Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Red Stool

In front of me stands a red stool. It is made of plastic. In the centre of it is a barcode and a label. From where I sit the letters are too tiny for me to read.

There's a disqueiting sound. I'm not sure whether it's Mick crying in the background or the timbre of the music playing through my laptop. I pause my gently descending tune for a moment to double check. The house is silent. Every time the tune descends again the ambiguous sound makes me click, pause, listen - what if Mick is crying again? He's been crying a lot for the last two weeks. Polly, The Nursery and myself all think he is incubating Chicken Pox. He doesn't seem to have the strength to climb onto the sofa at the moment and he cries a lot.

Crying a lot is a new concept for Polly and I. We always thought that crying a lot meant crying for about 5 minutes.

Mick has been teaching us that crying a lot means crying untl you want to shake him. Crying a lot means crying until you shout "For fuck's sake Mick, stop fucking crying." Crying a lot means crying until you sit at the kitchen table with your head in your hands thinking "I'd walk out now if I only had somewhere to go." Crying a lot means crying until you call home from work to find out if the visit to the doctors went ok, and by ok you mean hoping like mad that something is wrong with your child, because if he's crying like that for no reason then your life is fucked.

The stool has four legs, but I can only see three of them, as the fourth, closest to me on the right hand side is obscured by the laptop that I'm typing on. A thin line of light reflects off the front edge of the stool which is standing at a slight angle to the perfect right angle that myself and the sofa are colluding on at the moment.

I am slightly irritated by the stool as it should really be upstairs. I don't understand what it is doing in here. It is often turned upside down by Mick, who pushes it across the floor then stops and leans into the middle of it - I am always suprised at how much he loves doing this despite the fact that there is a hard, thin ridge that runs in a diagonal x across the underside of the stool.

As I drove home this evening in my Hyundai atoz, the worst car in the history of cars bar none, I absent mindedly pulled into the outside lane and started overtaking a Nissan Micra on a hill. It was only as I was halfway up the hill that I switched from autopilot to fully aware manual appreciation of the idiotic situation I had gotten myself into.

The atoz is an extremely low powered 998cc engine. It has no acceleration and copes badly with bends and bumps. It is a deathtrap.

Accompanying me up the hill on my left was the Nissan Micra that I was overtaking. The only trouble was that the road was running out and there was no-way on earth that I was going to get past the Micra.

I did the only thing that I could have possibly done, I floored the atoz and carried on overtaking. As I started bumping away on the diagonal hatching with absolutely no intention of entering an adjoining premises or a side road, I thought - "Maybe I shouldn't have tried overtaking that Micra on a hill, this is getting a bit hairy. There isn't actually much room between the Micra and the car in front of it, oh what a terrible mistake, what a pathetic man I am, i am so, so sorry about what I am doing here, but how can I ever signal to the Micra that I am so sorry about my stupid behaviour?"

Eventually the Atoz stumbled it's way past the Micra and I managed to slot myself into the left hand lane just before slamming head first into an oncoming John Deere.

I checked my mirror to see if the Micra had noticed my idiocy, or if I was just being a paranoid twit. The driver of the Micra was shaking his head from side to side in disgust at my stupid driving.

I really wanted to let the Micra driver know how contrite I was feeling, so I did the only thing I could think of, which was to raise my fist in a kind of "YES, I WON AND FURTHERMORE FUCK YOU - HITLER" salute between the seats of my tiny little car.

I am 35 years old.

This morning, at 6:30 there was a tremendous crashing sound from the darkness of Elly and Mick's bedroom. I instantly assumed that it was Mick falling out of his cot. The crashing continued down the hall until I heard the loud splat of four squat plastic legs hitting the lino in the bathroom, followed by a scraping sound as it was kicked into place, followed by the triggerclick of the bathroom light pull being yanked, and a subsequent change in ambience. I lay in my bed and I stared at the ceiling and felt something.

I mistook it for sadness, as I do most times that Elly demonstrates independence.

This morning, Elly worked out that if she carries the stool through to the bathroom she doesn't have to sit in the dark to have a wee any more.

It's frightening that there's one less thing she needs me to do for her - just a steady decline from now until she buys her first anti establishment t-shirt.

Later on I'll carry the stool back upstairs and leave it in Elly's bedroom. It won't be difficult to carry as it can be lifted in my left hand. It weighs very little.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Mayor

I unexpectedly met the Mayor of Cambridge yesterday. He was standing in front of Cherry Hinton christmas tree frozen by the flashbulb onslaught - well, a bloke took a picture of him with a digital camera. I took Elly to look "at the king."

"Hello," I said.

"Hello," said the Mayor

"Are you the King?" I said.

"No, I am the Mayor of Cambridge," said the Mayor.

I had no idea of what to say next.

"Is it nice?" I said.

"Yes, it is very good," said the Mayor.

"Do you get lots of free sweets?" I said.

He looked deeply into my eyes to see if I was taking the piss out of him or if I was a genuine idiot.

"A lot of free sweets? No." said the Mayor.

"They are having coffee and tea and cakes in the village hall, if you want to go there I think it will be very nice." said the Mayor.

"Oh, that sounds nice, thankyou," I said.

I think I would like to be the Mayor.

Friday, November 17, 2006


I went to school via the supermarket. I purchased two white shirts. They cost four pounds each. Imagine the implications of that. Four pounds for a white shirt, long sleeved, oxford weave.

A child worked for 30p an hour in order for me to be so comfortable. I made this up, but I believe it to be true. I feel conflicted. If only I hadn't put on 2 stone since my last batch of shirts I wouldn't have had to re-exploit the third world.

I am so overwhelmed by the mass of contradictions and arguments here that I can't bring myself to go on. Let's just leave it at that - I brought some sweatshop shirts and drove off to school.

When I got to school I unleashed my straining gut from the captivity of my old blue shirt and relaxed into my new shirt.

I checked myself out in the mirror. I looked good.

Then I went prowling for compliments. I stalked into the staffroom where my colleagues were talking and pulled exaggerated poses for a couple of ignorant minutes, then made coffee, all the while plucking at my shirt and over exaggerating my arm movements until I could stand the innatention no longer and burst, shouting "LOOKATMYSWEATSHOPSHIRT LADIES".

Finally everyone looked at me and said "Is that a new shirt David?" and touched my shirt and oooed and cooed over me. It was like being a chimpanzee for a couple of lovely seconds. Then they said "Where did you get that from David?"

I said "The supermarket"

They said "How much?"

I said "£4 - disgusting isn't it? I feel appalled, someone must have really suffered to get this shirt made for that price," - ethical hypocrisy being my greatest luxury, as this blog attests,

They all said "£4? I'll get one for Rik / Shaun / Ollie / Lewis etc."

So now I'm not only a collaborator, I'm also a perpetuator.

One of my colleagues was so happy with the value and quality of my shirt that she pulled down my collar to double check that I wasn't lying about the provenance of my shirt - "Is it really from the Supermarket? You liar David, you must be joking us, a shirt like that must be from Prada or somethin..Oh no, it really is from Deathsbury's"

Then our Deputy Head came into the staffroom and said "Morning David, lovely shirt, Really? How much? Gosh, that's brilliant. How funny for you to have brought such a posh shirt today, when the rest of us look so casual"

The sartorial success of my shirt holds hands with my newly born status of "bargain hunter" and jumps up and down on my liberal tendencies. I'm happy but I'm confused by Deputy Head's final ambiguity.

I look around, disorientated with elation and notice that everyone else is dressed in jeans and t-shirts or sweatshirts. Something is wrong.

"Did you forget it was Children In Need David?"

Everyone starts laughing.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Pear Shaped

So today I got into school and wanted to go back to sleep straight away. Instead I started teaching as if I was in a trance, and slowly remembered what a laugh my job is. I have a girl in my class who turned around to me this morning and said

"Mr Trent, why do you always try to make us laugh?"

and I said "because I think laughing is good and school is boring and your laughter is the only thing that keeps me coming in day after day after soul corroding day"

and she said "Well, Mr Trent, I will never, ever laugh at anything you say, ever. I will smile, but I will never, ever laugh at you."

Funny that, cause the audience at Pear Shaped last night would have been on Jamelia's side.

Last night I was a shit comedian, that comedian that you don't want to even catch their eye as they walk off the stage. That comedian that you say "what the fuck was he doing?" or "He didn't even have any jokes".

It's a learning curve. It's pretty steep and it goes like this...

"We don't give a fuck if you spent the last month REALLY wanting to do THIS PRECISE GIG or if you did a gig 'till 1 o'clock last night and then spent all afternoon begging your autistic child in your class to stop tearing and punching all the books until you were crying and then went home and cooked for your kids at the same time as trying to pack your stuff for the gig then picked them up from school and nursery and watched them cry and cry at your wife because they couldn't both have exclusive "cuddles" as you tried to get out of the door.

We don't care if the trains were so fucked that you had to drive to Stevenage from Cambridge first of all to get the train and it took you two and a half hours to get to flipping london from Cambridge and cost you £25.

We don't care if you are sitting watching the gig thinking "Oh God, I'm going to miss the last train home and I'll end up becoming a crackhead in Kings Cross but I want to make a good impression and the guy who runs the club will think I'm a dick if I leave before 11"

We don't care about any of that shit,


Back to class then, as you may remember, Jamelia issued a challenge so I went on an all out Jamelia assault, offering the class 5 housepoints each if they said "Yes" when I asked the register question that day...

(I have to take the register by asking a question because I have a child who elects not to answer when I say her name. It's like a game that she always has to win, even if I put her in detention for not answering.

I hasten to add that I've only used detention on this child on the instruction and insistence of her parents. Of course, it had no effect whatsoever. Oh no, it did, it made me feel as if I was one of the scientists in "A Clockwork Orange"

If I ask a question instead of saying "Good Morning XXXX" to every child in the class then she always responds and I get to strengthen my relationship with the class as a side effect)

...which was "Is Mr Trent Funny?"

So I was going through the register child by child, saying "Am I Funny Howard?"

"Yes Mr Trent"

"Good boy, 5 housepoints"

"Am I funny Myrtle?"

"Yes Mr Trent, you are a very, very funny and lovely teacher,"

(Myrtle is the child mentioned in the previous brackets and upon hearing this reply I felt my heart break a little bit more for allowing her parents to talk me out of using this method of taking the register in favour of encouraging pavlovian behaviour through gestapoesque punishments.

Note to self - believe in own values and ethics, don't inherit them from the children's parents)

(Second note to self - question own values and ethics in light of newly developed habit of bribing children with housepoints to make them say you are funny)

"Good girl Myrtle, 5 housepoints"

and mock irritatedly ignoring the 4 rebels who said "No,"

Then I got up to Jamelia and asked her "Am I funny Jamelia?"

and she said "No, you are not, and you will never make me laugh unless you change your attitude"

and the class all pissed themselves.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


I am blogging whilst having a shit. It is relaxing. It was relaxing. Now Mick has discovered me and he is dribbling on what can only be described as a flimsy plastic strip thing, custom designed to slip inbetween the keys on my laptop, and sliding the dribble between the keys. It's about time my computer stopped working as I've had it a week.

He is also pointing delightedly at the screen and saying "nah nah?" and stroking my legs.

I went to Suffolk for the weekend to eat food and sleep with Polly. It was delighting. We did talking and eating and telly and walking and even sex. All at the same time.. No, not all at the same time. First we did Talking. Then we did eating. Then we did Telly. Then we did walking. Then we did sex. We did them all one at a time. I made a list of the things we had to do and the amount of time to spend on everything. It worked very well.

Polly watched a DVD called "The Client" and it seemed to be all about a man shouting at a child. The shouting went on for ages. I was trying to have a lovely little sleep. All I could hear was a man shouting "You'll go to prison," at a small child. After a while it became most soothing.

As the children were in Cambridge with my Mum and Dad I kept going to sleep whenever I could. Every time I fell asleep I dreamt that either Elly or Mick or some sort of amalgam of the two of them were standing at my legs, holding their arms up to me to be lifted up and screaming and screaming and screaming. It was ironic.

We went to eat at the Crown and Castle in Orford. It was good food. More irony occurred at the Crown and Castle in Orford because it is owned by a woman called Ruth Watson. She wrote this book. As you can see it is called "Fat Girl Slim" and it is about losing weight.

But Ruth Watson is fat.

The Irony is, of course, that I was slim too and now I am also fat. From eating in too many restaurants like Ruth Watson's.

Polly just said to me "It is time to put them to bed now David" (referring to our children) "Which part of this are you going to do?"

and I said

"The part where I sit and play with my computer."

This is the wrong answer.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Howdy Neighbours

I got a new laptop. Hooray. School gave it to me. Hooray. I don't know why. Hooray.

I had to work HARD to get my wireless access to work. Now I have. I feel like a good boy because after 2 years of wireless access I have finally set up my encryption. I feel relieved because this means no BBC reporter will ever ring my bell saying "did you realise that you are a cock?"

I called my wireless network "Howdy Neighbours".

I cannot think of a better name. Apart from "Fuck off Neighbours"

A Number