Neighbourhood Watch

Today’s writing 101 challenge –  complete the following story from the perspective of a 12 year old boy watching from across the street:

‘The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.’

Ha! Some excitement ‘round this boring hole at last.  Looks like they’ve come for the old bag.  The cops.

Course, dunno if it’s cops.  Might be. Some bloke anyways. Hope it is a cop, perhaps he’ll shoot her. BANG.  Ha! Old bag.  That’ll teach her.

Wish mum hadn’t locked me wheels up.  Can’t go ‘round park without me wheels. Mum’s an ol’ bag too. I should tell the cops ‘bout her.  Taking my stuff away.  So what if I knocked that kid over? He bloody deserved it.  Little git.

Looks like there’s a bit of a bust up o’er there at old Pauley’s.  She’s got ‘er broom out.  Wonder if she’s threatening to clout that bloke with it like she did when me and Jack Sproggett rode us wheels o’er her manky old bit of grass?

It was that ‘orrible year 11 kid, Tommy Murch’s, fault. He bet us we wouldn’t.

‘go on.  Bet yer daren’t….. twinnies’ the git had said, all sarcastic like.  I hated it when anyone called us ‘twinnies’.  We’re not even bloody brothers. Ok, we look a bit alike, Jack being a ging like me.  But I’m bigger. We ‘ad a armwrestle t’other day and I beat ‘im dead good. Weedy little git.

An’ he’s got spots.  A biggun right on ‘is chin.  Watched him squeeze it ‘til it popped and white goo came out all over is ‘ands. I dared ‘im to lick it off, but he wouldn’t. Wuss.

That broom ain’t helping. That bloke’s not moving anywhere.

Oooh… the cops have come, they’ve even got their lights flashing and their woowoos going. Jack’ll be sick he missed this.

Oh boring. The cops are trying to calm the old bag down. No guns or anythin’. Looks like they’re trying to sweet talk her. Perhaps it’s that good cop/bad cop thing. Perhaps one of ’em’ll bash ‘er in a minute.  She could do with a bashing. She’s been a bit weird since the man died.  That was dead good that was.  I saw the coffin and everythin’.  Mum said he’d been ‘laid out’ in the front room.  Me and Jack went over to see if we could see ‘im through the front room window when nobody was about.  Couldn’t see anything through the ruddy net curtains though. Bit of a swizz.

Crikey, a van’s turned up.  Like bleedin’ Picadilly Circus down our road s’afternoon.  Bloody hell…they’re only putting her disgusting ol’ furniture in it. Looks as old as she is. She’s crying like a baby.  Bloody baby. Stupid old bag.

Wonder what’s for tea.

The routine trap

It seems that, despite my best efforts, I have fallen into the routine trap. Monday is writing and catching up on correspondence, bill paying etc day, Tuesday ironing and housework, Wednesday swimming and long walk day, Thursday shopping and yoga, Friday winemaking and gardening.

Hmmph…that wasn’t supposed to happen.  I naively believed that when I left work, I would leave all routine behind.  But no, the alarm still goes off and I still get up at the crack of dawn so that we can breakfast together before my husband goes off to work for the day.  The dog still needs walking first thing in the morning else she gets tetchy. There is still washing up to do, the bed still needs making.  But hey ho… that’s fine.  Actually come to think of it, a good routine can be a very fine thing.

When my twin girls were born they were a bit on the small side, at least one was, so they spent two days in in the special care baby unit.  I wasn’t able to visit them, let alone feed them, so through necessity the nursing staff fed them like clockwork every four hours. Consequently when they were returned to their excited mummy they were absolutely and resolutely in a four hourly routine. It was great.  None of that feeding on demand, which frankly, would have been a nightmare, for me.  Nope, they woke up at the same time, got fed at the same time, and slept at the same time, giving me some much needed rest in between.

It also meant, that as they grew up they instinctively knew what ‘mealtimes’ meant. They weren’t snacking because they ate regularly, at the right times.  Now, I know that ‘feeding on demand’ is the big thing these days.  Babies cry, you feed ’em. But I have a theory…

I believe that maintaining a feeding routine right from the word go, could be the answer to the twin (though diverse) pandemics of fussy eaters and obesity.

I have heard children (and adults) described as ‘grazers’. They just spend all day popping bits of food into their mouths, but seem unwilling to sit down to a ‘proper’ meal. ‘Course not. They’re not hungry.  It seems to me, that if they have been fed every time they’ve felt a bit, well, peckish, since they were born, then they really wouldn’t know what an empty stomach feels like.  I’ve seen kids crying that they’re starving, and being given a packet of crisps to keep them quiet, even though lunchtime is nigh.  Wouldn’t it be better to push them to go without a little bit longer? If they were really ‘starving’ surely they would be more likely to appreciate a plate of healthy food?

As adults we all feel ‘peckish’ or what my nan used to call ‘fanciful’ sometimes (I frequently fancy a bar of chocolate, and no, I’m not necessarily hungry), but hopefully we recognise that that is all it is and don’t necessarily indulge those cravings.  We mostly are fortunate enough not to be starving, but if we don’t eat between meals, we are more likely to properly recognise hunger.

As you know, I’m following the 5:2 diet, and whilst sometimes it does test my willpower to go without lunch, the lightness of an unusually empty stomach is energising and pleasing in its own way.  I feel ‘cleansed’ by giving my tummy a bit of a rest, albeit only for 12 hours or so. And the light meal I have in the evening after my fast is the best meal of the week. My tastebuds, starved of stimulation for a day, are exceptionally receptive to the nuances of the herbs, spices and flavours of any and all foods (‘cept jelly and coffee obvs!!)

Anyhoo… I fear I’m straying off subject. What I’m trying to say though, is that allowing myself to fall into a routine, in both daily life, and eating, I’m giving myself the pleasure of anticipation, be it knowing that the ironing will be done and dusted for the week once Tuesday morning is over, or that I will enjoy a delicious meal at the end of my fast.  In the words of John Lennon ‘life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans’ so teaching ourselves, and our children, to appreciate a daily routine of mealtimes and work, together with down time (not to mention a bedtime routine for kids), should ultimately make us more content surely?

hmm…what to write…

I’m uninspired today.  Can’t think of anything to write about.  ‘Course, I knew it would happen sooner or later.  The whole point of writing a blog was the discipline of thinking up a topic and title a couple of times a week.  So far it’s been ok.  But today zilch, nada, nowt, nuffink.

Looking out of the window for inspiration, all I can see are the outlines of winter naked trees, and the grey light that comes at dusk on a rainy day. Through the brown beech hedge I can just make out the headlights of cars on the main road.  I guess people are travelling home after picking up their kids from school.  It’s about that time of day.

I miss the school run, even though when the kids were at primary school we had to negotiate the level crossing every day.  The line is a main, inter-city route, and if our schedule was just a minute or two out, we’d have to wait ages for the train, or more often than not, trains, to hurtle past before we could continue. It regularly made us late, leaving a blot on the timekeeping section of the girl’s school reports.

Waiting at the gates to pick them up was a time when all the mum’s got to socialise and bond.  Friendships were made, and gossip was circulated before the kids would pour out of their classes, clutching their latest artworks, with their un-put-on coats trailing in the dirt behind them.  On the way home, I’d here all their stories

‘Sarah got told off, she hit Lizzie’

‘dinner was horrible. Minted cabbage…yuck’

‘Mr H was reeealllly funny in assembly…’

Of course, they had bad days too.  When things didn’t go their way.  The days when they’d had had an unjust telling off.  (It was always unjust!)  Or someone had been mean to one or the other of them.  At least with their bad days I got to give them a cuddle when they got home, to make things better.

I still get reports of their days, albeit several days later and on the phone rather than in person. And I think it’s more than likely an abridged version of events.  It’s never that excited tumbling out of words that only kids can do.  And it’s always horrid when they ring after a bad day, and I can’t reach out to give them a hug.  A virtual one is just not the same.

It’s no good, I’ll never get used to being an empty-nester – it’s been seven years since they left home for uni and the house still seems empty and quiet.  But at least I’ve got the time to write now.  When I can think of something, that is.