Orange Crush.

I’ll put the primal screaming on hold for a second and try to be rational about this. I make no promises, though. So, where to begin? Despite following the election closely, by Monday of this week I just wanted the whole nightmare to be over. Enough was more than enough, and for the first time I didn’t bother reading many of the articles on the Guardian website. Even I was glutted by the coverage, like a once hilarious catch phrase repeated ad nauseam.

Lacking television, I knew that listening to the radio at home and sober wouldn’t do it for me, so I headed off to my favourite watering hole early on Tuesday evening to watch the results. A small crowd had gathered to watch CNN on the two screens that usually provide sports coverage as I took my place and sipped at the first of several  pints of stout, keeping one eye on the screen whilst reading “The Economist”- a publication that has become a security blanket as much as a source of information over the past few months.   I wasn’t too concerned by the early returns, as there was no doubt in my mind as to how the Confederacy would vote, but as the evening wore on and the gap refused to close, a sense of foreboding descended upon me. People drifted away, but I stayed until almost 9pm before heading back to Singledad Towers and logging on to the Guardian website.

It only got worse. Much, much worse. As the red column crept inexorably towards 270, I succumbed to the inevitable and called it a night, stunned by the implications of what had just happened. Wednesday was not a happy day, to put it mildly. My poor brain had a great deal of difficulty wrapping itself around the implications of the election result, and no, it had nothing to do with my alcohol consumption of the night before. Indeed, I still find it difficult to comprehend the existential crisis we face as a result of “The great American electorate” – Ha! The most oxymoronic phrase in history – choosing to elect  the Oompa Loompa In Chief.

Actually, I think Der Trumpher is in fact, TWO Oompa Loompas in a suit. The skin tone is the same, his hair has obviously been dyed, but the big giveaway are the  Oompa Loompa sized hands on what appears to be an adult human.

To be serious for a moment, though, the implications are horrific. Due to the unconstitutional and anti democratic stance of the Republicans, the Bigot elect now gets to choose at least one, and possibly as many as three supreme court justices. Kennedy isn’t getting any younger, and the Notorious RBG is an octogenarian cancer survivor. Let me spell it out: Marriage equality, Transgender rights, Roe V. Wade, environmental regulations, Planned Parenthood, Obamacare, the Paris climate accord, the EPA itself ( created, as you all know, by that dangerous  radical  liberal Richard Milhous Nixon), employee protection, the Iran nuclear deal, religious tolerance, immigrant rights, gender equality, freedom of the press, the fourth amendment, freedom of speech, freedom of thought, all of these and no doubt many more are now at risk. I’m not joking. We now stand on the threshold of a new Dark Age.

Think about whose tiny, tiny finger will soon be hovering over the nuclear button. No doubt it will be a gilt button, the finest anywhere, but just think about it. Would you give a machine gun to a four year old? That in effect, is what has happened. Except for the fact that when a four year old throws a tantrum, you can put him in his room until he calms down. Oh, and four year olds are rather more rational than President Pumpkinhead.

I’m still numb with shock, in case you didn’t realise. I feel like Charlton Heston in “Planet Of The Apes” when he sees the Statue of Liberty poking out of the sand – a prospect that is now very much in our future . How can I make sense of it all? Hillary was by far the most qualified and competent of any of the candidates. Do people really hate her that much? Is this, as it has been called, a “Whitelash” against the outgoing resident of the White House? Do people really despise and distrust liberalism that much? Is it a backlash against the establishment and entrenched interests? Ha! That would be ironic – republican voters voting for a candidate from the party responsible for the last eight years of gridlock and “Hell no!!!”

And people wonder why we’re fucked up as a species. I truly despair for this nation. I feel like I’ve been woken from a coma only to find that what I thought was reality was in fact an illusion. It’s a situation that not even H.P. Lovecraft at his inventive best could imagine. I’m floating in space with no sense of up or down, nothing beneath my feet, surrounded by an immense unfeeling and indifferent void. I know this all sounds a bit melodramatic, but how am I supposed to feel? Fear not, I’m not going to fall foul of Godwin’s Law, but the words of Pastor Martin Neimoller ring truer now than ever before.

There is no upbeat ending here, just the mental image of a boot stamping on a face for ever. I’m off now to practice saying “Eh?” at the end of every sentence and sew as many maple leaf patches as I can find onto everything I own, especially my tee shirt that says “Don’t blame me, I voted for Cthulu.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ain’t That A Kick In The Head.

For the last couple of months I’ve been gainfully employed at a downtown insurance company. I work in the Agent Communications department, where I turn templates of articles into web pages for the Agent News bulletin, copy edit and proofread articles, upload videos, and update the homepage amongst other things. The job is more engaging and informative than you might imagine. Like most people, I regarded insurance as both essential and incredibly boring, but as a result of reading many  articles and transcribing interviews, I’ve learned that there is much in the industry that goes unnoticed. Fear not, I’m not going to bore you.

The office is on the 16th floor and surpasses many of my previous places of employment by having windows. In the interest of ergonomics I have an adjustable desk that gives me the option of standing, should I so desire. Being a lazy bastard I never understood why someone would stand when they could sit, but having tried it, I really appreciate the option. Standing also affords me the opportunity of admiring the view: If I look straight ahead, I can see the Sound and the various vessels plying their trade. To  my left I can see what was once the tallest building on the west coast and the baseball stadium. Between these lies a view of the dockside cranes and docked container ships. Funnily, though, I have yet to see any containers being loaded or unloaded.

I’ve enjoyed the routine of the commute, dressing in something other than tee shirt and jeans and being around other people, particularly people who are interesting, intelligent and who actually talk – I think I mentioned during the entire 12 months at my previous job, there were two co workers who NEVER talked to me. Not one word, despite seeing them on a daily basis.

The swag has been much better as well. My last place had nothing better than cheap shopping bags that were one grade above disposable and crappy earbuds with the acoustic quality of  a soup can telephone. Not long after I joined the department, a major relocation took place – we all had to move to different cubicles to allow for the arrival of staff from two other floors undergoing refurbishment. This also meant the loss of some storage space. Our location was occupied previously by the Marketing team, who simply abandoned all their stuff when they were laid off.  As a result, in the space of a week I scored two portable speakers, one of which is Bluetooth enabled, a tote bag with a built-in speaker (yes, that’s a thing), a picnic cooler in the style of a backpack, an official U.S. Men’s Olmpic ice hockey team shirt, a scarf, a travel mug, a signed photo of Kelsey Keller and good quality earbuds.  Not bad, eh? Mind you, our unofficial family motto is “If ever you are offered something for nothing, take it. And what you can’t carry, you drag”, so none of you should be surprised by my eagerness to haul away as much buckshee merch as possible.

Now for the flip side. Early last week I received an email from the agency that found me the job which opened with the greeting”All is fine!” It informed me that due to a reduction in  funding  for support staff in the 2017 budget, starting in mid January my hours would be cut by 50 percent. This is some strange meaning of “fine” that I’ve never heard before.  You can imagine my consternation. Rather than walking away, I agreed to stay on for the remainder of my contract, as any money is better than none.

Not all was lost, though. My supervisor offered me the option of working from home, which would save me the expense of commuting and also the need to wear trousers during the day. Of course, I accepted her offer, although the cut in hours felt more like being laid off than anything else. You can imagine my distress at the change in circumstances as I really enjoy the environment in the office. My colleagues are all very charming people, the free coffee is drinkable and there is a genuine sense of teamwork.

My first day working from home is election day, and that’s probably a good thing, as I don’t fancy having to dodge flying bricks, automatic gunfire and Molotov cocktails as Trump’s supporters react to the inevitable defeat of their beloved Fuehrer.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for post – apocalyptic urban hellscapes as long as they’re in the movies and not a part of my commute.

Of course, my changed circumstances do have an upside: I can start looking for another job while working, and my supervisor has told me that she understands absolutely if I need time to attend interviews, etc. Twenty hours a week doesn’t even cover the rent, but at least I have some forewarning, my resume is up to date and the received wisdom is that it’s easier to find a job when you have a job.  I just hope I remember to put trousers on before I head off to an interview.

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Paperback Writer.

The end of last month was marked by an experience that not many people will have undergone: you see, I received a royalty cheque. Or rather, and electronic deposit was made to my bank account. I’m pretty sure that most of you are unaware of the fact that some time ago I turned my first 75 blog posts into an e-book available from Amazon.com. It was a logical progression from taking the blog public and required remarkably little effort on my part. All I had to do was copy and paste the blogs into Word, tidy up the formatting and correct some small errors. I also added an explanatory paragraph to each post in order to provide some context for new readers, and, I have to admit, in order to increase the page count to something approaching respectability. This done, all that was required was for me to follow the instructions provided by Amazon, hit “Accept” and wait for the cash to roll in.

You may wonder what sort of life I lead as a published author. Perhaps you imagine me sitting in my leather wing-back chair in my wood paneled study typing posts as I look out across the perfectly manicured parkland that surrounds the baroque edifice that is Singledad Towers. No doubt you imagine I spend my off time playing croquet with J.K. Rowling, Toni Morrison and Salman Rushdie before retiring for drinks on the deck of a beachfront villa. Where that it were so.

You all know that I have a day job (post to come), so I ain’t fooling nobody. Much as I would love to be able to support myself purely from my ability to string words together in a coherent, um, thingy, the reality is somewhat different. You see, the royalties amounted to a whopping $1.05. Yup, you read that correctly. Not even enough to buy a cup of coffee.

I can see that none of you is even remotely surprised by this. Let’s be honest, only a few friends even know that the book exists, and most of them have absolutely no interest in buying it. The payment equates to exactly one sale, for which, lest you imagine otherwise, I am very grateful. My appreciation, to you, J.T. I hope you enjoyed getting up to speed.  I know exactly who bought the book: let me explain.

A couple of months ago a school friend moved to the area and I was one of three people who helped him unpack the van. Afterwards, as the others had prior commitments, he and I retired to a local pub in order to catch up, as we’d not seen each other for quite some time. During our chat I mentioned the e-book and he told me that as he hadn’t read my earliest posts, he would use some of the money in his Amazon account to purchase a copy. That $1.05 is  the result of his purchase.

I’m not complaining. At no point did I expect to make real money from the e-book, and seeing as most of the 10,000 books published in the U.S. every year go unread, I’m doing better than most, although when I consider the amount earned ( this isn’t my first cheque) compared to the amount of time involved compiling the book,  let alone writing the posts, the hourly rate is so low as to be invisible. I wonder if Andy Weir went through this. As you know, “The Martian” started as an episodic e-book, which through reader feedback he was able to parlay into a hard copy novel and then a movie. Bully for him. Seriously. He took a great idea, corrected the science and turned out one of the most enjoyable novels of recent years. I don’t see that happening in my case. I doubt very much if some bored producer from Netflix is going to stumble up on my e-book and decide it would be perfect material on which to base a T.V. show. Even if she or he did, would it be a comedy, a tragedy or a farce? Who knows, it could even end up as the next “Wolf Lake”.  I guess, to paraphrase Mr. Weir’s eponymous hero, ” I’m going to have to literature the shit out of this”.

Songs In The Key Of Single Dad

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Girls Just Want To Have Fun.

I’m sure you’re all sick to death of me bleating on about how great the kids are. If so, then skip this one. As you know, my daughter is something of an all-round athlete, and now that the softball season is over, her attention has turned to football. There is a regular sequence of events associated with the start of every season of every sport: First, a lack of enthusiasm, followed by the constant refrain of “I don’t want to play X, I don’t want to play X” followed by a slow growing interest leading to active engagement as pre-season practice begins.

This season was no different, except that her initial refusal to play was replaced by a “Maybe” when asked if she intended to play, although this may be due to the fact that  her best friend is one of her team mates. Due to the vagaries of the league schedule,  I have the kids on the weekends when her team plays away. There is only one U12 girls team on the island, so they are playing against teams from all over the county. The first game of the season was against a team based an hour away, and far enough off the beaten track that we could hear the banjo music long before we arrived. I won’t give a match report, except to say that despite a strong showing, her team,  now named “Riptide” lost. Not the best way to start the season, but at least they weren’t crushed.

I missed the second game as my sweetie and I were away for the weekend, making up for the fact that I missed the San Francisco trip. Again, the team lost, 2-1 and my greatest fear was that this  would turn into as dismal a season as her last softball season. Not so: the third game ended up as a victory, with my daughter getting her first goal of the season, so you can imagine how happy I was for her. Again, a familiar pattern emerged. She usually starts any season with some reluctance, but at some point, a door in her brain is unlocked and she realises: “Oh yeah, I’m competitive and aggressive”. From that point on, there is no stopping her, and she throws herself into the game with gusto.

This brings us to yesterday. The torrential rain of the night before, and the constant, often heavy  showers of Saturday morning left me with a sense of foreboding. I  had visions of the pitch resembling the first day of the Somme in terms of playability. I realise that the often knee-deep Flanders  mud didn’t stop some British troops from kicking footballs  in front of them as they left the trenches and walked very slowly towards the German machine guns, but I think it’s a bit much to expect 11 year-old girls to do the same, albeit without the machine guns.

This is not to say that she hasn’t faced similar situations in the past. Two years ago, her team played a game in November under inhuman conditions: As we parents huddled under a portable marquee, swathed in several  layers and  clutching insulated mugs, our daughters slogged through a quagmire in the pouring rain. My daughter has always disliked playing in goal, saying on many occasions that the Goalie always gets the blame when the team concedes a goal, and how she doesn’t like being cold, wet and muddy. However,  I have a picture on my phone from that day of her soaking wet and covered in mud after a stint in goal. She an expression of  unadulterated  joy and enthusiasm spread across her face, the result of the aforementioned door in her brain being opened.

Yesterday was a fine example of the determination that she and her team mates have developed: The team went 0-2 down, fighting back to lead 4-2 before ending the game as 5-3 winners. My daughter didn’t score, but throughout the game she showed commitment and determination, defending with strength and skill, often making important clearances. She does have certain advantages though. She is the tallest girl on her team, as well as being broad shouldered and athletic, although some times these traits work against her.

You see,   there is a substantial height variation among 10 and 11 year-old girls that is truly startling. Some of the opposing players  have been a good foot shorter than her, and referees, most of them dads themselves, presumably take such things into account. At the second away game, my daughter was running with the ball at her feet when an opponent much shorter and lighter than her attempted a tackle. They collided, with the other girl falling to the ground whilst my daughter barely broke stride. There was no malice involved, simply two girls subject to the laws of physics  attempting to control the ball, yet the ref awarded a free kick to the opposition, having, in his eyes at least, see a diminutive  player clattered to the ground by a bigger, stronger opponent. This  happened a couple of times to my daughter, as she quite vociferously told me after the final whistle.

I had to tell her that this is a common occurrence, even in professional football, and that at her  level, referees are often prone to their own biases, even when attempting to apply the laws of the game in as even-handed a manner as possible. However, I  did agree with her about the obvious favouritism of the referee – he being from the same area as the home team. Still,  her enthusiasm  for the game remains undiminished. No doubt two consecutive wins  for her team as well as her goal and sterling performances have helped in this regard. I don’t know how long her interest in the beautiful game will last, but as long as she enjoys it, I will be there on the touchline shouting encouragement and giving as much vocal support as I can. I do have to admit though, that at times I find it difficult to restrain my natural instincts and keep my shouts  “G” rated. It would be very bad form indeed for me to stand on the touchline and, to  the tune of the Pet Shop Boys classic “Go West” chant “You’re shit,  and you  know you are, you’re shit,  and you know you are” at a bunch of young girls.  Besides, I’ve seen some of the dads on the opposing teams, and they’re all  much bigger than I am.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Island Walking

Not being able to go with my sweetie to the Bay Area to celebrate her birthday due to getting a job, didn’t let me off the birthday present hook. Far from it. Picture this: Wile E. Coyote, wearing rocket powered roller skates manages to stop just inches from the edge of a cliff. He looks down and sees a pebble falling into oblivion. He heaves a sigh of relief, only to realise that he is on a projecting spur of rock, which then cracks at the base, dropping him into the abyss.That’s how I felt, although unlike the perpetually unfortunate Mr. Coyote, I managed to gain some traction and scramble my way to safety.

I began a desperate search to find a suitable way to celebrate: an expensive meal was NOT an option. Yikes. I settled on a weekend away and began my search. I won’t bore you with the details, but most places were either unsuitable or required a three night minimum. With much searching I managed to find a cabin in the woods with a hot tub and within three hours of home. I contacted the owner and waited. And waited. And waited. With only two days left before the weekend, I was most certainly in squeaky bum time. Thankfully, the owner contacted me and I was able to pay and let out a sigh of relief.

We set off on Friday as soon after work as possible, and managed to avoid most of the commute traffic. I hadn’t told my sweetie what the trip would entail, although the penny finally dropped as we approached the ferry terminal. Yes, you heard right. I live on an island, and my solution was to spend a weekend on a completely different island. After a late dinner, we turned in tired but glad to be in such a quiet spot.

Next day we went exploring. We spent some time, but not enough for me, in a sanctuary, several acres of woodland dotted with stone circles, a Dolmen and any number of small, impromptu shrines. There were no other visitors, and no sounds apart from the birds, and the wind in the trees, and I could have stayed there for hours. In fact, it would have been perfect for an alumni retreat, so reminiscent was it of both Grad School orientation and our intensive weekends.

There’s no point in going to an island known for wineries without sampling the local product, so we retired to a wine tasting room and I sampled the five wines on offer, leaving with two bottles each of a very nice Malbec and an equally delightful red blend. Now, as you all know, I’m not a wine drinker, but I’m always willing to extend my palate, and no doubt having some decent wine in the house will win me some bonus points.

Of course, we made a trip to a distillery, although not the one I had intended. No fear, I was able to track down the Bourbon, Vodka and Gin at the local store, and bought a bottle of incredible raspberry cordial and one of Rye  after the tasting session at the distillery.

The whole point of the weekend was to just get away for two nights with no agenda, no plans, no hurry. In fact, my instincts were proven right. Driving along the highway I spotted roads called Kramer and Newman, confirming that we were on an island about nothing. Over all, it was well worth the expense and worry about actually getting a confirmation. In fact, I’m sure we will go back to the same cottage some time in the not too distant future.

As you all know, I’m not exactly  the most romantic person in the world, or even my own Zip code, but I have to admit that it was just wonderful for the two of us to get away from our usual surroundings, even for such a short time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Welcome To The Working Week.

As my regular readers ( both of them) will know, I have been out of work since being laid off in February. It was a crappy, pointless, boring job that didn’t even cover my costs, so to some extent I wasn’t too bothered, but the lack of money was a pain. Of course, after a couple of days recovering and catching up on sleep I began the slog of looking for another job. What? You thought I spent the entire time drinking cheap beer, playing video games and jerking off to online porn? No bloody way. I don’t drink cheap beer.

The modern job search has it’s advantages – there are plenty of websites that list huge numbers of jobs, resumes can be emailed,  application forms can be autofilled and job descriptions copied and pasted into Word. It’s all a hell of a lot easier than looking through the paper and mailing out printed applications.

Despite all my effort, interviews were few and far between. I think that this may have been due to my somewhat unconventional employment history. You see, for many years I was a stay at home Dad, with a period of being a Realtor thrown in. Going to business school didn’t do me much good on the career front either, as most jobs for which I am qualified required three to five years of industry experience.

Do you know how frustrating it is to apply for a job which you know damn well you could do if just given the opportunity? It would turn the Dalai Lama into the Incredible Hulk in about a week.

The thing I disliked the most was the telephone interview. At the best of times it is difficult for me to judge how people are reacting ( see “I’m Coming Out”). On the phone this is impossible, so very few of these calls turned into in-person interviews. A couple did, however. One in particular seemed like a gift from on high. I was an Executive Assistant position for a commercial Realtor. The interview lasted a full hour, and we seemed to get on really well. She was a woman for whom it would have been a pleasure to work – funny, easy going, sharp as a needle. I had the exact skill set needed and felt really confident that I was in with a very good chance. When the call didn’t materialise on the Tuesday following the interview I knew it wasn’t to be. This was confirmed the following day when I got a call to say that I’d missed out by the narrowest of margins and that the other person had accepted the position.

I’m not a malicious person, but I found myself wishing physical harm on the person who beat me, so down was I about missing out on what was essentially my dream job. So, back to the grind it was. This went on for a few more weeks until I got another phone interview. I only found out about the job because it was forwarded to me by an agent at a placement agency who had trawled my resume from the online pool. I gave it my best shot, but didn’t get my hopes up. Surprisingly I was invited in for an interview with the woman who had talked with me over the phone and another person. This meant two 30 minute sessions, so as you can imagine, I was running on fumes by the time it was over.

I felt fairly confident, and even said so to my sweetie afterwards, but the score is Hope 0, Experience 6.8 million, so I didn’t think too much of it, especially as they said that they had some other people to interview and would be making a decision some time the following week (the interview was on a Thursday). Imagine my surprise on the following Monday morning when I learned via email that I’d been offered the job. Of course, I accepted on the spot. The next two days were a flurry of form filling, clothes sorting and housework as I prepared for my change of pace.

The downside of all this was that I had to drop out of our planned trip to San Francisco to celebrate my Sweetie’s birthday. A real disappointment, as you can imagine. She had to go on her own, but considering the circumstances, it was a price worth paying. Tomorrow is the big day. I jump back into the routine of the commute and the stress of learning a new job from scratch and proving that I can get up to speed quickly. I will admit to more than a little apprehension about the new job, as I will have to get to know a whole new set of coworkers and potential friends. Mind you, look on the downside – they have to get to know me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Old Man’s Back Again.

Back home, that is. You see, three days ago I put my Dad back on the plane to England after his five week stay. He comes over every year for a month or so in order to see the Grand kids, celebrate their birthdays and celebrate the fourth of July. When my Mum was alive, they would come for six to eight weeks, but since she passed, he has found that five weeks is about as much as he can handle. I can’t say I blame him, because for a man his age and so set in his routine, being away from home for so long is a little on the disruptive side.

As usual, I was waiting for him at the top of the escalator at the airport and we were soon on the way home, him regaling me with the story of his trip over, talking to a South African IT specialist and a Swiss cruise line employee. I had to endure this story about 12 times by the time he departed, but that is about the norm nowadays. Of course, brought me up to date on events back in the old country, such as who had died, who had moved, what had happened to individuals etc. Not vitally important news, but still, it was nice to hear the small stuff.

He is very conscious that his presence causes some domestic disruption: My previous house had three bedrooms, my last marital home had four, so a spare room for him ( and back in the day, my mother) was never an issue. Last year he had the kid’s room when they weren’t here, and mine when they were. That was a lot of shuffling around, so this year I made an executive decision and gave him my room for the duration of his stay. he wasn’t too happy about this, as he doesn’t like to “Put me out”, but I explained to him that I sleep on the Futon when the kids are here, so this was really no different. Heck, that’s why I spent quite a lot of money on a really comfortable Futon.

I must admit, however, that by the time he left, I was ready to sleep upstairs again. There would have been a time when not having slept in my own bed for over a month would be  a source of pride, but at my age, it just means waking up in the living room. Ah well.

He’s easy to please, and just as eager to help. He insisted on us eating out a lot, to avoid the need for me to cook, but I have to admit it got a bit much by the end, especially as I gained ten pounds during his stay. The daily drinking didn’t help, either, but seeing as we’re English, what do you expect?

One thing that stood out was his relationship with the kids. Last year, my daughter was often a bit distant, but this year she was all over him, being very affectionate and joking with him. It’s great to see them so close, especially as I know how much my Mum would have doted on her. One of my greatest regrets is that my Mum didn’t live to see what an incredible young woman my daughter has become.

My son seems to have developed a double act with Dad. The techno kid and the technophobe get on like a house on fire. Dad is full of daft jokes and comments, to which my son replies “Oh, just go away”, in a laughing affectionate way that shows how much he has matured, and how much he loves his Grandpa.

We didn’t really do much travelling, apart from a couple of long trips into the boonies to watch my daughter’s All Star softball team in the district finals. They lost two out of three, but at least Dad was at last able to see her play. Of course, he was very shaky on the rules, but soon picked it up and got into the swing of it. We took a couple of day trips, but by and large he was happy just to spend time at home with the kids.

Of course, as the trip drew to a close his conversation became more maudlin. He is nearly 30 years further down the conveyor belt than I am, so he spends quite a lot of time thinking about what will happen when he dies (See “My Death” for my take on this subject). He’s in good health, despite his diabetes, so he could easily live another 10 years, but how long he will be fit enough to fly over here remains to be seen.

I may well have said this before, but since I the kids arrived, I’ve developed a deeper understanding and respect for my Dad. I now understand just how much he put himself last when it came to providing for his family. My Mum too, of course, and now as adults on the downslope we get on much better than we used to. I was sad to see him go, of course, but in a way I’m glad to get my house back and to return to something approaching normality. as indeed is my poor liver. I can soon grow a new one, can’t I? I hope so.

As for my digestive system, it’s a diet of lettuce leaves and grated carrot for the next three months. Every meal. Dad’s next visit is only a year away, so I’d better start getting into shape now.

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