Fancy dress at Tom's party was optional, but all the children wore something wacky. First prize was for the circus ringmaster with a home made whip, big black curly moustache, top hat and black suit. Fortunately, the whip was made from wool, as Sam kept lashing out at the girls in their sequinned lace dresses and black slashed leggings. For some reason, urban fairies were popular this year.
My son Jake was very angry when he got home. His outfit, the blue bull, was not chosen for any prizes.
I was trying to prepare for the next day, we were...
Outnumbered and out of breath, I didn't know what else to do. The lives that had already been taken now stained my guilt and I didn't need more blood on my mind. So, the white flag of surrender went up and the terms were made.
Our youngest children were to be taken from us and trained to keep their families in check. We were to only have children if the king commanded to. Oh, and we were no longer able to choose our mates.
The children were brainwashed to believe that their mothers were evil witches sent to destroy the...
"I'm a monster," said my son, dangling my old Nikon camera behind his back.
"I can see that," I said. "What's your special monster power?"
"Scary faces!" he said. "I can make a scary face that makes you make a scaredy face!"
I instantly put on a poker face. "I'd like to see you try."
He puckered his face for a few seconds, then went, "Graaahh," and screwed up his eyes and stuck out his tongue.
"Eeeeeeee!!" I cried, opening my eyes and mouth as wide as I could.
As smoothly as a three-year-old can, he pulled out the camera...
The wizened beast crawled across the savannah, dragging the old cart with dilapidated wheels. The grassland swayed, tickling his nostrils. He made his way to the coffee table after pulling his head out of the carpet.
"Daddy, you can't stand yet! You are supposed to be pulling my wagon!"
"Daddy needs his coffee, son." The man scratched his stubble and his backside, retaining the mannerisms of his cattle form. The child scampered around the couch, catching the beast at its watering hole.
"Alright, back on the trail. Where was I heading?"
"Oregon trail. You have dysentery."
"So to the toilet...
She had made her bed and she now had to lie in it: that was what her mother had told her and what she now believed. So she was lying in it, like a good little girl – meek and mild, silent and compliant: behaviour that had got her to where she was now – unhappy, stuck, unravelling. Because old habits die hard, you see, and it is difficult to change. How does one forget three decades of learned behaviour? How does one peel off and discard the labels people attach? They don’t, that’s how, because they can’t – not...
The spotlight travelled the circumference of the room in search of a victim, looking to curb its own discomfort by persuading the unwanted attention on to another. Beneath its bright glare the chosen individual trebled and froze, as if caught in headlights. Then, becoming aware of the line of eyes, the press of bodies – waiting, watching, for her to spring into action, to move, to come alive – she lifted her arms, stretching them out, inhaling deeply.
Her performance opened with a slow dance, the words of a song low and soft on her breath, barely above a whisper....
She’d never thought of herself as pretty. She was far too awkward for that, too uncomfortable in her own skin, too shy and retiring. Her features, if they drew comment (which in itself was rare) were declared unusual and unsettling. It was generally agreed that her eyes were too hooded and their shade too light. Half blind, they had a tendency to fix overly long upon you, after which they slowly fought to read and absorb your every detail, drinking you in. Defying social conventions, ignoring the boundaries of an individual’s space, their precious circle, they upset rather than pleased....
The dapper man picked up a penny.
Then he picked up a dime.
"Which of these is worth more?" he asked the children arrayed in three neat rows on the floor in front of him.
"The dime!" they chimed in chorus.
"Very good!" said the dapper man. "And why is it worth more?"
"It's more specialer!"
"I've got three of 'em in my pocket!"
"Great answers, children!" said the dapper man. "But actually, a dime is worth more because it's so much easier to use a dime for Rhyme Time!"
The children cheered and began to...
"Travel light, but take everything with you. No cases full of cuddly toys. No toys, in fact."
These were the terse instructions from my mother as I prepared to pack the contents of my life into one tiny, child-size suitcase, a suitcase barely big enough to accommodate a change of clothes, let alone anything sentimental, useful or practical. What on earth had possessed her to choose such a ridiculous object for such a momentous adventure? I couldn't even begin to think. It was completely unsuitable and my mother was usually such a meticulous woman. Nothing escaped her notice. The house...
My four-year-old son was out of control. He tried to climb EVERYTHING, he made crazy yelling noises all the time, he had about a ten-word vocabulary, and he slipped out of his room every night to sleep with his pet jungle cats.
And it was all his grandpa's fault.
I should have seen it coming the day my son was born. I held him in my arms, showed him to my father-in-law, and said, "Hey, Dad, ain'tcha proud?" And he just twinkled his eyes at me, and ran his hand through his dreadlocks, and grunted bemusedly to himself.