What burns our thighs, wets your butt and strikes fear into their children?

Slides in kids parks / playgrounds were a hit and miss affair. In the summer they were too hot to go down, burn the back of your bare thighs. Rainy days obviously make them off-limits, many a wet butt was experienced. But the right conditions could make them especially enjoyable.

Sometimes they took the risk factor a bit too far with those slides in yer Wacky Warehouse type zones where there was a literal vertical drop pre-slide, which added significant velocity, but the fear, oh the fear before making the plunge. Always worth it though, especially with the ball-pool ecstasy which it was followed by.

Why are the London Underground Pro-Life?

Even Kate’s Got One!

I saw a woman today as I was strolling my son to Sainsbury’s and she looked at me merrily and I wondered whether there was a particular reason and my question was answered by a badge she was wearing. Have you seen them? Expectant Mothers who may not be visibly pregnant are given these badges so that people will give up their seats for them. What do the badges say? ‘Baby On Board’ of course! Yes, Transport for London are clearly of the opinion that a woman carrying an unborn child — no matter how for along — is carrying a BABY. The badge does not say ‘foetus on board’ or ‘potential offspring on board’. What a lovely smile she gave me.

18 things I do not regret my parents doing with me

Inspired by when Anti Catrin showed us that Challies article when he wrote the 18 things he doesn’t regret doing with his kids.

1. Praying with us before bed.
That was part of the everyday routine for us, and that’s remained into my adult life. Praying with Sibyl before sleeping goes along with brushing my teeth and putting on my PJs.

2. Giving us pocket money.
Dad borrowed a method from the de Jongs in our church; we would receive our age squared (in pennies), every Saturday. Enough to buy sweeties (or da da as we’d call them in Welsh), but we had to save some for collection in church the next day.

3. Talking with us about theology as we walked
On the way to the sweet shop every Saturday, Dad would ‘teach us diligently when we walked by the way’. I remember the freedom to talk about any theological concept, ask any question. “How do we know if God even exists?” “Who is the Holy Spirit?” “Can God sin?”

4. Playing us Christian songs.
I still remember every single Steve Green Hide ’em in Your Heart song, along with great family hymns like Holy, Holy, Holy. I was even helped when Dad tried to get us all to sing Keep on the Sunnyside from the Oh Brother Where Art Thou OST.

5. Leading us in family devotions
Not a day went by without us having a mealtime (sometimes breakfast, sometimes dinner) when the Bible was read to us. I’m indebted to those times for a huge chunk of my Biblical knowledge now.

6. Prioritising a family meal everyday
Leading on from that, we always ate together. I remember a school-friend moaning that his Mum forced them to have a meal together once a week. I remember thinking “Once!? Who else would you have a meal with the rest of the time?”

7. Feeding us amazingly tasty food
Yes, I’m dwelling on these mealtimes, but that’s because they were so good! Roast potatoes, homemade chips, roast chicken, sausages, turkey bake, quiche, tuna pie. And then there’s the puddings… chocolate brownies, chocolate pudding, chocolate bread and butter pudding, millionaire shortbread (with chocolate), little pastry pie things with brown sugary raisin stuff in them, fridge cake, flapjacks, cookies, and shop-bought battenberg was always a hit too.

8. Disciplining us
We knew when we’d been naughty and often had to learn the hard way. But those smacks could well have saved my life, they helped me honour my parents, and I know that that means I can now enjoy long life on the earth. However the downside is I do have a phobia of all wooden spoons…

9. Taking photos and videos of us
There’s a great VHS of me when I was a baby which is amazing to watch, and there’s lots of photos which I love looking at, people who’ve died that I now have images of to look at, memories of birthdays and Christmases, great stuff.

10. Taking us to church
That was just normality on Sundays. Morning and Evening. What’s come home to me recently is that I heard the gospel so many times before I listened to it, God gave me (literally) thousands of chances, and so much time, this helps me to have patience with others who have not grown up with that privilege, and who are not converted as soon as I tell them the gospel.

11. Sending us to schools
Firstly, the Welsh primary school solidified my contact with Cymraeg and Cymru, a language and place where much of my heart is with, so I’m thankful for that. As for the secondary school, I’m grateful for the socialisation and contact with the secular world that that gave me practice in.

12.Teaching us how to decipher what they were teaching us in school and the Bible
Dad would often ask us after school, “Did they mention God even once today?” The answer was usually no. I went to one of the most humanist schools around, but I’m glad I went home and was given the tools to engage with all of that.

13. Telling us to watch things critically
Along the same lines, these were the tools that we were to use when watching TV and films. Dad’s catchphrase was indeed “are you watching this critically?” And from speaking to my fifteen-year-old brother this week, he still says that.

14. Giving us time to play outside in our garden
Hours and hours and hours spent in our garden, mostly playing football, but also making a treehouse with our friends the Barnses, and also digging holes, even making fires sometimes! And the tree-swing was amazing too. And the climbing frame. And the paddling pool in the summer.

15. Encouraging us to do household chores
Lay the table, clear the table, empty the dishwasher, tidy your room… all things we were encouraged to do, but I must confess were very poor at even those few tasks. Poor Mam. I’m still working on that one. But I’m glad I was shown the importance of them.

16. Telling us how important books are
I was a terrible reader as a child, Dad at one point even offered to give me £2 for every book I could finish, it still didn’t work. He is a voracious reader, and that example has served me well as I’m slowly growing in my love for books. So even for the times I was forced to read boring Enid Blyton books about inane supernatural teddy bears, thank you.

17. Encouraging a love of music in us
There was more often than not music playing in our house. From Mam it would be The Carpenters and Lionel Ritchie, from Dad it would be Focus and The Beatles, and on Sunday we’d have Classical music. Did you know, I still love music?

18. Deciding to have loads of kids
I love having four brothers. It’s so fun. It’s also mad. But I can’t think of a better community to grow up in, one in which you are in a house with four other kids who all share the same parents and space as you, and are all so different from you, but also share so much in common with you too. That’s been great.

Masquerading as a loom

When Sibyl writes up her lecture notes she types in key-words on Microsoft clipart and fills her document with pictures of little farmers. It makes the screen look like one of my favourite screen-savers of all time, something (or someone) called Bill Posters (geddit?) would come onto the Windows 3.1 screen and paste postage stamp-sized images all over your desktop. I thought it was amazing. I think it’s because I didn’t look at it closely, and I as a young child got the impression that he was a real man living inside our monitor posting illegal advertisements. That’s what I loved about computers when I was little, the possibility that an entire universe could exist behind the thick glass of that screen, all kept inside a CD-ROM. It was fuelled by a yearning for eternity no doubt, or maybe just a joy in seeing cartoons, and clicking on things that make noises and move. Those were always the best toys too, toys that I didn’t own, toys that seemed as if they lived, toys that had over forty different words and phrases, because they seemed real. So that is the task for you, software developers, toy makers and yes, you too, my old friends the advertisers… make worlds.

I stop and stare at the younger, my heart goes to ’em.

A weekend in London babysitting my little brothers and an extended bank holiday have filled the past few days of my life. My parents had gone to a wedding in Yorkshire and were keen for me to keep an eye on ‘the younger’. I had thought that they wanted me to make sure they didn’t do the classic teen-movie thing of inviting all their friends round for a huge party and get the house trashed, but it was more of an opportunity for some sibling bonding. We had a lot of fun playing videogames, going to the park and I enjoyed watching some good fistfights; I also benefited from seeking to share the gospel with the little ones who have not yet professed faith, I’m thankful that God uses our feeble words and answers prayer.

It’s surprising how true the abovementioned school-time situation is. I imagine most attendees to a Western education establishement could tell you a story about someone’s habitat being ransacked by an entire school-load of children. It were like that when I was in school, as soon as one person said that they were thinking about having a house-party the news would spread around the grounds like (queue Southern States drawl) wildfire.

The culprit in our year suffered all the more due to the fact that he wanted to party at his own party. You can picture the situation, hundreds of teenagers in a suburban semi, putting calculators in the microwave (this happened); puking in expensive ceramic containers (this also happened); and throwing bicycles over the neighbour’s fence (yes it did). The host was passed out on the floor. Prior to this he too had had the urge to empty his stomach. Whilst rolling around on the parlour floor, he did not want to ruin the carpet, so when the heaving begun he clawed his way past the Persian rug, and stretched his neck like an athlete on the finishing line, so that his mouth reached the threshold of the next room where the laminate flooring begun and then it was safe to vomit… and then fall asleep in it. So from that point of the evening on, the poor boy was unable to manage his parents’ household and their possessions (wine cellar etc.), until they returned home and everyone either left or suddenly became very polite. Cry cry cry.

“I didn’t ask for your life story.” #9 – Nursery

Early memories of what they apparently now call ‘pre-school’ are few and far between. However, as is often the case, the traumatic memories stay in there, many of which revolve around me not wanting to go to nursery.

“I wanna stay with Muuuuum!”

I remember dreading it when Mum left me there, and begging her to stay. She’d take me over to Mrs. R and she would tell me all about the exciting activities that were taking place today. Then, at my highest point of vulnerability, my Mother would stealthily make her exit.

One weekday morning, I recall that we were doing the story of the three pigs. The teacher had somehow got it into her head that kids liked being scared, so naturally she role played it with me as a pig and her as a wolf. She put on this gargantuan, black, hairball-esque, smelly wig. Then she would, at regular intervals shove it into my face. To this day, I still hate any form of external hair touching my face, it freaks me out.

Story time took place, as it often does, on a seven by seven-foot square of blue carpet. However, it sucked to sit on the floor. There were two bright red cushions, with gleaming white letters of the alphabet written all over them, which two lucky members of the class were allowed to sit on.

We were having a nice ordinary morning, I seem to remember I was playing with a shoe-lace and story time was called. Of course, being stuck in my own world, I could not drag myself away from the marvelous shoe-lace right away, and this was to be my downfall. My best friend had already sat on the red cushion, the cushion next to him was still free, there was still time to get comfort as well as some some peer-to-peer infant solidarity. But, before I knew it, the class ruffian and son of the teacher no less, had placed his backside right where I wanted to be.

What was I to do? I couldn’t sit on the floor with the peasant children, I had to sit next to my best friend and I had to sit on a comfy red cushion! There was no option but to… but to… to use a bit of old-fashioned violence.

I limbered up and charged towards the bully, heading straight for the jugular I pounced. My attack didn’t quite make the impact I first expected it would and I was left grabbing hold of a pair of more hefty arms than I’d ever expect a three and a half year-old to possess. Using my shoulder I eventually managed to shove him off, and the cushion was mine.

But not for long. The rascall leaped up from his vanquished heap and in turn grabbed my arm. He promptly rolled up my sleeve and dug his fangs rather deeply into my left arm. I screamed in pain. Mrs R (his Mother) prized us apart and marched us outside the classroom.

Of course him being her son and all, she was soft on him. I remember being disgusted at the fact she gave us both exactly the same telling of, even though I’d only partaken in a gentle push and shove, but he had made the journey from child to vampire in the space of thirty-three seconds.

Justice must me had! The court case commences next Thursday.

We’ve Gone Viral! (in Japan)

Many of you may have seen this video:

It’s super cute and has just become my most viewed video (by about a hundred thousand). So that’s really cool!

Did I mention that they are predominantly in Japan? Turns out it has been posted on at least three big Japanese blogs.

The thing is, can it be classed as viral? Well definitions vary but this one seems to disagree:

I think you have the wrong definition of viral. Just because a video has a lot of views doesn’t mean it’s viral. Viral means that the video is posted everywhere to advertise/talk about it, whether it encourages you to or not. Obviously more views comes from this, but it’s possible to just have a video in one location with a lot of views and have it not be considered viral.

Whatevah.

Anyway, it’s cool because now I can sing this with Tom Waits: