little fishies

2 years ago, my dad did something to upset me. Not hugely massive, but not something you could brush under the carpet either. He is a very proud man and as such refuses to apologise, even if he knows that he is in the wrong. In this case, we both were – but he took it a step further. 

I had a house waiting for me for my third year at uni in Manchester, so I went up there for a few days. When I returned, I went into the kitchen at home and found two fish in a bowl on the kitchen table. Just a standard Pyrex bowl. Dad walked in and explained how he’d bought them as a present for me – “for being a twerp”, he added. 

Twerp indeed. I had to go out and buy a whole tank setup for them – in fairness, this only cost about £20. They seemed happy enough in there, but outgrew it quickly. I decided to name the fish Phineas and Ferb after my cousin’s favourite TV show. Ferb was a plain goldfish and Phineas had a black-rimmed tail.

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That’s pretty much the only photo I had of them when I first got them. Phineas did a trick which meant that I found him dead on my kitchen floor a couple of months later, having jumped out of the tank somehow (despite there being a lid with only a tiny gap for feeding). 

I got another fish called Raphael to replace Phineas. Studying the Tudors does stuff to your brain, and having to read Utopia 5 times over does stuff to your brain, hence the name. 

We’ve since shortened it to Ralph.

The other month, I went to get some stuff for the fish tank and ended up coming home with three more fish. A black moor, the one with the googly eyes, an orange fantail and a white oranda. So basically, three fancy fish. I had a spare tank that I’d just moved F + R out of, so I snuck it up to my bedroom, filled it, put the fish in and prayed to God that Dad would never find it. 

Anyway. I sat in the lounge yesterday listening to my Dad talk to his friend about the fish. He went on about how they were on their fourth tank and how I keep pouring money into buying them. How I buy them fresh plants every month. How the fish were getting too big for this tank as well and would probably need a pond building. I heard him go into the drawer I keep the food in and exclaim at how I had 3 types of food, treats and algae biscuits. He then went on about the clams I’d recently got for the tank, and how Ferb will eat anything you put in. Pointing out the algae eater at the bottom, he explained to his friend about how I had to put that in the tank rather than water snails as Ferb would just eat the snails. 

Dad then lowered his voice. “She’s also got a tank upstairs that she thinks I don’t know about. She’s put shrimp in it now, can you believe that? Watersnails everywhere, plants everywhere. It’s beautiful. But I don’t know about it. I don’t know anything about it.”

 

 

Busted.

ginger

I was going to write a post about my trip to London and what I did there. However, loads of people go to London on a daily basis and millions of people live there; what I would have written about would have been something that is being done every day, thus slightly boring. I went, I had fun with my friends, I held the Olympic torch, I ate some food and I came home. Boring as hell and nobody wants to read about it.

Anyway, I probably shouldn’t be doing this, but I’m just going to whack some words on about something that happened last night. If the person involved ever reads it, well, I don’t actually care that much as it’s quite menial and she’ll get over it. 

Eventually.

So, I was at work last night. On Fridays I work in a pub. I usually saunter (YES, SAUNTER) in at about 6ish (give or take 10 minutes) and set about wishing the next 6 hours of my life away unless someone interesting comes in. This happens once every 3 shifts, roughly. And here I’m meaning interesting in a HELL YEAH KEEP TALKING EDUCATION AT ME rather than GET TO FUCK, CREEP. There is a slight difference between the two. Why do I saunter in? Well, who else would be stupid enough to give up their weekends to serve people who are 100% going to have more fun than you? Only me you guyz, only me. And the other person I work with. We’re in it together.

Anyway, this new waitress has started. We’re trying to get the waitresses to help on the bar a bit (supervised, ofc), as Fridays are usually our busiest night. The two of us are rushed off our feet until about 9ish, when we can finally take a bit of a break and say hello to each other. It’s not like last night wasn’t the same sort of situation – it was a nice night, the pub was packed. 

The first bit of irritating conversation went a bit like this – 

“I need a lemon and lime doing. I need it doing ASAP.”

“Ok. Well, you’ll need to wait a minute as we’re serving. Actually, you could do it yourself.”

“I don’t know what lemon and lime is.”

“It’s lemonade and lime cordial, mixed together.”

“I don’t know what that is.”

“I can’t explain it to you any more simply, unfortunately”

“No need to be sarcastic to me”

 

Ohhh, mate. If only that was sarcasm. I could make a future career as a slightly slimmer Jo Brand, I’d be away! Rolling in it.

Next bit – a friend of hers came into the pub and up to the bar. 

“Hey! I haven’t seen you in ages!”

“Yeah, same! How’s school going?”

“It’s alright – two new people have started.”

“Oh right – what’re they like?”

“One’s really nice and lovely. The other one is ginger.”

 

Now, I’m not one to generally jump on comments like this. I can take a good ginger joke, hell, I probably make up half of them. It’s not racist, it’s not highly offensive, it’s just a bit annoying. So I piped up that there’s nothing wrong with being ginger and to stop saying it like it’s a part of her personality. The waitress span on her heel, marched past me and stood at the opposite end of the bar. 

“There’s nothing wrong with BEING ginger, it’s just people like YOU that give it bad press” 

 

And then I slapped the bitch.*

 

 

 

 

 

*Mentally. I would never touch anyone. Not with these lurgy, ginger hands. 

secretary liz

Out with the old … or just plain broken. I’ve had to buy a new laptop today. Not something I particularly wanted to do at all – I had a ‘Flamingo Pink’ covered one which served my needs perfectly well until it went kaput. It got me thinking about how much of a necessity, as such, electronics seem to be to me. 

I was doing perfectly okay for a couple of days with my phone – social networking was covered (how utterly sad), I could browse the web, I could keep in contact with my friends. Nothing major, we could all survive without a laptop, phone and many more things (how did we get here today?), but last night I hit a wall like no other – I couldn’t type up anything. 

I’m a member of the branch committee at the Legion I work at. I somehow got voted on without even putting my name forward this year, which I heavily objected to at the time – it seems that you only need somebody to put your name down and two people to second it, and then you’re up for the vote with the rest of them. I think people should get some say in the matter – after all, it’s hours of your life you’re giving up! Precious, precious, lovely life … but hey ho, what else would I be doing? So I joined. I got promised that I wouldn’t really have to do anything; I should just sit there in the meetings, nod when I agree with something and mumble when I don’t, nothing further. I was okay with this. I bumbled along.

Due to an illness of a branch member, I got asked then to take the minutes. Fine, I can take minutes – no way would I write them down and go off that; I’d type them up. I brought my laptop in to each meeting, jotted everything down, sent them over to the Chairman at the end of the meeting and it was like I could walk on water. This was innovation at it’s finest! 

So, as I learnt last night, innovation gets you the position of Secretary. This is not something I can do – or think I can do, at least. They took an internal vote and came to the decision. I have to sort out emails, arrange standards and bearers for funerals and other such occasions, deal with correspondence and letters to the club and know the rules inside out. 

This’ll put me in good stead for something someday, right?! 

I think I need a cup of tea.

fauld.

Last night, I went to sleep  with every intent to go to Manchester this morning. As I fell asleep on the sofa whilst watching TV, I got woken up by my Dad, humming his way to a cup of tea. After staring at the wall for an undetermined amount of time (you know when you just wake up and stare – is that just me? I feel like I need time to get my eyes adjusted to the new day), I made my way into the kitchen.

Stood in front of me was a very well-dressed man. Beige trousers, purple shirt, grin on his face. He looked content as he blithely rifled through tens of pictures, scattered newspaper clippings and other primary artifacts. It was the happiest I had seen my Dad in a while. Before exchanging greetings, he wanted to know what I was doing today. I mumbled back that I was going to Manchester, I’d be back later tonight if I was to come back today and I didn’t want any dinner. His face dropped slightly; he explained that he was going to “take a hike to The Dump”, was going to “chat probably complete and utter bollocks” to NARPO and later go for a carvery at The Whore’s Bed.

In layman’s terms – my father was giving a talk to retired police officers at the site of the Fauld Explosion, just outside of Hanbury. Afterwards, they were going to go for a bite to eat at The Boar’s Head in Sudbury.

Let me give a bit of context to this situation. My great-grandfather – my Dad’s grandfather – Joseph Cooper, was blown up in the biggest explosion this country has ever known, on November 27th 1944. Growing up in Hanbury, Dad used to play with his pals in the crater that it left. Generations after him did the same thing  until the Ministry of Defence decided that, actually, it was a bit dangerous for people to do this as there were unexploded bombs still within the site of the explosion – you see, the gypsum mines at Fauld had been harbouring RAF and US air force explosives since 1937, and only a third had gone off when the explosion happened. Pretty scary to think that a few kids could have tripped up on one and the same thing could have happened all over again, even scarier to think that no precautions were put into place until 40-odd years after the whole thing had happened.

As a child, Dad would always take me and my younger sister to the site. We’d traipse across muddy fields (the ground around the site will never be dry), eventually running, when possible, to see who’d get to the dump first (so called ‘the dump’ as they dumped bombs there – I like simple explanations).

When there, we’d listen to stories that Dad had learned about Fauld, tales that had been passed down through family and friends who were either around there at the time and/or had family members involved. He’d point out things in the crater, such as the remains of the old farmhouse and the place that the alabaster crucifix used to stand. Later on he’d try to scare us, repeating ditties that had earlier been made up about the witchcraft associated with the place. His knowledge and interest in the Fauld explosion grew – as we grew up, ours started to weaken. Instead bagsying front seat in Dad’s Landrover on a Saturday morning, we were getting ready to go into town with our friends. Instead of shouting out the names of birds of the countryside on our way there, Dad looking smug at the power of imparting his knowledge, we were gossiping with our friends on the bus on our way into Lichfield. Instead of learning a vital part of my own family history, I was sitting in McDonalds.  The last time I had visited Fauld was when I was 13.

I stared at the collection my Dad had on the table. He indicated that there was more on his laptop, and that he was going to put on a powerpoint show for the first time. He was excited.

My plans for the day were put aside. I went back to Fauld. I listened to my Dad give an amazingly detailed talk in front of about 15 attentive, inspired listeners. Every question somebody asked was answered with no hesitation, and no chance of bullshit being anywhere near the answer.

ImageA woman called Ida Roberts also attended the talk. She was on her way back from Uttoxeter on the bus at the time of the explosion, although heard no sound. The only indication that she had that there was an explosion was that it was raining soil – Hanbury was covered in sludge. Pieces of gypsum from the mines had gone up into the air and crashed through people’s houses. Her house was destroyed and thus uninhabitable, later having to be demolished. She was 17. Her mother was ill and that was her only reason for being in Uttoxeter at the time – to fetch supplies – but if she had been in the laundry house, where she worked, she would have almost certainly been dead. After talking to Ida over a cup of tea, she asked how I knew Graham (my dad). I explained that I was his daughter, and had attended the talk out of interest. Ida smiled and went on to explain that she was my late grandmother’s best friend – they had pipe dreams of being nurses together – and that my great-grandmother had done a tremendous amount in the post-explosion operation and deserved a medal for all that she had done. She interrupted the talk to tell the story of how, after the bodies were recovered from the site of the explosion (many died of poisoning from nitrous oxide and carbon monoxide, their bodies not even marked – as such was the case with my great-grandfather), my great-grandmother washed all of the bodies. This involved firstly a hose-pipe to get the sludge off them, and then carefully cleaning them ready for their families to see them. One of these bodies belonged to her husband. Image

It’s slightly eerie, yet completely fascinating to hear somebody talk about a member of your family that passed away with no chance of you getting to know them- someone that’s in your blood, in your genes, yet you never knew them. I am going to go and see Ida again soon.

We carried on from the talk and walked to the site of the explosion. I’ll stop typing now, as I think the pictures explain it perfectly – a delightfully mysterious place, full of beautiful flora and fauna. Excuse the cows – they were too tame not to take photos of.

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my first post.

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Last July, I graduated from university. Originally destined to read English and Creative Writing at Bangor, I listened to my head instead of my heart and went to Manchester. After all, wasn’t it time for the country bumpkin to move to a big city?

No. And it never will be. I studied English and History instead – something that I had a passion for throughout my childhood and carried on with me to the big land of uni, putting writing on the side as a hobby. It was probably a wise choice; I could write in my own time, I had no deadlines, nobody to judge what I was creating except for those I specifically chose to share it with. I started a Creative Writing elective whilst studying, which was great – it confirmed that I had made the right choice in choosing History as a subject. It just wasn’t challenging – I flew through it (who said self-praise was no recommendation?), and got me thinking that it was no challenge to please people at all.

Since graduating, I have been (and still am) working towards starting a  teaching degree, in the dismal hopes that I will someday make it as a teacher of history. This is a challenge; having to please people, to entertain them, to educate them and hope that they take away what you say and learn from it, move forward from it, use it in far bigger places than the tiny classroom you first spoke to them in … well, that’s pretty amazing to me.

Anyway – this is my journey to get there. It may be that I don’t actually make it – that I choose another route, take a chance at something else – but I’d quite like something to look back on to see what affected my decisions. After all, hindsight is a beautiful thing.