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.

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Why are there lots of music videos that show rebellious young boys?

I often enjoy watching music videos.

There are three relatively new songs, and the promos for each of them all involve a teenage boy doing bad stuff. An interesting trend…



Any explanations?

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.

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 benefitted 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 educational 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 really happen). 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 began and then it was safe to vomit… and then fall asleep in it. 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.

“I didn’t ask for your life story.” #7 – Grandma

It surprises me really, that after doing this blog for almost a year now; looking back I can find no reference to a lady who despite not being around since 1999, had a great effect on my life.

  • Mornings

I’d wander down the green carpeted stairs, running my fingers along the textured wallpaper. It was early, and I would assume I was the only one awake. I’d push open the living room door only to find Grandma, sat on the sofa in her bright pink dressing gown, up before everyone; reading her Bible.

I’d watch her put on her makeup, the best bit was when she’d draw her eyebrows on, Dad said they’d disappeared in an operation and never grown back.

She had curlers in her light brown hair, which was always immaculate, once the curlers were out; I loved placing my hand softly on her head and bouncing it up and down gently, as if I was touching a cloud.

Time for breakfast. The only time we ever had those mini Kelloggs variety packs was round at Grandma’s . The first few days Coco Pops, Frosties and Ricicles would be eaten, then we were left with the strange ones like Corn Pops and those Loopy Loop things.

Sometimes I’d have honey on toast, Grandma would say, “Don’t tell Granfer you’ve eaten his honey!”

“Who’s been eating my honey?” Granfer would shout from the kitchen, to which I would giggle and grin cheekily.

  • Food

Food was always great in Cwmbran, and the best of all the food was jelly.

It was kept in their special fridge, which wasn’t a normal fridge because it was camouflaged. The fridge was with covered with a wooden door to match the drawers and cupboards. I’d never seen a wooden fridge before then, and never have since.

The jelly was strawberry red and was set in small silver bowls. Often, if I found a moment when no one was around, I’d sneak into the kitchen and open the fridge to see if Grandma had made us jelly this time, I never once remember finding a fridge bereft of wibbly wobbly delight.

  • Outdoors

One sunny afternoon me and Grandma went round the garden collecting snails. Every one we found we placed on the huge rock which sat on the left side, next to Granfer’s shed. Then we raced them and watched them make silvery trails all over the place.

I also loved the garden because of all the amazing ornaments and models scattered throughout; fisherman gnomes, frogs, squirrels and rabbits.

  • Indoors

If it was rainy outside we got to watch a video, the video. A wonderful recorded selection of cartoons from a lost age. Betty Boop, Felix the Cat and Popeye the Sailor.

The house was full of novelty toys which held an endless fascination for my young mind. I loved playing with a clockwork globe which played music as it slowly rotated.

The ornaments weren’t only in the garden, there were also plenty inside. There was a glass cabinet of crystal animals, which I loved staring at, but wasn’t allowed to touch.

There was a china model of a lady in a yellow dress dancing the flamenco, and my personal favourite; a model of an old grumpy Grandad, ironing his trousers.

She was the only person I’d ever known to have a musical doorbell, which played an assortment of nursery rhyme melodies when pressed.

At Christmas time, the house was sprinkled with cards and tinsel, but no tree. “Our house is too little for a Christmas tree.” She explained.

So they had a model of Father Christmas whose head would move from side to side as his arms flowed to the tune of carols played softly, he held a candle in his right hand that lit up and lit down continually.

  • Presents

December was always my favourite time of year, as it also held my birthday.

She’d plonk the bulky Argos catalogue in my lap and tell me to choose whatever I wanted. Limitless opportunities for imagination sat in those hours, in which I’d wonder what it would be like to have all the things I saw.

One Christmas, all the grandchildren got remote control cars. I being the oldest boy got the biggest and the best one of the bunch. A monster truck with flames painted on its side. It drove faster than anything and knocked down everything that got in its way.

remote control car control

  • Time to go home

When it was time to go home I could never quite believe it, I always had to stop myself from crying at the disbelief that time had gone so fast.

Before we left, Grandma would reach into her magic pot and pull out a packet of refreshers for me and my brother. This gesture always made the journey a lot easier.

She would give my Mum some pocket money for us. 50 pence a week for every grandchild, which adds up after a while. I just hoped we had enough to buy some more jelly.

“I didn’t ask for your life story.” #5 – Ricicles

I must have been about 5 years old, it was the school holidays and Dad had got up with us to give my Mother a lie in. Time for breakfast, which was brilliant because at that time we had one of my favourites in; Ricicles!

What a brilliant cereal! All the Snap Crackle Pop joy of Rice Krispies, but with a much higher sugar content; awesome.

I love it towards the end when you drink up the milk and it’s super sweet, and it doesn’t really matter that by now it looks kind of yellow.

I remember for a limited time, small marshmallow pieces were added to the cereal; that was definitely the closest British cereals have ever got to perfection. Why don’t they do the whole little dry pieces of marshmallow thing in any cereals anymore? People love it! I’m bored of hearing people going on about why America’s great because they have Lucky Charms. Surely there is a market in this country for just one cereal to contain those little lumps of joy! IS IT TOO MUCH TO ASK?

I completely fell for all their marketing techniques as well, I genuinely felt like I had some sort of affinity with Captain Rik, like he was actually a friend of mine. Even though he was probably a graphics student’s summer project.

So there I sat, at the table looking down at my freshly prepared bowl, when suddenly I felt really sick. The very though of eating any Ricicles made me feel even worse.

“Dad, I feel sick”

“Really? Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I feel really sick.”

“Well, try and eat some cereal and see how you feel.”

“No! Please, argh!”

“Stop making a fuss.”

[Starts eating cereal]

Two minutes later:

I’ve never looked at Captain Rik in the same way since.

“I didn’t ask for your life story.” #4 – Foil

(BTW I know I haven’t blogged for at least a week which is never a good thing. I have been keeping myself busy with an interview or two, an 80th birthday party, a concert and other things.)

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Today I’m going to write shortly about foil. Why? Because I can.

  • Often, but not always, school packed lunch sandwiches were wrapped in foil. I always had ham and ketchup in my sarnies, if you’re interested. I liked it when they were wrapped in that beautiful thin sheet of aluminium, because that meant after eating I could fashion a sword/dagger out of it. I would pretend I was Robin Hood or Peter Pan or just a cool guy with a shiny knife.

  • Foil is also good when you’re bored, especially if you’ve got a Kit Kat handy. Firstly take off the bright red paper cover, then you are left with a foil covered block of chocolate. I would press down the foil on the top so you can see the imprint of where it says “Have a break / Have a Kit Kat”. Sometimes I would press my fingernail into the middle groove and rip the foil down the middle and snap at this point, but that wasn’t really my scene. I usually tried not to rip the foil as I slowly undressed my chocolate, then laid the foil out flat. Now obviously the joy of a Kit Kat is in the eating:
  1. Snap it in half.
  2. Bite the chocolate off each end.
  3. Now the hard & messy bit. Nibble off the chocolate from the sides and the top, until you are left with two bits of wafer.
  4. Go round everyone in your class shouting “Look! Look what I done!”

  • Running your fingernail across the foil, until it becomes all flat and creaseless, is also very satisfying.
  • I remember the 1998 Blue Peter ‘New Future Appeal’ for Schools in Mozambique. One had to collect all sorts of aluminium, cans and foil and stuff; that was cool.

Talking of Blue Peter appeals, I remember back in 1996 when they did the ‘LEPRA Leprosy: Brazil & India Appeal’, I had a Bring & Buy Sale in my garden. I felt really important.

Check out that totaliser!

I really liked Stuart Miles, he was cool.

  • Has anyone had that thing when you put some foil in your mouth (for some stupid reason) and if you have fillings (for some stupid reason) you get the strangest tingling sensation in your jaw. Very strange.
  • Foil was introduced to Chocolate Advent Calenders about halfway through my childhood, it used to be a thing only the expensive ones had, like an extra gimmick which meant you had to pay an extra quid for it. They all have it now.

That’s about all I got. This is quite interesting: