Posted by: T4M | October 18, 2015

The best things I heard working in nurseries


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A few years of working in daycares will expose you to a lot of things; smells, situations, substances, and ideas. I worked for a year in a Finnish daycare, and for a year in a British ‘Forest School’ daycare. Now that I’ve gotten a job in a different field, I wanted to share a few of the things I’ve heard from the kids. Which kids? I’ll never tell.

“When you die, people have a sad party.”

I was sitting in a bench, and two four-year-old kids were having a discussion about some deep stuff, apparently. Maybe they had been to a funeral that weekend, maybe they wanted one last birthday party… I’m not sure. But what better way to describe a wake than a ‘sad party’? I want a ‘sad party’ when I die.

“My dad has the biggest willy ever.”

“Yep.”

I was on ‘bathroom duty’ (an unenviable task) when one of the girls dropped this bomb on me when she exited the bathroom stall.  I asked ‘what?’ and she said back “The biggest. Willy. Ever.” I should point out that there was no signs on anything untoward, just one of those ‘boys and girls are different’ moments. Later in the week she invited me to stay the night at her house, saying  “You can sleep in mommy’s bed,” but I figured it’d be a let-down after dad. I’ve also been told “My dad has hair on his BUTT,” during a discussion of arm hair, so we’re learning all the time at nursery, really.

“This is a pretty stone. I’m going to kill somebody.”

I was talking with an imaginative girl who found a sparkly rock (I dunno, quartz?) She showed me all the glowing, glittering, unicorn-powers it had. When I asked what she’s going to do with it, she told me she was going to take a life with it. Oooookay then, kiddo. Don’t kill anyone I’m responsible for, all right? Thanks.

“I don’t want you to be married.”

I suppose I’m the best-looking boy in the daycare. Well, generally I’m the only boy in the daycare. At one point a two-year-old pointed at me and hollered “MAN.” Parents will generally give me a variant on ‘it’s so nice there’s a male influence here,’ while every child ad some point will accidentally call me ‘dad’. Generally, my response will be something among the lines of ‘Jerry Springer says I’m not the father’ or ‘if I’m your dad, your next birthday present is gonna be lame, kid.’

“You don’t know anything, you’re stupid. Nobody knows anything.”

I’m pretty sure this child was just angry, but what was struck upon was a pretty deep concept. You’re right, kid: we’re all over-evolved monkeys clinging to a rock hurtling through space – oh yeah, the rock itself is slowly dying. Do you want another triangle of sandwich?

my-dc-marvel-team-to-save-a-doomed-world-384159

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Posted by: T4M | August 10, 2015

Helicopters!

Hey – no updates for a long time, but that’s because we’ve been busy! One of the things I’ve been doing is volunteering for ElyI magazine, interviewing different interesting people. Here’s a buddy from Ely who flies a medical helicopter.

http://elyimagazine.com/2015/04/25/magpas-helimedix/

Magpas Helimedix

Dan Read crop shot

Recently, Adam Faber visited the Magpas Helimedix Airbase in Cambridgeshire to meet the boys and girls in orange.

Dan Read was in a roomful of fundraisers, everyday people who helped gather the money to keep fuel in the helicopter that helps him save lives. He opened his mouth to thank them for their support, and the difference their effort makes – when a siren went off, meaning he had to take to the skies once more.

Everyone was ushered aside as the team hurried to the launch pad, and took off across the horizon. The group who were about to hear his presentation were baffled, to say the least. They stood together next to the air strip, their keynote speaker having disappeared in a bit of a whirlwind. Charlie, a young child who had raised £40 for the charity waved goodbye to the helicopter with his dad and grandma.

Dan’s life seems to be one full of interruptions. He’s a highly trained paramedic for Magpas Helimedix, a specialist medical team who respond to life-threatening illness and major trauma cases across the East of England. He comes from his home in Ely to work at RAF Wyton, where he keeps constantly vigilant for when he might be needed. With a helicopter at the ready as well as two rapid response BMWs (sponsored by Elms Cambridge BMW), the team supports emergency services by bringing specially trained paramedics and pre-hospital doctors to the scene – wherever that scene may be.

By quickly ‘taking the hospital to the patient’ in this way, survival rates and recovery times are improved. However, it is a day peppered with bursts of activity. Dan needs to be ready to roll out at a moment’s notice.

“It’s impossible to know when a call might come in, so you just have to be ready,” said Dan after he had come back from his latest emergency.

We were sitting down to a quick lunch, with the knowledge that if the sirens went off again he’d be off in a flash once more.

“In a busy day I could be called out up to five times, said Dan. “It all depends on when and where we are most needed.”

By working together with the ambulance service, Magpas paramedics and doctors are dispatched to the emergencies where their specialized training can have the most impact. The Magpas team are trained to provide services that would normally be available only at the hospital. In a situation where a few minutes can mean a world of difference, this helps save lives, speed recovery times, and ultimately reduce the permanent damage done.

“It would be great to have someone this highly trained in every ambulance in England, but that would take quite a lot of resources.” said Dan. Right now the resources they do have are purely down to public donations.”

Every little bit helps, be it £5 to stock the quick-deploy emergency medication kit strapped to Dan’s ankle, or the £600 to fuel the helicopter. Current supporters do whatever it is they can to help; hosting a wine tasting, doing a sponsored bike ride, or even just a little boy taking a donation tin into Dad’s work.

What might happen in the event of an emergency is usually the last thing on anyone’s mind, for the Magpas team it’s an everyday reality. Besides the fact that it’s Dan’s job, the service strikes a personal chord with him; Dan’s brother was in a motorcycle accident that needed an air ambulance, and it drives home for him the importance of having constant coverage.

Dan said, “At the moment we have a Magpas Helimedix Team on during the day and at night we plan to go 24/7 by the end of 2015. We can only do this thanks to the generous support from the public.”

For his part, Dan is providing all the coverage he can – recently he even provided life-saving care during a family holiday. The rest, keeping the equipment running and the emergency kits stocked, is up to us.

Reach out to Magpas Helimedix via phone on 01480 371060, or e-mail info@magpas.org.uk

Posted by: Sarah | July 1, 2015

On Homesickness

So with the usual apologies to the 6 friends of our Moms, Heather, Sharon, and the Tracys, doing a PhD and working full-time is, it turns out, a lot of work. In the intervening several months since I last updated this thing, I took up the bagpipes, started knitting again, we hosted some of our nearest and dearest friends and family, and I was awarded a pretty sizable grant, which makes things a bit easier come next year.

Shockingly not sponsored by Crosby's or Red Rose

Shockingly not sponsored by Crosby’s or Red Rose

I’ve also been dealing with a persistent bout of homesickness causing me, true to my sacred oath to avoid adding more whining to the internet, to decide to not say anything unless I had something nice to say.

Just like Mom taught me

Just like Mom taught me

Not that we haven’t been having a grand old time here – the last few months have been amazing. In brief: March: Started learning the bagpipe chanter (it makes me feel like I’m anywhere in Nova Scotia)

Air chanter hero right there

Air chanter hero right there

April: Great Aunt Sharon tears up England and the gang go to Pemberley (actually, Chatsworth House…but still…Pemberley)

Pictured: Darbyshire. The non-miserable half.

Pictured: Darbyshire. The non-miserable half.

May: Holidays in Edinburgh and Germany for the month of celebrating Adam’s Birthday

Nothing much here...just some BEAUTIFUL SCENERY WITH A FAIRY TALE CASTLE

Nothing much here…just some BEAUTIFUL SCENERY WITH A FAIRY TALE CASTLE

June: The garden explodes

Laaaaaaaaa

Laaaaaaaaa

Needing to go home in 2016 to re-do immigration (just don’t ask. Unless you like swearing.), travelling in the spring, lack of vacation time, and the costs involved mean we’re not going to be back in the Great White North until December which, although it’s going to be a good, long visit, is a ways off. It’s been a big year for Canada. In October, there was a shooting on Parliament Hill and last month, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released findings following a powerful landmark investigation into Canadian residential schools. These are both deeply significant occurrences to Canadians, and I had the experience of being profoundly affected by these stories on my lunch break, surrounded by people who had no idea what was going on and, sadly, would never become aware without specifically seeking out the sparse coverage in the British media, which I did before going back to the trusty old CBC.

Just you and me, CBC

Just you and me, CBC

This is new for me. In Jyväskylä, my classmates came from all over the world and were incredibly generous with sharing their cultures. With the certain camaraderie that comes with the we’re-all-in-this-together-ness of being in a program made up primarily of immigrants (and awesome people besides), I knew that my classmates would make an effort to understand my culture and what was important to me, and I would do the same. For this reason, in the 2 years we spend in Finland, Adam and I celebrated the following:

-Itsenäisyyspäivä
-Vappu
-Juhannus
-Australia Day
-American Thanksgiving
-Persian New Year
-Eurovision
-St Patrick’s Day
-Restaurant Day (aka cheap pad Thai and samosa-fest)
-American Dinner (aka potluck)

This is how a Canadian baker imagines Australia Day in Finland

This is how a Canadian baker imagines Australia Day in Finland. With cake.

Also, Finns and Canadians have a lot in common in that the rest of the world mainly doesn’t know (or, let’s be honest, care) about what we’re up to. We don’t have the same kind of social network in the UK, plus, being self-deprecating about patriotism is part of English culture insofar as I’ve observed, so when something like Canada Day rolls around, I find myself conflicted as to how to express my Canadian-ness, especially with something as nationally-specific as Canada Day.

There's music and cake and everyone gets the day off and someone somewhere plays bagpipes and there are parties and maple leaves everywhere and then we light fire TO THE SKY

There’s music and cake and everyone gets the day off and someone somewhere plays bagpipes and there are parties and maple leaves everywhere and then we light fire TO THE SKY

Enter one of the most important lessons I learned while in Finland: there’s no such thing as bad weather – only bad clothing. I feel like you can replace the word “weather” with whatever you like. For instance, there’s no such thing as bad experiences – only bad attitude, or, as I like to think, fuck this, I’ll do what I want! (you can keep that one, Pinterest).

Being patriotic AND wearing 18 layers of undergarments. Thanks, Finland!

Being patriotic AND wearing 18 layers of undergarments. Thanks, Finland!

I brought Nanaimo bars to work, sent an expertly curated Can-con playlist to my office and wished everyone a Happy Canada Day while wearing an HBC Olympic t-shirt and reading The Orenda. Then I went home, listened to CBC online, made poutine for supper, broadened the peace-keeping mission of Nanaimo bars to my landlord, and mulled, to the haunting strains of Blue Rodeo, why today makes me so melancholy. And therein lies the question of the day:

How do you explain to someone that you’re sad because it’s July first and no one has offered you free cake?

Posted by: T4M | June 11, 2015

The breakup

Dear readers, I am heartbroken. A constant part of my life has declared that we are no longer an item.

Canada has broken up with me.

What will I do? Can I still speak French? Am I still allowed to buy maple syrup? Can I still apologize profusely?

I think it was a bitter, passive aggressive split. I wrote a letter to the Canadian government, essentially saying ‘Hey, I don’t live here. I don’t have a house here, I don’t have a job here, and I don’t have a car here. Are we really together? In our hearts?’ I filed a form to declare my non-residency, essentially meaning I wasn’t going to pay Canadian taxes on my UK-based income.

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during a media conference during the G-8 summit at the Lough Erne golf resort in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, on Tuesday, June 18, 2013. The final day of the G-8 summit of wealthy nations is ending with discussions on globe-trotting corporate tax dodgers, a lunch with leaders from Africa, and suspense over whether Russia and Western leaders can avoid diplomatic fireworks over their deadlock on Syria’s civil war. (AP Photo/Ben Stansall, Pool)

No money?

Well, like Canada tends to do when I ask her difficult questions, she didn’t answer me. She seemed unusually interested in kittens, the war or terror, and phasing out fossil fuels… but she wouldn’t talk about us.

I imagine Canada sitting in at night, drinking profusely and hurling the empty bottle into the still-burning fire. “Why!?” Canada would snarl at the beaver bust on the mantle. “We were so good together! Why did he have to break up with me?”

things-queen-taught-us-L-EyS_lU

“WHAUUUUGH – sob, sniffle – HUURRRRRRK”

“Pfft. Whatever. You don’t need him anyway,” Stephan Harper would say to Canada soothingly, as he took a handful of candy corn from their Hello Kitty party bowl (they’re having a pyjama slumber party). “His income wasn’t very big anyway. You mentioned you never got that much from it. It was all pretty unsatisfying, I seem to remember. You should have broken up with him. I’ll burn his pictures for you, along with several pages of environmental protections, and these rights of dual-citizens.”

“More like BARELY INcome. Amirite?”

With the confidence and glossing over the details that a bottle of whiskey provides, Canada then drafted me a letter. It read something like this:

“Mr. Faber.

    We have determined that your failure to retain sufficient ties with Canada has resulted in the removal of your residency status. Withholding taxes will now apply to any Canadian investment earnings or property that you possess. In short, you’re not breaking up with me, because I’M BREAKING UP WITH YOU, YOU BASTARD!”

The entire document I got was very keen to point out all the things I was losing out on, such as Canada’s totally hot bod and homebuyers allowance, and the next day I saw Stephen Harper out partying with Obama and Angela Merkel. I hope they’re truly happy together, and not just trying to make me jealous. I’ve been hanging out with the Queen, and between Her Majesty and Merkel, I’d really rather not consider playing the ‘who is a hotter couple’ game.

"After the third glass, Steve is somewhat funny and interesting."

“After the third glass, Steve is somewhat funny and interesting.”

So I really wish Canada and Harper all the best, and I’ll do my best to ignore the rumours that come up about them… Like the fact that they’re on the rocks. I put no stock in the gossip that Canada is flirting with Tom Mulcair, nor the fact that she’s lined up a date with Gilles Duceppe – even though they were so over, like, four years ago. I just hope they’re happy.

"Canada, you single? Call me."

“Canada, you single? Call me.”

Posted by: T4M | May 31, 2015

Driving in Englandshire

Now that I’m thirty, I can do things I never thought possible. I can complain that kids these days have no respect, I can shout at clouds with impunity, and I can make pop culture references that go right over people’s heads.

♪ Air Novaaaaa ♫

♪ Air Novaaaaa ♫

That being said, due to the fact that I’m on my own in a big way, I lack some of the support that I might have back home in the NS of Canada. What with Sarah needing to drive around for work, it became obvious that I needed to buy a car. I no longer had the option of buying mom’s car off her (which my sister-in-law lovingly dubbed ‘The Vag-mobile’, despite my attempts to dub it ‘The Defiant’)… I had to buy a used car. From a used car dealer. I needed to avoid being ripped off. I mean – they’d probably even try to sell me a vehicle with the steering wheel on the wrong side!

"You maniacs sold me a GERMAN car!"

“You maniacs sold me a GERMAN car!”

Luckily, I have spies… Eyes on the inside. That’s right, during my time in the UK, I’ve made friends with the locals. They gave me invaluable advice and pointers on my hunt for a new car (which will not be called ‘The Vag-mobile’). A Polish colleague of mine told me to avoid Huntington dealerships. The reason, ironically was that it ‘a rough area, full of foreigners’.

"Foreign how? Foreign like, invaded all their neighbours? Or do you mean foreign, like, didn't get conquered?"

“Foreign how? Foreign like, invaded all their neighbours? Or do you mean foreign, like, didn’t get conquered?”

Another pointed me to a used car comparison site, where I could specify what I want in a car, how far away it was, and everything else. Well, almost everything else. It didn’t have an option to filter out gross cars; ones that inexplicably smell of ripe bananas, have stains better left unexplored, or melted sweets in the handles.

Allthough, after some melty candy my driving style DOES calm down.

Allthough, after some melty candy my driving style DOES calm down.

We finally settled on a car that I don’t think we even have in Canada; a Renault. It’s 11 years old, and has 71,000 miles on it. There was only one melted sweet in the handle, and it didn’t stink. It ticked all the boxes.

English roads however, are small. Parking on the side of the street flrequently turns a normal road into a single lane. Cars are allowed to park against the flow of traffic, darting across the road backwards to get a spot. Which is actually a little comforting, seeing a car briefly on the proper side of the road before the insanity sets in again.

But I still do need your help, social support network! My vehicle sadly is without name. Much like the new years eve the family got a cat, I need to take a survey of what to name this hunk of metal.

Except the key. It's plastic.

Except the key. It’s plastic.

So, do your worst! Name my car!

Posted by: T4M | April 6, 2015

The Fabers’ London Adventure

We’ve had a visitor at the Faber Manor! Aunt Sharon (‘Auntie Sharon’ according to the British) has come from Canada. Her fortune teller told her she would go to England, so she booked tickets to come see us. First on the docket was taking her to London (her fortune teller also told her she was going to marry a pilot, so London was a good place to start looking.)

IMG_0036

“Well, he’s not in the toilets.”

 

Before setting out to London, we stopped for provisions at the market. We visited Sarah’s ‘Egg Man’, who was selling many spherical wonders: Quail, Goose, and even CHICKEN eggs! Will the wonders never cease? After a hearty breakfast of scones, we hopped the train. We took note that the Emirates arena shows the arses of Arsenal.

THAT'S why they make the big bucks.

THAT’S why they make the big bucks.

Sharon mastered the tube, and we went to Fortnum and Mason, where the Queen Mum had been known to do her shopping. Unfortunately, this is reflected in their prices, so we left empty handed, but with full hearts. We popped by the palace to tell off the royals (“How dare you drive up the prices at Fortnum and Mason!?”) But they wouldn’t let us in. Stupid gun-toting guards. We instead shouted at a black swan in the park.

FEATHERY RAGE

CANADIAN FEATHERY RAGE

We saw Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, and Adam got it right without Googling whodunit beforehand. ADAM WAS RIGHT, WORLD. YOU HEAR ME!?

Inexplicably, there was a massive pillow fight happening outside the National Portrait Gallery. I asked someone why there was a massive pillow fight, and they could only tell me “It’s national pillow fight day”. We took the tube a few more times, and took the obligatory tourist pictures, then headed home.

FEATHERY RAGE

BRITISH FEATHERY RAGE

More to come on Sharon’s trip later this week!

Posted by: Sarah | February 16, 2015

Out and About

After the annual pilgrimage back to the land of our birth, we’re back in England with an extra suitcase full of Canadian goodness and ready to take on the new year. The fall went by pretty quickly and was largely taken-up with work, settling-in, more work, more settling-in, and getting an impressive round of colds and injuries including my very first car accident!

It was. The worst.

It was. The worst.

In between all the work, settling-in, and hot baths full of Epsom salts

How do we keep up with our rock and roll lifestyle?!

How do we keep up with our rock and roll lifestyle?!

we did manage to do some exploring! When we were getting ready to move to Finland, we entertained grand notions of all the places we were going to see…but, in the end, we mostly just stayed in and explored the backyard when we had a weekend or holiday. Not that we never did ANYTHING…we saw a fair bit of Finland as well as Rome and a bit of the UK…but it was hardly a “let’s go jet-setting every weekend” kind of arrangement…which suited us just fine.

The world's best Bakewell tart recipe isn't going to just fall out of the sky..it requires visiting lots and lots of local tea rooms.

The world’s best Bakewell tart recipe isn’t going to just fall out of the sky…it will require visiting lots and lots of local tea rooms.

There are several reasons for this. Even within Europe, travel is expensive. Time expensive and money expensive. Not NEARLY as expensive as travel from Canada, but when the choice is buying a comfortable piece of furniture to sleep on for the next couple of years vs a couple of weekends hanging around some cool place, plus the instant gratification of pyjamas and poutine AS SOON as I get home on a Friday, I will go for the sleeping place. Perhaps lamely, but I live my life by my rules. Man. Perhaps this is why we’re finding English village life so agreeable…

"Town? Town?! The hell would we go in town?! If you can't find it at the Ely market, you don't need it!"

“Town? Town?! The hell would we go in town for?! If you can’t find it at the Ely market, you don’t need it!”

Going to the local markets and keeping up with the gardening aside, we have been enjoying getting to know our new home and exploring when the mood strikes. I was initially very excited to move to the UK because I’m a huge fan of verdant countryside and old buildings, and Ely comes through in a big way, but we’ve been enjoying forays into “the big city” every now and again.

Even in the "winter"

Even in the “winter”

In October and November, we went into London twice – once during half-term, which was a giant mistake as the entire school-aged population of England and half of France was also there; and once on a normal weekend, which was much less crowded. We went to a comedy show, visited a few of my favourite food shops, and finally made it to the Tower of London to take in the incredible Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation.

Poppies 2

We also participated in a British rite of passage: taking the last train home from London. Adam has covered this pretty extensively here, but here’s a pro tip for you: NEVER take the last train home from London. On a related note: do you like loud football songs and the smell of cheap beer and adolescent shenanigans? If so, consider taking the last train home from London. And it’s not like Canadians are never drunk in public

Pictured: SOLID evidence to the contrary

Pictured: SOLID evidence to the contrary

…it’s just that I haven’t yet gained the ability to differentiate between sarcastic politeness, accidental rudeness, and actual serious rudeness, which helps me avoid dodgy confrontations with drunk people.

Dumbledore didn't prepare me for this

Dumbledore didn’t prepare me for this

Which brings me to an interesting point that didn’t come up so much in Finland: Trial By Accent.

In the UK, many are possessed of an impressively accurate ear for accents that can, in some cases, pinpoint the speaker’s place of birth to within two pubs, and some then reveal this in gleeful and often judgmental tones to anyone who will listen.

Buddy says "down" home. Must be from Musquodoboit.

Buddy says “down” home. Must be from Musquodoboit.

Our accents also get us a lot of attention from these types of people who fall into one of two camps: “American, is it?” and “You must be Canadian. I have cousins in *insert small town in Saskatchewan here* and reckon I can tell the difference.”

Consider this exchange between me and a lady waiting for the same bus this week:

Madam: “That bus driver is from Birmingham”
Me: “…oh. Um…splendid” (notice how well I speak British)
Madam: “It’s thick as anything…can’t you hear it? A Birmingham accent.”
Me: “I haven’t quite acquired the ear for accents – I’m new here.”
Madam: “Aaaaaaah an American. Well, this chap is from a town called Birmingham.”
Me: “Canadian, actually.”
Madam: “Well I have family in Massachusetts, so that’s all very similar.”
I sound nothing like someone from Massachusetts. It wouldn’t be polite to point that out. Biological imperative to be polite…taking…over
Me: “Yes, they’re practically just down the road.”
Madam: “You there! Say something to this lady in your Birmingham accent!”

This resulted in me trying to convey polite interest to Madam with the right side of my face, and deep embarrassment to the bus driver with the left side,

..which looks a little something like this

..which looks a little something like this

resulting in a sprained face.

In Finland, we were at a linguistic disadvantage, but Finns are polite and nonchalant enough to either ignore your accent, or ask you where you’re from without making it sound like the opening statement to the Spanish inquisition…which I can honestly say I wasn’t expecting.

...which I can honestly say I wasn't expecting

I don’t know why this bothers me so much…but it really, really does. Perhaps this is because I don’t know where we fit into this categorical accent scheme, but back home (pronounced “bahck home” in Nova Scotian patois), everybody sounds like a fisherman to the untrained ear, but you’re probably related somehow so there’s no point in being rude about it. It’s more of a,  “hey, buddy…you’re from Cape Breton?! What’s your father’s name? I have a pile of cousins in Margaree! What are you doing down here?!” etc etc.  Accent curiosity isn’t the worst thing in the world by a large stretch, but it is weird after two years of living in a country where nothing is more important than an individual’s privacy to suddenly find ourselves in a place where strangers are interested in details about our lives…and it isn’t always annoying. Consider this exchange with my egg farmer:

Egg Farmer: “North American accent, eh? Would you two be from Canada or the US?”
Me: “Canada. Can’t you tell by how good-looking we are and our superior taste in eggs?”

Egg Farmer laughs and now we’re best friends. Also, delicious eggs!

But seeing as how no one’s going to pass me off as a duchess at the embassy ball anytime soon…

So THEN buddy friggin' SMOKES the puck into the net on the rebound and I says to Adam, "by Christ, that was some shot!" and HE says, "that was right some nice!"

So THEN buddy friggin’ SMOKES the puck into the net on the rebound and I says to Adam, “by Christ, that was some shot!” and HE says, “that was right some nice!”

perhaps, to avoid scrutiny, I’ll take a page from this chap’s book…

mr-bean9

Posted by: T4M | January 18, 2015

Sarah’s Secret Recipies

Over the years I think Sarah’s kitchen skills have gained a somewhat mythical quality. At a get-together  she made instant hot chocolate… But somehow it tasted better. This is when party guest Alan cracked. “What!?” He cried, incredulously. “This is the same powdered stuff my mother gets at the store! I watched you spoon it out! Why does it taste better!? WHYYY!?” Rather than watch his brain melt (and likely make a tasty gravy from it), she told him the secret of the tasty instant cocoa.

kpam

Alan became a crazy mountaintop recluse and hoarded the knowledge.

You may well know that she Facebooks many of her creations, making a handy photo album with directions. What you may not have seen is her hand-written, ingredient-caked, spiral bound notebook. This notebook hides within its pages the knowledge of the ancients. Mainly the fact that lard, sugar, and real butter are your friends. They love you and they want you to be happy. All of her favourite recipes, both ones she discovered and ones that were handed down to her, be it by relatives, friends, or aliens.

Pictured: Sarah having 'perfect cookies' beamed into her skull.

Pictured: Sarah having ‘perfect cookies’ beamed into her skull.

In the lead-up to Christmas, I stole the sacred book from its place of glory. I secreted it out of the house, and typed all of the indecipherable runic text onto my laptop. I consulted with sages and oracles (other girls), beseeching them to aid me in the interpretation of the runes (“does this say ‘special’ or ‘spiced’?”) I scrounged all of the kitchen photos off the camera and off her Facebook page. I convinced Cranial Matter to craft the resulting text and imagery into a book. The pages were forged together in the fiery heart of Mt. Doom.

It was a night of darkness and fine art.

Like that Greek dude who stole fire from the Gods (Firestealicus? Nickflameo?) I’m giving this knowledge to my fellow smelly humans. But beware: my human interpretation of the ancient, hand-written book may have been imperfect. I am not a cook, nor am I a calligrapher. There are mistakes in this book (and they’re my fault). This is essentially a free beta release, and you are all my quality control team. If there is something that makes no sense, or is mis-typed, or whatever, please let me know what it is and where it is so I can fix it. Without any further ado, gilding of the lily, or beating around the bush, I present to you the e-book pre-release of Sarah’s Secret Recipies.

Click to download: https://db.tt/59mxR7Cv

Posted by: T4M | January 11, 2015

♫ Ch-ch-ch-chaaaanges ♪

Some things change when you hop over the Atlantic ocean going east. For starters, words change. Cool things are no longer ‘the cat’s ass’, instead they are the ‘dog’s bollocks’, for example.

The cat's ass IS the dog's bollocks.

Maybe the cat’s ass IS the dog’s bollocks. MIND. BLOWN.

The personal bits of common house pets aside, however, there are other differences that make as little sense. I will prepare you for these differences to ensure your head doesn’t explode when you touch down in England.

Junk food is more fun

…Fun-sized, that is. Whenever I try to buy crap in bulk, it turns out to be a larger container filled with multiple Halloween-sized packages. Chips (a.k.a. Crisps), Cheezies (a.k.a. Wotsits), and M&Ms (a.k.a. …M&Ms ) all suffer from this packaging insanity.

Oh look, a box of bags! And a bag of bags! All carried home by me, in a BAG!

Oh look, a box of bags! And a bag of bags! All carried home by me, in a BAG!

 

Why would you put 6 bags of chips into a big bag!? This bothers me more than it should, I think. I can’t in good conscience buy those chips, knowing I’m creating seven times more garbage. It’s not like they’re saving any money, the multi-packs cost as much as Pringles do here. Therefore, my contribution to the environment is eating Pringles instead. My salt-clogged arteries are a statement against landfills, or something.

Crosswalks only take you halfway there

You know the drill, push the button, wait to cross. The English have decided to make this process twice as lengthy and difficult as it has to be by creating a small concrete island in the middle of the road on which you have to stop. Why? So you can push the OTHER button and wait for traffic going the other way to stop!

That middle bit? That is nobody's final destination.

That middle bit? That is nobody’s final destination.

I can’t wrap my head around this one at all. Who is going to stop and wait on a little concrete island? Has there been any instances of someone thinking ‘Well, I made it. Time to have a sit-down and spend the afternoon between two lanes of traffic.’ During my morning commute the tiny island often gets overcrowded with grumpy businessmen and cyclists. A riot is due any day now.

Warped, distopian tissue boxes

To Sarah’s eternal consternation, she has to buy more Kleenex here than she has in any other country. No, she’s not allergic to people saying ‘cheers’, it’s the fact that someone has screwed up the measurements of the tissue boxes here. They’re too short.

THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!

THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!

This is a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. Sarah has even resorted to buying ‘man-sized’ Kleenex, which I presume is illegal due to her gender. They’re just as short, but inexplicably much wider. Sarah was disappointed, but not cowed by the patriarchy and their repression of her equally deserving production of mucus.

...She doesn't even have her Kleenex license. Rebel!

…She doesn’t even have her Kleenex license. Rebel!

Well, that’s the totality of the wisdom I have to impart to you at present. Be confident that you are now fully prepared (at least mentally) for England. You’re welcome.

Posted by: T4M | January 3, 2015

They’re closing in on me!

We learned not too long ago that I have turned to a life of crime here in Ely. Well, the authorities are circling me, dear readers. They want me to pay the many taxes that they have invented in this fine country.

Firstly, I hope that no politicians follow my blog, because I am going to describe some taxes that they haven’t thought of yet.

"We're not listening. Go on..."

“We’re not listening. Go on…”

For starters, even though Sarah an I are renting, we are paying property tax. They call it ‘Council Tax,’ and it runs me about 125 pounds a month.  That’s as much as I weigh!

HA HA. GET IT?

HA HA. GET IT?

But the cherry on the giant sundae that inexplicably fell from the sky was the television license. I mean, I understand the reasoning behind restricting television access: back home there are people who watch FOX News, yell “DON’T GO IN THERE!” at characters, or simply fail to signal when changing channels incessantly. Therefore, I was reassured when I got a letter prompting me to pay for my license.

TV1

“Oh god, I’ve been watching Mrs. Brown’s boys ILLEGALLY! Oh well, back to watching the neighbour’s boys .”

I was about to pay, I really was. But then I realized – this wasn’t a tool to fund responsible, intelligent boob tubing… It was just a fee! They weren’t going to deny cable to fans of reality television, they were going to extract money from them! Money they would have spent on penis enlargement pills and sent to overseas scammers! I decided to take a stand. Nobody was going to take food out of the mouths of cheats and thieves on my watch! I misplaced the paper in righteous protest.

That’s when things got a bit more serious. A gemstone on my hand began to blink, signaling the overlords, a reference to a movie I ironically wasn’t allowed to watch on television anymore.

[TELEVISION REFERENCE REDACTED]

[TELEVISION REFERENCE REDACTED]

Phase two of my re-calibration had begun. One of the most dreadful weapons of the United Kingdom was to be turned against me… the pissy letter. It had all of the hallmarks of post-colonial British aggression: feigned understanding, veiled threats, red ink, and the words ‘investigation’ as well as ‘authorized’.

"Also, we have kidnapped your dig."

“Also, we have kidnapped your dog.”

Well, I wasn’t going down without a fight! There was only one thing that could be used to counter the pissy letter: the facetious phone call. Having once been a colonial possession, I had inherited a certain set of skills. Skills that make me an annoyance to people like them. If they left me alone, I would go away – I wouldn’t look for them. But if they didn’t, I would find their customer service number… and I would call them.

It was on the bottom of the letter.

taken-phone

“Hello? Yes, could you please leave me alone? I don’t want to waste any more of your postage.”

They agreed to call of their men, de-authorize their investigation, and return my stolen daughter to me. I then proceeded to stream all my shows from the BBC website – which is legal to do without a TV license, despite it being exactly the kind of service the fee pays for.

 

 

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