Monday, 7 December 2015

It Takes a Polyamorous Relationship Cluster to Raise a Child

Why would you tell me this? What reason do I have to assume that they aren't?
Various members of our cluster* seem intent on teaching Arya to make things. I can't really make anything crafty. I guess I'll be teaching her to cook and doing the basic moral guidance via storytelling, since I'm pretty useless at making things.

In other news, as I flagrantly underuse this blog, it's Chriiiistmaaas! Well, it's advent anyway. That means Christmas shopping, so my balance is a fair bit lighter than it was this morning. So it goes; I just hope that people like what I've got them, since that's the real point; not to spend money, but to give gifts and give pleasure.

I'm looking forward to Christmas with Arya. It's her third, but her first as a fully communicative being. Should be a lot of fun.

* I have no idea if this is the appropriate term, but I figure I won't go far wrong borrowing from Sense8

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

George Vernon Hudson Appreciation Day

Hanna and I have some difference of
opinion on the Powerpuff Girls, but I
can't deny that they pulled an Alan
Davies attributing daylight savings to
Ben Franklin.
I am absurdly excited at the prospect of swimming this Sunday being an hour later due to being in GMT. All in Chez Morningstar are pretty knackered at the moment, with even my daughter complaining that 'I sleepy' and demanding that people (well, mostly me) 'leave me alone again'. It is in this delicate state that we have to face the explanation of the difference between slapstick comedy and physical abuse.

It is also in this condition that I seem to have been declared arbiter of allowable partners for our traditionalish family board games New Year. This is choppy waters for me. I don't want to be down on other partners, but I also don't want to end up the fifth wheel and I really, really don't want to end up curled up in a ball in my bedroom like I did last birthday. Granted, that's a worst case scenario, but best not to be careless.

Partly the problem is that I want to be fair, but inevitably I don't mind Andrew's girlfriend being there because she doesn't cut into my time with Hanna; if anything her being there gives me more time with Hanna. But if I say yes to her, how is it fair to say no to Hanna's boyfriend? It isn't, is the answer, but I'm not sure it isn't something I might have to do from the standpoint of my own mental and emotional well being, so should I then say no to Sam as well? In some ways it would be easier if I had a problem with Hanna having another boyfriend in general (well, apart from the all-but insoluble question of terminology once the clear-cut husband/boyfriend dyad is expanded) rather than just struggling with a few specific instances. I could just be all 'nuh-uh' and not have to worry about offending people.

Of course, I'd also be a dick, so there's that.

Also, if they do come to the gather, what is the etiquette regarding chores. I mean, if we're at my place then they're guests, so I can't ask them to do the washing up, but on the other hand I might feel mean dragging Hanna or Andrew away to get the dishes. On the gripping hand, I can't do it all myself; that way madness lies, and I'm not even being particularly hyperbolic. It was feeling all excluded and struggling with a pile of washing up at the far end of the flat that left me in a major meltdown at the start of the year.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Mutant Enemy Days

It's been a bit of a day so far.

I woke up, rolled over to see how long I had to go until my 6 o'clock alarm, and found that it was 6:35. Either the alarm didn't go off, or I cancelled it without even noticing; either way, I was running late, so I had to rush out of the house without tea.

Grr. Argh!

I got into work, had a shower, then came to the office and found that my computer wouldn't connect to the internet. At all.

Grr. Argh!

So I switched to another computer/desk (which means all my calls are coming to the wrong place) and I still can't connect to the damned printer.

To top it all, I had a long and boring meeting full of waffle and back and forth and magical thinking ("We don't have that much money," "Yes, but let's assume we can find some more somewhere...") which ran on and on until Hanna's lunch break was over so I didn't get to talk to her on the phone. By this point it was 2 o'clock and, like the Sweeney, I hadn't had my dinner, so...

Grr. Argh!

On a lighter note, dear readers, I leave you with something I noticed on my bag of Minstrels yesterday.
This slogan is used apparently without irony.
I didn't know that was still possible.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Conspiracy Theories in Polyamorous Relationships

There is always the fear, in polyamory, that your partners and metamors are plotting against you. I have proof that this is happening to me, from our holiday game of Ticket to Ride.

Me: "Wait, wait. That's a grey route."
Andrew: "Yes."
Me: "But you played an orange card."
Hanna: "You can play any cards to build grey routes."
Me: "And you didn't think this was something that I needed to know?"

I'm not saying I would have won (Hanna played a bravura game, completing a long route across the north of the map after which we couldn't touch her), but I might have been in contention for second if I'd not been saving black cards to make grey routes, assuming that the black routes were dark green and mistaking the green cards for yellow.

I'm just saying, right, that you can't spell conspiracy without piracy, and they can still hang you for that.

Monday, 3 August 2015

So very British

Hanna: What do we do!?
It was one of those situations, you know? We were having breakfast at Chiquito's, the service was slow as the chef was late in arriving, and the order was off, so the manager said: "It's on the house."


I'm not prepared for this. I don't know what to do. I'd struggle to complain if I were truly hacked off at them, but drop a free meal on me for a few minor inconveniences (the meal was still very good) and I'm lost. Hanna was no better. I was sweating; she started to hyperventilate as the manager asked if we wanted anything else; all on the house.

Order food that we know we don't need to pay for? That's... That's like inviting us to steal, isn't it? I don't think we could have asked for anything else if we'd wanted it.

And how do you leave? You can't ask for a bill, so what's your procedure. We just had no experience to help us deal with this.

We are so goddamn British.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Life, it's what you make it

I was initially a little grumpy about the price, but this is definitely 95p
worth of toast. (I may have had, like, no pictures to put on this.)
I'm a big one for routine, I can not deny it; a creature of habit. I like my morning cuppa, my early Friday home time and Sunday brunch with Hanna and Arya.

But there is more to life than routine, so I am super excited at the prospect of a family weekend away. It's at Alton Towers, so it's not cheap, but it's mostly all in and we get to take Arya to CBeebies Land, which ought to be a hit. It's likely to be pretty nerve wracking keeping an eye on her in the crowds, but it should be a good weekend all told.

Less awesomely, we missed the renewal letter for Arya's swimming classes, which means we'll be canceling from next term, not this term. It's a shame, because it would ease off Sunday mornings a lot and I was kind of hoping to put that money into the holiday.On the other hand, it's not like we were planning to stop taking her swimming. Having got her into a bath last weekend without any tears, I'm keen not to let her get out of the habit of water.

Medkit, 40K style.
Other new things on the horizon are making my own kit for No Rest for the Wicked (embroidery by Hanna) and modding Nerf guns for same. I'm currently creating a book and stocking a medkit, for which I have picked up 100 centrifuge vials and 100 plastic syringes, and plan to get some paper and sherbet or something to make some patented powders.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Actual Father's Day!

This weekend was actual Father's Day. I could probably have got a free beer in Chiquito's, if I drank. As it was, I got a copy of Pacific Rim, which may deserve a Bad Movie Marathon review on the same grounds as Fury Road (vis, that whether it's any good or not, it has the aesthetic of a cheesy B-movie.)

Aside from the things with Arya, recounted elsewhere, the big news this weekend was that Hanna and I met Andrew's new girlfriend Sam, and managed not to spook her into fleeing, which is a plus.

We also picked up our residents' passes for Ely Cathedral, so we can now get in for free, rather than pushing £20 a head. Aside from its general impressiveness, we were interested in the cathedral because of its links to the King's School Ely, a private school that we are more than idly considering. In theory at least I am a supporter of the state system, but it turns out that theory and practice diverge somewhat when I'm choosing between Arya studying by the National Literacy Strategy in a class of 40 children ranging from the perfectly lovely to firestarters and from highly able and significant;y challenged in a school with no ability to provide suitably differentiated learning without inducing a constant procession of teacher breakdowns, or taking an equestrian PE option in a class of 20.

I guess my feeling is that this sort of education should absolutely be available to all, but as it's not... Family does things to your inner liberal socialist that aren't always pretty.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The impossibility of plumbers

Plumbers. What's up with them?

Even the plumber who offers a 24 hour call out service can't install a simple shower until August, maybe September.

This is Andrew's Father's Day
...and this is mine. I'm not sure
how to take this.
This means that I still don't have a shower, although I do at least have confirmation that what I have is a power shower, so I could in theory buy one and fit it myself, if I felt lucky. I mean, it's water and electricity, but how hard could it be?

In other news, Andrew and I got our Father's Day cards on Sunday, which in retrospect is odd because it isn't Father's Day until next weekend (which at least makes me feel better about not calling my Dad.) The cards in question appear to show a dramatic divergence of regard, although I know that actually I got the one I did because it has a pun in it.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

All Quiet

You may have noticed - or not - that I've not updated this blog in a couple of weeks. This basically means that I'm all about the work and the baby, so either anything I've done to talk about is covered in my other blogs, or I'm too tired to remember it.

Monday, 18 May 2015


It's difficult to take selfies with a
baby. In this case I couldn't get one
where we were both smiling.
Okay, so 'sleepy' could be the title of most of my posts, but what can I say; I'm sleepy, and it was that or bitch about the fact that someone bumped into me on the way into work and slopped the water of their umbrella down my neck.

Not much to report from the me side of my life at the moment. I'm mostly muddling through, trying to clear the yard a bit so we can plant some plants and use it as an outdoor area in the nice weather. I had planned to try and put in a sort of conservatory/dining room, but the money isn't there for that, so veggies and breathing room will have to do.

At the weekend I'm taking Arya to see her grandparents while Hanna and Andrew are at Empire. I do need to book up for August's No Rest, but I need to sort transport before I can commit. There's a lot of this sort of hmm-haw in my life at the moment.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Plumbing the Depths

It's been a bit of a week for plumbing. I've had a week's holiday from home with Hanna and Arya, which has been glorious, if incredibly exhausting, but all manner of things have gone wrong in the plumbing department (that of the house, thankfully, not my own plumbing, which would be grimmer.)

"Can I take it to the bridge!"
First, the washing machine died the death. £400 to replace it (including installation and disposal of the old one.) Hanna is waiting in today for them to come and deliver; I hope they get there early, so that she can take Arya to the playground while the weather remains good. This is a possibility now that I have finally found a playground in my home town. I've only been there a year (although in my defence a lot of the play equipment is newer than that.)

Actually, first the main sewer backed up, it's just taken longer to get that sorted. I contacted the ground landlord and have now had a look in the manholes (thanks to the father and partner of one of the other leaseholders, who came over with crowbars) and Anglian Water is allegedly on the case. The progress on this was slowed by the fact that the third leaseholder apparently doesn't communicate much*, and a fire alarm from the third floor flat has prompted the Fire Brigade to direct us to put in an integrated alarm system at no-doubt exorbitant cost (which enlivened conversation with the leaseholder no end, as the tenant and agent had never mentioned this.)

Then the washing machine, which has meant two trips to Martlesham to do laundry. Actually, the one on Thursday was for Hanna to vote, although both of our constituencies stuck predictably with the Blue Meanies. I can't say that the result of the election doesn't fill me with a sick sense of dread, but I'm trying not to let it get to me. I do feel that it's time I got more politically active, however, perhaps because I've got my daughter's future to consider now.

You may recall I said we wanted to
take her to see the diplodocus.
This morning, the shower broke, by which I mean 'made grinding noises and emitted smoke'. I don't know what this is going to set me back yet. I need to persuade a plumber to come in largely on spec to check the connections and tell me what I need to buy. It feels almost cheeky asking.

On the upside, we've been to the Natural History Museum, found that playground, spent time as a family and finally beaten Pandemic (fuck you, global viral Armageddon!)

Ultimately, I am torn between my belief that money is fundamentally unimportant to the pursuit of happiness, and the stark reality that while money can't make you happy, lack of it is pretty miserable, especially when you need to make the mortgage every month. I know in my heart that all I need to be a good father is to love my daughter and be an emotional support for her in times of trouble, but I also want to provide for her** and clothe and house her and sometimes buy her books without worrying about eating for the rest of the week.

In the long run, what matters to me is my daughter. In the short term,  however, having a livable house is no small thing.

Hey ho. I can wash at work, and at least I will have a very shiny washing machine.

* Or indeed at all, preferring to route everything through a solicitor who seems to expect us to pay her for the services for which her client is presumably already being billed.
** In collaboration with Hanna and Andy, I'm not trying to be some sort of sole breadwinner.

Monday, 27 April 2015

And on and on

These dolphins represent... I don't know, my
inner conflict or something.
I need to make changes to my life. Not big ones; well, not ones that seem big any more. Big things in my life are my family, and what I need to change is just my job. Specifically, I need something that brings in a little more money without completely eating into my time. The problem with a lot of stuff in the next band up is that they start expecting late Fridays and weekends out of you, and that's my family time which they absolutely can not have.

But yes, I need a slightly better paying job with equal flexibility if I am to continue to have a family life and a bit of leisure time, and maybe one day get back to my Dr Who CD subscriptions and upgrading to a 2 credit Audible account.

Interesting digression, having an Audible account gives you credits you can use for any single audiobook, regardless of its actual cost. I  now find myself looking at the options thinking 'yes, that's a good author and a good reader, but is it 20 hours long?' I may swing back towards heroic fantasy, if only because you get a lot of book for your buck. Sadly Jack Vance's Dying Earth is sold in bits.

I've got some big stuff coming up. We're going to the Natural History Museum to show Arya the dinosaurs this weekend, then I have a week with Arya and Hanna in which we plan to sort out the kitchen a bit. It's likely to be a testing time, as I don't doubt we'll all be pretty ragged by the end of it, but it's also a chance for me to spend a whole week with my girls. I'm aware of the pressure - almost entirely internal - to be all awesome all the time, and I'm thinking that maybe we should arrange for each of us to have some 'time off' to hit the cinema, perhaps, and recharge. Of course, it's still up in the air whether my Unlimited Card will be any good next month, and whether anything else will be in place.
“She wants to be flowers, but you make her owls. You must 
not complain, then, if she goes hunting.”

It's also about a month to our anniversary, and I'm still not very good at those. I've not had very many, all told. I want to do something special, but thrifty, which is difficult these days. I'm thinking of something involving cooking. Hanna is also very into the recent trend in grown up colouring books and has suggested some colourable postcards might be well received.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Black Dog Days

Morissette, I will take your ten thousand spoons over any
number of knives.
Oh, that hurt.

I've been looking after Arya while she has chicken pox, and the virus seems to have snuck in and tried to give me shingles. Fortunately, I had chicken pox and my immune system had words, but they were strong words delivered in the manner of one of the fight scenes in the new Daredevil series, and left me well and truly trashed. I was literally unable to face the train journey home on Sunday, so had to make my way directly from Ipswich to work this morning and I feel like I climbed a mountain.

Actually, I've climbed a mountain; I've climbed two, and I never felt this rough afterwards*.

It doesn't help that I was pretty hammered this time last weekend. I really need to get some sleep. Ah well, I guess that Wednesday night Marvel Marathon is out of the question.

On the upside, I had some super quality time with my daughter, in between the howling-at-the-injustice-of-illness moments and the exhaustion. On the downside, before I worked out that I was sick and hungry on Sunday, I was careening towards a state of black depression like I've not known in a good while; probably not since I stopped teaching. Fortunately Arya's presence helped to stabilise me, but it was pretty alarming.

I don't talk about my depression much, but it's always there, hovering in the background. It hits me like the proverbial black dog**, knocking me down and taking all the wind out of me. It makes me physically slower and makes me question my worth and my contribution. Arya helps because just being with her I know I am loved and held in the highest value, and that I have contributed to making something wonderful. I ought to be able to remember that when she isn't there, but it doesn't work that way.

Perhaps the most insidious aspect of depression is that it makes you feel blameworthy for being depressed. This is a trap, but knowing it is a trap and avoiding that trap are two different things. I spend much of my life on the brink of the pit, aware that there is solid ground to my back but unable to step away. It's not a unique feeling, and was described by another famous black dog sufferer***. Not that I have had actual suicidal thoughts for a long time now, but the vertiginous sensation is all too familiar.

I'm much better today, because I'm no longer fighting off infection along with exhaustion, and I can look back and, not laugh, but recognise the tricks the dog played on me and acknowledge them with a nod and a grim smile. He won't be there tomorrow, but he'll be around; it's just a case of taking it a day at a time, and keeping him out in the yard where he belongs.

* Full disclosure, they were smallish mountains in the Britannic mould, and I suspect that the invigorating fresh air helped a lot.
** "The black dog I hope always to resist, and in time to drive, though I am deprived of almost all those that used to help me…When I rise my breakfast is solitary, the black dog waits to share it, from breakfast to dinner he continues barking, except that Dr Brocklesby for a little keeps him at a distance…Night comes at last, and some hours of restlessness and confusion bring me again to a day of solitude. What shall exclude the black dog from a habitation like this?" - Samuel Johnson
*** "I don’t like standing near the edge of a platform when an express train is passing through. I like to stand back and, if possible, get a pillar between me and the train. I don’t like to stand by the side of a ship and look down into the water. A second’s action would end everything. A few drops of desperation." - Winston Churchill

Monday, 13 April 2015

Weariness, books and old friends

It's all up with my spoons at the moment. I am super tired, thanks to Arya kicking me out of bed at a critical time.

I can tell I'm especially tired because a) having retreated to Arya's bedroom after being kicked out of my own, I woke up panicking that she was gone and b) I misheard the interests of one of the contestants on Swashbuckle as 'carnage' instead of 'colouring'. I also really wanted to know who was going to win in Kerwhizz*, which can not be a good sign.

Still, we actually managed to get some time to ourselves this weekend, so Hanna and I finished off The Musketeers and watched a bunch of The 100 which has been sitting on our Sky box for ever so. The fact that we stayed up to get to the end of the finale of The Musketeers may not have helped with our spondular deficit.

We also had a visit from my old friend Jon, whom I've not seen in person in ages. On the up side, we have some tentative board gaming plans for the near future.

Also went to the dentist; all seems to be good. Yay!

I am a coherent blogger, damnit!

* Which describes itself as 'the quiz with added whiz,' although I maintain that it is actually the quiz with added er.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Life is Over and Under and Up and Down

This weekend has been a super-challenging one, as I was Arya's sole on-the-scene carer for all of the long Empire weekend. Hanna and Andrew seem to have had fun, and so did I; Arya is harder to judge, but for the most part I think it went well. We baked and I managed not to be too obsessive about keeping mess to a limit.

As a result, however, I don't have a lot to write about that isn't covered in my baby blog, because damn that was hard work. Single parents, I don't know how you do it. (Well, apart from the ones who live in filth, send their kids to school at five with no language comprehension, and spend the child benefits on booze and ciggies; I know how they do it. I mean the ones who do it right.)

Monday, 30 March 2015

George Vernon Hudson must die!

Film pitch: An inventor creates a time machine. His exhausted assistant, completely frazzled after the loss of an hour's sleep, travels back in time to kill George Vernon Hudson before he can propose the idea of changing the clocks twice a year.

It could be called Saving Daylight.

Domestic bliss.
On Friday I went to Martlesham on emergency leave to look after Arya. She had a bit of a fever from an ear infection and Hanna and Andrew have blown most of their leave already. It was also a chance of some extra time with Arya, which is not to be passed up.

The big stories of the weekend are the nursery/Arya's bedroom, which has had a dramatic overhaul, and the switch to BST, which turns out to be way more disorienting with a child involved.We spent much of Sunday in a collective fog and it was perpetually an hour later than we thought. It didn't help that Saturday night was hit and miss for sleep, although on Friday night Hanna and I got to cuddle up together and have the bed to ourselves all night for the first time in... I don't know how long.

Eschewing the many TV shows we have to catch up on, Hanna and I watched Transformers: Age of Extinction (thank you, LoveFilm) and Edge of Tomorrow on DVD/BluRay. One of these films is very good.

There is probably more to say, but I'm still a bit discombobulated. I love my family; that bears repeating.

Monday, 23 March 2015

So do you!

In 1940, the idea that 'alien' meant anything
except 'foreign' was apparently... well,
alien. Also, get the fuck out of Harwich, yo!
This weekend I traveled over to Ipswich to spend time there, as Hanna was working Friday and Saturday. This was a pretty demanding run, but since Hanna was working until 8.30 both nights, I can't really complain. We went to the Ipswich Museum, which has a bomb shelter exhibit featuring a police notice regarding the Aliens (Protected Areas) Order, which basically says no aliens are allowed in Harwich (and defines what they mean by Harwich.)

I got to spend plenty of time with Arya, although I am missing time with Hanna. On the upside, this week was a bit of a one-off to claw back some of the hours lost in transferring (and from the nightmare commute to Greenwich) and she's unlikely to be as tired and as busy in general. We've got a lazy weekend together planned for the next.

I've had a bad week for eating and I need to get a handle on that. I want to be sure I cook properly this week. I also want to get to the cinema, both to use my card and because there's stuff I want to see - Chappie, probably Seventh Son, even though I am sure it's going to suck, and what the hell, Insurgent - and I've already missed Paddington and Big Hero 6. Cinderella I'm going to take Hanna and Arya to see, even if we don't make it past the Frozen short*.

So, yeah; I feel lumpy and a bit short on spoons at the moment, but hopefully a week of living right - and keeping my diet - will help get me on the mend.

I'm also getting alternately psyched and terrified about spending the whole weekend solo with Arya over Easter.

* Ah, Frozen Shorts; that takes me way back. Also, I am now bummed out to learn that Gary Rosen died. Stupid nostalgia.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Enphoned, like an upwardly mobile monkey

Andrew and I adopt what I am sure the world
sees as our 'gay dads'  aspect.
This weekend was very heavily about Arya and Hanna, being the former's birthday (almost) and the first time I'd seen the latter since her birthday, as well as Mother's Day.

We took Arya to the zoo, which she appeared to love, although the stuffed owl that she chose from the gift shop went out of favour as it was being paid for. It feels hard to complain when that was her only serious present from us, and came in cheaper than one zoo ticket, especially as there is every chance of a change of favour any day.

One girl!
Girl for sale!
Going cheap,
Only seven guineas.
I loved the zoo as well. I've always loved a good zoo - although I have dim memories of one in, I think, America that was so dismal that it just made me very sad, despite the fact that I was only a few years old - and Banham is pretty good, and there was a flying display with an owl who was comically resistant to trainer instructions. I was dressed a little fancy, as is my wont, and in retrospect I think the combination of baby reins and steampunky waistcoat and watch chain might have looked a little like I was trying to sell Arya.

Then we went to visit my parents, and I admit I always enjoy an opportunity for Arya to spend time with them. In this instance I kind of fell asleep on the sofa (rough night + four hours of walking around a zoo,) but it was a good time and Arya seemed to remember them well enough this time, which is a big part of the point. I guess the polyamory is still new enough for me that I want to be sure the family is working.

On Sunday we went swimming, then had brunch at Chiquito's so we could go into town and Hanna could get shoes. Hanna's shopping was unusually positive (in addition to new shoes, they told her they would accept for exchange the ones that never fit quite right,) and we were able to get two damaged charms from her bracelet replaced or repaired without caviling about receipts (always tricky for gifts.) On a personal note, I popped into the O2 shop and explained that as the local Carphone Warehouse had shut down, no-one had contacted me about the end of my contract, and could I sort something out so that I didn't have to keep paying through the nose for a phone I owned outright.

I am now the (proud?) owner of an LG G3, which is so far pretty good, and most importantly is no more than I was paying. It is also scarily fast compared to the old Note 1; Plants vs Zombies is scary as hell.

Back at home, I cooked a big roast dinner (chicken) for Mother's Day, which ran a little later than I'd planned, but did work out pretty well. I also have leftovers.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Forgive me if it goes astray

I have an evil persona. Well, not really evil; he's more of a whiny, passive-aggressive dick. He comes out when I'm tired or stressed or especially hungry, and while I mostly have him in hand these days, I still have moments where I become the whiny, passive-aggressive me and I hurt the people I care about.

In place of a picture of me acting like a dick,
here is a gorilla painted like Iron Man.
Please note the careful use of pronouns there. While I consider this side of my personality to be 'not me', I'm not writing off responsibility for my actions. Whiny, passive-aggressive dick me is still me.

On the upside, I deal with this better than I used to. I manifested this side of myself on Saturday night, or rather Sunday morning, and snapped at Hanna. It was utterly uncalled for, horribly unfair and frankly ungrateful. I immediately regretted it, but you can't take these things back. I'm just glad that Hanna didn't drive off into the night with Arya swearing never to speak to me again. It might have been an overreaction, but not by very much.

Anyway, as was my response to this would have been to justify myself, but I've grown as a person. When Hanna sent me to bed with a flea in my ear I lay awake for a while, running through the various justifications in my head. This gave me the chance to assess just how much of a moaning tosser I would have sounded like and realise that when you do something for which you can expect no forgiveness, the only thing you can do is ask and hope.

And Hanna is an amazing person. I'm not saying I won't pay for this later, but she certainly didn't make a thing of it when we were both still exhausted, which shows far more wisdom than I did.

Anyway, onwards and upwards, for it is better to seek to do better than to crave indulgence for past failures. This weekend I shall not see Hanna and Arya at all, and that will sting, but the reason is that I am attending my first field LRP. I'll be crewing at No Rest for the Wicked, at Castle Fansh near Haltwhistle. I have... some kit options in hand.

I have also resolved that for financial reasons I am going to try to mod my own Nerf guns.

This does mean that I will miss Hanna's birthday, but I am instead letting her use my flat for a girly sleepover, which thus means this week's evenings will largely be given over to some manner of tidying and laying in of luxury hot chocolate components. We then have a plan to take Arya to the zoo next weekend, have a birthday tea with my parents and then a family mother's day.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Somnia, I AM IN YOU!


Some nights I just can't get to sleep, however tired I am. I just sort of tense up into a ball of aches and pains; it's no fun at all.

Monday, 23 February 2015


It's basically one of these. It's suppose to moo when you take
the lid off, but actually moos whenever you move near it.
Burglars beware!
I have acquired substantial amounts of stuff this weekend, as Hanna's parents have cleared out their garage and shipped Hanna's stored gubbins down to live in my garage. Said gubbins includes furniture, books and a substantial set of cow crockery. It's a good thing I'm not a habitually-armed American or I would have shot the damned cookie jar already; the damned thing keeps mooing at me out of nowhere.

We also took delivery of Hanna's substantial, but not quite complete, set of Ravenloft material, a testament to her teenage obsession with Count Strahd von Zarovich. This includes the novel I, Strahd, which I irritated Hanna by suggesting was compatible with the I, Frankenstein. Finally, there was a bag of comics which may or may not be worth anything. I may have a stab at cataloguing them, purely to save Hanna the effort and not to sneak a read or anything.

"If I don't look at them, maybe the weird orbiting
naked chicks will just go away."
So, my place looks a little more than usually as if a bomb - or perhaps a toddler - had hit it, but once we get a chance to sort the nursery (since Arya doesn't need the cot anymore) some of that stuff may come in handy soon.

This weekend's second major fixture was lunch with MattMatt. It's been an age since we saw him, as schedules basically prevented us getting to a Hatfield game for ages. It was a salutary reminder that we need to work at not losing touch with people, as well as a lovely afternoon of good food, good company and watching someone else entertain Arya for a while. We would totally provide references if he ever wanted to adopt.

Coming home from MattMatt's was a little fraught, but it's my own stupid fault. I got on the wrong train and had to get off and turn around at Shelford. In addition, there's a bus from Ely to King's Lynn on Sundays, but at least the driver let us off in town. I wouldn't have minded so much, but the weather was absolutely vile last night; cold, wet and miserable.

Still, I got cheapish takeaway Chinese and it was so nice getting into my little warm flat full of Ravenloft modules. it really felt homey.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Tell me why, actor man?

Hanna suggested that I photograph the label as I didn't
have a pen on me.
The last few days I have been awfully ill. In fairness, it could have been worse. Hanna was able o give me fair warning of how bad the affliction in question might get, so I've been on antibiotics since the infection began to show on Friday morning. All things considered, taking Arya into Ely on Saturday may have been a bit much. I was ludicrously pleased when Hanna got back from her game at around dinner time instead of in the small hours of the morning.

Other than being ill since Thursday, and sleeping on the sofa so that Hanna and I didn't keep each other awake with our coughing, it was a good weekend though. Arya continues to push boundaries, but I got to spend a load of time with her and with Hanna. We were both ill, so it was mostly cuddles and TV, but it was good to have something to ourselves.

On Sunday we went to see The Book of Life, an animated film by Guillermo del Toro which I originally saw part of with Arya. She had a go at walking out again and I missed the very end of the movie watching my daughter circle in the lobby of the cineworld Huntingdon. After that, we went to a Living History Fair in Godmanchester, where I mostly window shopped for LARP kit and Hanna recnnected with friends from Maelstrom/Empire or people her parents knew.

We had pancakes at dinner, which was nice.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Dippy and Deprivation

Dippy the Diplodocus (c. Drow Male, Creative Commons)
So, they're moving the diplodocus from the Great Hall of the Natural History Museum in London. It's not been there forever, but it's certainly been there since I were a lad, so Hanna and I are quite keen to take Arya to see the Museum before they replace it with a blue whale. I'm not, for the record, angry about this or anything; I entirely get that Dippy isn't even a real skeleton, but is composed entirely of casts of bones, but standing and gazing up at the diplodocus is otherwise an experience I won't get to share with my daughter.

Why does this seem of great importance? Well, quite possibly because I am seriously tired, due to Arya's ill-health at the weekend. It changes your priorities does exhaustion, although I did get to sleep last night, so I'm not as bad as I was yesterday.

Of greater actual moment is the awareness that I need to start looking for a change of job. I'm reluctant, because where I am now is really pretty good to me. If it was only a little more money I would never leave.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Insomnia and other passtimes

"Whatcha doing?"
"Oh, just lion around."
Illness is easier to cope with when you're getting plenty of sleep. Sleep is easier to come by when you're healthy. To quote the Devil in Brimstone:

"These microbes never cease to amaze me. An orgy of pain and suffering in such a little tiny package. You really have to give that old bitch Mother Nature a lot of credit."

My illness from last week persisted pretty much through to today, manifesting primarily as a painful throat and mouth blisters. By Thursday I thought I might have tonsilitis; by Saturday throat cancer. For various reasons then, I was not sleeping so well. I'm still pretty blitzed, as it goes, but I shall recover.

Between this extended lethargy and not seeing Arya at the weekend, I was pretty low, but better now for some baby time this weekend. I did consider trying to blag swimming, but I got the last two and its no fair if Hanna never gets in the pool with Arya. It was a very tired weekend - I managed to fall asleep in the denouement of The Wolfman, despite all the roaring and screaming.

I need to aim for austerity this month, financially and in terms of diet. January was expensive and I have No Rest for the Wicked and lots of major birthdays in March. This is in part why I was so peeved that, when the screen for Kingsman failed on Saturday, I couldn't find anything else to watch and ended up spending more than I should on a big lunch. If I'd capped that off by losing my scarf I would have been gutted, but fortunately noticed in time to go back for it. I also got to see the first few minutes of Into the Woods, which together with The Wolfman added up to an Emily Blunt-heavy Saturday.

I would have liked a little more time to spend with Hanna, but it's always good just to see her. Anyway, my thoughts and condolences are with her and Andrew today, as they are at his Gran's funeral.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

I'm under the weather, Dug.

How sick was I? As sick as this guy. You don't
think this particular parrot looks that sick? You
try being hunted close to extinction on a false
accusation of sheep worrying and see how you
Well, that was a fun weekend.

I've not been well - presumably a gift Arya brought back from nursery - and I've been on my own. Hanna and Arya have been in Leeds with her parents and are now decorating the nursery and spare room in Martlesham. I sat on my sofa, got a bit of writing done, and watched a lot of shit on Netflix (for which thanks are due to my friend Sally; I would return the favour, but conveniently linked logins mean that anyone logging into my Amazon Instant Video account can also order books in my name.)

My somewhat dreary time was enlivened by video calls from Hanna and Arya, one of which was apparently demanded by Arya, which suggests not only that she misses me, but that she knows that the weekend is our usual time together. She's growing so fast!

Anyway, I have rewatched and reviewed Van Helsing and The Last Airbender, watched and reviewed Red: Werewolf Hunter, Daybreakers and Chimera vs. Pegasus, and churned through a whole bunch of Continuum and Warehouse 13. I started watching Lost Girl, but can't get over the creep factor, and have also got back to Stargate Universe, which was interrupted when they took it off Prime Video.

It's not exactly being 'busy', but it keeps me sane.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Final demands and other bullshit

"This is a final demand," the letter said. "If you fail to pay this amount within 10 days of the date of this letter, we will take court action."

The letter was from npower, who are not my energy supplier. They were when I moved in, but I switched almost a year ago now, received and paid my final bill from them and heard nothing more until they sent this final demand for £150 I do not have.

So I called them up and I said: "This is bullshit."

To their credit, they checked their records and said: "Yeah; that is bullshit. Sorry about that."

So, not the best ever, but still npower 1: TalkTalk 0.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Measuring Spoons

So, you all know how spoons work, right?
Most alcoholics have fewer than average spoons. The
absinthe drinker has plenty, but they all have holes in.

For any who don't, spoons are the hypothetical measure of the level of cope required to undertake everyday tasks. The point of the model is that your workaday 'normal' human being has a near-infinite number of spoons, but that any level of disability rapidly reduces one to a strictly limited spondular* budget.

Now, as these things go, I am not exactly short on spoons, but neither am I the happy-go-lucky man of a thousand spoons that I used to be (in my head at least,) and my spondular commitments are many. In particular at the moment, there is caring for Arya at the weekends and helping Hanna to make up her spondular deficit, which is profound. Hanna has fewer** spoons than most to begin with, and of late has been splitting them between a daughter, a husband, a boyfriend and a demanding course of study requiring a four hour a day commute. The news that her transfer from Greenwich to Suffolk had been approved was a wonder of wonders.

This weekend, we had a clear plan and I budgeted my spoons - already depleted by post-Christmas lurgy - accordingly. By 11 o'clock on Sunday I had spent the day with my daughter (which included scraping her off the kitchen floor when she went into complete meltdown) and taken her swimming (driven by mummy) and was pretty much done for the day. Hanna and I went to see Into the Woods while Arya's other daddy took her for a stroll and a nap. I had perhaps one spoon left with which to tidy up when I got home and the others took off for Martlesham. I had planned to have a few more, but a bad night's sleep on Friday punctuated by weird dreams, the last of which involved me trying to prevent social services from taking Arya away before Hanna could get home, put paid to that.

For the benefit of younger readers, Uri Geller is a celebrity
psychic who made a fortune persuading people that even if he
could bend a spoon with his brain, that would mean something.
Unfortunately, part of Hanna's deficit derives from the fact that her ME and CFS not only cap her spoon levels, they also make it near-impossible for her to accurately estimate her remaining spondic reserve. She brought Arya to me, went to an Empire player event, came back, took us swimming and came to the cinema with me, and only on the drive back to Littleport did it really come home to her that she was not merely down to her last spoons, but had suffered an unexpected visit from Uri Geller.

I mention this not to complain, but to note that Andrew - whose birthday it is today - was a star, covering the washing up and Arya's bathtime so that I could eek out my last spoon to cook dinner and get Arya to bed. I don't know how families with only two parents cope, let alone one.

Until next time, may all your spoons be runcible.

* Spondular (adj.) - Of or referring to spoons. Also, of the back or of medical complaints of the back. I only made one of these definitions up.
** But not slotty

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Unclean! Unclean!

This is my fifth day back at work after Christmas, but three of them have been spent either working from home with mild flu or sick with serious flu.


Still, I feel all right today, so I'm going to try to get into work. Aside from anything else, I should have a birthday present waiting in the post room.

Monday, 5 January 2015

That was 2014, This is 2015

The dominant feature of the past year for me has been that I own a house. It's exciting, and expensive, and exciting. I have some damp issues, and some loud neighbours, but overall it feels good to not be paying £700 a month to a landlord who stiffs me on basic maintenance.

I have also been a dad for a full year (I hit the one year mark with her birthday in March and this has been the first full calendar year) which is even more exciting and possibly more expensive in the long run.

Money has been tight this year and will continue to be so, I suspect (see above,) but I am determined not to let it get me down. The fact that Littleport is slightly out of the way is a bigger problem, and I'm not seeing people as often as I would like. Most of my vaguely local friends have busy schedules already and don't have cars, and most of the ones further out game at weekends and so can't commit to a weekender.

Not-a-Resolution* #1: See people more this year than last

My birthday yesterday brought it home to me that, aside from my awesome family, I have been feeling pretty isolated. It's not usually a problem, I'm kinda self-contained in a lot of ways, but the lack of human contact does leave me feeling detached and unloved sometimes. Yesterday my brain weasels were obsessing over the fact that most of the people who had sent me birthday greetings on G+ sent them only to me rather than to a circle as well, so clearly they didn't want to be seen associating with me. I know this is insane, by the way, but brain weasels, yeah.

Not-a-Resolution #2: Fuck you, brain weasels.

My weight is down, and staying down. At the end of the Christmas excess, after cooking (and helping to eat) two fine hams (I briefly considered adopting the moniker 'Cool Ham Luke', before deciding that was ridiculous) and the magnificent tagine that Hanna cooked for my birthday (lamb with figs, apricots and honey, and lashings of maize couscous,) I weighed in this morning at a shade under 104kg and I fit snuggly but comfortably in a 38" waist (in the summer I was 117kg and straining 42".)

Not-a-Resolution #3: Keep the weight down (and spend less money on snacks.)

Part of #1 is going to be a little thing called No Rest for the Wicked, a live-action Warhammer 40K game run by some friends in Scotland. This will be my first serious field LARP experience, and a chance to meet new people. The kit is looking daunting, but also exciting. I have vague plans to buy some electronic parts and a pair of clip-on sunglasses to bash into removable furnishings to make my glasses look less contemporary.

I may also try to get back to the local board games night, although I don't think I know anyone there anymore. Still...

Not-a-Resolution #4: Play more games (and make cool kit without feeling overawed at the work involved.)

In 2014 my pub LARPing has died back almost to nil, in large part because the society I have been an active member of for years took an active opposition to the presence of my daughter at games.

Now, I entirely understand that people don't want a small child underfoot, especially around a horror-themed game where they are playing foul-mouthed arseholes. I'm not wild to have her surrounded by that sort of influence, and I don't want to ruin anyone's game. What I object to is the underhanded and mealy-mouthed way in which this was handled. No-one actually addressed us directly on the subject at any point; instead, complaints were raised at the top-level of the society and we were handed an inflexible dictat that ignored the fact that pretty much 100% of the people we actually gamed with were fine with Arya being around. My faith in humanity in general and gamers in particular was only saved by the active and vocal support we received from said people we gamed with, ranging from 'I never had a problem with her being there' to 'damn the man; we love seeing her here.'

Partly as a result of this, and of the fact that she is older and more active, but we are no more able to afford childcare while we go to games, I am not going to be renewing my membership of the Isles of Darkness. It's a shame, because I met a lot of good friends through the society and had a lot of good times, and I was excited to see what this year's reset would bring. Most importantly, those people who stuck by us are people I both like personally and enjoy roleplaying with, so:

Not-a-Resolution #5: Continue to hang out with cool Ioddies.

It sort of combines aspects of #1 and #4, but bears singling out.

Another of the big successes of 2014 for me has been my blogging (he blogged,) and in particular the growth of my media blogs, My Life as a Doge and Bad Movie Marathon. I've found that I have become a better critical thinker for putting my thoughts in written form, and the BMM in particular is garnering a large (by my standards) audience.

Not-a-Resolution #6: Keep blogging.

So far so good then.

I have also started putting some of my writing out there, if without success so far. I still plan to get a compilation of my short writing out for sale this year, and I'm aiming to work on some of my longer pieces with a view to epublishing and journal submissions. Watch this space for my inevitable JK Rowling-like triumph!

Not-a-Resolution #7: Write like the wind!

Finally, and in line with my blogging in many ways, I got back into reading in a big way, thanks to the Kindle app on my phone and not having to lug hardbacks around on the train. I want to keep that up.

Not-a-Resolution #8: Keep reading.

So, that was 2014 and this is 2015. I hope it treats you well.

* I see resolutions as a means to disappoint yourself, so these are guidelines, not fixed goals.

Buzzapalooza and other Christmas Adventures

Oh dear gods I am tired.

Good news! Even after Christmas, I fit into a 38" waist and weight a mere 104kg (down from about 117kg in the summer.) Bad news! I am pretty much broken after Christmas, with all its running around and New Year late nights and inevitable emotional turmoil.

To sum up my experience of Christmas with a small child (as opposed to last year's Christmas with a baby,) it's a rollercoaster. Take one small child, ply with (modest, but still unprecedented quantities of) sugar and surround with the Sisyphean dilemma of more cool stuff than she has hands.

Christmas at home was an almost unalloyed success, and I only say almost because Arya got bored of opening presents halfway through and we left the lights on and a bag of rubbish in the middle of kitchen when we left. My Christmas ham (with a honey-mustard glaze and a recipe from the Hairy Bikers) was a great success, and if I almost murdered my metamour over prep then the lesson not to try and partner up over something as time critical as eggs benedict was one well learned and there was no actual harm done.

A selection of top gifts include a beautiful tagine and a Moomin with a nerf gun. Okay, I got a Moomin and a nerf gun, but I insist on my right to arm Finnish troll creatures (to defend against the bears, yo.) Also a TARDIS cookie jar with light and sound (from Hanna's brother) which Arya absolutely loves.

Christmas Day at my parents' was also pretty good, and I think that Andrew overcame his nerves at spending time with my family in his abject wonder in the Mill. My parents live in a converted steam mill in the Norfolk countryside, and it's basically the foundation of Andrew's dream smallholding; veg garden, chickens, loads of space. We might need to buy out the neighbours to fit the pigs.

We then spent a couple of nights at Hanna's parents' place in Leeds. En route we saw maybe half a dozen large birds of prey, mostly buzzards but Hanna thought one might be an actual eagle. I dubbed this peculiar density of raptors 'Buzzapalooza', a phrase that Hanna insisted should be blogged.

For the record the next time I suggest sleeping on the sofa at Hanna's parents' house, I deserve to be kicked. It wasn't so much that it was cramped as the air freshener which periodically wheezed and rattled into life; not that that would have been so bad if I hadn't been listening to The Call of Cthulhu on my phone...
My flat is now a den of vice.

Then we had a few days back in Martlesham, including New Years Eve, which was marked by four games of Pandemic (Andrew's Christmas present from Hanna,) in which the world was consumed by plague each time. In game one we were three cures down when the deck ran out; in game four we timed out with half the plagues cured. Games two and three were more unfortunate and we witnessed catastrophic early-game outbreaks of the Red Death and North African Zombie Plague respectively (although Hanna insists we probably gave up too early on the latter having lost a cube and thus not actually emptied the box.)

In retrospect, I probably should have gone to bed early on the 1st, but I find it hard to regret sitting up with Hannah watching MASH (which gave us the vocabulary to be properly outraged when Andrew asked Arya to pass him his slippers the next day.)

On the 3rd I spent the day with Arya while Hanna and Andrew went off to sit in traffic (not the plan,) which was stressful, but good.

The 4th was my birthday and... In all honesty, it could have gone better. The brain weasels were out in force (in part because, having not opted for the early night on the 1st/2nd, being awake with Arya half the night on the 3rd left me completely trollied) and I ended up going to bed early because I felt completely isolated.

Note to self for future reference: When you feel isolated, cutting yourself off from the people you love and who love you is dumb. I spent almost an hour feeling sorry for myself before deciding to man up and go back out to spend time with Hanna while I could, and just a few minutes in her company had me smiling and feeling loved again (if a little guilty for letting her go through the trauma of a Call the Midwife Christmas special on her own.)