Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter

Like many of you I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.  Whilst, I think that it has certain advantages for keeping in touch with family & friends located in faraway places and as a writer it does have obvious benefits but for many it’s a bit of a dual-edged sword. Too often I have come across inappropriate posts and videos which in my opinion have no place on a social networking site. It is alleged that this week Facebook have failed to remove a video of a helpless & vulnerable kitten being deliberately doused in fuel and set alight; what purpose does that video serve? I also fail to see why you would want to give the sociopaths that committed this heinous and cowardly act their fifteen minutes of fame. Furthermore, you have to ask yourself why certain Facebookers would feel the need to “like” this type of post. Whilst Facebook insist that they had reviewed the clip, which they insisted had met its guidelines, by simply doing nothing are they green lighting other evil-minded individuals?

Surely there has to be a more stringent policy where pictures of extreme cruelty are removed in a timely fashion and by timely, I mean immediately. Derogatory pictures and borderline slanderous statements that will obviously cause emotional distress to others also have no place. I have personally fallen foul of an anonymous user, who superimposed my head from my profile picture, along with several other girls onto the bodies of girls in stills from adult films accompanied by crass taglines and my complaint wasn’t upheld, subsequently, Facebook refused to remove them. Imagine the distress that this caused me and my family and likewise for all the other girls. It is inconceivable that some malicious individual could randomly target your profile picture in this way because they are not regulated. It begs the question that if any of us had been celebrities would Facebook fearing legal reprisals have taken a different stance or were we simply not important enough to merit their protection from internet trolls.

You don’t have to be a public relations expert to determine what is right and wrong most of us learn that as children but one wonders sometimes whether integrity is an out-dated principle for many multi-million organisations.  So if you’re listening Facebook you need to man up and grow a set along with some morals; your users will love you for it!

The world is a dangerous place to live. Not because of the people who are evil; but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?

Most of you will know that the garden and the old fella’s allotment are wildlife havens although my Dad has had to install deterrents for the Herons arriving to lunch on his Koi carp. Anyone on either two or four legs is guaranteed a meal at Dyson Abbey, even the birds eat A La Carte on the rare occasions when any of my mother’s homemade baking is left to go stale.

So one unbearably humid evening last week as I was trying unsuccessfully to grab some sleep before my alarm clock woke me at 5am, I heard this rather loud snuffling sound coming from the garden directly below me. I thought it might be one of the cats being ill, as we live in the countryside and it’s not uncommon for cats to fall foul of rat poison that farmers have distributed to eliminate the growing vermin population.

I grabbed my trusty old Star Wars torch (another classic birthday gift from the old fella) I reluctantly left the comfort of my bed to pad downstairs and opening the patio doors I crept into the garden. I quickly scanned the garden with my light sabre to determine where the noise was coming from and whether I would be making a mercy dash to the local veterinary hospital.

I refrained from switching on the industrial security lighting which my Dad had installed mainly because it had enough power to light Wembley Stadium and I didn’t want any low-flying aircraft mistaking our lawn for a runway.

To my amazement there was a mother and baby hedgehog eating the remains of Hobo’s supper. To our intense frustration Hobo insists on dining al fresco during the summer months and I’m guessing with the lack of rain that we’d had the soil was probably rock hard preventing the little folk from foraging. My Dad is always pleased to see a Hedgehog who after all is a gardener’s friend and it may well have been that this adorable duo had been visiting our garden for some time completely undetected.

I was totally enchanted by these fascinating creatures and even more thrilled when I opened another small tin of cat food and the baby, obviously very hungry, boldly ran across the lawn to dine on chicken and vegetables. Mum who was three times the size, was a little more reticent and hung back until I made my way inside the house.

Since then I’ve noticed that they arrive regularly every night to dine at the four star Dyson Bistro and arrive in crocodile formation walking the same route up and down old railway sleepers and eventually onto the patio to partake in the evening’s menu. As our rescue bunch who as strays were accustomed to scavenging bins have developed champagne and caviar taste since coming to live with us, we always have a substantial amount of surplus cat food and can usually accommodate the most discerning palates.

The past few evenings the little folk have out foxed me by arriving at different times but the other night I noticed that there were four of them so clearly our reputation as a four star wildlife catering venue has reached the rest of the local hedgehog community. We’re not complaining though as there’s something very special about hedgehogs and its a privilege to be able to share our time on this earth amid such enchanting creatures.

The earth has music for those who listen – William Shakespeare

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Happiness Is Having A Scratch For Every Itch

One of the chores I detest most at this time of year is applying flea treatment to the cats. As we live in the heart of Devon’s glorious countryside, a monthly application is required and our cats detest it. Contrary to popular feline belief spot on flea treatments are not barbaric torture rituals although the SAS would envy the avoidance techniques applied by both Chloe & Hobo. Once the tin foil packets are unwrapped our beloved pets are MIA, so it was with a sinking heart and scars barely healed from the last application that I reluctantly agreed to help my Dad with the dreaded task in hand.

Mother at first was a little reticent about the assignment until she’d checked that the premiums had been paid on my Dad’s life assurance policy and that I’d had my tetanus booster jab. Once she’d established that we were both covered we were cleared for take-off and despatched with a cheery wave.

Armed with the tools of our trade, oversize bath towel, First Aid kit, gardening gauntlets, safety goggles (for us not the cats) and a large can of Red Bull (minus the vodka which would come later) to replenish my depleted energy reserves as this would be an epic capture and release mission, one which would require stealth, cunning and the quick fire reflexes of a cheetah. To encourage our elusive four-legged family into the garden where the covert operation was being carried out, we had decided to feed them their breakfast al fresco on the glass table top of my mother’s new and treasured patio set. An irresistible breakfast of lightly cooked fish had been lovingly prepared by Mum and the pungent aroma wafting around the garden would be sure to entice our little cuddle bunnies into the awaiting trap.

I should just mention at this point that in addition to our own two; “One speed Hobo” and “Chloe Hellcat” the menopausal nightmare, the foster “Miss Thumbs”;we also have a new addition of a rather large timid male tabby who’d obviously been living rough for a while and had taken shelter in our garden.

The New Lodger

The New Lodger

At first Dad had insisted that we didn’t feed him, as he’d probably go home when he became hungry, which lasted all of half a day before he inevitably caved in. After asking around we discovered that he had belonged to family renting a house further down the street who had moved out leaving no forwarding address and their family pet. So then there were four!

First up was Hobo who has never been able to resist an al fresco running buffet for cats; at least that’s what he thinks a barbecue is! As he jumped onto the table I had the towel ready and quickly secured him or so I thought. Hobo managed through sheer brute strength (he’s a big boy) and determination to out-manoeuvre me but I was up and running after him. At the privet hedge I headed him off at the pass and took him down WWE Smackdown style sitting astride him whilst waiting for my partner in crime to hand me the required medication. The low howls and growls emitted attracted the attention of many of our neighbours, who I’m sure were contemplating phoning the RSPCA to report us for animal cruelty. Dad who had been distracted by the World Cup commentary on the radio was a little slow off the mark and had forgotten to remove the cap from the little pipette which I had to do with my teeth. Regrettably whilst I was using one hand to restrain the struggling big fella I accidentally swallowed a mouthful of the solution and hoped that there were no adverse effects for humans as I didn’t want to be spending the following week marking my territory and sleeping in next door’s apple tree. I also made a mental note to gargle with vodka a little later just to be on the safe side, you understand.

Hobo shot off like the hounds of hell were in hot pursuit and sulked for a few hours after that before hunger pangs got the better of him and he returned for tea but made sure that we were all aware of his displeasure.

Miss Thumbs was a perfect little lady when it came to apply her flea treatment (although her table manners could use some work) and whilst a little miffed, the latest addition grudgingly allowed us to apply her medication before she slunk off to take refuge in the shrubbery where she spent the afternoon licking her wounds.

As expected Chloe Hellcat was something else altogether! Streaking into the garden like a high-speed train she leaped onto the table to be caught mid jump in my gauntlets; clearly I had a future with the England soccer team as a goalie.

Chloe Hellcat

Chloe Hellcat

As the littlest and lightest of all four cats one would expect her to be able to offer the least resistance but as a former feral cat she clearly wasn’t going down without a fight. With the disposition of a deadly Asian Hornet, she scratched and bit her way through my gauntlets and I wondered not for the first time why we didn’t have a tortoise instead of cats.

As her rear claws sank into my wrist and my blood seeped through the gauntlet I had no choice but to hold on for grim death and as she and I tussled and crashed to the ground I tripped over the leg of the table. As if in slow motion the glass table top shattered into what looked like a million pieces and I knew that the old dear wasn’t going to like that very much. My Dad had a more practical approach and headed off to the shed for a tube of superglue but I secretly thought there was not enough superglue in Devon for this particular job! Looked like he was going to be needing that life cover after all.

When the remnants of the patio table had been swept up and deposited in the dustbin and my war wounds bathed with antiseptic, he turned to me and said in all earnest “So when do you think we should worm them then”?

Final score Cats 1 Humans 3 and to borrow a phrase from the television commentators of the beautiful game “They think it’s all over, well it is now”!

The Hellfire Club

The Hellfire Club

The Ugly Duckling

Today it’s the turn of the fabulous Wivi over at myguiltypleasures whose little swan family inspired one of my stories. Wivi and I share a love of food and music – although she’s a much better cook than me! So thank you to Wivi and thanks to all of you for reading!

Her hand trembled as she applied another coat of mascara; she wasn’t sure if that was because of the excitement or just nerves getting the better of her, but one thing was certain she was going to surprise a lot of people tonight. No one believed her when she had announced her plans. They’d all scoffed when she started and pointed out her shortcomings and the more they doubted her, the more determined she had become. Admittedly, she had in the past started projects and become disillusioned very quickly; like when she became an Avon Lady which lasted all of four weeks when she realised it would require working weekends and evenings. So you couldn’t really blame folk for not having faith in her.

She’d never really been what you would call pretty although her old Dad used to say that what she lacked in the appearance department, the little oneshe made up for in personality. And whilst she had always been overlooked at school discos when her more attractive friends were asked to dance, she had smiled good-naturedly and ignored the hurt.

For years she’d run around after her sisters and their offspring; babysitting, driving her young nieces and nephews to various after school activities, attending endless school plays and never once forgetting a birthday. At family gatherings she had laughed off the jibes about always being the bridesmaid and never the bride; she’d been maid of honour to all three of her siblings so maybe there was something in the old wives tale after all. qutieIt had been taken for granted that she was content with being the family stalwart and “go to” girl but deep down her heart ached for more and besides she knew that there was a swan inside her just dying to get out.

Smoothing the satin lines of her expensive cocktail dress, she took a deep breath and hearing the compere announce her, she walked onto the stage into the spotlight to cheers and applause. Proudly she grinned as last year’s winner placed the silk sash over her head proclaiming her “Slimmer of the Year”. She blew kisses to her family who were standing in the front row cheering her on along with her new man who she’d met at fat club. Who’d have thought that there would have been romance across the weigh-ins, shared tips and recipes. As he winked back at her,her heart somersaulted and she knew that every agonising gym session and every bar of chocolate she had gone without had been worth it. There was no doubt about it, her future now held promise and hope; it was no longer filled with nights spent babysitting and watching TV soaps in front of the telly. This was her time and she didn’t intend wasting another precious moment.

this years family

Waifs & Strays

Tis true that I have made some random choices and decisions but one of my most impetuous moments was a few years’ ago when walking to the car park after a late night Xmas shopping event I was hailed by a homeless man slightly intoxicated and waving a bottle of cider in my general direction. Like many he would sit on the pavement of the underpass near the railway station with his dog at his side on an old blanket calling out to the commuters as they made their way home.

I’ve never ignored anyone including those annoying canvassers that stop you constantly whilst you are shopping for market research purposes, believing it to be rude as we all have to earn a living and I think a simple “no thank you” is more civil than passing them by as if they’re invisible.

So I bid him a good evening and was about to carry on walking by when he asked me for money which I politely declined to give him so it was then that he started asking me if I wanted his dog which was a huge bedraggled mastiff type. “Good dog” he slurred “worth a tenner at least”. Realising that this poor animal’s fate lay in my hands I duly agreed and returned to my car where I knew that I had one of my niece’s skipping ropes laying on the back seat. I went back and handed the homeless man the money. “likes his food, he does” he mumbled snatching the money out of my hand. Judging by the poor and near skeletal condition of the dog he clearly hadn’t been getting much of anything recently. So attaching the skipping rope to the collar of the forlorn Mastiff, we started to walk towards my car leaving the homeless man running off in the direction of the off-licence without a backward glance in the direction of his faithful friend.

I hadn’t realised just how large the dog actually was until he was walking alongside me and then of course, it was apparent that he was actually the size of a small Shetland pony albeit a malnourished one. I decided to call him Arnie after the actor and realised this poor trusting animal must have been incredibly confused losing the only person familiar to him.

Back at my car, which at that time was a small mini metro I tried to entice Arnie inside. Judging by his reluctance to jump in, I assumed that he’d never travelled in a vehicle before. Eventually, I managed to squeeze him into the passenger seat where he seemed to fill the entire car and then it was all too apparent that Arnie was in dire need of a bath. As soon as, I switched on the ignition he began to wail like a werewolf and on the way home I almost sustained a perforated ear drum and pneumonia from having to drive with the window wide open in what had been the coldest of winters. Serial Shagger and I had bought a do’er upper in a nice neighbourhood but he was currently away serving Queen and country so it was just going to be me and Arnie until such time that I could find him a suitable home.

Once home we made a beeline for the bathroom where Arnie received his first shower and by default, so did I. After a tin of Marks & Spencer steak for tea followed by a quick drink from the toilet, clearly his table manners were going to need some work, Arnie crashed out on the sofa.

We spent a challenging few weeks together as the howling had increased my popularity with the neighbours tenfold to the point that I’m sure a couple of them considered moving. Walking an exuberant mastiff with no basic training had improved my own agility no end; particularly as Arnie wasn’t receptive in the recall department as it was so much more fun to run around the park having me charging after him until we were both fit to drop with exhaustion. My upper body strength was also on a par with Arnie’s namesake as he dragged me along the pavement every morning on our way to the park. Whilst incredibly friendly Arnie had the strength of ten thousand men and I had no doubt that we were a constant source of amusement in the village as this exuberant Hound of the Baskervilles bounded along with me in hot pursuit.

The vet whom I had taken him to for a check up confirmed that he was a dogue de bordeaux and an exceptionally large specimen. Apart from poor nutrition he was given a clean bill of health and I set about finding him a new home.

As luck would have it, one of my neighbour’s a kindly elderly gentleman used to pass me each morning on his was to collect his newspaper and as we sprinted past he always remarked to my rapidly retreating back what a lovely dog Arnie was. On one morning when Arnie wasn’t in such a rush to get to the park, we stopped and chatted for a while when he told me that he had so been looking forward to travelling the world together with his beloved wife but sadly cancer had taken her only a few months into their retirement so now he was all alone. It was inevitable that he eventually gave Arnie the home he deserved.

I see them fairly often when I pass the old gentleman’s garden where he always tips his Panama hat to me before handing me one of his homegrown roses and telling me that they’re a present from my two admirers. As I watch dog and master walking alongside each in other in companionable silence, I am reminded that dogs really do have a way of finding those that need them the most.

And if you’re thinking of getting a new friend to join your family please consider adopting because you may just save a life!

It Was All Started By A Little Mouse – Walt Disney

Chloe, the Koi Carp Thief is thankfully the only real mouser in our rescue cat quartet; Hobo on the other hand who only has one gear, reverse, will only be tempted by slow, elderly or infirmed quarry. So it was no surprise when she brought in a little vole the other morning and promptly dropped it in the middle of the lounge where it scurried away under my mother’s armoire for safety. Not wanting the little creature to end up as Chloe’s supper, she was exiled to the kitchen where I sought my mother’s help as my Dad was down at the allotment checking on his dahlias.

My mother was unhappy about my rodent search & rescue mission and declined my request for help with those immortal words “I can’t Deborah, I’m eating a yoghurt”. As I pointed out unless she wanted gnawed soft furnishings, she was going to have to gird her loins and assist me with the task in hand. We stacked all the furniture in the middle of the lounge and managed to corner the terrified little creature behind the curtains; the plan was that when I moved the drapes, my mother would move in with an empty washing up bowl. As I prepared to lift up the damask curtains, I noticed that my mother had inched a few yards away with the capture receptacle. I pointed out that as the vole only had little legs it was unlikely that he was a long distance runner and insisted she move nearer.

As I gingerly moved the curtains, the little vole made a dash for it and a high-speed chase ensued. At some point during this mad half hour, I took over the responsibility for the washing up bowl and did briefly manage to capture said vole. However, once inside the bowl he managed an Olympian high jump out of it; who’d have known that a tiny vole was that athletic!

Hot & flustered my mother and I decided to take a break, whilst she went for tea, I opened the patio doors and promptly sat down on the furniture mountain in the middle of the room surveying the disarray. It was during our tea break that we noticed the little rodent scurry alongside the far wall and warily make it’s way through the patio doors and ultimately freedom. He looked back at us one last time; as if to say chaos, disorder and destruction, my work here is done!

Chief Humper & Lumper

Chief Humper & Lumper

Finding Nemo

An ear-splitting scream shattered the neighbourhood that morning as the young Swedish au pair who had moved in alongside the young family into the house opposite, came running down the drive bawling. Fearing the worst, both Dad and I hightailed it into their house to be confronted by six-year-old Sophie and her younger sister Emily crying at the top of the stairs. Neither of them appeared to be hurt, however, water had begun to flow down the stairs and it appeared to be coming from the bathroom.

Upon closer inspection after wading through a few inches of water, it seemed that the toilet was blocked. Young Sophie informed me that both mummy and daddy had gone to work leaving them in the safe hands of Camilla, the au pair, who was shrieking at the water pouring through the bathroom floor into the kitchen below.

As my Dad can always be relied on in any crisis; he immediately switched off the power and located the water stopcock before we started investigating any further. Sophie stood forlornly in the bathroom as my Dad ascertained that there was a substantial blockage in the bathroom pipes. I tried to comfort Sophie whilst young Emily told me that they were both upset because their pet guinea pig Mr Giggles had died the night before. I suggested that we all pop across the road to our house for a nice piece of chocolate cake when Sophie started to howl like a banshee whilst telling me that she was pretty sure that her parents were going to ground her.

Puzzled I asked if she had done something to cause the flood and in between sobs, she told me that she had decided to give Mr Giggles a burial at sea just like her mummy had done with their goldfish Nemo when he had died. As she didn’t want Nemo to be on his own anymore, she had despatched Mr Giggles in the same way.

Sadly a professional needed to be called and my Dad had to calmly explain several times over the telephone to the plumber that a portly ginger guinea pig was the cause of the blockage. I secretly thought that the plumber would be dining out on that particular story for sometime to come.

guineapig

Hands Up, If You Think Speeding Lead Therapy (A Bullet) Is One Of The Best Treatments For Some Patients

It’s been a very trying week at Dyson Abbey with two cantankerous “olds” to look after. My Dad has to be one of the worst patients ever; I have already had to frogmarch him back from the allotment twice and have promised him that I will staple his hospital discharge papers to his forehead should I need to execute yet another search and rescue operation.

His boredom knows no bounds; he’s opened the washing machine mid cycle and flooded the kitchen allegedly looking for a towel. Trust me when I say that there are no shortages of my mother’s fluffed and pressed towels in this house so I’ll have to assume that he is still under the influence of the anaesthetic. He’s constantly roaming the house like a caged animal, locking doors, switching off lights and just generally tormenting my mother who’s still laid up with a broken leg.

He managed to drag me for a walk to the cemetery today in sub-zero temperatures on the grounds that I need to get out more! He assured me that according to the local weather forecast, it would be cold with sunny spells and I should probably wear some sunscreen; whilst we walked, it started sleeting!

Chloe the infamous Koi Carp Thief has had to have various trips to the vets as she now has been losing her fur so much so we have now renamed her Bald Monkey Bum. After all sorts of costly injections and tests, the vet has now established it’s stress and prescribed Valium. Should I find myself in the carer role for much longer, I will no doubt be sneaking some of her medication; after all it can’t be all that stressful when the biggest decision of the day is which lap to sleep on! Last year I mistook Hobo’s worming tablets for vitamins, fortunately, there were no obvious side effects and disappointingly, I didn’t acquire cat-like reflexes overnight either, however, my ability to sleep in trees has now become the stuff of legends. I had hoped to have captured a photograph of said bald arse for the post but she’s not been very obliging; and my mother declined to have her picture taken either!

My mother is insisting that I cook Bald Monkey Bum, fresh chicken and fish every day and when I do sneak in the occasional packet of cat food, it’s sniffed with disdain and discarded immediately with a pathetic mewl that suggests she only wants the good stuff. However, as some of the gourmet cat food bears an uncanny resemblance to French pate and as I am a student of the Bette Davis School of Nursing, I have become sorely tempted to make amendments to my parents’ dietary requirements.

More whine with that French Bread & Pate?

Nurse Dallas

Nurse Dallas

There’s No Business Like Showbusiness (Part Two)

Following on from Part One

As we were directed to the Exhibitors’ car park by the local parish verger who was marshalling for the day in an attractive “hi-vis” rain poncho, he couldn’t help himself from mentioning that he hadn’t seen me in church much recently. feteYeah, well buddy try working night shifts together with overtime and then see if you have enough energy for a rousing chorus of “All things bright and beautiful”. So instead I just gave him a vague smile and asked him to point me in the direction of the Cakes & Handicrafts Marquee.

My accident-prone niece and I gingerly carried the boxes together with the cake remains across to the tent. We squelched through the water-logged field in our wellies, waving at various neighbours and family friends whilst searching for the marquee.

Sally who was a former district nurse and whose farmer husband was leading a bull over to the livestock arena, shouted across at me “rash alright now”? As she had been retired over twenty years and the rash to which she referred was infantile German measles clearly, one of us needed to get out more.

“She’s been jilted since then Sal”! My niece yelled back at her, shooting a quick grin at me. As my darling nieces have the lungs of a giant blue whale, there will never be a need for the use of a public address system in our family!

“Could never really take to that young man; one or other of his family always had impetigo! Honestly, I think his mother’s unsavoury hygiene was to blame”.

My day was just getting better and better; I’d just discovered that the traitor who’d abandoned me practically at the altar was also germ-ridden and insanitary. In hindsight it that may well have been a blessing in disguise and spared me from a gruelling course of tetanus injections not to mention weeping open sores.

We found the marquee and handed the boxes over to my mother’s friends in the Women’s Institute where they were busying themselves with setting up the trestle tables and displays. We made a quick getaway before the full extent of the cake catastrophe could be discovered and went in search of the refreshment tent, where I was hoping to find something a little more substantial than the cereal bar I’d had for breakfast.

The female members of our clan spent a leisurely afternoon dodging the downpours, watching the displays and catching up with friends and neighbours.

My eldest niece & friend

My eldest niece & friend

We enthusiastically cheered on the participants in the Tug of War, the Dog Show, Falconry displays and the Gymkhana ’til we were hoarse.

My Dad shadowed all afternoon by his minders, the dynamic duo, demonstrated avoidance techniques that the Special Forces would have envied. He managed to navigate the entire showground all day without being detected by my mother which frankly was an amazing accomplishment as I can assure you she has a built-in sonar when it comes to locating me and my sister. I remember once being sat in the hairdressers chair awaiting a cut and blow dry when she rang my mobile which I ignored so she doggedly rang the salon instead until I resigned myself to the fact, that my mother was like a Mountie and would always get her (wo)man in the end.

My mother was keen to catch the start of the home baking judging and hurried us all over to the Womens’ Institute Marquee. I steered her away from most of the organisers on the pretense of wanting to catch a better view from the other side of the Marquee.

The vicar had been invited to start the judging in the home baking competition but as he started his speech, he leaned back against the trestle table and it was then that the table leg started to disappear into the mud and slowly topple over, scattering all the beautifully displayed competition entries onto the mud. Boxes and jars of preserves crashed into a pile on the wet earth below. Audible gasps could be heard throughout the audience.

Ernie or could have been Sid hissed rather indiscreetly from the rear of the marquee “There is a God”!

The vicar quickly recovered from his flustered status to utter those immortal words “Let Us Pray”. I couldn’t help but think that he needed to ask for deliverance from the fury that was the Women’s’ Institute. All was not lost; my Dad sensing that he had dodged a bullet, graciously gave the Vicar a couple of bottles of his latest vintage of dandelion wine.

There’s No Business Like Showbusiness (Part One)

As usual we awoke on the morning of the village show, to torrential downpours and thunderstorms. As mum was putting the final touches to her cakes, we were forbidden access to the kitchen so she thrust a cereal bar in my hand and hissed “make yourself useful” as she brushed past me. Try mustering the enthusiasm for that when you’ve only had a stick of muesli for breakfast! Dad had been down at the allotment since dawn with the dynamic duo that is Sid & Ernie.

I soon discovered that “making myself useful” was actually another term for “humping and lumping” boxes into the car and transporting them to one of the marquees in the showground. My youngest niece is a tad accident prone or a bit of a Cack-handed Carrie as my old Grandma would have said; so in the interest of my mother’s sanity, was forbidden from carrying anything remotely fragile but was allowed to ride shotgun with me in the car.

Enroute to the showground I got a text from the Three Allotment Stooges asking me to call in at the shed on my way. As I pulled up my Dad and the dynamic duo were waiting by the gate with baskets and containers and before I could climb out, my Dad was loading them into the back of the car. Judging by the ruddy cheeks of the dynamic duo they had already been freely partaking in my Dad’s dandelion wine.

I reminded him to be careful as if he damaged my mother’s cakes in any way, he needed to be aware that down at the allotment no one could hear you scream. As he was making a pig’s ear of re-arranging all the boxes, Cack-handed Carrie jumped out to help him. Within minutes disaster struck and the bottom of one of the cake boxes collapsed emptying the yellow fondant iced contents onto the tarmac below. There was an audible gasp of horror from all of us as we knew the consequences for this misdemeanour would be severe. Trust me when I say that Hell hath no fury like a cake-maker wronged.

“We’re going to be for it now” my disconsolate Dad remarked

“No shit Sherlock, and anyway who’s the “we” kimosabe? You’re on your own Wreck It Ralph; I don’t want to live on Muesli Bars for the rest of my life”!

We scooped up the remnants of the yellow fondant iced cake back into the box whilst my Dad endeavoured to mould the fragments back into some shape; the result resembled something along the lines of a pile of pale lemon elephant dung. Ernie handed me a couple of my Dad’s dahlias and suggested that I cover the worst of the damage with them. I pointed out that emergency reconstructive surgery wouldn’t be able to conceal the mutilation.

As they slammed the boot of the car shut, they bade me farewell and shouted “break a leg” at me through the open window; which was exactly what my Dad was going to get when my mother caught up with him.

If you enjoyed Part One catch Part Two here 

cake 2