World Mental Health Day – a little story

Enough time has passed since it happens that I think I can share this without giving away who the person is, just in case anyone on here knows them. Highly doubtful, but discretion is important.
I’m on a few online forums, chat groups and so on. I was browsing posts and status updates on one a couple of months ago when I saw a status: “Had enough. Just can’t take any more.” That was it. Nobody I knew, but popped up on the group updates.
So I dropped them a quick message. Just a couple of lines offering them someone to talk to if they wanted, including my phone number. If they didn’t want to talk to me, I advised them to call a friend or see a GP.
Three days later they replied. They’d read my message, called a taxi and gone to A&E where they explained to someone there what was going through their mind. They were cared for, settled down and put onto the track to recovery.
I don’t know what would have happened if I’d not messaged. Maybe they’d have been fine anyway. Maybe that was the kick they needed. But something that took me a fraction of the time it’s taken to draft this post, I feel, made a difference that evening – and a very important one.
Keep an eye out for each other, and that includes people you don’t know. It takes a moment to ask if someone’s OK and a simple act of caring can make all the difference.

Not-a-review: The Light Fantastic – Terry Pratchett

Paulo "paper books always" Carvalho's review of The Light FantasticJust finished this as a bedtime story with my youngest who insisted, as we were 10 pages from the end last night, that she tuck up in bed again this afternoon to complete it before she went back to her mum’s. And then insisted that we dig out all my other Pratchett books so we can work through them.

With the number of them, she’ll be reading (or re-reading) them herself by the time we get ten books through. She’s 8 and she’s loved the first two Discworld ones. I wanted to sidestep to Truckers or Carpet People but she wants to continue into Equal Rites. I’m not going to argue!

Also, I don’t remember the end of Light Fantastic being so sad when I first read it – but since then I’ve been Twoflower. The line “You haven’t really been anywhere until you’ve got back home” really hit home, in the same way as Douglas Adams’ “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

George Floyd – two children’s reaction

One of Niamh’s games wasn’t working this evening as the people who ran it had opted to take it down for two hours in memory of some chap called George Floyd. “I don’t even know who he is!” she says.

“Well,” I told her, “He was a man who was arrested, basically for being black. And even though he was trying to do as he was told, the police knelt on his neck while he complained he couldn’t breathe for almost 9 minutes… and he died.”

Austin pipes in, “He was arrested for being black? When was this, like 50 years ago?”

“No – just over a week ago.”

It makes me glad that we’ve obviously raised great kids when their reaction was complete silence and looks of disbelief. They’re 7 and 12 and have more common sense and humanity than far too many supposed “grown ups”.


There are reasons I don’t bake…

Niamh is always on at me to do baking in the flat, something that’s a bit of a struggle due to space, lack of equipment and the small oven that doesn’t have the middle shelf that every damn recipe tells me to use. Regardless, we had another attempt today. Needless to say, it didn’t go quite to plan. As ever.

What we should have got…

Courtesy of the local library, Niamh came home with a copy of The Best Ever Baking Book by Jane Bull. A nice volume, not too many recipes, most of which are quite simple and require the most basic of ingredients and kit. So we picked up one or two things from Morrisons (being stuck behind two of the world’s slowest people at the self-serve) and enlisted Austin’s assistance. The recipe chosen was shortbread, and the ideas in the book suggested adding chocolate, peanuts, sweets and so on. All good.

OK, major issue one is that I don’t own any scales. I keep meaning to get some but I forgot (again) today, and I don’t even think the local Morrisons sells them anyway. Instead we decided to use maths and science to work out the ingredients. I think this is where it started to go wrong. Actually, caving to Niamh and agreeing to make the shortbread was probably the beginning of the end, but here we are.

Butter comes in 250g lumps, so I used a ruler to divide the block into five and sliced off two of them to give us out 100g. Caster sugar and flour both seem to have similar densities as water, which I found when I poured them into a measuring jug. 500g of each was a shade over 500ml. Convenient. Using this method, we got 50g of the former and 150g of the latter. Ish. Or thereabouts. Approximately.

Next came the mixing, which Austin thoroughly enjoyed (when not fighting Niamh off as she wanted to keep trying the raw mixture). We then took blobs of this and mixed them with various ingredients to make a ten biscuits (the recipe said 24), popped them onto a baking tray and popped them into the oven.

By ten minutes it was obvious things weren’t going quite to plan. Looking through the oven window it seemed we weren’t making biscuits but soup. Instead of crisping into bite-sized chunks, the shortbread was flattening out and bubbling like a pale witch’s brew. We ended up with one large segmented, soggy cookie; greasy and soggy and loaded with sugar it comes as no surprise that Austin wolfed down all of his, Niamh pretended to like hers and I ate my share out of sheer stubbornness and unwillingness to waste the ingredients. I’m going for “too much butter”.

Maybe I should get some scales.

Meme: 70 Questions

Because why not?

01: Do you have a good relationship with your parents? Better than I used to, thankfully. Yes.

02: Who did you last say “I love you” too? My littlest

03: Do you regret anything? Yes.

04: Are you insecure? Depends, but generally no. Only when it’s something important (frustratingly)

05: What is your relationship status? Alone and probably best left that way

06: Would you ever date a work colleague: Yes

07: What did you last eat? The icing off an empire biscuit that my youngest didn’t want

08: Played any sports? Not professionally

09: Do you bite your nails? Not any more

10: When was your last physical fight? Outside of a Krav class, I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been in one

11: Do you like someone? Yes. Several someones, if I’m honest, but I’m highly unlikely to do anything about it.

12: Have you ever stayed up 48 hours? If not then close to it.

13: Do you hate anyone at the moment? Yes. I really hold grudges.

14: Do you miss someone? Yes

15: Have any pets? No

16: How exactly are you feeling at the moment? Tired, fairly relaxed, a bit hungry and loved (littlest is on my lap needing cuddles)

17: Ever made out in the bathroom? Yes

18: Are you scared of spiders? Not scared as such. They give me the creeps but I’ll always leave them be, given the choice.

19: Would you go back in time if you were given the chance? Yes, so many people I miss who I’d like to talk to again. Also if I could talk to some celebrities then I’d do it.

20: Where was the last place you snogged someone? On the lips.

21: What are your plans for this weekend? Don’t know yet

22: Is family important? Yes

23: Do you have piercings? No

24: What is/are/were your best subject(s)? Computing / IT

25: Do you miss anyone from your past? Yes

26: What are you craving right now? Nothing

27: Have you ever broken someone’s heart? Yes

28: Have you ever been cheated on? Yes

29: Have you made a boyfriend/girlfriend cry? Yes

30: What’s irritating you right now? Nothing

31: Does somebody love you? Yes

32: What is your favourite colour? Don’t have one

33: Do you have trust issues? Yes

34: Who/what was your last dream about? Can’t remember

35: Who was the last person you cried in front of? Two people at Bloodstock – they may know who they are

36: Do you give out second chances too easily? Yes

37: Is it easier to forgive or forget? Forgive

38: Is this year the best year of your life? Hell, no

39: How old were you when you had your first kiss? 16 or 17. I think 17.

40: Have you ever walked outside completely naked? Yes

51: Favourite food? Too many to pick from but I do frequently fall back on beans on toast

52: Do you believe everything happens for a reason? No. Not beyond the laws of physics anyway.

53: What is the last thing you did before you went to bed last night? Brushed teeth

54: Is cheating ever okay? Yes, if it helps you realise that you’re not where you should be.

55: Are you mean? No, unless provoked.

56: How many people have you fist fought? Loads in Krav class, none in real life

57: Do you believe in true love? Yes

58: Favourite weather? Cold, frosty even, with clear skies. Or warm with the same. Basically, no rain or wind.

59: Do you like the snow? Looks nice, bugger when it comes to driving.

60: Do you want to get married? Not again, no

61: Is it cute when a boy/girl calls you baby? I don’t mind it, but I’d not say it’s cute.

62: What makes you happy? Being on my own to get on with the million things I want to do – gaming, reading, watching films, learning new skills…

63: Would you change your name? No

64: Would it be hard to kiss the last person you kissed? No

65: Your best friend of the opposite sex likes you, what do you do? Nothing. I wouldn’t notice. I am absolutely crap at reading signals.

66: Do you have a friend of the opposite sex who you can act your complete self around? Yes

67: Who was the last person of the opposite sex you talked to? My youngest.

68: Who’s the last person you had a deep conversation with? Gillian

69: Do you believe in soulmates? I don’t believe in the soul, so no.

70: Is there anyone you would die for? Yes. All three of my kids. Kill, die or go to jail for.