Memory Eternal

Today is the fourth anniversary of my brother’s repose.

My six-year-old claims to remember him, but has no memory of any particular instance or event. My daughter was in utero at the time. Though they have pictures, it is sad that they never knew him.

May his memory be eternal.

Free Day

I got to school this morning to discover that the power in the town was out with no expectation that it would return for several hours. Fortunately, we are not expected to teach in darkness. We had to stay long enough for the kids to get back on the buses and disperse into the countryside.

Today it is about 8°C (46F) with intermittent rain. The forecast for tomorrow is a high of 5°C with snow. Hopefully it will be enough snow to merit another free day. There are suggestions of 4 inches in low lying areas and 8 inches on higher ground. However, it is possible that the snow will be delayed until after everyone commutes into school before it dumps down, making it difficult to get home. So I’m hoping for early snow or no snow at all.

Embryology Agenda

Embryologists may have missed this fact: there are already plenty of sperm and egg cells in the world today. The potential is there for creating enough babies for everyone, using a method that has been available since the beginning of the human species.

There is no need to create sperm cells from female embryonic stems cells or from male bone marrow cells. There is only one reason for doing this. All of the research and attempts to change legislation are to make it possible for gay or lesbian couples to have children that are genetically related to both partners.

It is ultimate attempt to thumb the nose at God – the ultimate humanism. It is mankind saying, “We will make our own creation. We will do it by our own rules.” It is the consumate rejection of the natural order. It is the crime against nature.

At the same time that new ways are being developed to create life, 200,000 abortions are being recorded each year in the UK. That number does not include those resulting from the “morning after” pill. There would be plenty of babies available for adoption by childless couples – even gay and lesbian couples favoured under current legislation – if they weren’t all being killed.

Everyone Must Pay

I feel very bad for Mrs A. She was raped 19 years ago by a despicable man, Iorworth Hoare. He went to prison and she only got £5,000 from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.  The six-year statute of limitations for pursuing a civil claim for damages passed.

Then, as if just to prove the Jesus’ words that the Father “makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust,”Hoare won £7 million on the lottery. Mrs A saw a chance to cash in. I don’t blame her – she has a moral edge on most of those who attempt to tap lottery winners. She was wronged by him in a most terrible way. But that doesn’t mean he should have to pay.

Statutes of limitations are there for a reason. Iorworth Hoare has paid for his crime with the irreplaceable commodity of his time. Whether you agree that his sentence was sufficient, it was passed by a lawfully appointed judge of competent jurisdiction. If any other claim is not brought in a timely manner, he has the right to move on with his life.

There is also a public policy reason the contrary decision by the House of Lords is bad. Delivered in a social and political climate that sex crimes are not the same as any other crimes, it opens the floodgates for more litigation against any  possible or potential defendant at any time during the life of the plaintiff. The law lords specifically included child sex abuse claims with adult rape claims. One of the victorious co-plaintiffs in appeal is someone who was abused in 1977.  His solicitor estimated that there could be as many as 6,000 cases already underway, waiting for this favourable ruling.

This is going to have an massive impact on the public purse. Every local authority is going to be hit by claims from any former child who suffered any sort of abuse while in social care. Not only that, but they will also be hit by suits from people who start to “remember” that they were abused, even though the putative abusers may be long dead, because there is always a legal successor to any government entity and it is funded by the taxpayer. Talk about hitting the lottery.

Page 123

I haven’t been tagged with a meme for ages. Not ever on this blog, and I’m not sure about the one before. Elizabeth has tagged me with this:

The Rules:-
Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. (No cheating!)
Find Page 123.
Find the first 5 sentences.
Post the next 3 sentences.
Tag 5 people.

The nearest book to me is one that I’ve had for ages and just started reading, John Major: The Autobiography. The relevant passage:

 I also pleased the Africans with a lengthy passage on South Africa. ‘Apartheid cannot survive and does not deserve to survive,’ I said. ‘It is not something to be tolerated or to be patient with.’

I tag Deb, Steve, Benedict Seraphim, the young fogey, and Laura.

No End to Mixed Sex Wards

It is no surprise that if you put women and men together in the same hospital ward, there might be some cases of assault. And of course there’s the whole embarrassment factor when it comes to certain bedside medical procedures or discussions. But if you are in the US, you are wondering why anyone would be talking about same sex wards. In fact, you may even be wondering what a ward is. (It’s like having a shared room, only with 5-7 other people.)

The Labour government promised it was going to eliminate mixed-sex wards in the National Health Service. It has now abadoned that promise.  Health minister Lord Darzi has now admitted it is “an aspiration that cannot be met”. That’s the reality of socialised medicine.

All the Democrats running for president are promoting socialised medicine in one form or another. I just wanted you to know what you have to look forward to.

Appreciating Freedom of Religion

I was talking to someone from Solvakia today. She was ten years old when the Communists fell from power in Czechoslovakia.

Somehow we got onto the subject of church. She talked about how people who were known for going to church had very limited prospects under the Communist regime. She talked about how people passed down old family Bibles because that’s all there were. She remembered that people met secretly in homes.

Now that people are free to worship, the churches are packed. The Catholic church in her village had people packed so tight at the back of the nave every mass that they had to put speakers outside. This is in the High Tatras. While it may be nice to sit outside in the glorious scenery in the summer, tomorrow the forecast is a high of -2°C (28°F) after a low of -7°C (19°F). There’s snow skiing until May.

She told me that if you have been christened and don’t attend church, people look down on you. I’m not saying that it is good for anyone to look down on someone, but she did note she felt it was almost the opposite here. People look down on you for attending church.

People who have never known sacrifice often don’t appreciate what they have. Make public worship very difficult for 41 years, and some people who can’t be bothered now might feel differently.

I’m guessing that when Communism is no longer a part of living memory, the churches will begin to empty.

(Very) Long (and Rambling) Road Out Of Eden

I intended to get it just after it came out, but it wasn’t until last weekend that I picked up a copy of Long Road Out Of Eden, the new album from the Eagles. I’ve liked the Eagles’ music for a long time, though despite my age I really didn’t discover them until after they broke up.

It is a good album, quite listenable, even if some of Don Henley’s politicising does get tiresome, especially on the title cut about the conflict in Iraq, which exceeds ten minutes in length. Other songs seem to ramble on a bit as well. The sole Joe Walsh contribution, “Last Good Time In Town,” runs seven minutes. I didn’t think I would ever say this about an Eagles album, but even after waiting 28 years for new material, it is too long.

That may be one reason that I haven’t beeen listening to it over and over, like I usually would with a new album. Instead, even after less than a week, I find myself just as likely to listen to Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood. Maybe even more likely.

The other thing is that it is missing Don Felder. Henley and Frey have always been in the spotlight more and I suppose that’s why they decided that when the Eagles re-formed in 1994 they should get the lion’s shares of the money. I suppose Tim Schmidt and Joe Walsh were okay with this, but Felder – who had been with the band since 1974 – didn’t like that the historic arrangement of equal shares was going out the window. In 2001, Henley and Frey fired him and he responded with a lawsuit. It was settled for an undiscolsed amount in May last year. His book has just been released in the UK, though it was pulled by the publisher in the States. I think it is going to be my next musician autobiography.

Crushed

The Government is trying to force everyone out of cars and onto public transporation by making it as expensive as possible to drive. But why don’t people want to go on trains? Ask 7-year-old Laura Booth.

Plenty of Cash and No Money

Nicholas van Hoogstraten has been arrested in Zimbabwe. He achieve notariety here in the UK a few years ago because he was convicted of for the manslaughter of a business associate and later cleared, but eventually paid out civil damages. The arrest in Zimbabwe has nothing to do with this. It has to do with possessing foreign currency and demand rent for some of his 200 Zimbabwean properties in something other than Zimbabwean currency.

He did accept some local currency. In fact he had far more of it than anything else. There was Z$20,000,000,000 with the money that police confiscated. That’s right: 20 billion. The only thing is that with an exchange rate of over Z$30,000 to US$1 – or about Z$60,000 to £1 – $20 billion doesn’t go very far.

I say all of this not to say anything about Nicholas van Hoogstraten, but rather about the economy of Zimbabwe. This is the degree to which Robert Mugabe has destroyed his country. This is why people are starving in a land that used to be the bread basket of Africa.

Many Years

It was just about six years ago right now that I was dressing A1 for the first time. He had just been cut out of Mummy’s belly after 56 hours of labour. He didn’t want to breathe at first so the paediatric consultant was called up to the operating theatre to encourage him. Finally he was one his way downstairs to the nursery, where I got him dressed and then took photos to send around the world to grandparents and others as soon as I was sent home by the nursing staff.

Now he dresses himself. Sometimes it is as Spiderman, other times it is Superman. It can be Mr Incredible, or a policeman, or a doctor. I’ve lost track of all the costumes. He also grown up enough that he dresses up in his uniform every morning and he’s nearly halfway through his second year of school.

May God grant His servant many years!

This morning he’ll wake up to the presents and cards that Mummy has put on the kitchen table, with banner and streamers and confetti. Tomorrow night we are going to a pantomime. The kids love panto. This one is staged by students at the National College for the Blind. That ought to be interesting.

Then there’s the birthday party on Sunday at the venue that every child must use for a party. The scary bit is that it is very near the football ground where the hooligans from Elizabeth’s Big City (who have a reputation for being some of the nastiest in football) will be travelling up to meet our hooligans (who have never backed down from a good dust up). This is somewhat related to the fourth round of the FA Cup. It is an early kick-off, so hopefully all the bloodshed will be over and all necessary arrests made before the children arrive.

Parents Night

Tonight was Year 11 parents night. That’s when parents come in, annual report in hand, to discuss their child’s progress in the run up to GCSE exams.

I had about eight appointments. The only thing is that I teach every pupil in the school, including every Year 11. Virtually all of them will be sitting a GCSE exam in my subject. It is required. So where were the other 90 or so parents?

Of course many of them didn’t show up at all. It is a very rural school so it isn’t easy for many of them to get in. However, it was the ones who turned up and didn’t to see me that disappointed me. Didn’t surprise me. Just disappointed me.

One of the parents who had a appointment didn’t take it seriously at all. “It only religion, after all. You only need it if you are going to be an RE teacher or something like that.” So I painstakingly explained that we taught a philosophy and ethics syllabus and that the ethics issues we dealt with we the big ones that people deal with either personally or as a member of society – that we are the only subject that teaches thinking skills for critically evaluting these things. I explained that no, it isn’t about opinion – that just having an opinion is worth one mark out of twenty on each of the four exam questions.

Most of the parents milled around waiting to speak to the important subjects. They were happy to spend their time doing nothing, rather than taking five minutes to discuss how their child was doing in this GCSE subject. The kids can’t be expected to take the subject seriously if the parents openly don’t.

I have to say that other than the one parent who openly challenged the value of my subject, all of the others to whom I spoke were very nice. Because of that, I enjoy parents night. It’s great to talk to parents who care about all aspects of their child’s education.

Wonderful Tonight

I just finished Eric Clapton’s autobiography.

I thought it was quite good. While it chronicled his relationships with family, various girlfriends, and lots of musicians, the overriding theme focuses on his recovery from drug and especially alcohol addiction. He attributes his experience of finally getting dry to prayer, though he is not sure who God is.

He comes across as a very down-to-earth person and not full of himself. It is very self-deprecating. He did wait 62 years to write about himself, as opposed to a lot of celebrities who write autobiographies in their 20s and 30s.

For some reason I was drawn to want to read the book, so my father-in-law got it for me for Christmas. It is only the second musician bio I’ve read (Mick Fleetwood’s was the other and I had never owned a Fleetwood Mac album when I bought it) – I’m normally not big on celebrity lives of any kind.

I never been a huge Clapton fan, though I’ve enjoyed his music since I discovered it in the wake of the Unplugged album. This came at a transitional time in my own songwriting, just as I was starting my band. The music of my song “Won’t Somebody Dance With Me?” influenced by songs like the live (slowed down) version of “Wonderful Tonight”. No doubt there are other strands of his influence in my songs from that period.

Harry Potter and Immigration

Over at Mere Comments, I was reading Steve Hutchens interesting view of the Harry Potter books and how they are analogous to the Gospel – something I can’t comment on as I haven’t read them – so I scrolled through the comments to see what others thought of this.

What struck me was not the debate of whether CS Lewis’ Narnia or JRR Tolkien’s LOTR is the gold standard of Christian fiction. Rather it was that even in this context people can get really pissy about illegal immigration – and with only a thin veil, immigration generally. Now I’ve written about this before, and even though it is a hot button issue, I get remarkably low traffic on such posts and no comments. Perhaps this is because my regular readers (dwindling number that you seem to be) completely disagree with me, but can’t be bothered to say so – or maybe I’ve made too many readers angry and they’ve vowed never to return.

If you can’t be bothered to scroll through it all, there is a particularly funny sparring exchange that went like this:

  • At the same time, I don’t recall freedom to migrate being written into the Ten Commandments,
  • It’s more than a little ironic, given the context for the delivery of the Commandments. 🙂
  • But, in fact, they weren’t migrating to a foreign country–they were leaving a foreign country to go HOME. For the Exodus analogy to hold, the illegals in the U.S. would have to be enslaved and prevented from LEAVING. Now, if some Mexican prophet were to emerge from the Barrio, go to Washington, pound on the White House door, and demand of President Bush, “Let my people go!”, I would think that the President would say, “Sure thing, compadre. Can we order up some busses and trains to help y’all out?” Certainly beats having the Potomac run red with blood (it’s bad enough in its normal state), or for a plague of locusts to descend on the land (we just got rid of the seventeen year cicadas), or for the first born to be taken (but I know the secret for getting out of that one). Don’t let it be said we can’t learn from the mistakes of the Egyptians.

It is strange that no one thinks of the original settlement of America by immigrants as a problem. I suppose the argument is that the Injuns didn’t have a complex legal system with a refined idea of private (or even public) property law. Therefore it was fair game to take it all and push them into reservations or kill them in the process. Right of conquest and all of that.

I think the last commenter is inaccurate in his depiction of the Mexican prophet. If he were to get anywhere near the door of the White House without being shot, he would be captured, hog tied, and shipped to Guantanimo Bay faster than you can say, “Hasta la vista, Baby!”

Dangerous Reforms

The Saudis are planning to give women the right to drive cars. Is this really a good idea?

Clearly they missed the recent news that women (and gay men) are the worst drivers. I mean, I’m all for women having equal rights with men, but clearly when there is an issue of public safety perhaps there needs to be a little more care taken in all of this liberalism sweeping the Arabian peninsula.

Then there’s the moral implications: “Allowing women to drive will only bring sin,” a letter to Al-Watan newspaper declared last year. “The evils it would bring – mixing between the genders, temptations, and tarnishing the reputation of devout Muslim women – outweigh the benefits.”

History That Matters

I’m covering American involvement in the First World War with my Year 10s. Thursday I was showing a map of Europe in 1914 to demonstrate the changes in boundaries after the War (particularly as they relate to Wilson’s 14 Points) when I drifted over to the Ottoman Empire. I explained how all the countries in Middle East – Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and what would eventually become Israel – were all created out of the break up of the Ottoman Empire after the war.

Then, speaking of the Ottoman Turks, I mentioned the Armenian Genocide. At that point I reached a crossroads: I could either get back to the lesson plan, the scheme of work, and the exam syllabus, or I could give substantive time to the horrors of 1915. Modern pedagogy said to stick to the syllabus. If it’s not on the exam, they don’t need to know it. Teach the exam. Obviously, I went the other way. Two hours the other way.

None of my students will remember the 14 Points in five years time. Don’t get me wrong – they are still going to learn them and about the Lodge Reservations and how it all relates to Isolationism of the 1920s. But they won’t remember. However, if they learn about the Genocide – if they see the pictures and read about the atrocities – they may remember it.

But more importantly, they may leave school with an understanding of the sort of place the world is. They may appreciate the place they have found themselves in time and space and what a valuable thing it is to live in a peaceful corner of the world. Later they will learn about the Jewish Holocaust – you can’t get out of school without learning about that – but now they will understand that this isn’t just a thing that happened to Jews during the Second World War. It happens to Christians and it continues to this day in both the Genocide denial of the Turks and the systematic obliteration of the Armenian past in eastern Anatolia.

I may not have time or opportunity to cover the Ukrainian Holodomor of 1932-33 or Cambodia or Bosnia or Rwanda, but I can a least do my part to see that the Armenians are not forgotten. If I can inspire one student to aspire to see that others are not forgotten, I will have done something worthwhile.

A Real Original

At Liturgy today we picked up something for which we had been waiting two years. That’s how long it takes to get to the front of the queue for an Aidan Hart original. I can’t get our scanner to work, so I had to take a photo with the digital camera, so the gold is too bright and even washes out some of the blue. The resulting fuzziness does not do any justice to the strikingly sharp colours. I tried it without the flash, but the ambient lighting wasn’t good enough.

abigail-small.jpg
(click for larger image)

Having never owned a hand-painted icon, I didn’t know that it shouldn’t be directly kissed for a year. It needs to harden during this time, after which it can be sealed. Before this time any oils, including those acquired from kissing, may damage it. It should be kept in a glass-fronted frame for proper veneration in the meantime.

The Abigail icon is original in more than just being hand-painted. We looked high and low for an Abigail icon before we commissioned this one in 2005. Elizabeth found one on the web last year, but I don’t know the source. Ours is not sourced on any other version – it is writted solely on the inspiration given to the iconographer.

The words on the scroll are those of the Righteous Abigail from I Samuel 25:29 where she tells King David, “Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my master will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the LORD your God. But the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling.”

Not only is this an extraordinary blessing, but perhaps it is a family story her step-son Solomon had in mind when he wrote, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” It is difficult to be vengeful while you are being blessed.

My Confederate Heroes

Today is the 201st birthday of Robert E. Lee. It is a legal and public holiday in Florida. In Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi it will be celebrated on Monday, along with the birthday of another son of the South.

In my home state of Texas, it is Confederate Heroes Day. So whilst I am happy to remember General Lee, I also think there are others who deserve mention.

In September, 1861, my uncle George Washington Littlefield mustered in as a 2nd Sergeant of Company I, of what would be officially designated the 8th Texas Cavalry, but is usually known to history as Terry’s Texas Rangers. On January 10, 1862, he was elected 2nd Lieutenant.

He commanded the company at the Battle of Shiloh, because the Captain and 1st Lieutenant were on furlough in Texas. The Captain never returned and the 1st Lieutenant was killed a few days after returning to the regiment, so my uncle was elected Captain on May 10. There was only one man younger than him in the entire company and he was not yet 20 years old.

He commanded his company through the battles of Perryville and Murfreesboro. After Chickamuaga on September 18-20, 1863, he was made acting major of the regiment. He fought at the Third (and most famous) Battle of Chattanooga, specifically the part known as the Battle of Lookout Mountain, and then a little over a month later at the lesser known Battle of Mossy Creek.

It was there on December 29, 1863 that, in his own words, “I was blown off my horse by a piece of shell passing through my left hip, cutting a wound 11 by 9 inches from my groin across my hip . . . While laying on the ground, General Thomas Harrison road up and looked at me and remarked that he promoted me to the rank of Major, for Gallantry in action.” My Uncle George was 21 years old. He further commented, “I was never able to do duty again, did not quit use of my crutches until July, 1867, two years after the war was closed.”

George W. Littlefield did recover and later became a successful cattleman and banker, and the single largest donor to the University of Texas in it’s first 50 years. At one point, when the Governor of Texas threaten to veto the biennial appropriations for the university, my Uncle George offered to personally fund the university for those two years. The Governor backed down.

If you visit the plot of George Littlefield’s grave in Austin’s Oakwood Cemetery you will find the another Confederate hero there as well. Nathan Stokes was Uncle George’s life-long servant. He followed him throughout his military service and nursed him back to health from his severe wounds. People who are ignorant about slavery and its aftermath would not understand why the 13th Amendment may have changed the legal relationship between Uncle George and Nathan, but not the personal relationship.

Nathan is a hero on my mother’s side just like Abe Officer, a slave on my father’s side, whose quick thinking saved my cousin’s life from Federal troops when they surrounded my aunt and uncle’s house in Tennessee and massacred the other six Confederate soldiers having breakfast inside and wounded my aunt. (Those troops, as history would strangely have it, also belonged to Terry’s Texas Rangers.) Abe and my cousin would be life-long friends.

There are other Confederate heroes in my family, about whom I know less and time would not allow me to ramble on if I could. Christopher Columbus Littlefield, Charles Erasmus Littlefield, and Robert Littlefield were cousins that also served with Terry’s Texas Rangers. My great-great-grandfather Samuel Pearson Carson Hampton served with several units, including Gore’s Tennessee Calvary. My cousin Alexander Officer died at Corinth, Mississippi. There are many other cousins as well, some whose service I have yet to uncover. May their memories be eternal.

As with soldiers in any war, there are unsung heroes whose acts are known only to God. If nowhere else but in his infinite knowledge, may their memories also be eternal.

The Wall

There are so many things in the news it is hard to decide what deserves comment, or more accurately what comments might draw readership. When I moved from my previous blog location for privacy reasons, it appears to have worked too well. Even people who are supposed to remember where I’ve gone seemed to have forgotten.

If I were to write about local events, it would be the flooding. It hasn’t affected us too much directly, but once again Britain seems to be under water. We are only affected because the local Asda store was granted permission to build on a flood plain. To do so, they had to pay about £10 million toward local flood defenses. The only thing that seems to be defended is the Asda store. Otherwise, there are houses that have never flooded before that are now in danger.

Don’t tell this to the Evironment Agency, of course. They have actual gone around to people’s homes and told them where the flooding reaches in their gardens. The people who live there tell the civil servants that they are wrong, but the residents are rebuffed because the computer projections show otherwise. There’s no arguing with a bureaucrat.
The only direct effect on us is that our view has been ruined temporarily by heavy machinery, mounds of earth, and blocked drains, and permanently by mounds of earth and a six-foot concrete wall where there was once a hedge. Oh, and they had to chop down a significant number of trees that were several hundred years old. All of this was to build a wall no one wanted, to stop flooding that has only become a problem since they built the wall.

Now with the recession in the housing market, it’s not like we need something ugly like this to bring down property values.

Standing Tall

I was telling my students today that missing a leg below the knee is so much better than missing it above the knee. But even that is better than the obstacles in the life of Peng Shuilin. He’s only half the man he used to be, which has made him a bigger man than most of us.

The Dark Side

I am an enthusiast for any sort of space exploration, and I find it particularly exciting when we see something that has never been seen before. It’s been out there since the creation of the solar system, just waiting to be seen. For eyes that can see, it has been waiting all of these years to demonstrate the glory of God.

mercury-small.jpg

That’s a new view of the planet Mercury, with its stark hostile environment. I don’t know every way that it reveals the glory of God, but it does let you think about how special the earth is – set exactly where it needs to be to sustain life

For more pictures, visit the Messenger website.

PC Sacked For Not Being PC

A police constable has been forced to resign for falling afoul of political correctness.

In a Secret Santa present, he gave a Muslim colleague a bottle of wine and a pack of bacon. So the Muslim officer complained and threatened to sue, right?  No. He thought it was funny. He said PC Rob Murry is a “good officer and a good friend.”

So a local mosque kicked up a fuss and threatened to picket the local police station, right? No.  The general secretary of the Bedford Jame Mosque “I do not condone what he did but the officer clearly made an error of judgment and should be forgiven.”

No, without any complaint, when senior officers learned of this, they put pressure on him to resign, even though Muslim community leaders characterised this as “overreacting”.

PC Murray said “I would never have given him the present if I had known the consequences. I suppose it’s like giving condoms to a Catholic.” The only difference is that senior police officers would have never had a problem with anti-Catholicism or any other joke made at the expense of a Christian.

Pope Beginning to Follow Church Tradition

When the Pope celebrated mass yesterday, he was the first leader of the Roman Church since Vatican II to turn away from the congregation and toward God. He used the ancient altar in the Sistine Chapel – the one set against the wall – and not a modern mobile altar that would allow him to face the people.

In the post-Vatican II era, the mass has been focused on communicating to the congregation, rather than in representing the congregation in the offering made to God. The priest faces away from the people because he is leading them to the presence of God. There are times when he turns around, but the focus is always to the altar. Orthodoxy has never lost this tradition in the Divine Liturgy.

Chess

A1 started learning to play chess today. After checkers, chess is a little more complicated, but he slowly digested all of the information about what all the pieces are called and how they move.

Being impatient, he wanted to get started playing as quickly as possible. He does not have the ability to think ahead, so I tried not to think ahead and bring about his defeat as slowly as possible so he didn’t get discouraged. Since he was still learning  the pieces, there was no way he could put together the moves for a checkmate, so it had to end somehow.

Hopefully he will stick with it. If he can start thinking ahead, chess will develop his mental skills. It’s also easier for me to interact that way. I don’t do very well as a lot of the types play that entertains the under-6’s. I have trouble getting down on the floor and back up again. The manchild and I have played table football, though he hasn’t seemed interested in it for a while and the the wife took it down to make space for my parents to stay in his room at Christmas.

I hope he picks it up quickly because I’m also not very good at throwing games.  I have trouble pretending to play. I can be impatient, too.

Getting Out of Hot Water (and Hopeful Back In)

I haven’t had a bath for days. And no, we don’t have a shower. I got the most recent bath in our house, because the boiler broke just after I had mine on Wednesday morning. I don’t stink, thanks to the kettle and the washing up bowl from the sink.

Fortunately the radiator side of the boiler still works, so the house is warm. If that wasn’t working, things would be much worse.

Until now, I didn’t realised how expensive boilers are or how expensive they are to repair. That’s when you can find someone to fix it. The wife began to ring around to find an repairman and everyone was either not taking on new customers or couldn’t get to it for days and days. Because I’m disabled, we are part of a Government scheme to maintain the boiler. When the wife rang them, they said they don’t do or arrange repairs and there is a six-month waiting list for maintenance. Not a lot of use there.

She finally had to call British Gas, even though we have become accustomed to being screwed by them for bills we don’t owe, since we aren’t their gas customer. They promised to send someone to fix it on Thursday, but only if we agreed to a year-long maintenance contract on a monthly payment. Their man showed up but had to order a part. Someone else was supposed to install it today. He was told to ring first, because the wife would be in all day, except for the school run.

Well, you know how this story goes. He didn’t ring and he showed up during the school run. And he wouldn’t come back. The wife called British Gas and complained, but they wouldn’t budge. So now it’s tomorrow. (Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow, you’re only a day away.)