Category Archives: london life

Grrrrrrr

Grrrrrrrrr. That’s me trying to convey my anger. I’ll try again. Argghhhhh. Maybe a bit too piratey. I think maybe the first one is better. Anyway, I’m angry. Not livid, just angry.  
“What is the cause of your anger?” I hear you shout. Well, let me tell you…
It was a night much like any other: a winters night. I had left my house with my family, heading to our destination. There were too many of us to fit into one car so we decided to convoy (can convoy be used as a verb?). As the monotonous drone of the wipers complemented the patter of the rain, we sat, not moving, in the local rush hour traffic. This did not make me angry. 


We arrived at the street on which we were to park and found two spaces next to each other. My dad parked behind us and we exited the vehicle. The walk was to be a short one and we had plenty of time. Although it was cold, the rain had stopped. We went to one of those crossings that have an island in the middle of the road. Drivers don’t have to give way but it is simply good manners to do so. As we approached, the traffic was at a standstill and a bus had stopped right in front of the crossing, blocking it from all angles. This was not the cause of my anger. 

The bus moved off and we went into the restaurant. We had the place to ourselves as it was an early hour. The decor was what you expect in a British Chinese eating establishment, the menu looked good and they had one of my favourite things on the drinks menu – Tsing Tao beer. As I was driving home, one bottle was all I would have. I ordered my beer and it came quickly. This is the reason for my anger. 


Why on God’s green Earth would you take the beer from the bottle (which is a container and drinking receptacle that has been chilling in the fridge) and pour it into a warm glass. Why would you take away the fizz? Why would you not ask? If I order a bottle of beer then I want exactly that. If I wanted a glass of beer then I’d order that. If it makes you feel better then give me a glass ‘with’ my bottle. In fact, I didn’t even see the bottle. It could have been any beer in that glass. Angry. 

Restaurant owners, please take note. I want my beer from the bottle. I don’t know why, I just do. 

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I’m not ready to be four

We’ve been studying World War Two in school. Don’t worry, I’m not at school, I just work in one. So to be a bit clearer: the kids I teach have been learning about World War Two. It was fun and they really enjoyed the thematic approach that we took based around the book Goodnight Mister Tom. I enjoyed it too. The kids were shocked when we learned about rationing and couldn’t quite grasp the lack of junk food and snacks. This really hit home when we looked at a birthday party during war time. The cake was made with some odd ingredients, it was shared between a group of children who had the same month of birth and the present (if there was one) was usually hand made or a hand me down.

My kids (the ones that I teach) eat no end of fast food, snacks and general rubbish. I don’t teach in an affluent area (in fact, quite the opposite) and I think this may well be indicative of that. There’s more though. They have loads of stuff. Most of the kids in my year 6 (10 and 11 years old) class have a better phone than I do, a range of tablets and computers and all that JD Sport has to offer. They don’t always get that deferred gratification of birthdays and Christmas: they have it all and they have it now. I’m not making a judgment, just a point.
birthday-cupcakes

So, why the title of this blog? It was my daughter’s birthday a couple of days ago and we had the usual phone calls from relatives asking what to buy her. We had a couple of ideas but not loads. Have we fallen into the trap of buying stuff ‘just because?’ I think so. When she watches a princess film, she puts on one of her many princess dresses. When she wants to play, she has loads of toys to choose from. I pretty sure I didn’t have that many toys at the age of 3. Of course, I could be wrong. And I’m pretty sure that my parents thought the same when I was that age in comparison to when they were. Again, I could be wrong.

The thing that did happen though that made me have that odd parent feeling of pride and worry was what she said to me just before I kissed her goodnight.

“Daddy, I’m not ready to be four.”

It was one of the cutest things she’d ever said.

She told my wife the same thing. My wife didn’t find it quite as cute. My daughter had woken my wife at 1 am to tell her.

BTW: I made those cupcakes!

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State of play (stop the world…)

I’m tired. I’ve had two nights of parents evenings (both full, no gaps) and my daughters birthday yesterday. It’s more than that though. I’m not quite sure how to explain it other than a mental malaise. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and I love my children (both the ones I teach and the ones I sired), I enjoy teaching and work in a great school full of happy people. My two little ones are well behaved, cheeky and full of energy and love. But… I’m tired.

I wondered if it might be the March of time. As I trudge wearily to my eternal resting place (let’s face it, I’m more likely to be heading down than up), adding more mileage each year, burning both ends of my candle, is it all catching up? I don’t think so. I’m only in my thirties.

Winter then? Waking up and heading to work in the dark. Finishing work and heading home – in the dark. Cold, rain, wind and more cold. I don’t think that’s it either though. I love the winter. I love my winter clothes (that long herringbone trench coat, my scarf collection and my wonderful flat caps), I love the Christmas period and the dark ales that are around at this time of year. So no, definitely not the season.

Too much work? Too many hours? Again, probably not. My job, boss, class, school and staff are amazing. I love coming to work and even the marking has recently become an enjoyable thing. Some of the writing my kids are doing is fantastic, the maths is moving along nicely and the other subjects happen in the afternoon when I do my assistant head bits and bobs. So nope, not work.

What then? Why then? How then?

It hit me yesterday. Trump. Well, Trump and Brexit. More than that I suppose. People. People are stupid. We are becoming a world of idiots run by idiots.

I’m off to pack now and move to a cabin in the woods. Give me a call when we come to our senses.

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We be bloggin

Not really sure about the title. It’s been a while so just kind of chucked it up. I’ve not turned all street/ghetto/yout. Anyway, that’s the title.

So, how’s it going? Good? Good. I’m ok, thanks for asking. It’s been a really long time since I blogged and it left my consciousness for a couple of years until I was emailed by the good people at WordPress, telling me to renew my domain name. It posed the question of whether I want to write and whether I need to blog.

Back when I started it was all about promoting the books. I soon found though that it was quite a cathartic exercise and so continued to blog. Since then I have had another kid (that’s 2 now and they both rock and annoy the hell out of me in equal measure), I’ve had a promotion (assistant head!), I’ve come off Facebook (not as big as the other 2 but still a big lifestyle change) and I’ve moved home (twice actually, and it’s sooooooo stressful).

So consider this a heads up. A call to arms. A warning. A threat.
I shall resume blogging.

Whoop, and indeed, whoop.

Over and out.

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Junk mail

recycle your old menus

We live in a block of flats, we being my wife and child and I, and have a constant problem. We are targeted because of where we live, singled out due to our locality, victimised due to our choice of dwelling. “What is it?” I hear you cry, voices full of concern. We are the victims of junk mail. It’s so bad that our estate manager, fed up with collecting mail from the floor and lifts, has put a bin under the bank of post boxes by our door so people can put it from letter box to rubbish in seconds. The worst offenders are as follows

1) Takeaway menus. These seem to multiply at a rate of knots! We have to sift through menus for Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Italian, American, Indian and Greek foods. I caught a guy the other day putting leaflets, plural, in each letter box. I realised that this guy must be employed by a few if the restaurants to place a certain amount of leaflets through a certain amount of doors. Flats + various menus = easy pickings. We should put a sign on our box…

We are creatures of habit. We will order from the same pizza, Thai and Indian eateries every time. It’s not that we are unadventurous, we just don’t order often enough to risk it being crap. Sometimes we walk to the fish and chip shop (although that’s not really relevant to this sign). Please save a tree and move on.

lots of pizza menus and boxes

 

2) Cab cards. These are like business cards for cab companies. They are small, thin, shiny and a bugger to pick up if you have sausage fingers and bite your nails. I fall into both of these categories and will often be seen, and laughed at, by my neighbours with my hand stuck in the letter box. Some choice phrases will often accompany this activity.

3) Dear homeowner. These are relatively new ones on us. It’s a letter that tells us that they have someone lined up to buy our flat. The bit I don’t get is why they wouldn’t ask us first and then go out looking for prospective buyers. It would be like me painting a picture portrait of you and then asking if you if you would like to buy it. Of course I know they are lying to me but I do find myself tempted to phone them and ask them for a) the name of the agent (estate not secret) who has been staking out my home b)ask them who he has been showing it to and c) why I haven’t seen him while doing my counter intelligence surveillance? I could even try to bill them for my James Bond spy kit.

 

007 spy kit for kids james bond

This is on top of all the regular rubbish that comes through our door. My bank seems to be desperate for me to take a loan, companies I used once in 2007 think I might still want to be a customer, credit card companies pre approve me for 10,000 on a regular basis and British gas still ask if I want to go to their AGM even though my shares are worth about as much as a happy meal.

Yep, all in all I think I throw away more than I read. I suppose that maybe, just maybe, I might need a mini cab or my favourite restaurant might shut down or I might decide to sell up. I would hope though that, being the awkward bugger I am, I wouldn’t use any company that has put a leaflet through my door out of pure two finger salutedness. A big up yours, if you will, to those who would like to influence my decision making process.

Next week I shall attempt to tackle virtual junk mail without swearing. Until then enjoy your weekend.

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Disney Star Wars: Exclusive.

robert downey new han solo

Disney Star Wars: A New Hope?

Something amazing has happened, something that was once declared dead has been resurrected and has had new life breathed into it. One of the most loved franchises in the sci-fi genre, or any other for that matter, is to be rebooted. At the helm will be Andy Fickman, a Disney director with a history of creating great family classics such as Race to Witch Mountain.

It has been revealed that Hamill, Ford and Fisher will play no part in the new films and that replacements have already been found for two of the three. The part of Luke Skywalker in the new film, set 20 years after Return of the Jedi, will be played by David Wenham (best known as Faramir in the Lord of the Rings trilogy), and the part of Han-solo will go to Disney favourite Robert Downey Jnr. The part of Leia is yet to be filled but rumours suggest that Sarah Jessica Parker is a front runner. Other lead roles will include the young offspring of Leia and Han, although who will play the 10 year old twin boys (Anakin and Bail) is anyones guess. They will be accompanied by animated characters such as Boo Dan Binks, son of Jar Jar, and Kana of Grentarik (home world of Yoda), who will feature heavily.

The plot is said to centre around the republic and its transition into peace time. A dark force rises and the young children are thrust to the forefront of the action when they are kidnapped by a Sith Lord named Seil-Lla. They must use their limited Jedi training to escape his clutches and, when they do, end up on a planet that mixes past, present and future. It appears to have taken a leaf out of the Star Trek universe and will revisit themes of previous films. It is hoped that this will allow the franchise to head in new directions and not be retrained by the older story lines and universe.

The hope of Disney is to try to attract the same audience that has made the Clone Wars animation series so successful. A source at Disney has said “They’re planning on expanding from Star Wars and making it part human, part animation ‘like Pete’s Dragon, but with Jedis’. They will be working with the Fantasia digital team who have promised the films will give a subtle nod to Disney classics along the way to celebrate the new partnership. Young Jedis mopping the deck of a star destroyer using the force to control the mops might be a little far but there will be plenty for die hard fans to find.”

It also appears that a new direction will be taken with the musical score to give the franchise a lighter feel. Disney stalwart Alan Menken, best know for his award winning soundtrack for Beauty and the Beast, will take the helm on producing the original pieces that will “mix and intertwine with the original Williams score.”

The new film named Star Wars: Death of the Republic, will open on May the 4th 2015. Advance press release and reviews are expected April 1st.

May the force be with you.

george lucas sells his sole

Disclaimer: this all totally made up and has no basis in fact or reality. It was fun to write though.

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Armchair tourist

Hi, my name is Andrew and I’ve been a TV addict for 33 years.
teacher, mother, secret lover
Television is, for me, the single greatest invention of the last hundred years. I know we have cured diseases, travelled the world, travelled the stars, built communication networks and seen the birth of the computer. I’m not saying that all of these are not important, it’s just that they’re not TV. Television allows me to do all of these things vicariously, and for that I love it.
I love the fact that I can trek through the stars, I can enter a courtroom, I can see into the past and can even get to know the people I admire better. What TV does best though is allow me the opportunity to travel the world. I don’t mean documentaries or travel shows, I’m talking about something much more fun. American crime drama. Here’s my top 5 wish list of crime capitals as portrayed on TV.
las vegas strip csi
1) CSI Vegas. I used to watch all the CSI series, now I don’t watch any. Actually that’s not true, I have recently started to watch the first few series on re-runs, only the Vegas one though. So enamoured were myself and the wife with it that we decided to go. The casinos on the strip, the desert, the odd people who live there and the allure of the tables. I had visions of strolling from casino to casino, losing a fortune and looking like a rockstar in the process. The reality was so much better and so much worse in equal measure. The downside was the fact that it takes 20 minutes to find your way out of a casino let alone get to the next one (at least another 30 minutes). Playing at the tables was really intimidating, like being a kid at the adults table, it was serious stuff. The upsides were as follows 1) You got free drinks, even if you were only playing on the slots. 2) Our room (booked by my lovely wife) was bigger than our flat and had a TV in the bathroom. 3) The shows were amazing. We saw Elvis, MJ, Madonna and old blue eyes in the same show. 4) The all you could eat breakfast spread spanned the length of a couple of buses. 5) It was so weird it was like being on a different planet. If you’ve been you know, if not you should. Blimey, that was lengthy. Maybe I should make it a top 3.
Jed Bartlett for president
2) The West Wing. What a show. Smart, funny, satirical and smart. It showed you what life would be like as the leader of a superpower and what goes into it. It’s one of those shows that disproves the myth (perpetrated by Brits) that the people of the USA are stupid fatties. I would love to visit the white house, do the tour and make the famous pose in the oval office. The last part is less likely but never say never.
get your white t's here
3) The Wire. Possibly the best show ever. This show though made me realise I didn’t want to go to Baltimore. I’m quite happy watching it through the screen. The grit, the despondency and the ease of which drug and gang culture can swallow you whole. I am sure that it has some very nice parts and would make a great holiday destination. The reality though, I would imagine, is that it has done more in deterring tourism than promoting it.
The nearly made it list…
Sex and the City. Not my cup of tea really but instrumental in our (mainly the wife’s) honeymoon choice. A winter wedding with a weeks honeymoon equalled New York. And yes, we did the tour. It showed off New York beautifully and led to us seeing parts that we might never have thought of.
sex and the city bus
NCIS:LA. I would love to visit LA. The beaches, the bars and the beauty. The strange thing is that I never watched the original NCIS series but the new one really appealed to me. I think the perfect holiday would be being shown around LA by LL CoolJ. All the best sites and you’d never get mugged.
mama said knock you out
A bit of a bucket list? You bet. I have a dream of retirement (many years in the future) where the wife and I can tour every state in America. Maybe staying in swanky hotels, maybe in an RV or maybe just sitting at home all day watching old re-runs of our favourite shows with a nice cup of tea.
Enjoy your weekend.
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The internet troll

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I started off with a different start to this blog. My intention was to have a foray into the world of Internet trolling and then damn it completely. I was gonna call those that do it sad, lonely and a bit pathetic. This I shall not do. I realised that it does have a useful place in the world. It’s a bit like those who write books and those who review them. If you have a good book then you get praise and you feel good about it, similar to those in the Internet world who put up websites and opinions that have a place in the world and are a force for good. If you write a stinker of a book, fill it with unchecked nonsense or insight any kind of hatred, violence, sexism or racism than you have every right to have it critiqued and challenged, just like idiots on the net. I believe that trolling can be a used as a mirror for those who don’t really know what they’re on about and as a gentle reminder that it’s ok to challenge opinions.

Anyway, here’s how it all started…

I have recently been watching the new Aaron Sorkin show The Newsroom. On it was a young and ambitious reporter who wanted to write a story on trolling. This really interested me as I had heard the term before but didn’t really know what it was. The idea behind it is to find a chat room, chat board or open forum on the Internet and play devils advocate until someone bites. Hopefully, if one person bites then more will follow. The ideal way is to write one or two comments and then let it run. The longer it runs, plus the more people get involved equals the indicator of success. This was my challenge. I decided that I would steer clear of anything overly political and stay instead in the areas I know.

First attempt. I suck at this. I’ve tried to elicit a response from a football forum of a team I don’t like. I was quite inflammatory but was very much ignored. My suspicion is that the fans of this club get it all the time and know what I am up to. Maybe I need a slightly more subtle approach.

Second attempt. Ditched the subtle approach idea in favour of aiming at a different group. On the advice of some of the kids at school I’m gonna troll 1 direction fans. Mean? Yes. Childish? You bet. Wanna see how it went? Course you do. I picked the best few but I had about 30 replies. My screen name was Jim Bond.

Jimbond- 14 hours ago – how come all one direction fans are either ugly, stupid or both?

1direction fan • 14 hours ago −
I absolutley love one direction. The first time i heard their song “what makes you beautiful” i cried because i want people( guys) to like me for my my personality not for looks and their song showed me that not all guys care about looks. I’m not ugly though.

Directioner•14 hours ago – my friends all love 1D and we are all HOT.

1Dsoinlove•14 hours ago – what u talking about. You dont know wot we r and you dont understand what 1D are and stand for. They are all about fun and music and having fun. I love Harry and he doesn’t care bout looks.

Although this was a success I felt very mean. I don’t think I’m cut out for this kinda stuff. Picking on poor girls with bad music taste, shame on me. I did notice that none of the comments took offense to being called stupid though.

Attempt 3. Couldn’t bring myself to do any today. Feel kinda guilty that some 1D fan might lose sleep over something I have written. It’s like one of those arguments when you go to bed and think back on what you should have said. Maybe a rethink.

Attempt 4. I’ve decided to play it from the other side. To look for people who have already expressed an opinion and be the devils advocate. Where better to look that Facebook! I had a few goes at commenting on people’s status and then managed to get myself in an argument. This is much more fun and a completely harmless way to waste a bit of time. Have a peak.

facebook troll

So I’ve decided that trolling is not for me. There are a couple of reasons for this.

1) My job (the planning, marking and management stuff), my son, my very pregnant wife and my blog leave me with precious little time.

2) Some people create and others critique. I find myself firmly in the first camp.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I’m off to drop my son at my parents then take the wife out for dinner. If I can get all my work done that is!

Couldn’t resist the last picture! Maybe it will open a debate.

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International talk like a pirate day

international talk like a pirate day

The 19th of this month was international talk like a pirate day and I missed it. I found out on the 20th and felt like I had been cheated out of a days worth of fun with the kids. Being a teacher means different things to different people. To me it’s all about having as much fun as possible and carrying that over to the learning. Pirate day would have been awesome. I also own a pirate costume, that helps get in the spirit. yarrrrrr.

International pirate day got me thinking about what other made up days we should have. If I could get the world to buy into a day what would it be? A list of made up days you say? Go on then.

1)International music amnesty day. I like a certain type if music and I believe that style of music to be socially acceptable (at least to those in my social circle). Rock, metal and most stuff with guitars to be honest. I do have a few guilty pleasures though. Bands or artists that, when they come on my all songs shuffle list, make my friends give me the look. The look that starts off as surprise, turns to disappointment and ends in anger. What I’m suggesting is that we have a day at work where we all bring in our secret CD stash and sing along. I’ll start off with mine… I own every Robbie Williams album. Sorry guys but it’s not just on my iPod because my wife likes it. It’s all mine.

2)International David Hasslehoff day (Hoff day for short). I love the Hoff. I think we should pay homage to this great icon and give him his own day. Adults could wear wigs, orange shorts and talk to their cars. We could reminisce about all the wonderful television he has given us and sing the bay watch theme (I reckon you may be doing so at this very moment). And for the kids, a history lesson about the Berlin Wall and his part in its downfall. I would definitely get a curly wig, leather jacket and learn the lyrics to his songs. Who’s with me? Good. I’m thinking Friday the 28th of September. Facebook, tweet and let the world know of the mighty Hoff.

3) International wear your pyjamas to work day. I think this would make for a great atmosphere and many fun pub crawls after work. We have done it a few times at school for charity and the kids loved it. Maybe it could coincide with comic relief or some other charitable event. Either way, worth a go.

For fun I asked my kids at school what day they would like. Two lists in one week? Oh go on then.
1. National Rollerskate everywhere day. Self explanatory.
2. Lasagne day. We all have lasagne for dinner.
3. National dress up like a superhero day. According to the child I asked this should coincide with national dress up like a super villain day. Genius!
4. National celebrity day. As I understand it, celebrities are allowed a day off from the paparazzi as long as they take the bus and shop in Asda. They also have to visit schools and have their photo taken with the kids.

Love it!

What about you? If you could introduce a national or international holiday what would it be? I’d back you if I thought it was a goer.

I leave you with this link. It’s from my sons favourite show and teaches you how to talk like a pirate. Yo ho lets go Just hit the play button and sing along.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

international hoff hasslehoff day

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My 12th annual 21st birthday

It’s my birthday today (only if you’re reading it on the 15th) and I’m actually quite excited. The thing that’s exciting me this year is the fact that my little boy knows what’s going on. A bit sad? You bet.
It got me thinking about how my view of birthdays has changed over the years and what birthdays mean at different ages. A list you say? A list with a twist.
Early years – early birthdays are all about the chaos and confusion of it. A house full of family, as much cake and sweets as you can eat and a conveyor belt of presents. It’s the presents that I remember (maybe its a false memory as I’ve seen, and am lucky enough to have, video tapes of those early years) and the fact that they kept on coming. A conveyer belt of ripping, shaking and discarding before moving on to the next item. The other side to the coin was if you got the one you really wanted early on then the others waited for a long time to be opened. I love the start of ‘Toy Story’ when you see it from the perspective of the toy, the panic that new toys bring, “pull my string the birthday party’s today!” a shocked Woody exclaims. One of the best openings to a film I’ve seen.
woody the cowboy toy story
Primary school age (4-11) – This is now more about the party and a little less about the presents. At this age you get to invite your whole class and run around like nutter, high on sugar, for a few hours. The doorbell has never been such an amazing noise. The party food and spread is also very important. This is something I tried to capture in the second Squidge book. I wanted to write about Christmas but not all totally about it. I came up with the idea of the big elf celebration (they were far to busy and then exhausted to celebrate Christmas) being a birthday party, and who better than Santa to throw the biggest party of the year. Here’s a little excerpt.

Now, if you are an elf, then Santa’s birthday party is the best time of the year. Elves don’t really celebrate Christmas like us because they have no time to prepare. Christmas takes a lot of hard work to make great and the elves are too busy making toys. Santa knows this and so makes sure that all of the elves get to have a great big party on his birthday. To give you an idea of how big a party it was, here is one page of Santa’s party preparation list:

 

Jelly and ice cream

Crisps (all flavours, shapes and sizes)

Donuts (jam and chocolate)

Fizzy drinks

Sweets (soft, hard and chewy and all the colours of the rainbow)

Sausage rolls

Pizza (one of each topping and 2 pepperoni as its Santa’s favourite)

Jam sandwiches (with the crusts cut off)

Ham sandwiches (with the crusts left on)

Balloons (the ones that float)

Streamers

A Piñata (full of marshmallows so they don’t hurt you when they fall out)

A gigantic birthday cake (must be chocolate sponge with chocolate icing and chocolate buttons)

 

And there are 20 more pages just like this one. I bet if you can think of something you would like to have at a party, you would find it on Santa’s party list.

squidge Christmas elf

Teenage years – as you get a bit older the party at your house, with the cake and cliche, just won’t cut it. It’s a time in your life when it’s all about you. I want this, I want that, and so on. You want one big present (usually very expensive) and a cool party at the bowling ally, swimming pool, fast food restaurant, quasar (look it up kids) or cinema. What you don’t realise is the expense. Your parents have to pay for the lot. At 13 or 14 though you don’t really care or consider it.
Early 20’s – clothes and a pub. It really is that simple. You can legally drink and you wanna look good doing it. The choice of pub though is very important. You want somewhere cheap, and that usually means a chain, but you also you want somewhere with atmosphere and that means expensive. Do you go to the local or somewhere different. These decisions are very important in your early 20’s and the clothes choices infinitely embarrassing when you look back.
the chequers billericay
Early 30’s – my 30th was a massive event. Bouncy castle, fancy dress (I went as a Jedi), old school sweets, shed loads of beer and pumping 90’s tunes. Everything from the Chillies to MC Hammer and all that is in between. This birthday though will be as the last couple have been, very low key affairs. A couple of friends, a couple of kegs of beer and laugh or two.
adnams broadside and bitter in my fridge
I’m off for a swim with my son now (partly so he’ll have a good nap and not be grumpy when my friends show up later) and then maybe out to lunch to line my stomach for the beer ahead.
I envisage a Sunday morning hangover followed by a fry up and many cups of coffee. Enjoy your weekend people. I know I will.
The final picture is of me and my dad at my 30th. He says he’s meant to be John Wayne, I think he looks Like Woody. You decide.
me and my dad peter
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