Letters to my sons.

Trying to explain the world to two very small children.

Archive for March, 2007

Chicken Pox

without comments

Dear Son,

you have chicken pox at the moment although you are now over the worst although you look horrible. It is quite frightening to see you covered in yellow spots and then seeing those spots fill with blood and then turn into scabs. The scabs are now starting to get smaller but you didn’t enjoy your bath tonight or being dried.

When Grand Pa John rang and I told him that you had chicken pox he informed me that I had never had it. Luckily I was old enough when I got chicken pox to remember getting it. If Grand Ma Audrey was alive she would have been able to tell me the exact dates because we were on holiday when I got it – she could have told me which parts of Scotland we were in.

I was 8 years old; Uncle Phil went on holiday with Chicken Pox and I came back with it. We lived in Grimsby at the time and on the way back from the Borders we stopped off in Skipton to see Uncle Denis and Aunty Kath. Aunty Kath decided to lotion me up because I was at the scratching stage. The lotion helped stop the itching and the attention she gave me made me feel better. She tied my hair up and made sure my face was plastered with white calamine as well as my arms and hands.

On the drive back to Grimsby we went through either Leeds or Bradford – a journey we had done many times before. The route took us through a black area and, having rarely seen anyone non-white, Uncle Phil and I though these people were funny and had nick named them “burnt sausages”. When Grand Ma and Grand Pa cottoned on to what we were going on about we received a stern rebuke. This didn’t stop us, for being children we acted in a childish manner. But this time as we drove through the black area, black men and women of all ages would wave and smile at me in the car. It took us all a while to work out what was going on but they saw this kid with his hair tired up out of the way of his forehead, red spots and scabs all over his face and a covering of milking white liquid. Instead of staring at me like a circus attraction when they saw that something was wrong with me, they attempted to lift my spirits with a big heart felt smile and wave. Being marginalised them selves they had no desire to make anyone else feel unwanted or less than human just for looking different. The few miles of that journey struck a cord with me at the time although the memory has stayed locked away in my sub conscience until this last week. It reminds me that to be human, to be different from the other animals that inhabit this earth, we have to show our humanity to others at every possible opportunity. Something I’m afraid son, I haven’t always been that good at.

Written by Administrator

March 30th, 2007 at 8:31 pm

Posted in Family,Memories

The most pointless video every?

without comments

Dear Son,

I installed a Widget on my Mac that allows me to play ZX Spectrum games the other day and I’ve been playing Manic Miner for the last few days. The ZX Spectrum was the first computer I ever had. My parents bought it for me and Uncle Phil for Xmas 1982, we got the 16k version for £99 – quite a lot of money in those days. The machine broke down a few times and was sent back until Grand dad Caudle asked for a refund and got one. By this time the 48k Spectrum had been reduced in price to £99 so he simply bought a 48k version.

I learnt how to program on that ZX Spectrum and spent many hours as a teenager playing games and writing programs. Because I didn’t get much pocket money I couldn’t afford the games available in the shops so I would either try and copy them (which was illegal) or I would buy cheap magazines that had printed listings for games that me and Uncle Phil would then spend hours typing in. We used to wait a month until the next copy of the magazine came out because the print outs invariably contained mistakes – nothing worse than spending three nights typing something in only for it not to run. To raise a bit of cash we also used to sell the games we had typed in at school.

I was looking around the internet for Manic Miner cheats when I came across a video of Manic Miner loading. In those days games cassette tapes. Cassette tapes are, were errr I will show you one when your older. Anyway it took a full 5 minutes to load a game and you could hear the noises of different byte values. I used to be able to hear if a program loaded extra code after a screen download, I also knew when a game was close to finishing loading by learning the sounds and the patterns.

When I saw the video it brought back so many memories of spending time shut away on my own writing programs that I though would make me a millionaire. Uncle Phil would be out with his current girlfriend or his mates and this worried Grandma Audrey no end. She once told me she thought that she was blame for my lonely obsession and was never happier than when I brought people round who shared my enthusiasm – although this wasn’t often. We formed our own software company but we never created anything – we just played multi user games and talked the talk of how the girls would like us when we had money and how the popular kids would be jealous.

I think my lonely obsession has done we well over the years and Grandma Audrey lived long enough to see that and know that the guilt and worry she had was the product of a compassionate and caring bond. I still like being on my own, something that your mother doesn’t always understand. Hopefully son you will understand that sometimes I need to be alone with my thoughts; I’m not shunning you. I just need a place to reflect and think and get my thoughts and feelings in order.

Written by Administrator

March 30th, 2007 at 8:01 pm

Posted in Family,Memories

Being welcomed home.

without comments

Dear Son,

when I came home last night you were playing in the kitchen on your Winnie the Pooh fire engine. When I opened the inside door you looked around, smiled at me and said: Hello Daddy!

You then came running at me screaming and laughing with delight. It filled my heart with joy. I just hope that we can always be friends.

Written by Administrator

March 22nd, 2007 at 11:51 am

Posted in Family

The kindness of strangers

without comments

Dear Son,

I have a terrible cough at the moment and keep having horrible coughing fits that leave me breathless and bent double. Luckily they are getting less intense and farther apart, but still not very nice when it happens.

I had such a fit on the train this morning. I did have my hand firmly over my mouth and I hid my head behind my bag to make sure I didn’t cough on any one else. When my fit subsided I sat up to see a cough sweat being dangled in front of my face. The woman sat opposite me wouldn’t take no as an answer so I thanked her and started sucking it and it really worked. As I started to relax she thrust a handful of the same sweats on me which I pocketed. When i finally got off the train I smiled and said thank you – both of us had spent the journey listening to our music players.

I felt down this morning as this cough is starting to get to me and I didn’t sleep very well last night, but a single act of random kindness has really cheered me up and the sweats have stopped the coughing. Champion.

Something else that I forgot about our recent trip to Trinidad; on the way to Maracas Bay we travelled up and down a few hills and at the top of one hill there was a clearing with about 40 vultures standing in it. I swear that as we drove past all 40 vultures turned to have a look at me and asses my driving style, once I was out of sight I bet they had a meeting to decide if I would crash on the tricky down hill part that was coming up. I would have loved to take a photo of all these vultures but like I said, I was driving. When we drove back they had left, no doubt perched in a tree somewhere sleeping – or boning up on their Highway code in an attempt to spot bad drivers. All they need to do is hover above the Highway a few miles away and they are ten a penny.

Written by Administrator

March 13th, 2007 at 1:59 pm

Posted in Misc

Don’t throw!

without comments

Dear Son,

You have been throwing things for a while now and I have been telling you “Don’t throw!” Sometimes you shout out “Don’t throw” before throwing things – so you have been listening, just not understanding.

This morning I changed your nappy in our bedroom, wrapped it in a nappy sack and with deft flick of the wrist threw it into the bin after bouncing it off the wall. I was quite pleased with my handy work until you looked at me and said: “Don’t throw!”

I now know that I must lead by example at all times until you are able to distinguish the difference between actions that appear to be the same. Throwing a ball in the park is not the same as throwing a car around the front room except that for you, at your age, throwing is throwing.

Consider me “telt” – as they say up North.

Written by Administrator

March 11th, 2007 at 9:09 am

Posted in Misc

Trinidad Holiday

without comments

Dear Son,

we have just returned from Trinidad after your first visit for carnival. You are too young for Carnival at the moment but you did have time for some noticeable firsts:

  • First trip to Tobago
  • Sang calypso
  • Took the skin off your knees
  • You felt the effects of an earthquake
  • You went into the sea
  • Ate shark
  • Stepped on a scorpion

This was your very first visit to Tobago. In the past we have always flown directly into Piarco International but this time we flew with BA into Tobago mainly because it was a lot cheaper. Your mother and I have made the hop from Trinidad to Tobago for a few days R & R in the past but this is the first time we have flown directly to Tobago.

We were all still on English time when we arrived in Tobago from London so had an “early night” – 7.30pm Tobago time, 11.30pm English time. You woke up at 4am Tobago time and we spent the next hour walking around the hotel grounds. We then got you in the shower and dressed. But it was only 6am so we had another run around the hotel grounds until around 7am when we got a lift to Crown Point and went to the Crown Point Hotel for breakfast. We arrived a good twenty minutes before breakfast started at 7.30am so we took in the view of Store Bay beach and the Caribbean Sea before a lovely breakfast.

The restaurant at Crown Point Airport has always served really nice food when we have been to Tobago in the past so we thought we would take our bags and go there for lunch before getting the shuttle to Piarco. When we tried to check in we were told that we were too early but they would try and get us on a much earlier flight – all we had to do was pop back in 40 minutes and if there was space we would be on. So we trooped off to the eatery opposite with our bags and ordered some food. You weren’t too hungry but you did drink your drink which seemed to consist entirely of sugar and colourings, it was only went you started to go mental that your mother tasted the “fruit” drink she ordered for you. But it was too late – you were all sugared up!

The food wasn’t up to much so I went to check to see if we could get on the next flight. I checked the three of us in while you and your mother were still eating – or in your case getting more and more hyper. When we went through security the guards made us take our laptops out of our bags, as we did this you ran off to cause havoc in the departure lounge – “bacchanal” is the word they use in Trinidad. When we managed to clear security you were running back and forth, still high on the effects of the sugar. We let you run around to get it out of your system before we got on the shuttle and this seemed to have worked.

When we got into Trinidad we picked up the hire car and decided to wait in Port of Spain to avoid the evening traffic. A quick recap of the times when I have shivered in Trinidad:

  1. J’Ouvert in Arouca 2002. 4am and it started to rain
  2. The Kapoc hotel in Port of Spain when I set the air conditioning was set to a very low temperature
  3. On Caroni swamp when we were moving very quickly on a mass of water after sunset

So we went to a restaurant in Movie Towne where the air conditioning was far too high. The three of us had to cuddle up to keep warm, I was close to setting fire to a menu to keep warm. The food was excellent but it was far too cold – I don’t travel to a hot country to shiver. So now I have shivered 4 times in a tropical country. You enjoyed being cuddled mind as me and your mother kept warm.

We left Movie Towne and managed to get stuck in traffic on the way to Arouca but arrived at Maraj Street in time for the Soca Monarch competition. Although you were in bed before the competition started, there was a party in the back garden as we watched the various artists performed on a big screen and consumed alcohol. The song I thought I would win was Crazy’s “Cold Sweat” and I have been singing the chorus for a while. You have recently been singing songs such as “Twinkle twinkle little star”, “Row, row, row your boat” and “Meunier, tu dors” so picking up on my rendition of “Cold Sweat” didn’t take you long. So now you are singing calypso much to the amusement of those in the know.

After settling in at Maraj Street you were able to run around in nothing more than a vest, with the cold weather in the UK you have always walked around in long trousers. So with you falling over every now and then, it was no surprise that you would take the skin off one if not both your knees. For some reason you managed to keep taking skin off your right knee. Just as it was starting to heal you would fall over again and take the scab off it. We eventually put a massive plaster over it and changed the plaster when you fell over.

The earthquake we felt was reported by The University of the West Indies Seismic Research Unit as:

February 23, 2007
At approximately 10:48am local time an earthquake occurred near Port of Spain, Trinidad at 10.61°N 61.48°W. The preliminary magnitude for this event is 4.7 and the depth was 41km. The event was felt in Arima, Cunupia, San Fernando, Point Lisas in Trinidad as well as Tobago and Upper Hopewell, St. Vincent. There has been at least one small aftershock since the earthquake occurred.

We certainly felt the shock on Maraj Street in Arouca. I had just changed your nappy and picked you up off the bed when I heard a loud bang and the whole room shook. I thought at first that I might be having a dizzy spell as the heat, lack of sleep and time difference were getting to me. The thing was, the whole room wobbled. The walls rippled and it was very odd. When we went downstairs the rest of the family confirmed that yes, there had been an earth quake and it wasn’t me.

You have been to Southend but you have never been into the sea proper. We went with Uncle Wayne and Aunty Helen to Maracas Bay for the afternoon on the same day as the earthquake where you experienced the sea, the Caribbean Sea, for the very first time. You were a little frightened of the waves coming in and out and weren’t happy when the water, although only a centimeter deep, washed over your feet. You cried out and made a run for land.

You did make a friend on the beach when you had got used to the sand and started wandering around. In a very romantic gesture you pointed up at the sky and said “moon”, and you were correct – the moon was out and overhead even though the sun was still beating down. The little girl you were talking too was not impressed – but you’ll find that in life.

There was a pelican flying over the beach and diving into the water to catch a fish or two. It had white markings on it’s head which made it look like it was wearing on old fashioned crash helmet to protect its head when it hit the water. It wasn’t the only bird I was watching on the beach but I was with your mother so I had to be discrete!

After we had finished Carnival we hopped back to Tobago for a few days R & R. The first full day we were there we went to Store Bay beach for the day. Your mother had shark for her lunch and you tried some, enjoyed it and ate some more.

On the last morning there you were playing near the bed when you moved some shoes and a scorpion came out and with bear feet, you stood on it. Luckily it didn’t bite or sting you or any one else. We vacated the room at speed and when we came back in it was no where to be found. We thought that it must have shuffled off somewhere. What worried me was that none of us had checked inside our shoes before putting them on each morning – scorpions like hiding in dark places and shoes and boots are a particular favourite. I checked my shoes and did a reccie of the room but no scorpion was wandering around. I did notice what looked like some fluff against the wall which them moved and morphed into a scorpion – I stuck a glass on it and it was then sprayed with insecticide before being removed. The hotel owner had never seen a scorpion in Tobago and hopefully we will never see one again.

I think we all had a good holiday although we are not sure when we will be going again.

P.S. We spent the night before we flew out in your God Fathers house as he lives a couple of minutes drive from Gatwick. During the night you said in your sleep “Toon Toon” and your mother, also talking in her sleep, replied “Black and White Army”. Priceless.

Written by Administrator

March 8th, 2007 at 9:13 pm

Posted in Family,Memories