60. Grappling-hook baby

I am not done yet. Last week I made a coffee table by hammering two old pallets together. It went to my head. It fuelled my ambition. I’m making an outdoor dining table, by hammering six old pallets together. I’m still at the crowbar and sledgehammer stage, which is the part I enjoy, and it let me spend a little time with the kids.

Family time with 23thorns

Family time with 23thorns

Not that I gave them a sledgehammer or anything. They took it when I wasn’t looking. But it did give me an opportunity to be with them without engaging with them, apart from having to relieve them of the occasional sledgehammer. It was educational. Continue reading

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58. Dave

The Japanese are sending a man into space. There’s nothing unusual about this; he’s just going up to man the international space station for a while. What is unusual is that they are sending a robot up with him. This is Kirobo.

Now also available from Toys'R'Us.

Now also available from Toys’R’Us.

One day, the Japanese designers of Kirobo hope that they can design robots to actually perform useful tasks up in space, but that’s not what Kirobo’s going for. Kirobo is going up into space to chat to the astronaut. That’s it. He is programmed to have conversations. And take pictures. Continue reading

44. Cat-hat.

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I got my first proper job. On the first day, I arrived early. As one does. Three hours early. I don’t like to take chances. At least not on the first day. After that it all goes to hell. Finding everything completely closed, I sat myself down on the ground and settled in for a wait.

I always like to make a good first impression.

I always like to make a good first impression.

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25. The gravel thief.

Enough. I’m taking a break from politics today since I have uncovered a monstrous crime taking place right beneath my nose. It’s not at all because I’ve been reading the papers every day for a week and this morning I reached critical mass, and couldn’t bear another word of the endless dreck we are subjected to. We’ll go back to politics again tomorrow. You haven’t heard about the open toilets yet.

Those of you who have been following this blog for a very long time may remember that, towards the end of last year, I fell victim to a spate of robberies in my own home. My wallet was stolen. Twice. On both occasions, I was able to apprehend the criminal and retrieve my property. I learned my lesson (mostly), and am now far more careful with my possessions (mostly). And it’s worked. My home has been largely crime free ever since. The occasional chocolate gets stolen, but I don’t like chocolate, so it’s no business of mine.

The wallet thief. Behind those cold, empty eyes lies a mind like a steel trap.

The wallet thief. Behind those cold, empty eyes lies a mind like a steel trap.

Continue reading

13. But is it art?

I went to bed last night resolving not to write anything about my children today. This is not a parenting blog, and I’ve been waffling on about them for the last two days. Enough.

My resolve, however, weakened a little when I opened one bleary eye to the cold light of dawn to be confronted by a small and inordinately cheerful person brandishing two eggs at me.

“Morning”, I said.

“Where is the Tabasco?” She replied.

What was the first thing you spoke about this morning?

What was the first thing you spoke about this morning?

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11. Teal.

I went to watch my son at a mini soccer tournament the other day. It was great fun; watching any member of my bloodline play sport is a joy, and not because we are good. But I’m not writing about that today. I’m writing about pants. While the eight-year-old boys ran around the field screaming at each other like pro-footballers and flailing awkwardly at the ball as if it were on fire, I noticed another group of boys on the side of the field. They had found themselves a grassy embankment, and were sliding down it on their knees. It looked like fun.

This is pretty much what the game looked like. If you remove any sign of the ball from the picture.

This is pretty much what the game looked like. If you remove any sign of the ball from the picture.

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4. The Hiiills are alive……

There’s a hole in my soul where “The Sound of Music” is supposed to go. I’ve never seen it. It doesn’t bother me. It’s not like I’ve lost a limb or anything. I just lack something that seems to unite the whole of the rest of the world.

These children never saw "Oklahoma".

These children never saw “Oklahoma”.


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The Easter Bunny has ruined my life.

My wife claims to remember being three. So did my father. I can’t even remember much about being twenty. But there is a vast difference between remembering a place or an incident, and remembering how something feels.

Being three must feel a bit strange. Everything is big. Everything is new. And a whole lot of things are apparently rather scary. My daughter is three. Moths are unnerving. Bees are terrifying. Speaking in public is apparently deeply unsettling, which is a little odd since skipping through a mall dressed as a fairy with no shoes and a kilogram of self-applied make-up on is not.

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The romance of steam

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We live in an ugly age. Almost everything is cheap and plastic and disposable. And we are cheap and plastic too. Don’t be fooled by the glossy pages of the fashion magazines. If you want to experience the true aesthetic of our time, take a stroll through a shopping mall on a Saturday afternoon. It’s not pretty.

I don’t know why. Back in the day, they used to do this properly. They had style. Ladies and gentlemen dressed for dinner. If a gentleman popped out for a stroll on a Saturday afternoon, he wore a high collared suit and a top hat. Continue reading