House at Pooh Corner

House at Pooh Corner
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Tuesday, 22 October 2013

They Aren't Ours to Keep

Right, you are either going to be one of Them That Get It or, Them That Don't.

I think of all my posts, this will be the one that will either speak to your heart OR,
have you scratching your head thinking "what is WRONG with these people?".

That's ok.  You Head-Scratchers can toddle off for a sec - but, do come back later, normal service will resume soon enough.


OK, so now we are alone ..... let's talk.

Let's talk about saying goodbye to our non-human friends or family members.

Unsurprisingly (given my childhood ie Wherever I Am ...&, not really coincidentally, subsequent life-style choice ie Write About Your Passion ), I have had much experience (sadly) in loss of this nature - starting from childhood, right the way up to last year.
My Folks get it
And they gave it to me.

2012.  The hideous year in which we lost 4 family members (3 dogs - old age, congenital health issues and ghastly accident & 1 cat - suspected shot, by someone I hex, daily).

I have said in the past that I believe very strongly in giving children the opportunity to grow and live with pets (doesn't matter what species).

This is Ollie.
He gets read to.
He pretends he is interested.
He seldom is.
He is a polite dog.
There are a myriad of joys, blessings and lessons that children can get from having a pet.

Yes yes yes, the kids get all the benefits & the old folks get all the poo-clearing & the bills.

Deal with it.  You the grown-ups. 
Our Gloria.
Only knew life in a cage.
Spent last 5 months of her life with us.
Left us, finally knowing
the deep joy of sofas & cuddles

Thiiiiiiiink of the liiiiiiiiittle chil'ren.

One of the least obvious, but VERY valuable, is the opportunity to address death & loss, in a safe way.
Hopefully, before they have to encounter it within the Human Family or Friend sphere.

 Things live.  We love them.  They love us. Inevitably, though, sad times come.  Doesn't diminish the good times.  In some ways it makes them more special.

These were tough things to explain to the Household 6 year Boy.  But, we did.

He was (& still is, at times) sad but he knows what happened.

Through my degree (Education & Biology) and then, subsequent research on helping adults (& children) with Pet Bereavement, I learnt a number of important things.

The most important, I think, is to use the words.  YOU gotta be brave.  No one digs using the 'D' word but, this is an opportunity to help your kid, so time to man up.

Say 'died'.  Not 'went to sleep' - potentially, trying to avoid 'the word' can give kids the fear of falling asleep, bed, having an injection themselves etc etc.


Talking to Children about death of a pet - here, there's all sorts of stuff out there for you to have a look if you want to.


I don't want this whole thing to be about The Kids because when you are a Grown-Up, losing a pet (Species Irrelevant) hurts like HELL too.

There is no skirting around the issue.  No getting away from it.

It isn't simply the loss of the physical  presence of a much-loved furry/feathery/scaly buddy- sometimes we mourn too for the severing of the connection with a former life.

  • Perhaps your cat predated your spouse.
  • Perhaps your budgie was a pet that you shared with a room-mate that has now moved away.

Now that creature is no longer physically present, you feel your connection with a previous life is also finally ended.


Sometimes, the loss of a pet reminds us as to what an emotional rock their presence in our lives has been.

  • Maybe that dog joined your household as a pup in a different country, moved around the world with you been a constant in a life full of upheavals.
  • Maybe your horse, acquired, finally, as an adult, returned you on a daily basis to that Pony-Mad Little Girl from *ahem* decades ago.
    (a phase that everyone, btw, reassured your parents you would grow out of!)

OR .....

It does not have to be anything like any of those things.

Perhaps you just really REALLY miss your friend.

Because a Friend is what these things are, to us, The Ones That Get It.

And, as much as it hurts when they leave us, I, for one, am so glad that I Got It.

And finally,

The Rainbow Bridge*
A long time ago I read something which I found very helpful.

A concept to meditate on (in between all the gulping sobs, snot-catching and eye-dabbing) which I, personally have found very calming.

(Note: I paraphase and have added my own take on it all)

Simply, these entities are not ours to keep.
They have their own journeys to follow, their own paths to follow.
As do we.
We are blessed to have been able to travel along together, for a while, but ultimately, our respective roads will branch.
This is true for all of us, regardless of hairiness, scaliness or number of legs.

They are not ours to keep.  That bit, in particular, feels right.

So, when the time comes, we must let them go & wish them well. 

*Bloody poem wrecks me.  You have been warned 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Goodbyes - the hidden Expat Tax

Did you know?

Expats, certainly ones living here, are soulless, money-grabbing, selfish capitalists who only wish to accumulate more of the filthy lucre. At any cost.

We booze and swill hundreds of ££ or $$$'s down our ever-open, ever-stretched gullets like so many young magpies.

Gorging. Gorging. Gorging.

Having invaded, and driven out the smaller weaker of our kind, from their palm-tree shaped nests (swimming pool included), we roar with evil laughter whilst rolling naked in our money-pits (we all have them), twirling our evil moustaches.


All of us.

I don't think so.

Can I just say, before we move on, that I am not convinced that I drink/get drunk here, any more than I did in either of the other countries I have lived in.

In fact, I think there is a good chance I do it less.

Now, this is NOT because I am oppressed, by virtue of my weaker inferior sex nor in fact ... as everybody outside the MiddleEast seems to think* ... because I am not allowed to.
*Ditto driving.  Ditto eating pork.

Here, let me explain.

I like to call it:

The GeMTHH (GetMeTheHellHome) Quotient 

It looks like this:

Essentially, we need to establish if A is greater than the value of G

A = Amount of Alcohol-induced Fun likely OR Alcohol-Required to Induce Fun
G = Getting Home Afterwards Aggravation / Urgency

Thus, in Dubai, I often drive.

In HongKong, you step outside (unless it is raining), *BOOM* there's a cab & before you know it, you are getting yourself the Hell home.

It is less easy, in my experience, here in Dubai. Unless, I guess you are doing your Mr Creosote obscene amount of consumption in a hotel.

I just like to get home, when I want to go home.

I don't wish to order a taxi at a specified time BEFORE I've even begun to have all the Fun .......... nor do I wish to, when I have decided to call 'time' on the Fun to wait for what could be anything from
"10 minutes away" to
"30 minutes coming" to after all that,
"not coming now. No taxis."
(assuming they even answer the phone at that point).

I digress.  Yet again.

I have a habit of doing that.

See? I did it again.

Taxis and drunkedness is not what I want to talk about here.


That is what I want to talk about.

Good byes are the hidden Expat Tax. And it weighs heavy on us all.

There are the most commonly thought of Goodbyes -
* the agonisingly sad driving away from home, airport-bound.

* the stomach-churning Let's All Be Brave & Practical Until the Very Last Second and Pretend This Isn't Really Happening.

OR the hideous farewells actually AT the airport.  The Stomach-Churn will follow you here.  You cannot escape the Stomach Churn.

Both scenarios.  Horrific.  The guilt.  The good ol' fashioned waaaaaa-hahhaahahaaaaaaaaa sadness.  The suppression of the I Wanna Drop Everything and Run All The Way Home reflex.

There is another kind of Expat Goodbye too.  Which also hurts.  And doesn't require you to go anywhere.

The one where people leave YOU.

No no no.  WE leave!  WE do the leaving! Goddammit. ..................................WE do NOT get left!

This Goodbye happens when other Expats leave, to either stop being Expats or, to go be Expats somewhere else.

Making strong connections with other people can be really hard anyway, but, when you are an Expat can be really extra-hard.
Our world is very transient.

When you live away from family & friends, people that have known you through the bad haircuts, teenage dramas or relationship euphoria and hiccups, when you DO make what feels like a real connection, it can be quite intense.

I've touched on this Friend thing before - in The Rugby Post & also, in The Happiness Vampires

Friends, the good 'uns, become an immediate practical source of support when you do not have your family immediately at hand.

Sometimes that support comes in the very simple form of just a Proper Belly Laugh.

Maybe handing you a cold one, that makes you contemplate a certain algebraic equation.  Remember what we were talking about earlier?

Or letting you roll in their Money-Pit.

Goodbyes suck. All of them.
Whether you are the Leaver or the Leave-ee.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Invisible Colin or "Has Halloween come early?"

(Those of you who are my FaceBook Friends, you must have been expecting this post.)

So, last night, it was revealed to me that, apparently, someone called 
 Invisible Colin 
lives with us too.

The conversation was brief.

This was on account of reduced stamina, due to:

a) trying NOT to have the screaming ab-dabs

b) maintaining a heart-rate somewhere below 280 bpm &

c)  trying to relax my constricted throat, affording me a voice option other than 'strangled squeak', whilst attempting to 'discuss' Invisible Colin.

Things we quickly established were that:
*  Invisible Colin is, in fact, a girl (obviously)
*  Invisible Colin, by happy coincidence likes all the same food as us.  Primarily the "healthy foods" with ice-cream and chocolates thrown in.
*  Invisible Colin, looks like me but "without all those spots" (I hate Colin a little right now.  Freckle-free cow)

And finally,
*  Invisible Colin enjoys a game of rugby.



THIS is where I should have left it.

Shouldn't have asked.


"Where does Invisible Colin sleep?", I asked.

Why did I ask?


Solemnly, The Kid pointed to the ceiling.  Deadpan face "Up there."

"Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa ........?", said Mummy.

Daddy, behind The Kid, was silently chortling & pointing at my face.

The thing is, for years now, my love-hate (I LOVE watching them, but then, they scared the bejesus out of me & I HATE that) relationship with spooky movies and supernatural ghost-hunter reality TV shows have generated issues.

I have examples:
I won't stay in 'old' places.
If I do, I must be accompanied at all times.

This isn't either of those holiday places.
If I turned up somewhere like this, I wouldn't even get out of the car

I didn't sleep for 5 days during a particularly spooky family 'holiday' to a cottage in Pembrokeshire, Wales, which, as it transpired my Mother-in-Law ALSO felt exceedingly uncomfortable in.  So I feel justified.

We talk of it still.

Trousers and Trousers Senior roll their eyes. Still.

During another such trip, to an old Rectory in a spectacularly beautifully part of Wales, the rest of the family found a gravestone in the garden.

THE GARDEN, people!!!!

Together, all agreed that it was best, for all concerned, to withhold this information from me.

They were probably right.

We don't go on those kind of holidays anymore.


All joking aside, I am not unduly concerned re this (hopefully) Imaginary Friend.

Research is showing that actually the appearance of an (please God) IMAGINARY Friend is actually a very positive thing.

What Would Your Imaginary Friend Say About You?

What Wiki has to say about Invisible Colin
It has been theorized that children with imaginary companions may develop language skills and retain knowledge faster than children without them, which may be because these children get more linguistic practice than their peers as a result of carrying out "conversations" with their imaginary friends.[5]
Kutner (n.d.) reported that 65% of seven year old children report they have had an imaginary companion at some point in their lives. He further reported:
Imaginary companions are an integral part of many children's lives. They provide comfort in times of stress, companionship when they're lonely, someone to boss around when they feel powerless, and someone to blame for the broken lamp in the living room. Most important, an imaginary companion is a tool young children use to help them make sense of the adult world.[6]
Taylor, Carlson & Gerow (c2001: p. 190) hold that:
despite some results suggesting that children with imaginary companions might be superior in intelligence, it is not true that all intelligent children create them.[7]
Some psychologists[who?] have suggested that older children retain but stop speaking about imaginary friends due to adult expectations and peer pressure[citation needed].
Pediatrician Benjamin Spock believed that imaginary friends past age four indicated that something was "lacking" in the child or his environment. Some child development professionals believe that the presence of imaginary friends past early childhood signals a serious psychiatric disorder.[8][9] Some have theorized that children who hold on to imaginary friends past school-age are stigmatized[citation needed].
Other professionals feel that imaginary friends are common among school-age children and are part of normal social-cognitive development.[10]
Marjorie Taylor identified middle school children with imaginary friends and followed up six years later as they were completing high school. At follow-up, those who had imaginary friends in middle school displayed better coping strategies but a "low social preference for peers." She suggested that imaginary friends may directly benefit children's resiliency and positive adjustment.[11]"

And, just to prove 'Like Mummy, Like Son' ......

Friday, 4 October 2013

Knife-Wielding Bad-Ass. Me?

Just as a matter of interest, are we, The Trousers & I would like to know, the only people who don't sleep with some sort of weapon by the bed?

I dunno.  I think that it is fairly unusual security step for most British people to take.

Or so I thought.


Recently (yesterday) over a lovely piece of salmon, with friends, I was reflecting on the fact that, on my last night of living in my first-ever shared (student) house (in London) one of my housemates (female) revealed she always slept with a rounders* bat under her bed.

*Americans, this is like a teeny baseball bat

And another, purposely, had an empty wine bottle.  For the same specific reason.

Just as an aside, in those days (as indeed now), anything kept under my bed would not be easily, or swiftly, retrieved amongst the jumble of suitcases, lone socks, mugs & Sunday newspaper supplements "I'm getting round to reading". 

That said, the dusty tumbleweeds, under a 'Student in the 90's' bed alone, could have brought on an asthmatic attack strong enough to floor a charging elephant - so, perhaps I WAS surrounded by a grimy ring of safety.  

Perhaps I WAS, as they say in things like Lock, Stock or Snatch, "tooled up".

I'm not sure I'm really pulling off the Saaaf Laaaandahn villian thing so, I'll stop trying.

Anyway, my point is that apart from the Filth (I refer to the ACTUAL filth, as opposed to the Cops, the Fuzz, PolicePeople) it never occurred to me to weaponise myself.

And, I sort of assume the same of most people I know.

Additional Bit of Information

At this point, I need to add a small adjustment to the above-stated assumption.

When I first moved to the UK, to start Uni, in that Saaaaaaaf Lahndahhhhn, my Dad DID give me a knife. 

The Trousers, whenever he hears this statement, collapses into roaring, tear-wiping fits of laughter.


Well, I mean,  it sounds quite serious, right?  Admit it, for a second there it gave you pause, right?  It had to have been somewhat unexpected.

Apparently, my husband does not see me as a Knife-Wielding Bad-Ass.  

That's a good thing, I think we can all agree.

The fact that it was a Swiss Army Knife (Classic - Champ, 91 mm) apparently adds to the hilarity.

Mock if you wish, but, should anyone leaving a Camden Club in the early 90's, have needed some fish de-scaling, I was ready. 

And, yes, "proper tooled-up".

Moving On

This was all decades ago but very recently, it was revealed to me that I was not the only one (female) among my acquaintances who was also weaponised in the 90's.  

She, this lovely lady, went everywhere with a fruit knife apparently.

There's more though.

During the course of the evening's discussion, in the charming setting of a Golf Club in Dubai, it was further revealed that this delightful lady & her spouse had had other security contingency plans, hidden under the bed.

I cannot recall, & stand to be corrected, whether this practice has continued since their residency commenced here in the UAE or whether it was solely reserved for life in the UK.

The details are unimportant.

I merely wish to enquire this:

Does anyone else have a baseball/rounders bat, bottle of wine, hammer, stinger, knuckle-duster, bazooka under the bed?


Should I?
Probably the best I could manage!


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