Thursday, July 30, 2009

boys will be boys

dear readers, meet gimley. he is a large fellow with many wrinkles as you will see. i have yet to meet him as it is felt i might forget myself and try to get macho with him. it is not hard to guess who would come off worse in an arm-wrestling contest. gimley lives at the stables where herself goes for some peace and quiet. he has 6 fellow canines, one of which is a pug. the young snake-charmer is mad about pugs so herself took her to be introduced. i would show you a picture of the pug but pugs, it appears, do not stand still long enough to be photographed.

herself has been particularly enjoying her time at the stables this week. life is, as usual, a little fraught and time with large calm beasts seems to be the order of the day. the fraughtness arises from my boy and his education. "what a surprise!" i hear you say. my boy says he is no longer keen on the nice college with the animals. i think that in reality he is again feeling the pull of a career sitting in the dark playing computer games. getting used to change is not something that people of the beefburger persuasion are all that good at.

it has not helped that the peeps have still not managed to get the local irritation authority to agree to pay for the college. herself wrote a rather cross letter to the lawyer for the local irritation authority, saying that if they wouldn't agree to pay the fees she would pay them herself and sue the local education authority to get them back. she was able to make this promise because her maamship has offered to lend the peeps the money.

the letter seems to have moved things on a little. a nice man called ed sike came earlier this week to talk to my boy and do tests to see how clever he is. the peeps were rather concerned that young dave might let the side down with his mutty behaviour but mr sike has a dog of his own so was thankfully unshockable. next week my boy has to see a doctor and then hopefully the local irritation authority will be able to issue a new statement saying how wild my boy is and how much he has grown since the last statement of wildness was written. once this has been done things might finally get sorted out.

herself, meanwhile, is forging ahead with her own plans for education. she is going on a horse course. this is not to learn about horses but about therapy using horses. her maamship, upon hearing about horse therapy, said she had a mental picture of a horse sitting with its legs crossed asking someone how long they had been feeling like this. herself explained that the horse does the therapy without even speaking, which sounds most impressive. the horse course is not far from where her maamship resides so herself is going to spend the weekend with her maamship and travel to the horse course each day. young dave and i are to stay at home with himself and my boy. it will be very odd without the feminine influence that herself provides. i will miss the sound of drilling and hammering...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

old age

dear readers, as you will be aware, i am a lurcher of a venerable age. in may i was 11, which in human years i believe makes me 77. i have to say that in recent months i have been feeling my age, with the old hips getting more achey. young dave is beginning to outstrip me in speed, although at the moment i make up in guile what i lose in velocity so i am still able to thrash him at fetching things. the hips have had arthritis for some time. the evil vet diagnosed this after taking a photograph of them a couple of years ago.

there is some stuff that can help achey bones. it is called metacam. but it can cause other bits to give up the ghost so herself has been reluctant for me to be taking it on a regular basis until i have to. so she has been investigating other things. the nice man at the stables, who knows a huge amount about this sort of thing, suggested something he uses on horses called devil's claw. when i overheard herself talking about this i got the collie-wobbles. sticking something sharp in one part of the old frame did not sound to me the best way to stop another part hurting. but i worried in vain. devil's claw is some sort of plant. it comes in capsules and i get to have them wrapped in a little bit of ham or cheese so i am a happy fellow.

one slightly less popular change is that i am to have old dog food. young dave and i have dried dog food that comes in a sack, so it is not all that fresh, but it seems i am to have older dog food. our current food is called champ, and i am now going to be getting old champ. herself tried to put my mind at rest by saying that the old refers to the dog rather than the food but i am reserving my position until i have tried it. the reason for this change in diet is that i am apparently getting a little portly now that i am not charging around so much. and any extra weight is not so good for the achey hips. i did ask herself if she had looked in the mirror lately. if she is going to be pointing the finger at my spare tyre she would do well to look at her own. she responded by saying she is not 77 yet.

as well as all this, herself has bought me a magnetic collar from a lady called rose. the theory behind this is that it will make my blood magnetic which will somehow help the achey hips. i am just worried that i will attract the wrong sort of attention. it is very hard to retain any scrap of street-cred when one is coated with metal objects. i am just going to have to develop some patter about my magnetic personality...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

the swines

dear readers, herself is currently working at home. this is because her room-mate at work, miss shell, has been signed off with swine flu and herself does not fancy sitting in the germ-ridden office waiting to start sneezing. given that himself has a compromised immune system as a result of the drugs he has to take to keep superkidny ticking over, this is a very wise move. luckily, with the geeky household that we have, this arrangement has not resulted in any interruption of service on the work front. if anything herself gets more done, on account of not having colleagues to natter with.

while the work arrangements are tickety-boo, the arrangements for my boy going to college are causing herself some grief. this is because the local irritation authority has a mission to make life complicated. they employ people for this very purpose. they are called irritation officers.

my boy, as regular readers will know, is of the beefburger persuasion. he has a number of other things that make him special as well. because he is prone to wildness at school, he has a thing called a statement. this is a long document that describes his wildness and says that if he gets too wild the teachers have to sit on him until he calms down. because he has this statement the peeps have more dealings than they would like with the local irritation authority. herself has been in correspondence with the irritation officer assigned to my boy. what follows has been edited to remove any identifying features that might lead to a visit to the irritation authority offices by members of the worldwide chapter of the Hoard of Menopausal Women.

it all started on a friendly note with an e-mail from herself:

Dear Ms Irritation Officer

Further to the recent meeting at our boy's school, I am writing with regard to his education from September 2009. Last week our boy attended at taster days at the nice college with the animals and also had an interview. He has been offered a place on the course, subject to us arranging the funding. I gather that the nice ladies at the college have spoken to the nice lady at our boy's school and that she has contacted you, but I thought I should also make contact in case there is paperwork I need to complete.

Can you let me know how to progress this?


to which the irritation officer replied:

Thank you for your email.

No decision will be made in respect of placement for your boy until the statutory assessment has concluded. I cannot pre-empt the outcome of the statutory assessment, however, if we decide to issue a further statement for your boy you will at that stage be invited to submit your parental preference of placement.

I hope this is helpful.

well dear readers, i don't know about you, but helpful is not what i would call it. herself was fuming. my boy wanted to deal with things in his own sweet way but herself explained that this would result in more grief. instead she wrote back in a slightly less accommodating tone:

Dear Ms Irritation Officer

Thank you for your message. Our boy will be starting at the nice college with the animals in September. If the Local Irritation Authority has failed to complete the necessary assessment in time we will borrow the money for his fees. We are not willing for our boy to remain outside the education system indefinitely. The Local Irritation Authority is not in a position to be able to justify its inaction and obstructive approach given the fact that our boy has been out of school since January with no support from the LIA . I suggest you seek advice from the LIA's solicitors.


so it seems the gloves are off. what is amazing is that this is the same irritation officer that dealt with my boy some years ago. you would think she would have learned that resistance is useless. what she may not have realised is that she is now dealing with the Hoard of Menopausal Women...

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

an irksome troll

dear readers, i am afraid i have had to enable comment moderation on my blog after all this time. this is due to a rather sad individual who has nothing better to do than write insulting drivel about my boy, something which, as i am sure you will all understand, herself will not countenance.

rest assured, your comments will appear eventually, when i can manage to get herself to approve them, so keep writing.

Friday, July 03, 2009

a learning curve

relax dear readers! my boy has not ended up in jail! this picture was taken in the equine unit at college where he went for a taster day. or in fact two taster days and an interview. to explain how this came about i will need to backtrack, so you may want to get a pen and paper and take notes.

regular readers will remember that in january of this year my boy's fear had reached such proportions that he was not going out of the house. since going to school not only required going out of the house but also a car journey of well over an hour each way, his education ground to a halt. in the intervening months a number of potential options were discussed for keeping my boy off his computer and getting him educated. each came to nothing. the most recent was a local school for artistic young people that has been set up by a charity. this place would have been ideal. but there was the small question of persuading the local irritation authority to pay for it. and what do you know? the ever helpful lady at the local irritation authority said they would not because the new school did not have some sort of registration number from the government. this is because the number takes a couple of weeks to come through, so by the time the money was being paid the school would be properly numbered.

by this stage herself was getting a little frustrated. my boy had been out of school for 6 months and the only input from the local irritation authority had been to threaten to take the peeps to court. then a friend who lives nearby and who has an artistic daughter suggested a college up the road where they teach stuff about the countryside. this had not occurred to the peeps because my boy is not yet 16, but the college takes younger folks than this on a special course.

this week was the taster days and the interview. my boy has known about these for some time and was, on the face of it, looking forward to them. that is until the time came on saturday to buy the boots that he needed to wear to stop his feet getting busted by heavy things.

"i can't do this!" he wailed.

"you can do this." said herself firmly. there followed a stand-off for about 3 hours while my boy threw a major wobbly and the peeps continued with their efforts to get him out of the house. by 12 o'clock he had weakened and we went for a walk to the local park. to do this he had to get dressed, which was part of the peeps' fiendish plan. when they got back they persuaded him into the car and off they went, returning shortly afterwards with some very sturdy boots.

the first taster day was on monday and was blacksmithing. herself had prepared my boy down to the last minute as to what they were going to do in the morning. things went to plan until they were in the car.

"i don't think i can do this!" wailed my boy, looking pale.

"remember the boots?" said herself, "this will be the same."

all the way there my boy fussed about how impossible it was. at one point he curled up in a ball and started shaking. herself by all accounts found this a bit hard to ignore, but it is so important that my boy gets out into the world that she gritted her teeth and drove on. soon they were there.

the first bit involved a talk in a room where there were a large number of chairs laid out. my boy went even paler. herself walked purposefully towards the back and sat down. my boy reluctantly sat beside her, muttering out of the corner of his mouth like a gangster. as the room filled up my boy became more vocal.

"get me out of here!" he growled.

"no." said herself. there followed a whispered exchange worthy of a courtroom. eventually the man in charge appeared and explained what was going to happen. then various people came to the front of the room to collect their victims.

"no way can i do this!" growled my boy. herself ignored him. "you sure know how to make me suffer!" he continued, "i thought you loved me."

"i do," said herself, that's why i don't want you to spend your whole life in a darkened room playing computer games." with which she marched off after the man who had come to collect the blacksmithing people.

when they got to the forge my boy tried to take herself to one side to continue with his protestations. herself is a wily old bird and made for the middle of the workshop where the man in charge was demonstrating how to measure a length of metal. the man was called dave, which in my book gives him a head start. one of the peeps' friends has known a couple of not very nice daves but in our house the name has only positive connotations. it became clear that they were going to make a poker. once this was explained my boy should have thrown in the towel and got on with it. the peeps need a decent poker. they have a very large poker that would be more suitable for a baronial hall but which is unusable in the little fireplace in our house, so they shuffle the fire around with salad tongs.

"it's great you are going to make me a poker!" she said. my boy must have seen the writing on the wall. once herself has an idea she is not easily shifted from it. the day ran on. my boy fussed. herself was tough. eventually the poker was finished and they left, very hot but triumphant.

the next visit to college was on wednesday. this was for the interview for the course that my boy is hoping to go on. herself had prepared him in minute detail about what was going to happen. my boy had written a piece about why he wanted to go to this college and what he hoped to get out of it. more accurately my boy had dictated and herself had typed it. although my boy can type, he cannot type and think at the same time. there was a certain amount of kerfuffle about trousers the previous evening, which i will gloss over in the interests of brevity.

somehow monday's experience had not had any impact on my boy's psyche. 10am found him curled up in a ball in bed. herself did the cheery thing for about an hour, sounding less cheery as it failed to work. eventually my boy was persuaded out of bed.

"don't come near me!" he wailed, "i can't do this!" herself heaved a large sigh and carefully explained that not only could he do this, but that he was definitely going to do this.

"you can't make me! go away!" my boy presented an interesting sight as he said this. in one arm he was clutching bertha the bear, who has been with him all his life. in the other arm he was waving a full size replica machine gun.

"i will make you," said herself firmly, "this is too important for you to dip out of it. you need to get dressed." i have to say it was not clear to me how she was proposing to make a 5' 10" teenager do anything. the days of picking my boy up under one arm and carrying him out to the car are long gone.

herself got on the phone to himself. himself, true to form, did not answer his phone. then herself had an inspired idea. mrs snake charmer was off work for the week. when herself rang her she was cleaning her oven. she promised to be here in 10 minutes. herself told my boy that if he did not get dressed she and mrs snake charmer would dress him. mrs snake charmer used to play rugby and is very strong. my boy decided it might be prudent to get dressed himself, but continued to mutter throughout. herself went into the garden to cool down and spied mrs next door over the fence. as soon as mrs next door heard what was going on she offered to come round too.

mrs snake charmer arrived and the kettle was put on. my boy made an appearance, dressed at last, but still refusing to leave the house. at this point mrs next door arrived. mrs next door is a person of small stature, but what she lacks in height she makes up for in charm and strength of character. my boy opened the door.

"thank goodness you're here! she has got [mrs snake charmer] round to bully me!" (dear readers, i am under strict instructions not to use anyone's real name, in order to prevent embarrassment to the peeps' friends). mrs next door did not like to say that she had come round for a similar purpose.

by now my boy was starting to realise that his recalcitrance was unlikely to succeed. faced with three determined menopausal ladies he had to admit defeat. he decided to try another tack and lit an incense cone. the ladies exchanged glances. young dave and i exchanged glances. but all was well. he was simply making some magic smoke. he came in with a test tube full of smoke. when he took out the bung the smoke wafted round the room, making a smell reminiscent of an eastern bazaar.

"i'll take some magic smoke to the interview!" he said, "that will relax me." he was dissuaded from this plan and it was explained that this might look rather eccentric and might also set off the sprinklers at the college. i could only agree. while it is always good to make an impression, one has to be careful what sort of impression one makes.

it was soon time to leave. mrs snake charmer agreed to come along to the college in case of last minute wobbles. she was glad she did as she collected a large amount of literature about interesting courses for mr snake charmer and himself to go on. one course was about smoking. her maamship later pointed out it might not be wise to send my boy to a college where they teach you how to smoke, but it appears this is not that sort of smoking.

anyway, i digress. suffice to say that the interview was a success and my boy was offered a place on the course, starting in september. he just had to get through the taster day on thursday. one the way home herself made it clear that if there was a repeat of that morning she would call in her friends again.

"you always get your hoard of menopausal women to bully me," said my boy. herself pointed out that menopausal women strike terror into the heart of most men and that she quite liked the idea of being part of a hoard. readers, beware the Hoard of Menopausal Women...

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

summer fun and games

dear readers, i must yet again apologise for the dearth of musings. the peeps have been distracted by a number of things so i have been without a scribe. the distractions have taken the form of a horse, a party and my boy.

the horse is one that herself has been riding. he lives in a yard in the country near here and herself has arranged with the man who looks after him and his fellow horses that she helps out a bit in the stables and in return gets to ride round the countryside. unfortunately young dave and i are not allowed to go riding with her so i have only seen photos of the horse. here you can see his nose.

he is by all accounts a large brown and white horse with shaggy feet and a friendly nature. the man who looks after him is someone who does raking at the place where herself had her raking treatment. he also does raking on the horses which seems to make for a calm and friendly crowd, in spite of several of them being rather important in the horse world.

as well as horsing around, herself has been partying. herself reached the grand age of 50 in april, 6 weeks after her maamship had achieved the same. they decided to have a party, as between them they had accumulated a century. the party was in a field behind a pub and many of the guests camped. a collection of cooking appliances were gathered together and himself and mr snake charmer were placed at strategic points among them with instructions to feed the guests. her maamship and my boy concocted some delicious looking kebabs (i cannot vouch for how they tasted as, in spite of several attempts, i was unable to liberate one). wonderful music was provided by a young and very talented clarinetist and some older but equally talented guitarists, one of whom was a member of the judiciary. a harmonica also made an appearance later in the evening.

the highlight of the evening from herself's point of view was a performance of her very own song. this song was written by the young snake charmer and has been developed over some months. the song was accompanied by a puppet performance on a stage which the young snake charmer made. the characters were some rather brilliant drawings of herself, himself, my boy, young dave and me, all cut out and made into puppets. the snake charmers made a film of the song which, if herself has got the technology right, should appear below. but in case my readers are unable to make it work, here are some pictures of the main characters:

yours truly - aka man in a dog suit

young dave - complete with air of puzzlement

many of the references in the film will escape those who are not familiar with the day to day detail of the peeps' lives. the chives are some plants in our garden which my boy has decided calm him down when munched. this is known as 'getting chived up'. my boy gets chived up before stressful events such as his smiths lesson with mr snake charmer.

the reference to 'teabagging' is to a rather clever deterrent which herself invented to stop my boy coming out with some of his more outrageous sexist comments. it involves the placing of a cold wet teabag down the back of the neck. should the sexism continue, a sound pat on the back is delivered, bursting the teabag and leaving cold wet tea inside the sexist's tea-shirt. needless to say this has only had to be done once; the mere mention of teabagging now has my boy turning from an unreconstructed caveman into a fluffy liberal feminist.

herself and her maamship had foreseen that the partygoers might find the evening chilly as night fell, in spite of it being midsummer. some while before the party they decided that what was needed was a firepit. many hours were spent scouring ebay for a firepit but all were exhorbitantly expensive. so herself decided to manufacture one from a dustbin lid. now you would think that this would be an easy item to find. but no. you can only buy dustbin lids if you buy a whole dustbin. and no one round here has a metal dustbin any more due to the advent of wheely bins.

luckily herself works for the local authority. she got on the blower to the man in charge of rubbish collection. he said that they only had wheely bins but that herself was in luck as some local flytippers had been dumping rubbish in dustbins which were going to be picked up that very day. herself shares her office with a lady called miss shell. when she related the saga of the dustbins, miss shell very sensibly advised her to take a photograph or two before drilling holes in them in case they became exhibits in a court case. the following day herself shot off to the depot to collect them, but it turned out that they were still at the scene of the crime. in the end some other bin lids were found which avoided the problem of evidence being destroyed by a member of the legal department.

the firepit was a great success as you can see here:

the partying went on until 3am. there were some rather sore heads the following day.

you may recall at the beginning of this long and rambling missive that i said there were 3 things that had been occupying the peeps, the third being my boy. i will tell you about my boy in my next missive, otherwise this will turn into a novel...