Wednesday, February 18, 2015

First World Tragedy

Her face said it all.

Usually she can hold it in; hide the pain.

Not today.

Out loud she agreed, out loud she smiled.

But out loud was lying while quietly hiding the truth.

Her mouth said she understood while her eyes called me a bastard.

But it was too late – the words I’d just said were out, could never be unsaid.

As with all relationships built on love, trust, friendship, and respect, ours is a balancing act of spoken and unspoken truths. There are things you can say.

And things you can’t.   

This was one of those things that can’t.

But I know I'm right. I am right.

Right is not the same as nice.

And so now, as I look into that face, the face that I love, and see the despair written over it I have to stay strong. I have to hold my nerve. There’s no going back.

If I take back what I said now, then it was just words. Nasty, painful, heartless, words. If I hold firm then they are the truth – and the truth is real.

And that is why, as soon as I put this laptop down, I’ll be fetching my spanners.

I’m sorry, Love. The Dishwasher IS getting disconnected.

The building work on the house starts in a couple of weeks and the current Utility will be demolished – I need to connect the washing machine up somewhere and that somewhere is where the dishwasher is now.

It’s happening.

And I'm not backing down on this one.

Somewhere, somehow, in a hospital in Afghanistan, a young girl, orphaned and physically broken, has managed to connect to the internet and is reading this now; tears of sympathy streaming down her face. She understands our pain. She feels sad knowing that my children will have to wash up their own cereal bowls – by hand. She may even donate.

And so can you – go to now – as little as £50 per week can help us pay someone to wash the pots, clean up our kitchen and do the ironing. Is that really too much to ask? 

Do I have to post up a picture of my children with tea-towels in their hands to convince you?

Monday, February 2, 2015

You can run but you can't hide

Darkness never truly falls, only a dim, grey, fog.

You’d take darkness.

No light. Nothing to see. Nothing to hear.

You’d take that.

You force your eyes shut to block out the light.

But darkness won’t come.

If you can’t see it then you don’t have to believe it. If you can’t hear it, then you don’t have to listen.

And it’s the listening that hurts.

The dull, grey, mist that rolls over you instead, carries the voices of despair. Words; chattering on, relentlessly obliterating your sense of reality.

Words of despair.

Words of gloom and of hopelessness. You hear the words. You see the shapes forming in front of you and nothing can stop them from taking over you.


Soon they are all you can hear. Sounds of reason, hope, and joy are all lost – the only thing you can hear - is misery.

And misery is a very selfish conversationalist that will not let you talk and will not let you walk away.
Held firmly in its grasp, your head becomes heavy, your shoulders bent and your heart becomes nothing more than a tool to push blood around your body.

And the voices continue.

They never stop.

Well, not until bedtime, anyway. Then you manage to prise the tablets out of their mitts and turn Minecraft off. Then it goes quiet.

One day a law will be passed that makes “Piss off” an acceptable answer to the question “Do you want to see my village, Dad?”

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Miracle on Shed Street

First things first – HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Let 2015 be a great year for you and all you care about.

All I'm hoping for is that my shed stays up and that it turns out to be dryer inside it than out.


Sheds are, traditionally, a man thing. They are a place for men, containing manly tools and equipment, offering safe-haven from the rigours of over-exposure to wives and children.

Wives stay away from this hallowed ground out of respect and of understanding of their husband’s higher standing in the family tree.

Or it could just be because of the spiders I suppose.


A shed is something ‘Men’ have.

Building the shed yourself takes macho to levels so high that you can’t walk within two meters of any women in case Testosterone escapes and makes them pregnant.

Only a real man could actually build his own shed.

Which brings me to “Shed Day”.

Mark the day well, 23rd December 2014.

The day I became a mansort of.

Actually, the story doesn't really start on Shed Day - I suppose I should start at the beginning…

It was early November and I was at home alone on one of my ‘off-shift’ days in the middle of the week. My wife and kids were at work/school respectively and I was doing the family’s ironing. The TV was on and though it is generally against my principles to engage in any Christmas based activities until December, I’d found myself watching Miracle on 34th Street (The original 1947 version with Edmund Gwenn in it – not Richard Attenborough).

I won’t lie – it got me.

Let’s just say things were getting a bit emotional - must have got some steam in my eye.

Which is exactly how I came about buying a shed.

What else can you do when you suddenly catch yourself blubbing at a Christmas film in the middle of the day while ironing? I needed to locate my Y chromosome – and fast!

The internet sped to my rescue and within no time at all I had a 10 by 8 feet metal shed on order – don’t ask me why I bought a metal one – I may have been panicking a bit. The company I bought it from claimed to also install them – and that suited me too, I just didn't feel ready. The man (who sounded like he probably has only ever seen two films in his life and they were both Die Hard) gave me a quote and told me to call him when I knew the delivery date.

With that done I manfully set off to clean the bathroom.

Time passed. Finally, the shed arrived, just before Christmas. I called up Right Shed Fred and tried to book in a time. I really didn't want it sitting around outside for weeks in its box.

“No problem” he said, “er… did I already give you a quote?” “Yes”, I replied, noting an immediate lack of interest on his part. The time of year had suddenly hit him and I got the feeling he fancied getting paid a bit more for Christmas. He promised to call back later that day to confirm.

He never did. All my calls from then on went ignored. I realised that the time had come to man up to level 7.

The shed came with a separate foundation kit. So I went out and put it together…


Please excuse my cycle-rack - the only drawback to successful dieting is overly loose trousers...

Surprising myself with how well that went, I made a decision. There was no physical way that one person was going to be able to put this up – or at least not if that one person was me.

It needed a team.

It needed a family.

And so Shed Day was born.

The first day we would all be home with nothing better to do would be the 23rd December – and so it was planned. We would build the shed and then have Dominos Pizza as a reward.

And so that’s what we did. The kids rebelled a bit as time rolled past lunch and they began to suspect they weren’t getting any – Jamie, my youngest, went on strike. He disappeared inside for ten minutes and then came out with a poster he’d made saying “Peace for Workers” and proceeded to walk about chanting it. Jo pointed out that if he he’d made himself some lunch in those 10 minutes instead of making a poster he’d not still be hungry…

Jo lost interest soon afterwards and disappeared inside purely to help the boys out – obviously.

At a pace that resembled the suggested timescales in the instructions in the same way that I resemble George Clooney, the walls grew steadily into the landscape. Actually the suggested building times were the same as mine, it’s just that they were scaled in hours where I was using days…

Luckily for you - time-lapse technology means you don't have to wait...

Peace for Workers...

It got dark. The pizza arrived.

Shed Day became Shed Days.

I managed to drop so many screws in the mud that I ran out, meanwhile Christmas beckoned me back into the home to play with my family.

Shed Days became Shed Weeks.

Then I remembered it needed a floor…

And so I ask just one thing – when you take three weeks to build a shed that is supposed to take 5 hours – do you still get to claim the man points?

Have I repaired the damage to my machismo caused by being distracted by that film?

Not that it matters – since then I've watched It’s a Wonderful Life and Bridge to Terabithia,  so I've completely lost any credibility that building a shed could have given me - you aren't even human if those films don’t get you choked up.

I'm going to run out of space in our garden with all the sheds I'm going to have to buy…

Happy days.