Wednesday, 30 June 2010

An Adult Education

I have had, through my door, a booklet outlining what Somerset has to offer in terms of Adult Education.

During darker times, this document has cheered me up no end.

There are parts which are, to be frank, bonkers.

This may sound rich coming from someone who goes around attempting to get adults wrestling with my giant balls whilst panting and connecting with their pelvic floors, but hey, that's different.....(and at least I don't get people to lie on mattresses and cry, well unless they go home to do that bit?).

Anyway, my own activities aside, I can tell I've gone West and back where I belong.

I'm used to evening classes being all 'Cooking for One', 'Double Entry Book Keeping for the New' and 'How to Spend 12 Weeks Slaving Over A Sewing Machine Only to Produce a Pair of Trouser Which Could Only Be Used for the Back End of a Panto Camel'.

That was my attempt at learning dress making but my career ended prematurely when I used a pattern for a pair of floaty wide leg summer trousers and, for my fabric, selected thick GOLD velvet. Very thick. I think it may actually have been upholstery fabric. Nope, I have no idea what I was thinking either. I should have just cut my loses, chopped off the waist band and turned them into two extra-fat draught excluders, but instead I took them home and tried them on alone before sending them to Help the Aged. I've never got over it.

Evening classes here seem a little different.

Don't get me wrong, there is still your Lace Making, Pottery and German Immersion (turns out its in the language, not amongst being dipped amongst actual German bodies) - but amid all this is an eclectic mix if ever I saw one.

Let's take a closer look......

We have 'Solar Panel DIY' (who would have thought there was such a market for fiddling with your own solar panels?), 'Bee Smart -for people with no experience with bees' (??), a 12 hour course on 'First steps with your digital camera enabling you to change the settings' (alternatively you could save yourself £60 and read the manual, but hey, that's just a suggestion) and an intriguing sounding course called 'Taming the Shrew - could this be you?' Aimed at women going through the menopause.

We also have:

Practical Animal Workshop - Dogs
'Learn how to handle, communicate and control dogs, using kind methods'.

What as opposed to a course educating you on how to control dogs using cruel and inhumane things like sticks and electric prods? It makes no mention of bringing our own dog and is held in a hall so I guess no real dogs are involved? Do you think everyone has to 'pretend' with a stuffed toy or do they use eachother? 'Please secure a lead around Cyril's neck and if he sits when asked, reward him with a chicken morsel and a tummy rub. Do NOT kick him or jerk him to strongly'. I bet they love it. Most popular course in the prospectus I would imagine.

Next to that (and if it's got you thinking) there is:

Philosophy - Part 1
'What exactly is philosophy? If it can help you think more clearly and expose, nonsense, why haven't you done it before'?

Erm, I'll have to get back to you on that one.

Interestingly there is no 'Philosophy - Part 2' listed. Perhaps once is enough for everyone? Or they just learn to think more clearly and 'expose nonsense'?

Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster - Offshore
Experience the channel in the classroom!

Forgive me for pointing out a small problem with this but surely the classroom (in landlocked Illminster) is not 'offshore'? I've got visions of a dozen men of a certain age, wearing thick jumpers and yellow wellies whilst sitting atop a school desk and rocking it from side to side vigorously. Meanwhile someone flickers the lights on and off and plays a tape of 'waves crashing'. Ahh I can almost taste the sea......

The course includes 'navigating offshore passages'. I find this a teensy bit worrying. Do they leave the class room blind -folded and have to direct each other to the toilets and back without bumping into any tea trolleys or stacks of chairs?

Perhaps before embarking on this you would have been wise to attend:

Five Animal Frolics

You what!? WHAT!? This got me reading more. I had visions of learning to 'frolic' with 5 different types of beast. But no. Apparently 'Five Animal Frolics is an ancient Chinese Qigong Practice'.

Riiiiight. So that clears up my confusion there then.

If that confused me then I was even more befuddled by:

Singing Bowel Meditations and Applications
'Experience singing bowel sounds for emotional wellbeing'.

Even for Glastonbury this sounded a bit way out. Do people actually come together, open their mouths and make farting noises in order to restore inner peace? I needed to know more! I mean I used to go a Pilate's class where the instructor asked us to relax our anuses and once lent me a book which turned out to be highly disturbing, pornographic and badly translated from French (slightly awkward one that, she said she'd 'known it was for me the minute she saw me', before handing it over with a special smile. I never felt comfortable relaxing my anus in front of her again).

Then I realised I'd misread the title and it was actually Singing BOWL Meditations. A quick Google assures me that the bowls are Tibetan, stop 'internal dialogue' and don't make farting noises.

I still like the farting idea though. I might put a proposal forward.

I mean someone out there is getting paid to run a 6 week, 12 hour course on (brace yourself for this)

'Buying and Selling on Ebay'.

'By the end of the course you will be able to set up an account and have insight into its use'.

An INSIGHT!? After 12 hours of paid tuition I'd be wanting complete mastery with knobs on.

Well I'll be blowed.

Coming soon to a village hall near you (run by me):

'How to open a blog account and, if you're feeling brave, write some words on the Internet!'

Price includes unlimited cheap squash and custard creams, bring your own mattress for compulsory crying and perhaps a bowl to block out your inner voices. Frolicking with Chinese Animals not compulsory but who doesn't want to grapple with a Giant Panda? Menopausal women especially welcome. Offshore passages will not be navigated and kindness to dogs will be encouraged'.

It got 'sold out' written all over it.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Tread Softly Because You Tread on My New Floors (or maybe into a lake of wee)

Well amidst all of 'this' (the horrors) three good(ish) things have recently occured and in order to count my blessings I shall list them here:

1. New Floor - Part I:

My floors have been sanded so the downstairs of my house now actual resembles a house and not a cowshed.

The process left me marooned upstairs, waiting for the floor-oil to dry but the phone downstairs rang and, fearing an emergency, I answered it. This caused me to stay still for too long on the newly oiled floor and the soles of my feet became somewhat adhered but, a deep breath and a painful ripping sensation later, I was free (if somewhat lame).

Although I can't deny that being glued to my own floor would have been mighty good blog-fodder I am somewhat relieved I didn't have to call 999 and inform the emergency services that I was being held by invisible forces to my hallway floor, my kids were upstairs but I was otherwise alone and, no, I couldn't open the door for the paramedics/fire brigade, they'd have to break in but, whilst doing so could they take their boots off and try to keep footfall to the minimum? I've waited a long to time to have a normal floor and I won't give it up without a fight.


On the floor front I also have a new carpet in my front room. Gone is the battered pink shagpile (yum yum!) encrusted with peanut butter (and let's face it, things that would make 6 month old peanut butter actually look appetising) and in its place is something neutral, non-shaggy and peanut-butter free. And it's my ambition that it shall remain as such.

My eldest son is less convinced:

Son 1: Mummy?

Me: Yes.

Son 1: How long do we have to be nice to the new carpet for?

Me: Be nice? What you mean not cover it in foul matter and dig holes in it with those long bits of Lego?

Son 1: Yes.

Me: Oh a very long time.

Son 1: What? Like as long as the big holiday all summer! (Said in aghast horror).

Me: No (pause for effect) - FOREVER.

Son 1: WHAT!? WHAT!? Forever!?

Me: Yes. Forever.

Son 1: What until we DIE?

Me: (slightly shocked) Errr yeah - that long.

Son 1 firmly addresses his younger brother: Did you hear that toddler? We have to keep the carpet clean UNTIL WE DIE and have to go and live with Jesus (at the word Jesus he collapses into a state of 5 year old boy hilarity which is normally reserved for phrases involving poo and/or boobies).

The Todder: I. AM. NOT. A. TODDLER!

Me: That changes nothing - respect the carpet or you shall feel my wrath.

Son 1: Mummy what is your wrath?

Me: I'll show you later......


The toddler (who is not a toddler) has decided to totally toilet train himself with no guidance or assistance from me whatsoever. This could possibly sound smug if it wasn't for the fact that his 5 year old brother is still a 'work in progress' when it comes to these matters and I've had 3 angst filled years which have involved everything from laxatives to Jaffa Cakes to beating him with a small stick (only joking - but there have been times when I have had small fantasies on this theme - don't judge me until you've spent many many years cleaning up poo in public places. People keep asking me if I'm going to get a dog. What? WHAT!? Just so I can pick up poo and carry it round in a small plastic bag FOREVER!? No. Thank you for thinking of me but NO).

However I think the root of the toddler's willingness is less 'desire to please' as 'desire to feel hugely powerful and shoot stuff out of my body at will - my wee is my weapon and I feel it makes me hugely powerful'.

When he wees on the toilet he wees so powerfully that is usually shoots straight over the top and hits an adjoining wall. I can cope with this but it's more awkward at other people's houses......

Then there's the outdoor weeing. He's good at keeping cats off my patio but the downside is it's less 'rose scented waft of summer', more 'men's public urinals after a good Saturday night'. I keep glancing out my window to see him jetting piss onto foxgloves/fences/my rhubarb. Every time I turn my back, down come his shorts and off he goes - giving everything a good hosing.

This has reached the point where my OH has renamed him 'The Mannequin Pis':

That is actally a scarily accurate representation of him - only he's of a lighter skin tone, sports less of a six-pack and tends to have his feet planted in a pair of Iggle Piggle socks.

Until Friday I was taking the view that 'at the end of the day he's listening to his body and not weeing in his pants - where is the problem with his outdoor weeing?'.

Then it was Friday morning and we were in the school playground.

The toddler had run off in hot pursuit of his brother and all the other children who like to pretend he's a monster and run away from him screaming (it's tough being the youngest isn't it?) when suddenly all the other children came running back with a look of sheer joy/shock/horror/amazement on their faces.

A little girl ran up to me and said 'oh my word, you little boy has just pulled down his pants and weed on the Headmaster's door!'.

And he had.

The playground emptied as children flocked to gaze upon the scene of the crime. Small boys tried to push each other into the lake of wee. Small girls shrieked and giggled. The Headmaster's door swung open. I hoiked up the toddler's pants, flashed his my best smile and quickly retreated. The toddler chuckled. He never was one for authority.

Looking on the bright side - at least it wasn't my new carpet......

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Somerset Ink

I'm a firm believer in laughter really being a bloody good medicine - thus this blog - and today was a case in point.

Yesterday was hideous - truly hideous - and I got up this morning (after very little sleep and waking up soaked in sweat) feeling even more hideous, utterly convinced that today would be even worse.

But then I met up with two old school friends for a cup of tea (or 15) and we laughed so long and so hard we reached a point of sort of mutual hysteria. It you could package the physical and spiritual effects of that kind of laughing into a 'therapy' and offer it, then people would queue at the doors. There really is nothing like it. As I sat there rocking with laughter with tears spilling down my cheeks I thought 'life is short and if you get the chance to laugh then you really need to grab it and go with it because you really don't know what's round the corner.

And for that reason I shall be eternally grateful for 'Bob' and his 'skills' at a tattooist.

See, the great thing about old school friends is that you get to catch up with what became of some of the people you went to school with (the ones that don't even make it onto Facebook) and boy did we go to school with some oddballs. Take for example the boy who, for no apparent reason, came to school one day naked but for a British Airways towel (on the bus no less).

Anyway, whilst catching up on what happened to one girl (lets, for reasons of anonymity and my own safety call her Jane) a rather alarming tale came to light.

Jane it appears is now married. She's married to man who I shall refer to as Bob.

Now Bob, by all accounts, is a rather odd man (who sits in a corner mumbling to himself) but one of his claims to fame was that he once worked in a Tattoo Parlour. From what follows I presume he was making the tea or sweeping up blood or something, but nonetheless, he worked there (allegedly).

Now someone (and who this person is I do not know but they are, now, clearly identifiable if going topless so you may well spot them) on the estate where Jane and Bob live heard about this and decided to kit Bob out with a full set of tattoo gear and ask him, just like that, to tattoo the image of Leonardo Di Vinci's 'Vitruvian Man' across his entire back.

As you do (if you've got the IQ of a frozen pea).

If you are unsure what the Vitruvian Man looks like (and he clearly was) then here we are:

See his proud noble head.

See his perfectly proportioned, well muscled body.

See his manly organ, the penis (because if you are drawing a man's anatomy it's kind of essential).

See his symmetrical strength and sense of power.

And then feast your eyes on this:

Sorry but WHAT. THE. F***?

See his crazed face and dodgy perm (more '14 year old boy's take on Iron Maiden Album Cover' than 'work of a genius' but hey, we all make mistakes....we just don't generally ink them onto someone's body for all eternity).

See his hands. His hands!!!! How many fingers DID the perfectly geometrical man have? As for his muscles - I think the 'artist' needed another Stella to steady himself by that stage.

See his feet! Well actually you can't miss the one of the right because it appears to extend for about a meter.

While you're looking at his feet you may also want to look at the 'colouring in'. The original piece of art did not look like it had been coloured in by a 4 year old with a brown felt tip but hey, it can be good to add your own twist to things. Then again, it can also be crap.

You may also note that his penis is missing. Interesting piece of censorship there. I guess the conversation went something like this:

Deranged victim: Oh by the way Bob, leave the cock off, I ain't have no man's dick on me back.

Bob: No worries mate (secretly thinking 'phew, one less thing to totally f*** up, I've never inked a penis before, or in fact anything but I'm gonna get away with this....), what do you want me to do in it's place?'.

Deranged victim: Dunno mate, I'll leave it up to you (probably hoping for something uniquely artistic and relevant. A metaphor for a penis if you like).

Bob: Alright mate (thinking, I'll just do some squiggles and colour him in brown, no one will notice he's missing his dick).

According to Wikipedia

This image exemplifies the blend of art and science during the Renaissance and provides the perfect example of Leonardo's keen interest in proportion


The drawing itself is often used as an implied symbol of the essential symmetry of the human body, and by extension, of the universe as a whole.

According to me:

This image actually exemplifies the blend of stupidity with lack of talent and provides the perfect example of Bob and his victim's keen interest in high-strength lager, home grown cannibis and not a lot else.


The drawing itself could often be used to symbolise to kids just what can go wrong with the human body if you let an untrained idiot loose on you with a tattoo gun and don't even ask for a reference. This example can, by extension, relate to a lot of what goes on in our universe and why we're in such a bloody mess.

My friend summed up the situation up more succinctly by howling:

'That's not the Vetruvian Man - it's f***ing Chewbacca!'.

She's got a point.

The reason I have a copy of the image is because this guy is emailing it out as an ADVERTISEMENT FOR HIS SERVICES. If you want his number, just drop me a line.....

Apparently if you can't pay in cash he accepts Viagra.

I'm just hoping that after writing this he doesn't track me down and exact revenge by tattooing the ceiling of the Sistene Chapel across my arse.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Going Ga Ga

Just to add to the incredibly random and surreal nature of my life, I have, probably, the most random and surreal kids in the world. Or actually surely kids are random and surreal by the very fact their kids and their minds aren't constrained by adult ideas of the 'norm' so kids really are the norm and we are all messed up? Who knows.

Anyway, ask the older one what he's thinking about and his answer could be anything from 'the cooling system of a diesel-electric locomotive' through to 'Jesus's wee wee' (followed by howls of hysterical laughter).

Ask the younger one what he's thinking about and he'll probably just shout 'NO' in your face. You have been warned.

Hey ho.

One thing they seem to think about a lot is Lady GaGa.

I don't think they actually know that much about Lady GaGa but they think her name is almost as hilarious as wee wee or even (the most hilarious word to small boys of all time) 'boobies' (which leads to me giving them some 'right on' lecture about how boobies are not funny, they are part of a woman's body, they are the vessels to suckle the next generations, they are miracles of mammalian evolution etc etc etc but yeah at the end of the day boobies are actually still hilarious and will fascinate the male of the species for all eternity. I give up. Keep laughing kids. You're gonna need to).

So they talk about Lady GaGa a lot. Way too much actually.

They also seem to think she might actually be a mannequin.

As in a shop mannequin.

This makes shopping even more stressful than it already is (which is Very with a capital V).

Every mannequin they spot they scream 'THERE'S LADY GA GA!' and of course people turn round and stare (just in case The Ga Ga has decided to pop into Asda for a jumbo sausage roll and 24 snack eggs).

And then the kids roar with laughter and I (why me!?) gets evil looks from the deluded public.

Even worse is when you are in the sort of shop that has non-standard mannequins (i.e they are not just your basic pink over-sized Barbie).

This leads to screams such as:

'There's Lady GaGa and her head's fallen off!' (what IS it with the headless mannequins? M&S do a fine line in these).

'There's Lady GaGa and she's a man' (well there were rumours)


'There's Lady Ga Ga and she's gone all black'

The public are ever more confused. I am ever more embarrassed.

The zenith of the Lady GaGa shame came (once again) in Asda.

Whilst trying on something dubious which involved no straps (what was I thinking? Grief clouds the mind) both mine and my children's interest was piqued by the conversation in the cubical next door.

Lady 1: 'Oh eee's luverly in't eee?' (this is a curious West Country thing I'd actually forgotten about until I moved back - calling inanimate objects 'he' and assigning them personalities. You could be talking about your new girdle and it would be a 'he' and he could be a 'real gem').

Lady 2: 'Do you reckon? I'm not sure? It's a bit modern'.

Lady 1: 'Ohh yeah but he's after that Lady Ga Ga in ee? You could BE Lady Ga Ga in that. You could BE HER!'.

Lady 2 (soundly distinctly unsure): 'Do you really reckon?'.

My kids: LADY GA GA! LADY GA GA! Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Me (muttering darkly): Be quiet or I'll take you outside and lock you in the car.

My kids: With the windows shut?

Me: Yes.

Lady 1: 'Oh yeah - you are the SPIT of Lady GaGa! You gotta get it!'.

My eldest: 'Mummy - Lady Ga Ga is in there! Can we go and look?'.

Me (thinking 'don't make threats you can't follow through on): 'NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!' (whilst wrestling myself out of unfortunate strapless item and grabbing both their collars to ensure they don't try and duck under the dividing wall and into the 'GaGa's' booth).

But truthfully my interest was aroused. The last time I looked George at Asda weren't pushing the boundaries of fashion with the likes of:



Or This:

Though maybe they should. I'm tempted. Especially by the first one. I used to do a fine line in balaclavas (but that's another story and no, I wasn't robbing banks).

Of course I hung around to catch a look at Somerset's own GaGa but let's just say the similarities between the two started and finished with the fact they are both women. If the GaGa gains 200lbs, ages a couple of decades, decides to razor cut her hair into a mullet and cultivates a taste in white velour and an evil glare then maybe - but even then, she was pushing it.

If I was disappointed, the kids were devastated:

Original Son: Oh mummy! THAT'S not Lady GaGa! She's all.......


Lady GaGa she might not have been, but good in a fight I'm sure she was was and I for one did not want to end up brawling on the floor of Asda.

You have to draw the line somewhere.