No Room at the Inn

Another Christmas tale for you.

A few years ago when I was just a tiny tot, we used to do the usual young family Christmas thing of travelling up and down the motorway in search of any relatives who were willing to dish out some free food. Frowny has a very large family whose main goal in life is to feed visitors until they can no longer walk – my kind of people. Not only that, but because she has lots of brothers and sisters we were able to move from house to house until we were in genuine danger of bursting. Of course, this was during my early years when I could only reach breakable lamps and ornaments at fairly low heights, which meant that people were still finding it economically viable to receive a visit, and this was a time when Smiley could still afford to pay for the breakages.

Anyway, after a few days of making merry with the Frowny flock we’d usually move on to Smiley’s family – a much smaller group but no less lavish on the catering front. In fact Grandma Smiley had a particularly admirable habit: when faced with a choice of desserts that she could offer her guests, she would serve them all up simultaneously, often in the same bowl. What’s not to like?

And her generosity didn’t stop with food, it extended to lavish displays of present-giving too. This was a person who genuinely felt far more pleasure in the giving of gifts than the receiving and, since Flower Girl is a few years older than me, she’d already benefitted from the ‘spoilt rotten’ treatment for several Christmases before I arrived.

But when I reached the age of four something odd happened. Granddad Smiley had died the year before and since Grandma was on her own we’d been invited to spend two or three days to keep her company. We arrived in the afternoon, unloaded the car, assembled the bedding and unpacked. Grandma had prepared an empty and ‘breakables-free’ room for me to sleep in (spoilsport), which must have taken her ages because if there’s one thing I remember about Grandma Smiley, she had lots and lots and lots of stuff.

I’d recently got the hang of walking and, naturally, I was keen to show off my new skills. So I trotted off on my customary exploration of every single room in the house. I always regard this as a very important task so I was up and down the stairs and in and out of every room, again and again for about an hour or more. Unfortunately I’d just begun to suffer from what Frowny calls ‘drop attacks’; for those that don’t know, these are little mini-fits where you fall unconscious while you’re in the middle of something, fall over, usually bang your head, then come back to life almost immediately. Sometimes I’d have them every 5 minutes, which was a bit of a nuisance, particularly when I was trying to get up and down the stairs. But 8 times out of 10 I usually found there was someone there to catch me and set me on the right path again.

Anyway, we had arrived, unpacked, I explored, Grandma fed us and then I had a very splashy bath and went to bed. And the following morning an odd thing happened. Grandma asked if we would mind leaving early. Smiley was a bit taken aback, but had learnt from an early age not to bother questioning Grandma’s statements or requests; it saved everyone a lot of time in reaching an inevitable outcome. So he agreed and told her that they could leave after lunch.

“No, I mean right now,” came the firm reply.

There was no explanation, so Smiley spent the next hour disassembling the bedding, re-packing the bags and re-loading the car. Frowny was too shocked to be upset but never really got over it.

It was never talked about with Grandma again. Maybe she’d had a bad night. Or maybe she was worn out with having to move all of the lots and lots and lots of stuff out of the room. Or maybe she wasn’t feeling well. I think our travelling circus has that effect on lots of people.

Whatever the problem was it must have been serious because I never went to her house again. I still saw her from time to time at our house over the next few years, but only for very short visits, and she died a few years later.

It’s a pity because I really liked her.




























Don’t you ever have one of those shouty sort of days?


Transition: Impossible


That’s all I hear around here lately and I’ve no idea what it means. Apparently I have a birthday today and it’s a ‘big one’. Yeah, yeah, Happy Birthday to Me…  if you’ve read my views about previous birthdays ( you’ll already know what I think about that – so forgive me for yawning and bring on the cake.

But this Transition thing has been causing sleepless nights for Frowny for the last year. Ok, she’s always been a bit of a worrier, but even by her standards this seems to be a bigger deal than usual. Even Smiley seems spooked, which is so unusual that it’s starting to make me sit up and take notice.

Apparently this one’s a ‘special’ birthday; one where everything changes. I have no problem with that – people seem to spend a lot of their time worrying exactly how old they are instead of spending their time doing whatever they want.

For example, I still play with baby toys – and I’m not ashamed to admit it: they’re brightly coloured, you can easily carry them around with you, give them the occasional rattle or suck and they don’t get in the way of anything else I happen to be doing at the time. I’ve looked at other children playing with their PlayPodBoxes and as far as I can see it just involves making little men run around inside the television, and getting them do all the things you might be doing yourself if you weren’t using a PlayPodBox. What’s that all about?

But for some reason this big birthday is supposed to be different. For a start they say I won’t be going to my usual Saturday clubs or respite centres, and that most of the people I’ve played with for the last ten years or more – and even the bus drivers – will all change. Well that’s just silly; you can’t make that many people just disappear, even if you’re playing the world’s most enormous blanket-game of peek-a-boo. Anyway, I’m good with change. I like new people and new places to explore.

And now there’s talk about ‘adult services’ and something called ‘adult-appropriate-activities’ which sounds really impressive, but as far as I can make out these are just things like woodwork and cookery and gardening and art and basket-making. I’ve had a go at all this stuff before: the best bit about woodwork was waving a hammer around. Eating is absolutely, definitely better than cooking. Digging in the soil is far more fun than gardening. Spreading paint around with your hands onto your clothes, the walls and on other people is a lot more satisfying than using a brush on paper. As for basket-making, well, I’ve eaten several baskets and can’t really see the point of pursuing that any further.

They’re also talking about teaching me ‘life skills’, like emptying the washing machine, doing the shopping and dressing myself. Yeah, right, good luck with that… I’ve already put loads of effort into getting people to do all the dull stuff for me, so there’s no way I’m giving that up in a hurry.

The bestest, funniest thing I heard was that these new places have lots of things called ‘jigsaws’ (I’ve never done one), fish tanks (…and the point is?), DVDs (lovely and shiny, but they don’t seem to do anything, even when you bang them really hard) and all the chairs are arranged in a semi-circle around a big-screen TV (I never watch it). But no toys, no singing nursery rhymes, no soft play, no plastic ball pits, no swings, no slides, no sand pits, no roundabouts, no trampolines and no bouncy castles. Now I definitely, absolutely know that this must be the biggest, fattest fib ever because if you didn’t have any of that stuff you’d just sit in a corner and dribble and be bored out of your skull every day for the rest of your life.

Well, I don’t believe a word of it.

So I’ve decided I’ll play along with them for a few days. I’ll meet these new people and visit the new places and play their new games and if I don’t like them I can just go back to the old places and be back with the friends I’ve got now.


I don’t know why people make such a fuss about ‘Transition’.


Mirror, mirror, in my hand…

magiczne różowe lustereczko 7In my hand I have something called… well, I don’t exactly know what it’s called.

It’s a sort of magic, crinkly, looky, holdy, thing. But it’s my absolute, all time, best-ever, favourite thing in the entire world (since Pink Ball). It’s pink and it has crinkly-dangly bits and you can hold it in your hand and – sometimes – it makes music, but best of all it has a looky bit that shows you little pictures.

It’s not a toy exactly, it’s far more than that. It has magical powers. I don’t mean the pointy hat, wavy-wandy stuff that Curly Top does with his cape and his playing cards – I’m talking about real, absolute power, full-on magic.

Do you ever have those days where there’s just too much world?

Well, what the magic, crinkly, looky, holdy, thing does is it takes the entire multi-coloured, loud, weird, flashing, confusing world of shouty, flashing, bright stuff and shows you only the teeny-tiny most important bits so that you can study them and see exactly what’s going on without all the rest of the overwhelming too-much-stuff-ness of life. And if it isn’t showing you a teeny-tiny bit you like, you just tip it slightly and it shows you a completely different teeny-tiny bit. How cool is that?

Sometimes I use it to look at Smiley and he looks back at me and we both do looking at each other for a while and we just know that we’re two guys sharing a guy moment. Or sometimes I look at Frowny when she’s busy doing all her busy stuff. Ok, she’s usually far too busy to look back at me, but sometimes I do catch her looking very quickly. And even if she doesn’t look my way I like to watch her because I know the world is really very alright indeed when I can see her doing all her busy things.

Sometimes I look at Curly Top and his friends, running around and being very shouty. He never, ever looks at me because he’s too busy being really happy, but that’s ok too.

The best place to do looking is while I’m sitting on the fourth stair up from the bottom. I’ve tried the one above and the one below but the fourth step is at the exactly-most-rightest height to give you the best view of everything that goes on in the house.

I’ve tried using the magic, crinkly, looky, holdy, thing in the car but the pictures move too fast. They’re quite pretty and I sometimes look at it for a long time, but I can’t really make any sense of it. I’ve never been allowed to take it to school but I don’t think it would work very well there either; at school people are always trying to talk to you and make you do stuff. For the magic to work properly you need peace and quite and for people to leave you alone for a bit.

It used to make a noise – I think it was supposed to be music – it sounded really tinny but I quite liked it so I just kept my finger on the button. But, after about three or four days of me sucking on it, the music stopped for absolutely no reason and then it never made any more noise. I handed it to Smiley for some fixing and he tried the clever screwdriver thing but lots of sticky, wet, brown stuff came out of the back. So he gave it a wipe and a squirt of some smelly stuff, replaced the lid and gave it back to me. Then it didn’t make any more music for ages, until one day it just started again, all by itself.

Actually, now I come to think about it, there’s another weird thing: I’ve had the magic, crinkly, looky, holdy, thing for as long as I can remember, but sometimes I forget where I put it and it goes missing for a few days. But when it comes back it sometimes looks much shinier and smells funny and the crinkly bits are much crinklier and the tinny music noise works again. Maybe sometimes it just needs to have a rest for a while for the magic to come back.

Even weirder, I once saw another magic, crinkly, looky, holdy, thing at the bottom of my toy basket… but this one was all scratched and you couldn’t see in the looky bit very well and the crinkly things had come off – so I knew it wasn’t mine.



Overcome with emulsion


So there I was in this enormous warehouse place, more brightly lit than the sun and stuffed from floor to ceiling with, well, stuff.

It’s one of the most brilliant places in the world! Tons of space to run around, loads of places to hide, bright lights, lots of people, noise, and stuff of every size, shape and colour: sharp stuff, spiky stuff, sloppy stuff and sticky stuff – more interesting and fun than I could possibly imagine in my wildest dreams.

And I was strapped into a chair.

What’s that all about? One minute I’m at home, politely asking – slapping your hand on the front door’s glass works well – if we might go out for a bit of a run around. So me, Frowny and Giant Lady (I’m not kidding, she must be at least 9-foot-tall) all piled into the car, drove straight past the park, past the swings, past the swimming pool and ended up here.

I’m not absolutely sure where ‘here’ is. Frowny said something to Giant Lady about mixing paint but I don’t see why she’d need to drive all the way over here for that; we’ve got loads of tins at home and I would have been happy to mix them all up for her.

I was soon starting to get a bit annoyed. It was obvious that they’d completely forgotten to undo the straps so that I could have a run around and a bit of an explore, and now they were just ignoring me, which was just plain rude.

I tried to get their attention with a few loud noises and a bit of shouting, but all I got in return were a couple of nice smiles and some soothing noises. Honestly, sometimes Frowny’s communication skills are seriously lacking.

Lots of wriggling sometimes gets the message accross but it’s a bit hit-and-miss: if you get it wrong you can easily end up sprawled across a shopping aisle with a strap around your chin and your arms tied above your head. Not a good look.

So when all else fails I resort to bouncing the whole chair. I don’t usually have a very good memory but one thing I do remember is that pushchairs used to be enormous and I was really small, so trying to bounce them was almost impossible. But fashions must have changed because now I’m really big and most of the pushchairs are tiny, so these days I can bounce them around like a space hopper.

The aisles in this place were really wide and I was in the middle, just out of arm’s reach of anything to fiddle with. So while Frowny and Giant Lady chatted to each other about paint (get a life), I had a bounce around to see if I could reach anything interesting.

I was tempted by a rack of brightly coloured squeezy tubes, but ultimately I always think size matters. So I headed straight for the towers of giant plastic tubs. A few bounces was all it took to be within toe-reach of the tubs, then I stretched my leg out as far as I could and managed to hook a shoe under the wire handle of one of the really big ones with ‘10L’ written on the side. I was just pulling it towards me for a closer look when, for absolutely no reason whatsoever, the tub thing decides to crash to the floor and burst open.

Whoa . . .

I’ve never seen so much blue paint in my life! In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve been in swimming pools that had less liquid. It was all over the floor, on the shelves, on my shoes, up my legs and on the chair.

This was a lot more fun than I’d bargained for but hey, never look a gift horse in the mouth (I have absolutely no idea what that means). So, still strapped in the chair, I stretched out both legs, leaned both arms over the side and got stuck in. Literally. It was sticky and creamy and slimy and smelt very, very, blue.

As if this wasn’t enough fun for one day, Frowny and Giant Lady both started furiously rummaging in their bags and pockets, producing nothing other than a tiny little tissue, then decided to join in as well – taking the game up a notch by adding in some very impressive dance moves. At first Frowny started rubbing the tissue all over my fingers which seemed a bit silly when there was so much paint on offer elsewhere. But maybe she didn’t really like the splashy-painty-game because she soon ran off for a game of hunt-the-tissue while Giant Lady decided to stay and hold my hands above my head.

Of course, Frowny’s a world-class champion at hunt-the-tissue and she soon came dashing back trailing a long blue piece and got straight back into the rubbing. Loads of people had walked past by this time and I couldn’t believe none of them wanted to join in.

But of course today’s grownups have a really short attention span so they soon tired of the game and decided it might be more fun to paint blue lines on the floor with the wheels of the chair.

Then a quick trip to the toilets (and a lot more furious rubbing. What is it with Frowny and all the rubbing?), back into the car and home in time for tea.

An afternoon well spent I reckon.


P.S.   We brought lots of the blue paint home with us to show Smiley (on the chair, the car, the shoes, and lots of the clothes). And then he spent his whole evening in the downstairs bathroom, scrubbing away at something or other and practicing all the rude words he knew. Weirdo.


Wee, wee, wee, wee, all the way home

stm50eb338f514c720130107Sometimes when you’ve got to go, you’ve just got to go.

Though, unlike most people, I don’t believe in bottling things up so I just go whenever and wherever I like. Most of the time this is an uneventful experience as I wear these huge nappies (yes, I know what you’re thinking; exactly like a NASA astronaut) which catch the lot. I don’t even have to stop what I’m doing at the time.

As some of you might remember from previous posts, I don’t drink a lot… at least not in the sense of drinking from cups. So what I tend to do is catch up on my liquid intake whenever it’s convenient, say while I’m lying in the bath or when I go swimming. And when I do drink, I drink a lot.

I have no idea exactly how much one of those nappies can hold but it’s plainly not enough because they seem to overflow quite regularly. Then we’re usually looking at wet trousers, a trickle in my wake or a small damp patch on the sofa.

However, there are times when things get a little out of adjustment; apparently some of my engineers don’t have quite the same level of experience as those at NASA, or it might be that Johnny Peanut wants to come out to play… I’m sure you’ve all been there. And on those occasions it’s best to stand well back because we can sometimes be talking about a flood worthy of floating Noah.

At the lowest level we might have a modest cascade from the bottom of the chair while I’m eating, usually followed by the happy sounds of people dancing.

Moving up a rung you can try the same thing while sitting in one of those little seats on a supermarket trolley; actually it’s a few years since I’ve managed to fit in one of those, but you can achieve much the same effect from a wheelchair. Anyway it’s a particularly good location because you’re mobile and it can take a while for people to realise that they’re traipsing through a little yellow river. Surprisingly slippery too.

Doing the same thing in a car doesn’t work very well because the seat catches all the moisture and it can be quite a while before anyone realises what’s happening. But I still try to do this at least once in every car we own… otherwise they just never smell right.

If you’re really experienced you can try for a double whammy. This is tricky because it involves a lot of bladder control and self restraint. What you do is wet the nappy but only empty half your bladder. Hopefully some good Samaritan will notice quite quickly and come to your rescue. During recent years they’ve tended to change it while I’m standing up and there’s a critical window of opportunity between taking the old nappy off and putting the new one in place: that’s when you let the remainder of your bladder go. This has the effect of a loose fire hose and you can’t really predict where the spray will go, but often you can score a few really good hits. Ah, the happy smiles on their little faces and the whooping and hollering is a joy to see.

But for the ultimate in accuracy and effectiveness you just perform the same trick first thing in the morning as they’re getting you out of bed. You don’t even have to use any self-restraint or bladder control for this one, just lie there and wait for the right moment, and as someone leans their face in for a closer look… Bam! You just let the lot go.

Honestly, the sense of satisfaction is unmatched. Yes it’s a little damp, but very liberating.

You should try it.


Quarter of a million and counting…

250,000 page viewsFlower Girl says there’s a counter at the bottom of this page that now says it’s received over 250,000 views. Apparently that’s not 250,000 separate people, but Smiley assures me it’s more than one person clicking a quarter of a million times.

Of course, I don’t know if quarter of a million is a lot; after I’ve wolfed down a roast dinner Frowny keeps handing me Yorkshire Puddings so that she can finish her meal in peace, and I can get through an entire bowl of them. Now that’s a lot. And sometimes I click the light switches on and off in my room for an hour or so — until even I get bored with it — and I don’t think we can possibly be talking about as many clicks as that.

Whatever. But the thing I keep wondering is, who are all these nosey people and why do they want to read about my life? After all, it’s just everyday stuff that happens to everyone isn’t it?



Cry Baby

crying_man-2Most nights I wake up and it’s really quiet and dark in my room. Actually it’s not that quiet because there’s this heater thing that keeps going on and off and it’s really noisy and sometimes that’s what wakes me up.

Other nights I wake up because the bed and my pyjamas are all wet. I don’t know what that’s all about but it’s a real nuisance.

And sometimes I just wake up because I’m not tired anymore. So I empty my toy basket all over the floor and look for something to play with. Or I turn the light switches on and off, on and off, on and off…. Or if I get really bored I lie on my back and kick the walls or the door, which usually brings someone running quite quickly.

But last night I woke up because I could hear someone crying. I had a really good think and realised it wasn’t me so it must have been coming from Smiley and Frowny’s room.

It was strange because it didn’t sound like Frowny’s voice and it couldn’t have been Smiley because, well… he smiles all the time.


Anyway, I soon found something to chew, rolled over and went back to sleep.


Row Row


There are, apparently, lots of songs in the world.

I’ve heard there might be as many as twenty or more but I think that’s probably just wild exaggeration. I hear most of my music from primary coloured plastic toys and, quite frankly, it all sounds exactly the same: sort of jolly and tinny with electronic whistles and bells and squeaks. Sometimes real musicians come into my school to entertain everyone; they try to get us to join in but it’s mostly on maracas and drums and triangles so it’s difficult to make out if the tunes really are all supposed to be the same or it just sounds that way.

The other place I hear music is in the car and this falls into two main types: Smiley likes listening to soppy-plinky-plonky pianos and stuff while Curly Top mostly wants to listen to the sounds of people shouting at each other. Actually now I come to think about it there’s a third type of sound that comes out of some bits of white string that Flower Girl likes to stick in her ears, but that’s very quiet; I don’t know whether it counts as music, it sounds more like an angry insect and it makes her head wobble up and down.

Anyway, my point is that there’s really only one decent song in the world so I don’t know why anybody bothers listening to anything else. It is of course Row Row, and once you’ve heard it you realise there’s no point in exploring any further. I’ve been listening to Row Row for the past… well, I don’t exactly know how many years… all of them I think. And I can honestly say that, in all that time, nothing else has come close to matching it.

Even better is the fact that you don’t actually have to listen to it on the radio or on a pie-pod or whatever it is because it’s even more fun to sing it yourself and it can be performed almost anywhere. Obviously I don’t do the actual singing part myself, so whenever I’m in the mood for a quick sing-song I just grab anyone who happens to be passing, pull them down onto the floor, take hold of both their arms and swing my body back and forth with as much enthusiasm as possible. This has become a lot easier in recent years as I’ve grown a bit bigger, and nowadays there aren’t many occasions where I can’t persuade people of any size to give it a go. Once on the floor and with their body swinging back and forth a few times I like to give a really strong, sudden pull on their arms and see if I can get my back all the way to the floor. This usually makes the other person look really surprised and make a little gasping noise, but they soon get the idea of what I want and start singing almost immediately. I haven’t yet met anyone who doesn’t know the words, which just goes to show how much everyone enjoys it. And speaking of the words, I don’t think lyrics can be much more meaningful, exciting or as moving as those in Row Row. Just listen to this:

Row, Row, Row Your Boat, Gently Down the Stream…

Isn’t that beautiful? It conjures up such a calming, peaceful image of a warm summer’s day. If you’re really lucky and there’s more than one person singing they sometimes start doing this overlapping voicey thing, which is brilliant… even if it does make my head go a bit funny.

Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Life Is But A Dream….

I’m not absolutely sure if life is a dream or not but I’m prepared to overlook that one because all the ‘merrily’ bits sound so nice.

Rock, Rock, Rock Your Boat, Gently Down The Stream…

Ok, I’ll admit we start running into some problems at this point because everyone seems to have a different version of the words. But hey, I’m all for that; it’s one of the beauties of Row Row – it encourages people’s creativity and it hardly ever comes out the same way twice. This ‘Rock Rock’ bit is the version Smiley sings and he starts swinging his body side to side, which is an absolutely brilliant twist. You’d think I’d see it coming after all these years, but nope, catches me out every time.

If You See A Crocodile, Don’t Forget To Scream… ARRGHHH!

Some people start going on about mice squeaking and others start yapping about lion’s roaring. I don’t mind a bit, as long as they end on the crocodile and throwing their arms in the air with a terrified scream. Adds a real air of menace to the piece to undercut the cloying sweetness.

And that’s it. Well, obviously you don’t just do it once. Twenty or thirty times is usually enough for most people but if you can get them to go on for longer there’s no limit to the number of times you can repeat it.

Unless – of course – it’s close to teatime or Bathtime.