a nice quiet life.

And so, on otter awareness day, they go to ground. Waiting for it to pass and for the human race to become blissfully unaware of them once more. And some of the more studious otters try to work out why anyone would decide that a day needed to be declared otter awareness day in the first place.

But I don’t think the answer to that is coming any time soon.

Volume 3 – Chapter 148: Old School Bus

Most bus stops these days have some sort of digital display board (copyright I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue) which displays – digitally – the buses due to arrive at the stop in the next indeterminate period of time. The bus stop outside work has such a display and, on an evening, I get to watch the lies it tells tick past in orange lights and smirk at the fact that the arrival time ticks over from “1 minute away” to “due” and then remains on “due” for several minutes.

But today the digital display board was broken.

It was like catching a bus in the dark ages. If the dark ages had a bus, that is. But that’s what you say, isn’t it? You always say, if something technological breaks, that it’s like living in the dark ages. If your internet connection goes down, for example, you complain that it’s like living in the dark ages. Even though it isn’t because, unless you live on a coucil estate, you’re not pouring buckets of your own shit into the street and walking around shoeless. You just can’t update Facebook for a bit, that’s all. I can’t imagine, in years to come, that someone will be singing a nursery rhyme like Ring-A-Ring-A-Roses to describe through fun and dancing the terrors of not being able to poke someone.

But I digress.

No bus time tables.

I had to kick it old school.

I had to stand at the bus stop with no idea if the bus will come or not.

Which, to be fair, is very similar to how it normally transpires but without the orange glow of the aforementioned lying display panel.

So, while I was waiting, I text Carole to tell her how I was waiting for the bus and that it was like the dark ages and all that jazz and she text me back telling me I could just text the bus stop number to METRO or whatever and I would get a list of the departures.

And yes, I could do that, because modern technology is amazing that way.

But it also costs a ridiculous amount to do it. Upwards of a pound, I think, to find out something that is normally told to me in orange lights for free or that I could just find out by standing and waiting and seeing if the bus turned up. I already pay an extortionate amount of money for a bus and train service that is passable at best and can’t be relied upon in an emergency or even out of one, for that matter. I’ll be damned if I’m texting them and lining their fat cat pockets.

And I waited and I waited.

And I waited.

And then I started to write the text because it turns out I can’t catch a bus in the old-school way anymore…

And then the bus came.

Ha! Take that fat cats.



Volume 3 – Chapter 147: Conversation With Child

When next door moved out, sometime last year, they left behind a few bits and bobs scattered around the garden. Look hard enough just under the grass by our fence and you’ll find some kind of bright red horn, for example. But when they left, on the steps between our garden and theirs they left a dinosaur.

A small plastic brontosaurus covered in sand. I know it’s actually an Apatosaurus and that no-one uses brontosaurus anymore because, technically, they never existed, but she’ll never remember any of this anyway. And if the subject of mistaken dinosaur nomenclature ever comes up I will accept full responsibility

I liberated said dinosaur, rinsed him off and he’s lived on our doorstep ever since.

Until Sunday, when he was snatched up into the hands of a visiting child.

And the following conversation took place.

J: Do you know what dinosaur that is?

H: I know about the T-Rex. The T-Rex has a long neck.

J: No, the T-Rex doesn’t have a long neck. The T-Rex has almost no neck and really short arms. That’s a brontosaurus.

H: But I’m not talking about the brontosaurus. I’m talking about the T-Rex. And the T-Rex has a long neck.

J: It doesn’t. It has a short thick neck because it’s very strong. It needs a strong neck to tear meat. A T-Rex would eat you. (at this point, despite the 65 million years that have passed between the dinosaurs dying out – sorry, creationists – and a small child being in our kitchen, there is just the slightest hint of fear). But that’s not a T-Rex. That’s a brontosaurus. That won’t eat you.

H: Because it’s plastic.

J: Well, yes. That one is plastic. But that’s not a real brontosaurus. A real brontosaurus would eat leaves and plants. And you’re not a leaf or a plant are you.

H: No.

J: But a T-Rex would eat you. It would gobble you up. But not the brontosaurus.

H: Because it’s plastic.

J: Real ones weren’t made of plastic though. They were really big and could reach to the top of very tall trees, like a giraffe.

Which was, apparently, enough information for a small child’s brain because she went off and threw all the cat’s ping pong balls all over the house.


And guess who had to pick them up…

I can tell you now, it wasn’t a T-Rex.