|A poorly boy taking a nap. Aww.|
|I'm not feeling well, can you tell?|
|Forest at dusk. Pretty.|
Do you recall, not so long ago, all those property programmes on TV banging on about how great decking is?
No, neither do I really, but I assume they must have done, because one day in mid-2008 I realised that every garden I went in seemed to have planks of wood where grass had once been.
When we bought our house in 2010 the decking craze had faded a bit. But, because no-one had any money anymore *shakes fist at Lehman Brothers et al*, all the gardens which had been covered in nice wood were now covered in two year old, neglected wood. Our new home had been treated to a liberal smattering of decking, roughly 70% of the back garden was covered in it.
Aesthetically speaking, the decking was okay. It did have a thin film of incredibly slippery green stuff on it, as a result of the previous owners never cleaning it, but as long as all you wanted to do was look at the garden from inside, it was okay. Cutting the lawn took moments, as there was only roughly four square feet of it.
Structurally, the decking was not so good. It was flagged up by the surveyor, as it had been built too high, which meant a risk of damp creeping up past the damp proof course of the house itself. It also had a bit of a rickety "DIY" feel to it.
One day, soon after we moved in, water started coming through the kitchen floor, which put something of a dampener (sorry) on our moods. We didn't know where the water was coming from, and the decking didn't have an access panel to the drain we assumed would be underneath it. If that drain was blocked, causing our kitchen to do an impression of a paddling pool, it needed sorting. The decking had to go.
The occasions where I feel like a manly man are few and far between. The day that I started taking up the decking was one of them. A hammer, a saw, not one but TWO crowbars were my weapons of choice.
The decking didn't go without a fight. Despite it's less than sturdy appearance, I soon discovered that whoever had built it was a firm believer in not using one nail if there was the option to use six. Reinforcements were drafted in: Mrs L, my younger brother, my mum and dad, all pitching in to purge the garden of the wooden blight.
Slowly but surely, we were winning. At the very end of the day, I let my guard down. I lost my respect for our adversary and trod on a six inch nail. I didn't have any body piercings before that day, and I had never suspected that my first one would be right through my foot.
One tetanus jab later and the last few pieces of wood were transported to the tip. Hooray.
Sadly, the state of our garden beneath the decking looked like an homage to London during the blitz. Which is pretty much how it remained until last Tuesday, when a nice man came and rotovated it, turfed it, and gave us a nice, Cam friendly garden.
The house I grew up in had a big garden at the front, a small garden at the rear, and a disused quarry which me and my siblings used as our personal adventure playground. I can't imagine I'll ever be able to offer Cam a similar facility, but we do now have some usable outside space for him to run around in and get muddy. This pleases me enormously. I love the outdoors, and the availability of green space for Cam to use is important to me.
We already have the obligatory Little Tikes Coupe, what other garden essentials do we need? Over to you for your suggestions…
Hear that rumble? It's the sound of a bandwagon, which I'm about to jump on. I've been deliberately staying away from this up until now, because I've been hearing all sorts of impassioned stuff. I didn't really feel I had anything to add when it comes to, you know, HER.
See, I'm a bit too young to remember what life was like when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister. She was resident at Number 10 for the first eight years of my life, years where I was definitely more interested in the exploits of Optimus Prime than those of the Prime Minister.
Of course, as luck would have it, I lived in the South West of England, so my family wasn't being directly affected by things like the closure of coal mines. My dad was made redundant during her tenure, but not as a result of anything she did. Would I have understood or cared even if he had been?
So I wasn't old enough to have an opinion of the Iron Lady at the time she was exerting her will upon the nation, nor was I in one of the geographical areas most impacted by her policies. According to many, this means I'm not allowed an opinion on her now.
Well, sorry, but, no.
One of my ex-girlfriends lived in a shared house at university. Among her housemates was a young woman who would only watch films, or read books, which were set within her lifetime. Incredibly, anything prior to this was considered completely irrelevant to her. That's weird, right? Really weird?
I hold an opinion on Margaret Thatcher because she was important. She did big things. Changed the way a lot of people think. Wreaked havoc on whole swathes of the country and had no interest in hearing people's objections.
Some people have probably thought about (and cursed the name of) Margaret Thatcher every day for the last twenty years. I haven't. But I have thought about her in the last week, because:
- She was kind of a big deal
- She died
- It has been the top story for every media outlet ever since
Probably the most divisive political leader in living memory, and some people think we shouldn't be talking about her. Except that's not what it is, is it? The people who are resisting the negative comments about Thatcher are the people who believe that she saved the nation (and, for the record, I think anyone who sees no bad in her actions is a fool, but I also think her actions came at a time when something needed to be done, and big changes are never positive for everybody). These are the people who want to hear only praise. Probably, in large part, they are the people who did well during Thatcher's time in government.
Now, I have no desire to go to a party in celebration of anyone's death, that's a bit macabre for my tastes. Do the people staging these things think that somehow Lady T still had her hand on the steering wheel all these years? That the unwell old lady portrayed by Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady was a cunning disguise? Maybe don't put your energy into celebrating Thatcher's death, put it into fighting against her ideological offspring's current style of government. Or, maybe, have a death party, I don't really mind. I also wouldn't mind if you were celebrating the death of someone whose politics align more closely with mine. It might be bad taste, but I don't find it offensive.
If Margaret Thatcher is now in some other plane of existence, watching down (or up…) on us I don't think she'd be offended. I might be too young to remember, but apparently she was quite a strong character.
PS - The alleged cost of the funeral though? That's taking the piss, especially with the "we're not telling you how much it cost until it's happened" line which the government are taking. No-one's funeral should cost that much. Silly.
Lunch breaks are an oasis of calm and time to myself during the working week. Some people don't take lunch breaks, preferring to work through and reach the end of the day a little quicker, but I don't. I need a lunch break (as, incidentally, do most of the people who "work" through theirs. I have often wished I had the sort of temperament which would allow me to shout "look, you festering arsehole, just because you haven't left your desk, doesn't mean you're not having a lunch break. You're not working, you're wiping the juices from your sandwich from your chin while catching up on whatever bilge the Daily Mail website has on offer today. Prick."), and I take one.
Unfortunately, lunch breaks don't always pass by in the calm and recreational manner I prefer. Sometimes they include things which leave me prickling with rage. Today was one such day. The reason? Shopping trolleys.
Shopping trolleys bring out the worst in people. Dutifully, they provide transport for our supermarket purchases, accompanying us down the aisles as we select the various foodstuffs which will sustain us for the coming days. Rarely do they complain; the occasional shake of a wheel in protest at their life of servitude, little more.
Such a loyal piece of equipment, you would think, ought to draw some respect in return? No. The car parks of the land are awash with discarded trolleys, their contents transferred to the boots of Fords, BMWs and Volkswagens and their naked, wiry frames left stranded.
I will say this just the once: if you are the sort of person who leaves a trolley in the middle of the car park and drives off I think you are a total, utter, absolute fuckbean of a wankstain.
This simple action, to me, says so much about who you are: you don't care about anyone but yourself, you are immeasurably lazy, you have no thought for the property of others, you may well have a shady sideline in tearing limbs off kittens for fun.
The trolley park is over there! *points* It is not far! Never more than thirty metres I would guess. How long would it take you to get there and back? Are you so busy and important that you can't afford that time? No. You are not.
What's that? It's raining? Boo-fucking-hoo. You poor, poor bastard. Are you the Wicked Witch of the West? No. You are not. In fact, you're already wet, so just go and put the trolley away.
Today, I saw a man about the same age as me (which is to say: not a member of the unfathomable youth) run a few metres with his trolley to gain speed before letting go of it and watching it speed away across the tarmac. He hadn't even pushed it in the direction of a trolley park. It very nearly made it as far as a parked car. Not that he'd have known, since he was in his car and away by then.
I would have liked to ask him this question: what would be your reaction if, upon returning to your car, a trolley had been pushed away and put a nice, big dent in your driver side door? You would want somebody's blood, I am sure of it.
But this behaviour does not stand alone. It is just one example of a vast array of twattery which occurs daily. Another example: people who use the last teabag in the caddy at work and don't refill it. WHY THE FUCK NOT? There are literally hundreds of these things, seemingly small, which simply serve to make me think that we are moving toward a society where we all just don't give a solitary shit about one another.
I try to live by a simple maxim: don't be a dick.
Sometimes I get it wrong, but it usually means I don't do things like leaving a trolley in a car park, or not replenishing the tea bags.
Life is far nicer if you're nice to other people. Be a citizen. Don't be an über-selfish muppet.
Am I overreacting? What are the tiny bugbears which will you with despair? Should I just stop giving a fuck and join in?