Sadly we lost my great Auntie Pauline at the weekend.

She died very suddenly at her home near Weymouth and will be sadly missed.  She was a feisty lady who tended to say what she thought and thought what she said, but enjoyed a laugh and was always glad to see us.

Our family has been going down to Dorset to visit “Great Nan in Weymouth” and “Auntie Pauline” for all of my life.  I’ve been to Weymouth more times than anywhere else – it was just something we did a few times every summer (and sometimes in winter).  We’d be piled into the car one weekend morning and driven to the coast.  It was just one of those things that regularly happened to us as kids.  So Great Auntie Pauline was a part of the furniture: yes, a piece of furniture that we stored in Dorset, but a part of the furniture nevertheless.  She will forever in my mind be associated with a traditional English tea after a beautiful day on the glorious beach at Weymouth.  The kind of wonderfully English day out that is forever sepia-coloured in the minds of most of the population of England.

She would always regale us with tales of the Second World War, a time that was – for her – the richest, most exciting time of her life, and whether the Allies won or not seems to have been almost superfluous.  As well as the war there would be news of friends and neighbours, and even of distant members of our family who I’d never heard of and would never meet, their existence and latest exploits tantalisingly hinted at.

The house she shared for so long with my Great Nan was always fascinating to my brother and I – just my like Nan’s house in Swindon it seemed old and stuffed with history.  But it was less familiar and therefore more exotic than Nan’s house.  There were chiming clocks and a real fire in the fireplace; a coal scuttle outside that not only contained coal but pieces of shrapnel from WWII bombs; a huge garden that in my mind was always bursting with gooseberries, and the mysterious upstairs that we only ever got to see once, when we stayed there for a summer holiday…

“Great Nan in Weymouth” died a long time ago, but Pauline was always there, seemingly never aging, always stuck somewhere between 50 and 100, forever waiting to offer us some bread and butter and cups of tea.

And now she’s not.

Without wishing to get too maudlin it seems now that a whole older generation who I grew up with are now clinging on by their fingernails, that they won’t be around for awfully much longer.  That seems far scarier than the occasional loss of a dear relative: it’s the extinction of a whole generation, and a reminder that all generations eventually become extinct…

Millie eye update

More news from the fast-moving world of Millie medical eye surgery operation hospital squinty, er…ness!

She wasn’t very happy this morning.

She got up at about 6.30 to go downstairs to see my dad (who was staying with us as he looked after Amber yesterday – Amber, by the way, was exceptionally well-behaved yesterday and heart-warmingly glad to see all of us when we got back from the hospital).  A few minutes later we could hear her getting a bit upset about her eye, so the Lovely Melanie went to remove the eye-patch.  This really upset Millie, presumably because the surgical tape hurt when it was pulled off, but she got even more upset because the eye was really hurting her.

The Lovely Melanie gave her some Magic Calpol, but even Magic Calpol takes a while to work its magic, and then we had to put some drops in her eye, which really really didn’t help matters.  Millie was convinced the drops were going to hurt like the ones she had at the opticians to dilate her pupils (and those babies sting, man!)

Still, we got through all that.  But more worrying for us was the fact that her eye, as well as being quite red and puffy, also looked a lot more cross-eyed than before, only this time in the other direction!  No one had told to us to expect anything like this, and it didn’t seem to be sorting itself out.  The internet didn’t mention this sort of thing, either, so we were all asking Millie to follow our fingers or if she could see such-and-such or did things look blurry…

Millie’s rubbish at this sort of thing, unfortunately.

I thought that it wouldn’t be surprising if the trauma of the operation made her eye go temporarily a bit skew-wiff, but this common sense view was tempered by the thought that someone surely would have told us if this was the case.  That no one had made even me concerned.

Anyway, the Lovely Melanie, after some Herculean efforts and patience, finally got through to someone at the hospital who knew about this sort of thing and they reassured her that it’s entirely normal for an eye to go a bit wonky after this type of operation – swelling, bruising, bleeding, etc., all cause a bit of a distortion to the eye, and it should return to normal – or better than normal, that’s why we had the operation! – soon.

So that’s a relief.

When I left for work this morning Millie had just announced that she was going to stay in her pyjamas and have a nuffle-y day today.  Which sounds eminently sensible to me most days, let alone the day after an operation!

One more thing, if you haven’t seen the hospital pictures on Flickr yet (hint: there’s one below this entry) then go take a look.  The new camera arrived yesterday before we went to the hospital, so I took it with us and all the hospital pictures are taken with that.  They’re very nice, if not radically different to my old Z1, with one notable exception: look at how BIG they are in Flickr and you’ll notice they’re ****ing enormous!  They’re 4000 x 3000 pixels – twice the resolution of our monitor at home (and our monitor at home is not a small monitor!)

Pictures from the Z1 used to be at most half that.  So it’s just as well that I recently upgraded our hard drive to something that has the space to handle such large image sizes!

Eye op

Millie’s had her eye operation at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup, is back home and has just gone to bed, exhausted.

Well done to everyone concerned – thanks to QM Hospital, who couldn’t have treated us and Millie better.  They were so good with her – sensitive, helpful and extremely pleasant.  We honestly couldn’t have wished for better service from the NHS!

And well done to Millie, who was fantastically brave and well behaved throughout.  She did go a bit feral when she first woke up after the operation, but she was drugged, confused and not truly awake.  30 minutes of sleep later she was much better.  To prove it she polished off a lollipop, an iced bun, a packet of crisps, a cupcake and some ham sandwiches.  I know she hadn’t eaten since breakfast at 7am but honestly, where on earth was putting it all?

The Lovely Melanie was brilliant with her, too – apart from a few tears when we went down to get Millie immediately after the op she was just brilliant.  Which is one of the reasons I married her! 🙂

Millie’s got to continue wearing the patch over her eye tonight and has eye drops for another month, but other than that she should be fine.

Oh, and she’s got a week off school, too – another one!  (she’d already had last week off for half-term).

Sex ed.

Do you think it sounds sensible that sex education in UK schools “.. should be accurate and balanced”, that the subject should be “taught in a way that is appropriate to the ages of the pupils concerned and to their religious and cultural backgrounds and reflects a range of religious, cultural and other perspectives”, that it should “be taught in a way that endeavours to promote equality, encourages acceptance of diversity and emphasises the importance of both rights and responsibilities”?

Does that sound reasonable to you?  Is that a screamingly immoral or rabidly atheist agenda?

No?  Might it have the teeniest glimmer of common sense in it…?  Perhaps…?

You fool!  You weak-minded lapdog of Lucifer!  It’s an outrageously godless manifesto of sin!  It’s a one-way path to hell and damnation!  It’s designed solely to drive innocent children off the rails and have them all pregnant by the time they’re 15!

Personally, I think it sounds fine, but religious groups in the UK (mainly a big Christian one beginning with “C” operating from a very swanky HQ in Italy…) have kicked up such a howl of protest that the government have been forced to exempt so-called faith schools from this particular bit of blatantly Satanic doctrine.

God forbid (if you’ll excuse the pun) that sex education should be accurate and balanced, taught in a way that is appropriate to the ages of the pupils concerned and their religious and cultural backgrounds; that it should reflect a range of religious, cultural and other perspectives and be taught in a way that endeavours to promote equality, encourage acceptance of diversity and emphasise the importance of both rights and responsibilities.

I mean, who wouldn’t want their children to be taught lies and nonsense by scary dogmatic lunatics in dresses who’ve never actually had a sexual relationship, and whose textbook is a 2000-year old mishmash of made-up contradictory nonsense?

I’m going to demand that Millie and AmberG be taught maths by innumerate hunchbacks using nothing but the works of Aristotle and an abacus.

Party Party Party!

First of all, here’s what Amber spent most of her birthday doing.

Second of all, thanks to everyone who came to her birthday party yesterday.  I hope you all had a great time – it certainly seemed like everyone had a great time, not least the birthday girl herself, who by the end was so full of cake and crisps and, erm, cucumber, that I’m surprised she could move.

That said, she spent so much time scampering about the place that I’m surprised she found time to eat any cake, crisps or cucumber!

Particular thanks to my brother, Rich, a paramedic, for bringing some small bits of basic medical equipment to show Millie, so that she’s a bit more confident about going in for her operation on Wednesday.  We really did appreciate that, Rich. 🙂

There are some photos that I’m going to put up, but sadly our trusty old Konica-Minolta Z1 is dying, so I need to do a bit of post-processing work on them.  It’s been getting worse and worse at focusing and actually taking pictures for a while, and now the colours and the darker areas on its pictures have gone a bit mad, too, so forgive the quality until we can get a new camera.

I’m going to miss the old Z1; it was a bit bulky to carry around sometimes, but took a lot of punishment without any complaint and really showed me the difference a halfway decent camera could make to the quality of your photos.  Bye-bye, Z1 – you may be gone, but your snaps will live on in Picasa forever! 😛

Finally, after Amber’s party I went to see Frans Lanting’s LIFE: A Journey Through Time at the Barbican (for only £7 you can’t really go wrong, I think).  And it was nice.  If you like well-honed PowerPoint presentations with music provided by the London Symphony Orchestra then you’d love this.

As it was, I thought it was nice.

Don’t you just hate..

..those lazy self-obsessed parental bloggers who post nothing but pictures of their offspring doing “cute” stuff?

Jeez, sometimes they post nothing but photos of kids in the bath or wearing sunglasses or somesuch lazy-ass obvious nonsense.

Not me, of course, because my kids really are the cutest thing you’ve ever seen.  Take this particular apparition, which has been seen accummulating sweets from old ladies the length and breadth of Bexley today…

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