Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The smallest Ferrari in the world


I was parked beside this little car in a car park the other day. I used my phone to take a photo of it with mine as they looked like father and son (this is the smallest in the range, mine is the biggest). When I looked at the photo later I noticed, with a certain degree of amusement, that the owner has customised it with the famous Ferrari horse logo on the front. I chuckled to myself at the thought of a Chuggy owner thinking they had their own little Ferrari (though I expect, given this is the Abarth model - ie a sporty souped-up Chuggy, it probably drives more like a Ferrari than you'd expect!) 

Amaia came in at that point so I showed her the photo and pointed out what I'd noticed. This is when seven year old economics came in to play: 'Well that's a bit daft!' she exclaimed, 'Why would anyone go to the bother of buying a Ferrari horse and sticking it on the front of their Chuggy; if it's a Ferrari they actually want, why don't they just trade the Chuggy in for one to save them the hassle?!'

Hmmmm, should tell her?

The London fire

Seeing the news this morning made me think of my dad - I was going to write down why, but I could never explain it as well as he did in his own memoirs (written a few years before he died), so I'll just leave this here...

Chapter 6  ( That First Fire …1951 )


Then there was the day,  or was it the night ? ------ yes it was definitely the late evening,  and one I’ll never, ever forget …….
We heard the screams first of all,  loud and piercing and prolonged screams …. Awful screams …..
We thought at first,  well I thought,  that maybe someone was “carrying on“ ,,,,, some “ high jinx in the close “ ,  something like that …… then the thought that some people were fighting or ………… then finally,  the sudden realization as the screams became even louder and more pain-filled,  that someone was in real trouble …. and right outside our door,  3-stories up !!
Up each of the closes in Burgher St., three families  lived on each “ landing “, with one communal outside toilet on the half landing . That was 12 families to the close ? …..  very bloody close we all became …. we stayed in the top flat,  left as you climbed the stairs,  right of course if you looked  up from the street  !
Jean Moore and her old dad stayed directly opposite  us on the top floor. I can still see big Jean in her Rangers Scarf going to the football match on a Sat. afternoon … A big bruiser of a woman she was …. I think I even to this day still have a photograph of her just as I’ve described . But the Salt of the Earth .
Old Mrs. MacFedris stayed directly below us.  She and her sister lived together, two old Lady-Buddies … and boy,  did they suffer !  These were the two old dearies that used to have to put up with that budding football star and his coach , when dad and I played football up and down the lobby with the tanner ba’.  Thinking back we really must have made a helluva din on top of these old souls ….. dad wasn’t  exactly your light weight coach  !!!   and we would hoot and holler up and down the lobby for ages some nights …. no  tv  in those days either so we could do our own thing ,,,,, make our own entertainment … and these were also  the days of minimalist floor coverings ,,,, no wall to wall thick Axminster carpeting in this neck of the woods …… bare floorboards were more the order of the day !!
I can recall mum shouting at us to calm down some nights so I guess we must have been going at it .
Anyway to return to the story which,  quite frankly,  I’m not sure I can write,  and I know I’m trying to avoid actually putting  it  down on paper  …… some painful memories are perhaps better left dormant ?
I’ve spoken about this incident before, to people very close to me,  but I’ve never seen it written down  and I don’t know that I really want to .
The little girl was perhaps 5 or 6 , maybe as old as 7 but no more  ----  she was 2 or 3 years younger than me,  that’s all I can remember. She lived next door,  in the middle flat .
How sad,  do you know I don’t even remember her name ?  I seem to recall an older sister and a mother but I don’t recall a father in that house somehow.
I can’t focus on her name or the family name ,,,,,  I’m sure the trauma of it has made me block them out of my mind .  I started to think about her again after my dad died …….. naturally …. but that’s another painful story for much later .
She had long, long  black hair , that I remember, and she was wearing a long white nightie that fateful night.  This I know absolutely.  I can still see her .
The screams suddenly got louder as their door was thrown open and her mother started yelling for someone to help …..
“ Help ! help me , she’s burning ,”  she cried. 
Only then did we realize what was happening …… this seems to have taken an age to tell to this point but it all happened in seconds , from that first scream until we were all out on the landing .
If I live to be 100 I’ll never be able to forget that horror scene on the landing .
It simply won’t erase itself from my memory. 
The little girl was ablaze,  from head to toe ----- her long beautiful hair was on fire and her face and head were in the middle of a raging inferno and she was jumping up and down on the spot,  screaming and screaming and screaming ……. and screaming …
I couldn’t look, yet I couldn’t look away ,,,, I’d never witnessed anything so  truly awful in my life before,  nor since,  and I never, ever want to again .
My mum pulled me to her apron and hid my face …… but still I witnessed the horror ….
My dad turned into an instant hero that night.
He pulled the loose  carpet runner from our lobby  ( fortunately not fitted or nailed down ) and dragged it onto the  landing . He pulled the little girl down onto it, still screaming in terror  and burning wildly ,,, the flames were about 3feet above her head now,  and all the way up his arms , ,,, he wrapped and rolled her in the carpet until the flames went out.
However,  by the time that was done it was already too late --- the damage had been well and truly done …… her body and head burns were so severe that  my little neighbour died but not ‘til some 3 or 4 long, long painful days later . That’s another smell I can smell still ….. human flesh burning …..
I have absolutely no recollection of anything else that night,  no ambulance,  no medics,  doctor ,,,,,, all of which must have happened ,,,,,, but to this day I can still see that little figure standing there totally engulfed in flames ,,,  and I still hear her screammmmssss  ,,, oh the screammmmmmsss …………..
It could have been yesterday ……….. it WAS yesterday … and today …. and tomorrow ….
This I guess is what affected me so badly when my dad died from the effects of that dammed  fire .


I now just hate  fire so much that when I hear of anyone suffering a similar fate on the news  it destroys another little part inside my soul .   

Friday, June 09, 2017

Transition

He's gone, he's moved on!




I would like to take this opportunity to praise my kids' primary school. I have no idea how they do it, but they have managed it all three times (so far).

For the first six years, they adore their school - it's the best thing since sliced bread and they couldn't even begin to contemplate going anywhere else, then somehow from the p7 February holiday onwards, they begin to disconnect.

First there's the week away, then the show and whatever is going within the actual classes, but before they even get to the induction days at Mearns Castle, they are ready to move on. This week has been induction week and Léon hasn't looked back. He has no desire to return to his primary on Monday for the last two weeks, a little nostalgia maybe that will drive him onwards to the graduation ceremony and prom, but basically he's already moved on mentally. He's so ready to be in high school, it's almost frightening. He actually has no kids from his primary class of seven years in his new high school class, and still he's completely unfazed. I have no idea what tricks of the mind they use to prepare them to leave, but they have been 100% successful all three times, with the timing perfect.

I feel a little emotional, knowing how fast they come out the other end of this next phase in life, but am so grateful that they've looked after him and helped him grow into the man he will soon become.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

GE17

I was all fired up to blog about the election last night and then my Internet went down - joy of joys.

This morning I simply feel dread... Dread that people across the UK are voting for a party that will dismantle the NHS in England (this will, of course, majorly cut funding to the Scottish NHS), they want to inflict taxes on people for dying and for suffering from dementia, they are desperate to repeal the Human Rights bill, so you'll be losing your employment rights, maternity rights etc etc. They sell arms to Saudi Arabia and then stand scratching their heads when terrorists attack the UK. They have cut benefits, policing, doctors, disabled services and education funding... they are charging so much for universities that most people will never be able to pay back their loans - so work that one out, five to ten years from now all uni funding will collapse in England, and they'll be scratching their heads again. The deficit has trebled since they came to power vowing to get rid of it altogether. And that's before any effects from Brexit...

Brexit is an interesting one - it's been an elephant bigger than the room in this election... what Brexit will do to your day-to-day life is unimaginable - price rises, loss of rights, job losses, importing and exporting grinding to a halt, queues at border points, Northern Ireland cut off from the South, currency fluctuations, no access to EU terrorist information databases and much more, and yet the two main parties have barely touched on it in their campaigns and the journalists have simply let them away with not explaining their plans.

May's claim that a stronger majority will help her negotiate in Brussels is, quite frankly, bullshit. Brussels knows its stuff so no threats from May that she has fifty seats more than last month will sway them. Brussels is voting for what is in Brussels' best interest, and that is showing everyone else that you should never consider brexiting. Leaving the EU can never result in a better deal with them than being in the EU - even a primary school child can follow that logic. May knows that being stroppy the UK has almost always got its way. To prevent the UK leaving, the EU always gave in (like a bad parent) to our threats, but May has forgotten the most important issue - they gave in to stop us leaving, but now we're leaving they have no incentive to give in, none at all.

The reason the unionists have fought the entire election in Scotland with 'No 2nd referendum' as the only policy, is because the SNP doesn't want a referendum just for the sake of it, they want it because they know that by March 2019 the effects on the UK and Scottish economy will be so clear and obvious that we will want to vote in droves not to Brexit. Sturgeon came up with a detailed compromise plan to remain in the single market, that was dismissed before it was looked at by Westminster so the referendum was called as the only remaining way out of Brexit. People would, of course, be at liberty to vote no, but the Unionists know that the state we'll be in by then could make all the difference so they want us to vote away our Get out of Jail free card  before it becomes obvious why we'll need it and we are lining up to do exactly that. Old ladies are parading up and down the main streets holding 'Vote Tory' placards, and will be horrified when it results in their pension being removed and their kids no longer inheriting their houses. Turkeys and Christmas...

I lived through the cold war and the upheavals of '89 and the UK today is scaring me witless. Should May gain her increased majority, of course, the blame for the imminent decimation will be Tory and all Tory, making them unelectable for longer than I am likely to remain a member of the human race but that's cold comfort if it wrecks my kids' lives.

The most ironic of all is that in voting for Brexit, the UK citizens have voted away their ability to flee the country once the shit hits the fan - more turkeys... Sigh.

My kids deserve much better than this.


Saturday, May 27, 2017

Pisa

This was taken the last time we spent a whole day in Pisa - we've flown through it since, but the kids haven't been to the tower since Anna was 18 months old, so that means Amaia was -5 months last time she saw the tower. So we were discussing it tonight and Amaia decided she just has to visit it this summer.

Pisa

She sat looking at photos on the computer with Charlotte as she hadn't seen the tower before and then as always she came up with a profound question: See before the tower started leaning to one side, what was its name? Ehhhhh...

Friday, May 12, 2017

Teenagers are definitely getting younger



Is it normal for an 11 year old to stand admiring himself in the mirror (when he hasn't noticed his sister is behind the door 🤣 ) and remark 'Looking swag, if I do say so myself!' 😂