Things to do when you are a bored 5 year old waiting for your dad – no1

I remember when I was very young you used to be able to get liquorice flavoured bubble gum.  Unlike ordinary gum it was black, it stained your teeth and tongue black and no self respecting parent would let their child have it. Well, Mum wouldn’t, but if you pestered hard enough and made enough of a nuisance of yourself dad might – if only to keep you quiet on the bus ride into town for swimming lessons.


I saved some for after the lesson, me and my brother had to wait in the seats while dad finished teaching his group of students who finished after us. Luckily I had my gum to keep me entertained so the time passed quickly.

At some point I became curious as to whether I could stretch it out far enough to make a black, gummy necklace. I pulled, teased, stretched and bullied my gum into what I thought would be a long enough piece, then I joined the ends together and slipped it over my head.

The problem was, my estimation of what might or might not be long enough was seriously off. I ended up with a crown of black gum around my head. I tried to take it off and start over, but quickly found that that was not an option. I had to brazen it out and hope nobody would notice – yeah right!

This is the story of how I came to have my very first (very) short haircut.




Florida is a great place to visit, you can’t beat the laid back atmosphere and facilities for doing lots or doing nothing – your choice. I have waxed lyrical about it previously ( ) so I won’t go on.

On a trip to a beach near St Petersburg, we were enticed by the kayak hire man and decided to ‘push the boat out’ – so to speak – and rented one for the afternoon. The water was warm and calm, the beach was largely empty and we had nothing else much to do that day.

First out was our eldest son. To say he was enthusiastic would be an understatement. Off he went, out towards the horizon and into the open ocean leaving me calling “stay away from the drop off” like Marlin in Finding Nemo.

We resigned ourselves to playing in the shallows and hoping for a turn later on if we were lucky, so it was a pleasant surprise when we saw him coming back. He came up alongside us jumped off and muttered something about ‘realising we would want a turn’ and ‘not wanting to hog it the whole time.’

So we floundered about got on, fell off, tipped each other in and – eventually – set off paddling in gradually increasing circles and wobbly lines away from the shore. It was fabulous; some small fishes came leaping about around the kayak, closely followed by some dolphins looking for lunch.

They swam around and about for a bit and then followed their fishy meal up the beach and beyond our range, giving us an experience to remember – when the wild dolphins swam with us.

Eventually we headed back to the beach. “Did you see the dolphins?” we asked.

“What dolphins?”

“The ones that came to shore just after you gave the kayak to us.”

“Oh, yeah, I thought they were sharks.”



Party time, cutting up carpets and blaming someone else!


My eldest son is currently finishing a year of parties, interspersed with some exams and university applications. As him and all of his friends met their 18th milestone and took tentative steps into adulthood – mostly by getting drunk and posting pictures of one another, drunk, online – I was inevitably reminded of my own teen years.

Being allowed to have/getting away with having a party in your parent’s house was a rite of passage that I aspired to. I thought it would make me cool and popular, or at least be a bit of a laugh.

I was undeterred by other parties that had taken place where furniture had been destroyed, cars ‘taken for little drives’ by drunken boys, windows broken and police invited to attend half way through the evening. Obviously MY party wouldn’t be like that.

So when my parents left me for a weekend the word went out, people were phoned, alcohol was procured, music was chosen, outfits were picked out and the party was on! In those pre-internet days it required a lot of effort to make sure you didn’t just end up with six lads, three tins of pale ale and a dog that someone was supposed to be walking. I am proud to say I managed it, lots of people turned up; there was plenty of booze, girls and boys attended and from what I remember it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

The following morning was not quite as enjoyable, there was tidying up to do, some sick to clean up in the front garden, a few stragglers to see off the premises and things to put back into their proper places. So as we threw open the windows and started to dispose of the Watneys Party Seven tins (you will only understand this reference if you were around in the 70 and 80s) and cider flagons (yes I grew up in Devon).

All was going well until we discovered – horror – two cigarette burns in the middle of the front room carpet. Right in the middle, under the place the coffee table went, but clearly visible through the glass top. There was only one thing for it, I would have to come clean, confess and face the consequences, and there would be hell to pay!

Or, if you are thinking on your feet, cut two bits of carpet from the corner of the room, buy some new fangled super glue and fix it. Good as new and nobody noticed, all in all the party was a success and I was a bit older and a bit wiser.




Did I ever mention I have a sister who is two years younger than me? While I was away studying she too had a party. She too moved all the furniture out of the way. She too managed to get a houseful of teenagers slightly drunk and raucous, she too had to tidy up the next morning. Unfortunately the heavy footfall of the party had undone all my sterling work with the superglue two years previously, not knowing this trick, or how the damage had happened, she felt he had to fess up. There was hell to pay!