Sunday, 7 December 2008

Here's a nice idea that I found on the front of the church bulletin today:

'One Advent tradition is known as the 'Good Deeds Manger'. This is an ideal way for families to prepare together. Instead of putting your crib up with all the figures, long before Christmas arrives, put an empty manger in a prominent part of the house. By the side of the manger place some hay or something similar. Each evening try to come together as a family and talk about the good things that each one has done for others during the day - it may simply be sharing of sweets, or helping Mum in the kitchen without being asked. For each good deed that it done, the person who has done the good deed places one piece of hay into the manger. On Christmas Eve, the Baby Jesus is placed in the manger on the soft bed that has been made with the family's good deeds.'

It's a nice idea, but I envisage a few problems in this house........

1. '...come together as a family and talk about the good things each one has done for others during the day....'

Yes, well, I can't see that being much of a conversation.

2. '.....helping Mum in the kitchen without being asked......'

Enough said.

3. '......the Baby Jesus is placed in the manger on the soft bed that has been made with the family's good deeds.....'

I can't see the bed being that soft, somehow.

Look, we'll give it a go.

I may be proved completely wrong.

It is nearly Christmas after all.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

No Kit Kats Allowed

The Peacemaker: Mum, we got the names for Secret Santa in our class today. You have to get chocolate or toffees beginning with the person's initial.

Me: Who did you get?

The Peacemaker: Kieran.

Me: Well, that's easy! I can think of one straightaway!

The Peacemaker: He doesn't like Kit Kats.

Me: Oh. Plan B, then.

Any ideas from any klever kommenters out there?

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Let It Snow!

We woke up this morning to find a blanket of white stuff covering the entire area.

I love snow.

In fact there are few things I like better in the world than snow.

It is so useful.

I mean, what other substance can take a garden full of old bikes, dolls prams, an abandoned lawnmower and various bits of toy kitchen which normally has a general air of Steptoe's yard, and turn it into a winter wonderland overnight, with absolutely no effort required from me?

Let it snow, I say.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas......and January........and possibly even February........



Sunday, 30 November 2008

Stir-Up Sunday

So, it's here at last, the First Sunday of Advent, or Stir-Up Sunday, as it's sometimes known, so called because the traditional opening prayer of the Mass was:

'Stir up Thy might, we beg Thee, O Lord, and come'

It is also the day on which, each year I am helped (I use the term loosely) by this lot to make the Christmas cake.

Sadly, I seem to have lost the recipe I have used for the last twenty-odd years, so this year we have tried a new one from here and apart from a slight mishap with the ground almonds, everything seems to be okay. This recipe uses sherry. I can't abide sherry, so I have replaced it with a good dollop of Cointreau. I'd like to say I had it in, but we tend not to keep alcohol of any description in the house, for obvious reasons. Whilst Stella may remain his favourite tipple, the Father of This Lot is not particularly fussy, and regardless of what it is, if it has fermented, he'll drink it!

I'd like to tell you that all the uniforms are washed, dried and ironed, but I'm not a liar. You may have been vaguely aware that the Manchester Derby took place today, so obviously, my laundry session had to wait until it was over.

Instead, I thought I might go to Tesco to pick up the remaining ingredients for the cake which I also wasn't allowed to bake till the full time whistle had gone.

Football Fanatic: NOOOOOO!!!! Not Tesco!

Me: Why not?

Football Fanatic: You went to Tesco the other week before an early kick-off and they got beat by Arsenal.

Plan C, then. I was, much to my delight, allowed to clean the kitchen, since apparently during a match at Everton two seasons ago, in which United were 2-0 down, I cleaned the kitchen and they came back to win 4-2. It worked anyway. United have got another three points and I've got a sparkling cooker and fridge.

So that was Stir-Up Sunday. The cake's in the oven, the candles are in the Advent wreath and the Father of This Lot's in the Mare and Foal.

Just like any other day really!

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Thursday, 27 November 2008

Options Evening

Here's the thing.

Given the strange Christmas present circumstances I find myself in, I reckon I have two options:

1. Rant, rave and bang about a bit. Get a taxi to town (she was right - it wouldn't fit on the bus) and stand in a very long refund queue. On return of cash, spend the best part of a day getting all the right presents, queue up to pay and get a taxi home because by then I will have lost the will to live and will be unable to face getting a bus.

2. Make myself a nice cup of tea. Sit down, and ponder on the fact fact that I have five healthy kids, all of whom will find Christmas Day far more exciting than if we had stuck to the original plan. Wait until my preferred shopping period of well into Advent, and finish the present buying myself.

I choose Option 2.


I find myself choosing Option 2 (well, the thankful-for-five-healthy-kids-so-does-it-really-matter bit) quite often these days.

Quite fitting, really, for Thanksgiving.

And anyway, if, on Christmas Day you fancy a game of darts (that's a few arrers to you, Ttony):

....or a spot of baseball practice:

......then you'll know where to come, won't you?

(Only do try and dodge the clay pigeon rifle as you're coming up the path. I don't know whether the house insurance will cover it).

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Now, Where Was I............?

......oh, yes - I was pond-dipping in almost frozen water when my phone rang.

Me: Hello?

FF: It's me. I can't find the coat, and they haven't got any of the stuff on the list.

Me: What do you mean they haven't got any of the stuff on the list? I checked it all on the internet lastnight.....

FF: But they've got MUCH better stuff than what's on your list. I'll just get what I think shall I?
Ciao for now!

Me: NO! You will NOT get what you think.....Hello?......Hello?

I hadn't gone much further when she rang again.

Me: Hello?

FF: It's me.......if you buy 'Bullseye' and the pasta and pizza utensil set you can get 'On the Ball' free! Don't you think that's mint?

Me: Do you mean 'Bullseye' the television programme?

FF: Yes!! You could be Jim Bowen!!!

Me: No. DO NOT BUY 'Bullseye'!!


Me: Because it involves darts. I draw the line at darts. Just get the stuff on the list.

FF: MUM! You're so boring!

Me: That's as maybe, but I have no intention of spending Christmas Day in Casualty, thanks.

Twenty minutes later:

Me: Hello?

FF: MUM! Wait till I tell you what they've won't believe it!!

Me: I don't want to know what they've got. JUST GET THE STUFF ON THE LIST!!

FF: But Mum, they've got remote control fighter aircraft!! Can you imagine the hours of fun........?

Me: This is the last time I'm going to say this. I do not want you to buy anything that is not on the list AND I ESPECIALLY DO NOT WANT YOU TO BUY ANYTHING THAT FLIES!!!

FF: What about the darts?

Me: No darts.

FF: But Mum, I've bought them now........

At this point I heard some background conversation, obviously directed at the Football Fanatic:

'I'd better go and get you a trolley for all this lot, or would you prefer the 'Collect by Car' service?

FF: Mum?

Me: Yes?

FF: If I get a taxi home, will you pay?

Me: Why can't you get the bus?

FF: I don't think I'll be able to get these massive boxes on the bus......


FF: The Clay Pigeon Shooting set, the Baseball Launcher and the dartboard with cabinet........

I really will not blame you if you don't believe a word of it.

I wouldn't believe it either. If I didn't live here.

Monday, 24 November 2008

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time.........

I don't do Christmas.

That is a complete and utter lie.

Obviously, in a Catholic household that is stacked to the rafters with kids, someone has to. And we all know where relying on the Father of This Lot would get us, don't we?

What I meant to say was I don't do Christmas in September, October or November. In fact I don't usually even mention it until we get into Advent. (WELL into it, if I've got anything to do with it, but I digress).

The department store which (foolishly) employs the Football Fanatic was having a one-day 20% off sale last week. Add to that her 20% staff discount and the 3 for 2 offer on all Christmas gifts, toys and games, it was, quite frankly, an offer I couldn't refuse.

Unfortunately, the one-day-sale clashed with my school trip day, so I couldn't go.

It was decision time.

Should I miss out on the opportunity of getting most of the Christmas presents at almost half price, or should I......horror of the Football Fanatic to get the presents for everybody ON HER OWN WITH NO ASSISTANCE??

It was a tough one.

I thought long and hard.

And finally.....I succumbed. ('Mum, how hard can it be? What could possibly go wrong?')

And so, on the morning in question, we set off in different directions.
Me, to the Arctic wastelands, and she to town..........with a list.

Re-living the events which led to this post has quite frankly worn me out, so you'll have to wait till tomorrow for Part Two.

But before I go, I must admit to being quite dismayed at some of the comments I got on yesterday's post. Some of you seemed to think that I had MADE UP the biretta/beretta comment by the Football Fanatic.

Would I lie to you?

Ask yourselves, in all honesty, living with this lot, do I need to?

I PROMISE YOU, she really did say that!

And for anyone who didn't get it, this is a biretta:

....a cap worn by the Roman Catholic clergy, mainly abandoned sometime around 1970, when we went over to the new style Mass......

.....and THIS is a beretta:

......a handgun usually featured in gangster films.

Actually, Fr. J thought it was quite funny.

But then, he adores the Football Fanatic. Has done since she was a little girl.

It comes of never actually having to live with her, I expect.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

A Very Catholic Post

If you are not one of my handful of Catholic readers, I suggest you look away now.

As you know, I do my best to be as ecumenical as I can. I'm all for this one flock and one shepherd business - just ask the Monday morning Methodist Bible study group.

But when Fr. J, (a post Vatican 2 priest if ever you met one) sings the Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei from the Missa de Angelis, preaches from the pulpit and rounds off the Mass with 'Faith of Our Fathers', well, you just can't beat it, in my opinion.

I sang all the way home. When I got there, I said to the Football Fanatic:

'I'm telling you, if he carries on like this, he be rooting in the back of that wardrobe and dusting that biretta off before Advent Sunday'.

To which the Football Fanatic replied:


Too much Al Pacino and not enough Bing Crosby, if you ask me.

For nostalgic Catholics:

and for Working Mum:

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Thursday, 20 November 2008

Up On T'Moors

Today I have accompanied Year 5B on a school trip to Castleshaw, a picturesque little valley nestling within the Saddleworth Moors.

I think I can say without fear of contradiction that you have only experienced a similar feeling of cold to that found on the Saddleworth Moors in winter if you have previously holidayed in Anchorage, Alaska. Or possibly Lapland. You get the picture?

And quite whose bright idea it was to take a party of 26 nine-year-olds pond dipping and fell-walking in November, I have yet to establish.

But I will!

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Sunday, 16 November 2008

From My Inbox

Call me a bad housekeeper, but I never remember to delete the texts on my phone until it bleeps at me and flashes 'Memory Full'.

Well today, I have done it without being bleeped at. And now I wish I hadn't, because on reading them, the full knowledge of the sad life I lead has engulfed me.

Let me explain.

Whereas the Football Fanatic receives texts which say:

'Hi beautiful. Fancy going out tonight?'


'Was that you on the telly on MUTV?'

or even

'D'ya wanna swap your 2 Celtic tickets for 2 right behind the bench?'

mine are more likely to say:

'What's 4 tea?'


'I'm in the taxi now. Will you stand at the door with the money?'

And it doesn't end there.

The Fixer and The Peacemaker get texts saying:
'Going ice skating on Sat. Wanna come?'
'R U playing out afta?'

The Singer gets:
'Meet me on MSN in 10. Something really good to tell you'.

Even The Noise had one saying:
'Do you want to come and play with my new puppy?'

So purely for your entertainment, I will record here for posterity some of my text conversations with my nearest and dearest:

Fixer: Wats 4 tea?
Me: Shepherd's Pie.
Fixer: Yuk!
Me: Would you rather have a roast beef dinner with all the trimmings?
Fixer: Yes please!
Me: So would I. But tonight it's Shepherd's Pie.

Most of the Football Fanatic's texts are to do Often she texts from the match. Such as:

'There's been a goal at Old Trafford. You'l have to wait till the next commercial break to find out which way it's gone.....'

If it's an evening match she shows no regard for the fact that I might be otherwise engaged:

'Do u want me to ring when it's over?'
Me: No thanks. Two phone calls and six texts during the New Catholics meeting was quite enough thanks'.

And then there's the ones from the Father of This Lot. Quite often I text him at night while he's at work to see how he is. His replies often feature his colleague Carlos, a Spanish vet, otherwise known as 'that stupid Spanish b*****d'. For example:

Me: Are you ok?
Him: I will be when I get out of here. That stupid Spanish b*****d's slowing the line down again'

'That stupid Spanish b******d doesn't know his a**e from his elbow'

And they say romance is dead.

Actually, there is one that I have saved which says:

'Jackie, you know I love you. It's not my fault you don't believe me'.

Yes, well, the jury's still out on that one mate. In my opinion, actions speak louder than text messages.

But the prize for the top text has to go to the one I got the other afternoon from the Football Fanatic. In response to one of my numerous 'Where are you?' messages, she replied:

'I'm locked in a Range Rover outside a crack house in Cheetham Hill...'

I THINK she was joking.......

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Monday, 10 November 2008

Just Sitting Here.......


.....why there is a pair of pink spotty knickers hanging from one of the hall lights....

....why every single one of the fourteen kitchen cupboard doors is open....

....why nobody in this house bothers with me unless I am on the phone or in the bath, when I suddenly become the most exciting person on earth.......

....why, despite the fact that I seem to do obscene amounts of washing and ironing, nobody ever has anything to wear......

....why, when I discovered the Football Fanatic scrabbling under her bed in the dark and asked what she was doing, she replied, 'I'm looking for the tomato sauce'....


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Saturday, 8 November 2008

Saturday Is (No Longer) Baking Day

This morning I got up very early and baked a cake.

This afternoon United lost 2-1 to Arsenal.

Guess what I won't be getting up early and doing on Saturday mornings in future?

I think the Football Fanatic has calmed down now.

Well, the banging's stopped...........

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Guest Post

Happy Birthday Mum!
Do you think we'll beat Arsenal on Saturday?
Love from
The Football Fanatic
x x x

Happy Birthday Mum
Shall I start the singing off?
Lots of Love
The Singer
x x x

Yo Mum!
Have a great birthday
I'll fix it for you!
Love from
The Fixer
x x x

To the best Mum in the world!
Have a fantastic birthday!
Lots of Love and kisses from
The Peacemaker
x x x x x

To My Mummy
Have the best day in the world ever!
Lots of hugs and kisses from
The Noise

x x x x x x x x
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Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Half Term, Take Two.....

.....proved surprisingly quiet, given that The Noise was involved.

I have to say that, despite all my misgivings, we had a lovely week together.

The Noise proved to be exceptionally helpful around the house:

Didn't seem to mind doing the boring stuff:

Made all the cakes for the Trick or Treaters herself, icing them in colours which, even if I described, you would have trouble believing:

Went on a few of these:
 travel around various parts of the region so that I could spend inordinate amounts of money on what can only be described as useless junk.

And now she is back doing this:

And I am missing her dreadfully!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Half Term, Take One..... called because some of this lot have been off school this week...and next week I get The Noise. For a week. To myself. What joy.

Still, Half Term Take One seems to have passed without many hitches.

The Singer and I spent a pleasant day in town doing a bit of this:

and even some of this:

I use the term 'pleasant' loosely. It was bucketing down with rain. We went to see the Football Fanatic at work and had to ask in five separate departments before we found her. When we did find her, she only had four minutes till her lunch break, so she kindly agreed to dine with us, which meant it cost me more than three times what it would have done normally and..... the winter coat that I especially went for was not in stock.

In addition, The Singer, towards the end of the afternoon turned a peculiar shade of green and looked like she was about to pass out, so I hailed a taxi and headed for home at extortionate cost, glibly ignoring the return bus ticket which I had purchased earlier.

The Fixer and The Peacemaker must be up for an Esther Williams role, as they have spent every day doing this:

and today, The Fixer had her very first go at this:

(One lump, several bruises and a few cuts).

The Football Fanatic has asked me to point out that she has not had the luxury of a half term break. She has either been at lectures or at work.

I wish I could say that her week has passed without incident. I shall gloss over the injury to the Trainee Menswear Manager and the man she had to interview as part of her Journalism studies, who apparently was shaking with fear and described her as 'a right little Jeremy Paxman'. I have not read the feedback from the lecturer who sat in on the interview, but I am reliably informed that she was 'terrier-like in her pursuit of answers'.

So I will leave you with this little gem.

At some point during her working week, the Football Fanatic was asked to move a box in the stockroom marked 'LINEN'.

Assuming it contained sheets, pillowcases and the like, she hoisted it effortlessly into the air........

Unfortunately, 'LINEN' was the name of this:

...'a 42 piece dinner service which would make a beautiful and stylish addition to any home'.

By all accounts the noise was unlike anything you've ever heard and she is now banned from Homeware.

You have no idea how eagerly I am waiting for next week.

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Sunday, 19 October 2008

Thank Heaven For Little Girls (and Clubcard Points)

So there I was, in Tesco, eyeing up the 'Buy One Get One Free' shower gel. I only ever buy 'BOGOF' shower gel, for reasons which will become apparent.

Anyway, this week it was Nivea Vitality. I put four bottles in the trolley, which instigated this conversation between myself and the Father of This Lot:

Him: What are you doing?

Me: I'm buying shower gel.

Him: You bought shower gel last week.

Me: I know I did. Four bottles.

Him: Well, where is it?

Me: Where's what?

Him: The four bottles of shower gel you bought last week?

Me: It's gone.

Him: Whaddya mean, gone?

Me: Gone. Used. Four empty plastic bottles in the brown recycling bin.

Him: They've used FOUR bottles of shower gel in a week? FOUR BOTTLES........?????

...and he proceeded to march off down the main aisle, muttering something like.....'ruined, that's what they are, ruined....'

Wisely, in my opinion, I thought this was not perhaps the best time to mention the three bottles of shampoo, two bottles of conditioner, two tubes of toothpaste and the entire twelve pack of toilet roll that they'd also got through.

And that's just in the bathroom.........

Obviously, this is nor the Father of This Lot in the picture.

You can tell that because the man is smiling after bringing the shopping in.

The Father of This Lot is more likely to say something along the lines of.....

'You never see sign nor light of them while you're unloading the car. Then when all the stuff's in, they descend on it like locusts......'

or even:

'Can someone come and help with the shopping please?


or on a particularly bad day:

'Look at that - that bag didn't even make it down the hall........'

And whilst I have to agree that our grocery shopping bill probably encompasses in a month the debt of a small African nation, just think of the Clubcard points we'll get at Christmas.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

You Said What?

If I was a regular reader of this blog, I am certain that there would be times when I would read a particular post and think 'She's making it up'.

And if I was that reader, this would be one of those times.

At the end of September the Football Fanatic attended The Freshers Fair at the University. Technically, she shouldn't have been there, since she is now a second year student, but was attracted by the promise of free giveaways...and possibly food.

Anyway, after she had joined the Cheerleading Team ('I just wanted the uniform') and the male football team ('Don't panic Mum, I'm not going to PLAY....I've just joined for the nights out...')
she related a conversation she'd had, which, once again, left me with my head in my hands wondering what sort of children I'm bringing up:

Boy behind desk: Excuse me, I wonder if you'd like to join the Christian society?

FF: No thanks, I'm Catholic.

Oh, if only that were the most embarrassing part of the conversation.

Boy behind desk: We're giving out free hot dogs....

FF: Where do I sign?

Boy behind desk: If I could just ask you a few questions first...

FF: I've got an 'A' Level in Theology - ask me what you like. Now, where's that hot dog...?

The Football Fanatic has expressed a sense of dismay at the way she is portrayed on this blog, and has asked if someone else's idiotic comments might be preserved for posterity once in a while.

I'll try kiddo, but it won't be easy.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

The Role of Women in The Church

This week I have:

read at morning Mass three times

led the Rosary after Mass twice

helped out at and cleared up after the Coffee Morning

helped out at and cleared up after Fr. J's 'New Catholics' meeting

attended a Bible study with the Methodists up the road

attended the parish Prayer Group

and swept, mopped and polished the main church, two side chapels, one vestry and one sacristy.

At this rate I'll be hearing confessions on Saturday and saying the 10 o'clock Mass on Sunday.

Oh, and since it seems to have been quite a religious week, Renae thinks I should tell you about my guest post on her blog....

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Grease Is The Word

Lastnight the Football Fanatic had a night out.

On a party bus.

I once saw a television programme about a party bus, and given that her usual idea of a good night out is the high stakes table at the most upmarket casino in town, I didn't think she'd like it.

But what do I know?

At some point during the evening we had a text conversation:

FF: It's full of really old people and they're playing the Grease Megamix.
Kill me now x x

Me: You're the one that I want, you are the one I want, ooh ooh ooh honey...

FF: Leave me alone x x

Me: Go Greased Lightning you're burning up the quarter mile....

FF: When we pass the canal I may jump in x x

Me: Oh, come on, you know you want to play

FF: There are worse things I could do than go with a boy or two...x x


FF: Ha! Thought that would shut you up! x x

Yet even though the evening was considered a total loss, I was quite pleased to note that she appears to have mastered the art of the put-down.

After politely discouraging the advances of a REALLY REALLY old man (about 45) who asked:

'So I haven't got a chance then?'

The Football Fanatic replied;

'Mate, you've got more chance of City winning the Champions League'.

I swear I have no idea where she learns it.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Saturday Night's Alright...

I know you thought I'd gone AWOL again, but the truth is The Peacemaker and I have spent a good part of this week like this:

with an ear infection and an eye infection between us.

And contrary to popular belief, I did not get mine from peeping through keyholes.

Anyway, I rallied round yesterday and the place looks slightly more habitable, unlike most of last week when you could be forgiven for thinking we were trying out as contestants for 'How Clean Is Your House?'

In other news, whilst I often sit here thinking what on earth it was that attracted me to the Father of This Lot in the first place (apart from the fact that he could make me laugh, was an ex-head altar boy-still devout Catholic boy, loved children, would travel ninety miles from work to take me out, had more available cash than anybody I had ever met and was extremely good at....various things...) I feel the need to point out that today, he has dealt with a situation which made me remember.

I've just re-read the list. I have spent (and some would say continue to spend) all his available cash. Five children of his own have somewhat tarnished the rose-tinted view of family life he once had. On the very odd occasions he takes me out now he is more likely to travel ninety yards than ninety miles, and with the best will in the world, I could no longer call him a devout Catholic.
But he still makes me laugh.
And there's still things he's very good at.
(Oh, wouldn't you like to know)!
And finally, The Fixer has been to town today and has returned home with something from Hawkins Bazaar called a Drinking Helmet.
At first glance I thought it might be an early Christmas present for her father, but apparantly not.

She has loaded it with two cans of fizzy Vimto and is now sitting watching 'The X Factor', looking for all the world like an Australian construction worker.
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Monday, 6 October 2008

Cards On The Table....Again

What do you think of when you hear the word 'relationship'?
This, possibly?

Maybe a little of this?

And if you're very lucky, perhaps a hint of this......

I thought so.

That's what I've always believed it meant as well.

I've checked every dictionary, online and otherwise, and nowhere was it defined as involving one party who, having previously escaped the confines of the marital home, now turns up sporadically and avoids anything that smacks remotely of responsibility. (Oh, alright...he pays all the bills and buys all the food. Sue me.)

And nowhere in the etymology of 'relationship' does it mention one party announcing at one o'clock on Saturday afternoon 'I'm going to the pub to watch the football' (which, I might add, kicked off at half past five)........

...AND ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE did it give even a vague description of the aforementioned party ringing up ten hours later and saying:

'I'm outside the door. It's p*****g down. I'm soaked...and I wanna come 'ome.'

(No, of course I didn't open the door. What do you think I am? A Desparate Housewife?)

In his defence, he was rather sheepish when he arrived on Sunday.

Did that make me think twice about laying my cards on the table?


'Buck your ideas up, mate, or it'll be ME in the Mare and Foal on Friday night.......


Well, obviously, I'm not going to. Not when every moral and religious fibre of my being screams otherwise.

But.....we don't need to tell him that, do we?

And, judging by the change in his behaviour today......I think I may have been just convincing enough. more thing. If I ever do decide to ignore every moral and religious fibre screaming at me, the Mare and Foal is the last place I'd look for a replacement.

Believe me, compared to most of its regulars, the Father of This Lot emerges as a cross between Saint Anthony and George Clooney.

And that's another sentence I thought I'd never type.

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