Wednesday, May 24, 2006

What fun we're having here at Purple Towers.

Yesterday my sister got home around 6pm to find the Psycho waiting on the doorstep for her. "Where's Trumpkin?" he demanded, again and again, even as she fled donw the street and rang her neighbour's doorbell. Still he did not go away, even when the neighbour came out and let her in (neighbour is incredibly suppportive considering she and my sister have only just met).

He's nuts, was the neighbour's opinion. We can only surmise what his state of mind is as he now harasses my sister in broad daylight in front of witnesses, in public and under the watchful eye of CCTV cameras in Sainsbury's, in flagrant breach of his bail conditions.

He's not quite right, is he? mused her solicitor, yesterday.

He's a fucking fruitcake, we decide daily, but sadly the law does not discriminate against fucking fruitcakes when it comes to applying for legal aid. In fact fecklessness and lunacy it seem to be rather a help in the process.

Imagine if you will then our state of mind, living as we do some twenty minutes away from the nearest police outpost, when an unexpected vehicle pulled into the drive at 10pm. Suffice to say that we have never bolted our outer doors more quickly, driven on by images of the "fishing" knife he likes to carry in case he decides to go gutting mackerel on a whim.

I've never been quite certain what tenterhooks were, but we seem to be living on them at the moment. Our life carries on much as before, but the tension is there, the vague worry of being watched and followed.

Only yesterday, as I drove to school to pick up the children, I allowed a car following to get nearer and nearer so that I could see the driver's face in the rear view mirror. Unable to see him clearly, I elected to go the wrong way, deliberately turning into a road shut for works, so that I'd know if it was him before leading him straight to the school where his son spends seven hours a day. He wasn't following me. he went straight on, and as he turned away, I could see that it was not him- this man had a moustache. And then I felt really stupid for being so paranoid.

If my sister is suffering even a fraction of that though, I cannot even imagine the tension she is under. After all, we might kid ourselves that he gives a damn about his children, but really and truly his beef is with her. He is far less likely to turn up here, Trumpkin or no Trumpkin, than he is to pop out of bushes in her front garden.

The car last night had merely taken a wrong turn, very much at the wrong time for us. It backed out again and continued up to the farm. Or was it a mistake?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Hen came home yesterday buzzing with the news that she was to be a witch in Macbeth -exactly the role she wanted. She hoped that Lady Macbeth would go to her friend, tall, thin and scary, and indeed it did.

Later, at supper, we talked about costumes, and how many witch costumes would be required (Dill is to be an apparition witch, Sim is King Duncan, and little Trumpkin, Persephone's son, who is staying with us for the term, is to be a little witch).


"Mummy, can you think of a way to make my hair *witchy*?"

The Boff and I:


She is a stranger to the hairbrush, that child.

Monday, May 15, 2006

We shall soon be overrun with guinea pigs, it seems. Two months ago, The Boff decided to put a wayward male guinea pig he'd found wondering about the lawn in with the females. I didn't realise for two days, and now, all the girl pigs are fat, one of them obscenely so.

This was a complete accident, I'm sure. When sorting washing, he still mixes up Hen's clothes (age 9-10 size) and Dill's (age 7-8 size), on the grounds that since they are in fact 11 and nearly 9, how can he be expected to know what fits whom? By the size of it, dear one. He simply hadn't remembered that the pig he caught was a boy pig, nor did he think to check. Or could it be that secretly, he wanted more guinea pigs?

Roasted guinea pig, anyone? It's either that or advertising them in the Western Morning Mail to people who'll only eat them anyway.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

I just bought three egg coddlers in separate transactions on ebay. We only seem to have three in the house, and since I have acquired a fourth child for a few months, we needed more egg coddlers.

Still, the garden centre was nice and empty this afternoon, and the staff seemed peculiarly distracted. I wonder what was going on?

Martha Silkie is sitting on dud eggs, and refusing to give up. I think she committed chickicide some days ago. Remember that time she "accidentally" got back on the wrong nest about two weeks ago? Uh-huh. Her sister Bertha on the other hand is raising a beautiful brood of mostly boys, I think- distinct tail feathers coming in. Tears and neck-wringing ahead, methinks...

Sister's ex unspeakable. Really. As expected has applied for access. Can say no more at present, other than that she is shortly returning to work.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Am I alone in feeling extremely annoyed that £200 million (that's 200,000,000 pounds. folks, or 400,000,000 dollars roughly of almost any provenance) of our money is being spent on having annoying Digital Al preach at us about the impending switch to digital television, that they've already been warning us about for several years?

Now, I can see the point of spending and 9 figure sum on a health matter such as AIDS or seat belts, but I really fail to see in what way it is crucial to tell people that if they're too stupid to pick up on the information already widely available to them, then they're going to lose their television signal for a couple of weeks until they can get a set-top box sorted out. Imagine- no Eastenders, Hollyoaks or Corry for two whole weeks. Hardly life-threatening, is it?

Perhaps they will go out and get a life instead, and actually use some of those dormant brain cells, rediscover sport and socialising, barber shop quartets and cards. It might do them the power of good.

Or perhaps they will awake from their stupour, look around them, and realise that all they do is watch telly and work, and actually start thinking for themselves... Discord and exodus ensues.

Maybe they who command Digital Al are right after all- better spend the £200 million, and keep the fix going.

Bread and circuses, people. Except that these days it's GM KFC and Corry.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Can you have too many chick pics? Who knows? Here's another anyway.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The mystery of the black foundling 

The mystery of the black chick is cleared up, like those child murder cases that turn out to be natural causes when the next one is born and is found to have some extremely rare genetic problem.

I think I've stretched that analogy just about as far as it will go.

Anyway, little Lately hatched last night, courtesy of the incubation services of the slightly second-rate sitter, Martha (she who decided it might be a Really Good Idea to get back into the wrong nest after a short constitutional, and let the whole lot go cool- only time will tell whether any damage was inflicted on her clutch- another ten days to go).

Lately still needs to sit and be kept very warm for a couple of days, and like most new chicks, is disinclined to eat just yet (which is why I had to remove his/her egg from Bertha shortly after the first five had hatched, as I knew that it would emerge later than the others, and Bertha was very hungry and keen to get on the move- this lark is not actually any easier than artificial incubation really).

Chicks actually survive for the first couple of days on the remains of the yolk, which by the end of incubation is sited in their abdomen, and while they are still a little stiff from being cooped* up for 21 days without moving much, it suits them not have to move much. The hen normally stays on the nest for around three or four days to allow the stragglers time to hatch, before hunger overtakes her and she takes the babies out into the world. Any left unhatched are left to die. The world is a hard place, and the sooner the little creatures realise it, the better (before birth? even better!) -nature seems to favour precocity (may the deities save my children, who were all overdue, and are showing no signs of precocity** whatsoever).

Little Lately is, you guessed it, black, with white touches. Unlike his/her older balck sibling, he has only four toes (Araucana), but fluffy feathers (Silkie), whereas the older one has five toes (Silkie), but more distinct feathering (Araucana). Both have some feathering of the legs (Silkie).

All the chicks are feathering up very quickly, particularly little brown chick (paternity and maternity unknown), who is also quite bit larger than his little Silkie foster siblings; I'm beginning to suspect traces of cuckoo DNA.

* Pun really not intended, I swear.
** Except, possibly, in sarcasm. I wonder where they get that from?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

And talking manky-looking plants in garden centres, it seems that a BW has been having trouble with her local rose nursery Cants, when they sold her a poorly-cared for specimen which subesequently died, and then refused to replace it. (unlike our excellent Notcutts back in Surrey, which would always replace on presentation of the corpse- we only had to take them up once on the guarantee, in nine years). I asked at Otter Nurseries yesterday if their lilies were garanteeed, and the assistant, who insisted on patronising rather than explaining, informed me that they were not. I decided not to buy from them.

I am so excited about my new pond that it's almost enough to take my mind off the fact that my sister's ex has now tracked her down to her new abode (almost certainly by reaching through the letter box at her old house, fishing out the mail and steaming open her new tenancy agreement; it has been sent for forensics but he almost certainly left no prints, and glued it shut again rather licking it. Anyway, he turned up today at her new house (she was here for the weekend, and got back only last night, so he must have been watching her for some time, trailed her down the road when she went out to her car, and shouted abuse at her through the window before disappearing when she appeared to dial 999. But I digress, straying into madman territory.)

Anyway, new pond. Colin the tramp reappeared at Easter, mindful as he is of steering clear of church porches during periods of heavy usage, and requested some heavy task in the garden to counteract the effect of his now enormous backpack (people keep giving him things). So we set him to dig us a pond, which Persephone and I completed as therapy for her this weekend. That was before she had confirmation that he was indeed responsible for the shoddy resealng of her mail, and when we still naively believed that he might have lost interest. Obviously we know better now).

Anyhow, enough digression. Yesterday we placed in our possession five perfect goldfish (although one is black, not gold), but blanched at the price of teh rather morose-looking lilies in the garden centre. Toaday I bought some on Ebay instead. The fish have settled in happily, and some of those funny beetles that row up to the surface with their hind legs seem to have moved in already. The pond is looking good.

Persephone's morale has been improved by the of two WPCs who seem to be taking her report very seriously, and are talking of having conditions added to the nutter's bail sheet- he is still out on bail for harassment pending further investigation, this time including witness intimidation, theft and mail theft. All perpetrated upon my poor sister.

His next move will of course be to seek to gain custody of the poor little children, in whom he has no interest beyond their value as bargaining chips. We're doing our best here, but the chips seem really stacked in favour of the bastard. The police is still waiting for him to slip up- apparently Persephone cannot seek a civil injunction against him until he hits her* or breaks into her house. This is presumably why women (mostly) still die or are maimed every year at the hands of their exes, simply because no-one in authority would take their concerns seriously.

The pond is beautiful though.

*I feel the need to reiterate here that he is a karate black belt with a short fuse and a broken brain, and has been violent both towards my sister and towards their son. Just what are they waiting for?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Talk about never happy 

And just to prove that my father is utterly insane, I received an email from him via my online real name presence on a translation site. The subject line was "Get a life, E", and the body of the message was comprised of these sage words: "Get out into the garden and plant some veggies, luv, D".

Huh? This is the same man who more usually berates me for "doing fuckall". With some people, you can just never do the right thing.

A friend once observed admiringly, watching my three children talking to each other, laughing and joking during breakfast, "Ils ont un vécu.", which loosely translated means that they have a lot in common, a shared experience of the world. And so they have, and it is by design. They have had a lot of positive experiences together over the last three years in particular, a lot of experiences to share with each other even into adulthood.

I have thought a lot about this over the last two months, as Purple Sister Persephone has had to spend a lot of time down here trying to keep away from her own personal hell. We have talked a lot about our childhoods.

I say childhoods advisedly. I don't think either of us had ever appreciated the other's experiences, growing up. When you are in the depths of misery, unreasonable expectations heaped upon you, you are intent on survival. Period. For us, this meant leaving childhood in one emotional piece.

Sometimes, when my mother rings and spouts platitudes at me, I want ot blame her for what is happening to my sister. I want to say to her: "If you had loved her from the start, none of this would have happened". Which would of course be completely pointless, as she is no more able to rationalise her behaviour towards my sister as a small girl than she seems able to redress the balance now.

My mother's standard response to my sister's current predicament is "Well, there are women in the third world who are far worse off" and to remind her at frequent intervals that she disliked her as a baby, and to compare her and her children unfavourably and openly with both Purple Sister 2 and Purple Sister 4.

Somehow, you glean this theory as a child that your parents are meant to be a buffer between you and the world, at least until you no longer need one and can manage alone. Our parents seem to have decided that what Persephone and I really needed was no support whatsoever, to be chucked in at the deep end of life.

Our two sisters, both of whom were ill as babies, were let off everything- no responsibility, little expectations of them. Our brother, who is a boy, could no harm in my mother's eyes, so his childhood might at best be described as vastly different from ours. He was was the one for example on whose education it was deemed appropriate to spend a lot of money (which may have been the best thing for him, but also meant that he unfairly got to leave the familial hellhole at 12, whereas the rest of us had to stick it out to 18).

The point is that every child is different, granted, but injustices are unforgivable. There is no reason why Persephone and I should have been any more responsible for ours sisters' behaviour than they were. There is no reason to elevate a five-year old to middle management, or an eight-year old to a baby's prime carer. They just exploited our capacities to their own advantage. We were technically able to carry out the duties expected, and willing to please, so were loaded up as high as we could carry. Our siblings, who were unable or unwilling or too male to have these things expected of them, simply weren't.

As children, the disparities were so great that the ruling emotion between us was one of resentment. We played together, but they were always power games, in which Persephone and I ended both picked on and marginalised by our more favoured sisters. Our parents may try all they like to redress the balance now, but you reap what you sow. In my parents' eyes, I am hard and difficult, and Persephone is difficult and wilful. I think this may be adequately be summed up frfom our point of view as "We've taken enough sh1t for a lifetime, thankyouverymuch, and are now cashing in our IOUs."

Our children do chores, but we apportion duties according to age and experience, not willingness to carry them out. Broadly, duties are the same for all three, and are not onerous. They are well-cared for enough to want to help us many other things, and well-intentioned enough to know how to really help us when we need it.

I am happy to see my children laughing together, because it means that have an easy relationship with each other, uncomplicated by ridiculous struggles for attention and love. Because all a child really needs to succeed in life is to feel loved and supported. Everything else grows from that.

The deep end of the pool will find them soon enough, and there are plenty of other ways of preparing them for the unreliability of life than being an unreliable, cold and evasive parent. I plan on supporting them emotionally until they no longer need us, rather than until they can support us. It's called being an adult. My father jokes that he is the oldest teenager I know. I can assure him in a totally heartfelt way that it has never been a joke from my side of the fence, and neither has my mother's passive aggressive emotional dependency. Eighteen years, I decided to stop taking the sh1t, and my life has improved immeasurably since. No looking back.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Chick count today: 5, including one puzzlingly black one. We wait to see what it will become. I thought it should be a Silkie judging from the size of the egg, but maybe it is in fact part Araucana. Time will tell.

Muxh as I'd love to share my wisdom and experience today, the only thing I can come up with is this:

Don't drink five oversized glasses of cheap white wine in any three-hour stretch. It's been long time since I was this *unwell* from drink (about fifteen years, actually). Maybe I needed to be reminded why I usually stick to fewer than two glasses, and often volunteer to drive, giving me a good reason not to drink at all.

*creeps morosely away*

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