Tag Archives: family

Should children be allowed to drive?

Who would you rather have driving? Little Maggie - or Homer?

Who would you rather have driving? Little Maggie – or Homer?

Why are children not allowed to drive cars?

“It’s very frustrating,” said Top Boy, age 13, “to be sitting in a moving car, but not driving it.”

Soon, I soothed him, soon…

But he was not deterred. And in fact went further. Says he: “Assuming they can pass the driving test, it’s actually more sensible for children to drive than adults.”

Because…

  1. Children are used to learning and learn more quickly and effectively than adults.
  2. Children are used to following the rules.
  3. Children would not have such bad driving habits.
  4. Children would not be in such a hurry.
  5. Children would be getting such a kick out of driving they would not be letting their minds wander.
  6. Children have better eyesight.
  7. Children have quicker reactions.
  8. Children would be less likely to be distracted by disruptive passengers. (As Top Boy pointed out, he can do 200 miles per hour on computer driving games and stay on the track even with his mates pestering him. And that’s far faster. Continue reading

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Music

Komla - pic by Lorenzo Guerrieri http://www.lorenzoguerrieri.com/

Komla – pic by Lorenzo Guerrieri http://www.lorenzoguerrieri.com/

There is not enough music in my life. But here’s my personal top ten lis of live gigs of 2012 – in no particular order, except for number one.

10. Komla – In a Soho basement. Never seen, heard nor heard of them a week ago. Very good – mellow, charismatic, smooth – a bit Eagle Eye Cherry (which is a good thing). The band website is here. (They were supporting the relaunch of the charity Art Saves Lives.)

Aletia Upstairs9. Aletia Upstairs – This Cape Town, South Africa singer song writer and I shared a radio studio. I was plugging an excellent book, The Obituarist, by, ahem, me – available to download from Amazon here or Smashwords for non-kindles here. She arrived expecting to play some CDs, but rose magnificently to the unexpected  challenge of playing live instead. I’m listening to one of her CDs as I type. South Africa can be very annoying in the same way Swiss people are – irritatingly and seemingly effortlessly multilingual. Aletia sings in various languages. (You can see her and hear the radio show – and me – by following this link.)

8. Tom Williams and the Boat – Another intimate performance. Just Tom and Anthony (lovely riff) Vicary rehearsing for a live radio show I produced. It was almost as though I’d arranged the whole thing just so that I could have a gig all to myself. But I’d never be so devious, would I?

7. Adam Beattie and the Consultants – Again, another complete surprise. Very good, including a song dedicated to and about his late grandfather, who died aged 100. (Or so the songs say anyway.) See it here.

6. Africa Express – Baloji, Paul McCartney, Baaba Maal, Damon Albarn, Fatoumata Diawara, Noisettes, Rokia Traore, Seye, Spoek Mathambo, Thandiswa, Tony Allen – breathtaking array of African musicians and some Brits playing behind Kings Cross railway station in London. Assembling and moving this crew must be the musical achievement of the year. You can get a flavour here.

Tsivi Sharett - pic by Ottavia Castellina

Tsivi Sharett – pic by Ottavia Castellina

5. Nights at the Bonnington Cafe – cheap food, priceless music. Pretty much everyone there is a performer except me Continue reading

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Filed under D - Loose Bloggers Consortium, Music

How to be a Christmas cracker

To keep you going till Friday, here are some top tips of how to win friends and influence people this festive season. In other words – how to be a Christmas cracker.

1. Challenge your friends to these ten bets you cannot lose. (Unless they read this post.) Up to you what you wager – mince pies, whiskey, truth, dare or embarrassing forfeit?

2. Confound gender stereotyping by presenting gifts of toy guns to girls and dolls to boys – as recommended by this Swedish toy catalogue.

Actually, that’s not quite fair. They’re portraying the toys as gender neutral, rather than suggesting one sort of toy should be for girls and one for boys. But still – the pictures did not look at all as odd to me as I was expecting.

Oh no! I’ve become irredeemably right-on. On the other hand…

3. To redeem myself. I’ve been driving around with a 72-pint barrel of beer in the boot (trunk). How manly.

Not a full one obviously. Mostly drunk by now. Oh, and there was the little matter of the tap coming loose and the barrel leaking. Leaking over the boot. Swilling around. Pooling in the spare wheel cavity. How stinky.

If I get stopped by the police it’ll be very difficult to persuade them that I’m absolutely sober behind the wheel.

4. And finally. You remember how I callously sent Top Boy out hiking into the hard rain, iciness, windiness and mist? Some of you (ie Nigel) were wondering how he got on – especially considering that he had to have special permission to take part as he was underage – the youngest competitor in the overnight competition. It was nasty weather – you may have seen it mentioned on the news this week – and many teams and individuals pulled out during the competition. The Grimsdyke Hike. Grim by name. Grim by nature. But – and you can probably guess where this is leading – guess who won the Senior Competition? Oh yeah. Oh yeah. He and his Scout team mates rule.

It’s okay to boast about someone else’s achievement, isn’t it?

Look. I had to tell someone.

So I thought I might as well tell everyone.

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Filed under friends, In the village

Momma used to say…

Admittedly this picture is not an exact likeness of my mother… She’s not blonde. Nor armed. Nor so rude. In fact it’s a complete misrepresentation. Hard to justify at all really.

“What lesson from your mother do you still live by today?” I’m asked. *

There were many good lessons. How well I live by them? Probably wrong for me to judge myself. (Or else I’m too chicken to admit the truth.)

Except for one.

There’s one lesson she taught me that I always keep in mind and live by.

It’s this: V Continue reading

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I shouldn’t have let our nine-year-old fill in our census form

Maybe I should not have let my nine-year-old daughter fill in our census form. Looking at the form, we seem to have acquired an extra resident.

The once-every ten years trawl for information took place on Sunday night. It’s an offence not to to fill it in. It says on the front of the form. “You could face a fine if you don’t participate or if you supply false information.”

It also says: “Your personal information is protected by law. Census information is kept confidential for 100 years.”

A hundred years? Sure who can wait that long? When I checked over our completed census form, I found this entry for the fifth member of our household. As the form says: Individual questions – Person 5 start here…

1. What is your name? Christy Shmib   (First I knew he had a surname.)

2. What is your sex? (I see a third box has been added and ticked.) Continue reading

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Filed under family history, life

The biggest snowball in the world, ever.

She's contemplating the snow, he's admiring my taste in music. (Anyone know the artist?)

The snow began as I wandered along and around Portobello Road, past stalls selling printers type, old maps, bananas, crepes or cheese or “antique” candlesticks.

I was chewing the fat with the bloke who sells world music as we listened to The World Ends: Afro Rock & Psychedelia in 1970s Nigeria. Continue reading

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Filed under In the village, life

Islamic toilets – a plea

I’m fairly politically correct. But I was almost caught short and caught out at the weekend. Continue reading

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I burnt my mouth on a roast potato (but the memory lingers longer)…

No, that's not me. What? You seriously think I got someone to photograph my burning mouth? I couldn't talk. Only smile and nod. (Pic from 4tnz.com)

Let’s check. Tongue up to investigate. Strangely smooth skin above my teeth. Yup, still tender.

I burnt my mouth on a roast potato after my Granny’s funeral. Continue reading

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Filed under family history, life, Music

What I’ve learned

Its been tumultuous in Blackwatertown Towers lately. Normal service will soon be resumed. Once we establish just what the new normality will look like. But in the meantime, I’ll share with you some of what I’ve learned lately.

Yes, it looks like a roof slate because that's what it is. (You get a shiny medal for Sport Relief.) The glamorous person holding the slate/trophy is presenter Rachael Hodges, flanked by "the prestigious" Richard Bacon, and me. I didn't think the beer bottle would be in the picture. Missing from the line-up are top guru Louise Birt, indefatigable Garth Brameld, podcaster Harri Ritchie and inspirational listeners Jon Hillier and the Digger. The award was for the Special Half Hour - SHH.

  1. I haven’t completely lost it, thank God. I’ve just left the BBC after many years, but can proudly brandish two new awards. The first one is the highly prestigious Most Innovative Programme Award from the admittedly slightly obscure annual Audio and Music Awards. I shared it for a radio show I produced up until Christmas. The award-winning bit was the Special Half Hour – SHH – of which it was an honour and a privilege to be part. (Rule No. 1 You don’t talk about the Special Half Hour. But it’s been axed, so I dare to speak of it.)  The second is the also prestigious and much better known Sport Relief Mile. My running partner and I distinguished ourselves by completing the three mile (Count ’em! 3!) circuit before any of the six milers crossed the finish line. (Question: For which award did I contribute more to the sum of goodness in the world?)
  2. Whenever someone claims to be the first to ever do something, they’re wrong. Continue reading

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Filed under family history, history, life

Attention seeking

Please don't invade us! It's manky here. (Bigger version below.)

Writing is attention seeking. You want readers. But there’s no guarantee they’ll like what they read. And then there may be those who never actually read a word you’ve written, but form opinions through hearsay.

Those were the fellas on my mind even before I started. My book, Blackwatertown, is fiction. But it’s set in a real time, the 1950s IRA border campaign. And it’s based on real events which involved real people.

Some people whose views I respect urged caution on me when they learned I what planned to write. Not because they feared it would be rubbish. (Or if they did, they were too polite to say.) But because they feared what people might think.

Those dread words. The book might trouble people, offend them or annoy them. Even worse – it might attract attention.

You’d imagine attention would be a prerequisite to getting published and selling a few copies. But when the normal modus operandi is “Whatever you say, say nothing” – drawing attention is discouraged.

Of course loads of people write prose or poetry, sing or create images related to violent times in Ireland. And good for them. Perhaps, like I have, they decided to put other people’s sincere concerns to one side and plough on regardless.

Now I’m close to completing my Blackwatertown story, brows around me are furrowing again. While I’m worrying if anyone will publish/read/enjoy the book, others are dreading adverse reactions. Will publication dredge up old resentments? How far might critics, especially the hearsay merchants, go to express their disdain? What might be the practical consequences? Who might be vulnerable?

When people pass on warnings to me, I do take them seriously. But living life head down, shoulder hunched is a waste. So, publishers permitting, the book carries on.

And to any critics tempted to vent their criticism in an extreme fashion. Please at least buy a copy of Blackwatertown when it comes out, before you do something unpleasant. It’s only fair.

Ireland - Not Worth Invading, Honest... This map comes from the incomparable Strange Maps website. The map title is "Cautious Cartography". Apparently it appeared in the August 1940 issue of the Irish satirical magazine Dublin Opinion. According to Strange Maps: The map purports to portray Ireland in as unappealing a perspective as possible. The text accompanying the map explains how cartography may be at least partly to blame for Europe’s misfortune: " Feeling that the present unrest in Europe may have been largely caused by the well-intended, but highly mistaken policy pursued by countries of boasting about their natural advantages and attractions, a policy which has had the not unnatural result of exciting the cupidity of other countries, our Grangegorman Cartographer has designed the above map of Ireland, which is calculated to discourage the inhabitants, much less strangers. The trouble is, he feels, that, even as depicted, the country still looks more attractive than the rest of Europe." Well, yes, that'll be World War Two, Southern Ireland remained neutral during the conflict, managing to avoid invasion by either Britain or Germany, (though many volunteered to serve in the Allied forces). NB: Obviously it's all lovely in Ireland these days. Come and invest, why don't you?

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Filed under history, My Writing