Words of warning and welcome:

This is very much my blog, so don't be surprised if this doesn't follow accepted patterns and norms. It is a place where I can be anonymous and honest, and I appreciate that.

It will deal with many things and new readers would do well to check out the "Story So Far" Page above this and the "New Readers" tag down there on the right. Although there's nothing too bad in here there will be adult language, so be careful. If you think this needs a greater control, please let me know. Thank you!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Killing Jokes 3: The Killing Joke and Other Stories

Someone very astutely asked: "what are you getting from [your marriage]?" and I had no answer initially.  I'm not sure yet whether I do even now.  But part of that thought process is this post, I guess.

Last Saturday, not yesterday but last week, Tilly had arranged to go clubbing.  This had been planned for a while and she had asked me plenty in advance about the dates.  We were somewhat constrained as Tilly had organised visits from Tim and Lisa the weekend before and Jerry and Rachel the week following.  Then there was the visit from Tilly's cousin and her husband yesterday.  Tilly's mother is due up next week then we're off on holiday.  Basically, getting a weekend for the clubbing so that Tilly's friends could come was hard and so my last weekend at work was asked for.  Of course, being me, I said yes.  I think by "yes" I meant "not really but I can't see another way to be nice and you've let me go out a number of times in the year and are trying really hard to be nice about it and so I'll say yes".  Grudging agreement is something I do really well.

So it was that we bought in some drink for Tilly and her friends, well, I say we, I went to the supermarket and got it for her while she stayed in the car with the children.  Then the Boy stayed up a bit because he'd napped during the day and was still awake when Tilly's friends arrived.  Tilly said she'd feed him to sleep before they left.  But by now the drinking had begun, part of the plan to save when out, and she forgot and left without this being done.  It took me a fair while to get the Boy to sleep but I managed and then started pootling.  Tilly was due to return around 11pm and I, assuming she would be later and having fun, sent off a supportive text and then went to bed around 10.30.

Imagine my surprise, my genuine surprise, when I was woken by some odd noises around 11.15pm.  I think you can guess where this is going, but I could not.  I opened the door and Tilly practically fell, swearing, through it and then proceeded to run through the hall and onto the sofa.  Her friends followed, apologetically explaining that Tilly was rather inebriated and about to be sick.  I gathered the washing up bowl, a little late actually, and then watched as Tilly's friends tried to make Tilly comfortable.  I gathered towels and a sheet to prevent sick from soaking the sofa cover.  I helped arrange a taxi for Tilly's friends and then attempted to get Tilly sorted.  Her friends left, amid many apologies, and Tilly vaccillated between imploring forgiveness whilst sobbing and yelling and swearing loudly at me and hurling abuse.  This was all done at high volume, so that I was concerned that she would wake the children.

Somehow I managed to strip her down, wash up the sick, dry her hair and get her comfortable in something approaching the recovery position.

There are a couple of cultural points I should make here.  Despite what news stories say alcohol drinking does not usually lead to this sort of behaviour - scientific studies have shown that the effects are almost 99% in the mind, apart from physical effects.  Furthermore, the UK is not so much a hotbed of drinking to excess as you might think.  There is a thriving and perfectly healthy pub culture here that, meedled with less, would become more continental in its effects on drinking.  Clubbing is not usually a gateway to vomiting and yelling.

Thing is, despite my annoyance, I actually found the whole thing rather a turn on.  I know, I know, I'm strange.  However, it reminded me very much how Tilly was when we first met.  There was a vulnerability about her that I missed.  I stayed with her, checking on the children now and again, until about 1.30am before turning in myself.  She came up at 5.30am to see the Boy and that's when it started to get negative.  He ws crying for milk and Tilly was still very very drunk - I was uncertain about letting the Boy loose on whatever it was Tilly had had the night before - she'd clearly had a lot and I wasn't totally convinced that someone hadn't slipped her something, her behaviour was not normal for her when drunk - much more aggressive and random.  I told her to get back to sleep and she did so, but under duress.  I then dealt with the fact that her stumbling had woken both the children and got them dressed and ready, and myself.  We were able to get out of the house and off to church very early.  Tilly relocated to the bedroom.

The children and I got to the village that has our church in it a little early, like 9am for a 10am service early, and so walked off to the local playpark.  They had some fun, as did I realising that the days when I could keep effective tabs on the pair of them at a park were long over.  We reverted back to how I used to go to church - I stay in the service, speak little to one or two people, have a biscuit at the end and then leave.  We came back and I looked after them over lunch while Tilly zoned in and out of sleep.  Then she insisted on coming with us when we went out in the afternoon, thus restricting the distance we could travel (the car was making her sick), the places we could go (nothing involving walking or that would be too hot) and the time we could spend there.  I know that Tilly was trying to be helpful, but she wasn't, she was actually bloody annoying.

We went to another playpark and, as sure as she was hungover, I ended up on primary caregiver duty.  Then the bitching began in the evening, but only at a low ebb.  In the morning things kicked into high gear.  I cannot recall what the main issues were, but that wasn't really the point.  We were sniping at each other, being terse, and I was feeling hard done to, something that really pushes Tilly's buttons.  Basically, if I ever feel a little down and annoyed but too polite to say why then Tilly starts to verbally beat me because she hates that about me.  It's not a great part of our relationship.  In an attempt to break the cycle I removed the items of my feminine wardrobe in the drawer that she knows about.  It had zero impact on the day, obviously, and the arguments continued throughout most of the day.  Tilly did not want to hear of anything she had done on the Saturday and closed down any comment by me about it - getting progressively angry and annoyed by my even mentioning it.

We ended up watching Ashes to Ashes, which we've done every evening since pretty much, and ignoring what had happened as much as possible.

Which brings me back to the question that started this post in the e-mail I keep re-reading - what do I get from all of this?

Tilly doesn't like the fact that if she leaves me in the house I might end up cross-dressing.  I asked why, she explained that it would be like if I was checking pornography that she'd specifically asked me not to.  I queried the analogy, she wouldn't budge.  It was the same to her.  The thought that I might be doing it filled her with dread and made her feel betrayed.  I confess to remaining confused on this issue but that's her explanation.

To sum up:
- I can't cross-dress when she's here nor when she's not, I cannot indulge;
- I am now primary care giver to the Boy for the foreseeable;
- I am still the main care giver to the chinchilla, she won't clean or feed him;
- Talking about issues that I want to talk about is still off-limits;
- Breastfeeding prevents libido (except when it doesn't);
- I can give compliments but am poor at receiving them, so they generally don't get given;
- Physically speaking I have not received a compliment from Tilly since before August 2007;
- When there is company I am in charge of both children;
- Now that I'm on holiday I'm on duty.

That last point can be briefly explained: Tilly is learning to drive for two hours every day, apart from weekends and Mondays.  I haven't managed to get into work yet as a consequence and Tilly needs the rest of the afternoon to calm down from the stress.  I can relate.  This means I pretty much have to be house-husband.  It's not a role I can actually see myself doing for any length of time.

What do I get from all of this?

I don't know.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Beer Review: Yorkshire Terrier

Something a bit different because this was a cask ale I had whilst out at a meal.  Nevertheless, I'm aware that there has been a dearth of these of late and my ale sense was tingling.  So, it's beer time!

Today's offering is Yorkshire Terrier.

We went to our local, a lovely place whose food Tilly and I got used to before we had children and whilst I was doing a nice little sideline in tutoring.  Basically I'd earn about £50 on an evening and then we'd spend it with a meal here.  Best bit about British pub culture is the fact that one can get decent ales along with pretty decent food.  Also, now that there's been a smoking ban in place since about 2005 you can eat in these places without having to rinse everything you went in.

So, Yorkshire Terrier then.  It was very smooth, for want of a better word, on the syrupy side of what I usually drink and with a much creamier head than I suspect I would find from any of the bottled varieties that I usually drink.  It was a lovely golden colour, not as translucent as lagers like Carling's and such, and had plenty of fizz still in it to tickle the tongue as it passed.  It was also a very heavy ale, in that it settles in your mouth and then oozes down toward the gullet, but in a positive way.  I was glad that food came with it, even though it was only 4.2% ABV, as it was the sort of ale that needed that kind of lining.  Something to mingle with.

It was as well that it was a sipping beer too, or else it wouldn't have gone well with the meal nor with the company that we had at the time.  I should point out that the children were there too (another thing about British pub culture I guess) and they were uninterested in Daddy's brew, which is for the best (the daughter is no fan of anything fizzy and the Boy, though he has tried beers, is not a fan at all either).

It had a sort of milky quality to it.  Almost like flavoured milkshake or perhaps a less meaty bovril drink.  It's the sort of ale that would leave you with foam around your top lip if you're not careful.  However, it keeps the fizz for a good long while, not going flat as I ate my meal, and tastes strong enough to outweigh the delectable gammon, eggs and chips I was having (no, really, very nice) along with some French mustard.  That makes it a pretty heavy hitter in the taste section.  Smell was nothing special, more yeasty than hops, and the overall impression was a mellow one.

It was a good one to enjoy with a meal (beating a pint of Tubthumper I had last time I visited my Father, again with a meal) and not a bad price for a pint at our local (though there are much cheaper options out there that would have been just as nice).  I wouldn't recommend it as one you have when you're out, maybe get a keg of it in and a few friends round for an uncomplicated but well-cooked meal in front of a DVD (might I recommend Ashes to Ashes) and some light-hearted conversation.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Geeky Interlude

Saw this late last night, just before being nudged a lot by the sleeping Boy.

Didn't get it at first.  But when I did, as Neil Tennant says himself in Why don't we live together?, "the woman in me shouts out, the man in me just smiles."

I'll be buying more for the B-sides I think but, hey, here's the video.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Killing Jokes 2: the Beard

Bakunin, a simple straggly beard
that says "fuck you" to your
Waaaaay back in time, when I was but a callow youth, I didn't enjoy shaving.  It was time-consuming, faffy and I didn't really need to do it all that often.  Puberty and me were never great friends and my facial hair was the source of much mirth in my small friendship circle in that I never really developed anything.  I got a shaving set for my sixteenth birthday and used it maybe three times before I was eighteen.  I went to University and shaved maybe ten times for the entire three years.  In my MA year I shaved maybe six times and during teacher training I managed maybe five.  By the time I started my full-time post I just wasn't in the habit of shaving.

My straggly hair, short and fuzzy, became known by my students and when I attempted a shave around the first Christmas in the job the loss of class control, a sore point for me at the time, was astonishing.  Basically the students lost respect for my lack of beard and played a little looser with the rules than usual.  From that point I tended to keep a trimmed-ish beard.  I trimmed it maybe once a half term, about every six weeks or so, with scissors to keep it 'neat'-ish and shaved the sides of my face - there was never much there, but the hair was getting darker and easier to spot.  In 2005, while with Toby, I shaved the whole shebang off in February and had to wait until April before it had grown back sufficiently to need trimming or tidying up again.

Kropotkin, an awesome sheep
of facial hair that says "use
mutual aid and up yours" to
standard views of appropriate
face whiskers
You get the idea.  I may have had a beard for a long time but part of this was the incedible slowness of its growth.  Indeed, I stopped thinking about it that much.  When I was courting Tilly I shaved the environs of the beard maybe three times for the first three months and then once or twice a term.  Latterly, after Tilly had her massive wobble following the birth of the Boy (part of the reason I am where I am both at home and at work) I stopped tidying up so much.  It went hand-in-glove with the giving up of breakfasts generally and thus was born my 'penance beard'.  No real conscious thought on that one, but in my internal monologue if I referred to my beard I referred to it as a 'penance beard'.  In penance for what was something I never thought to look at too hard nor define too closely.

The full Marx, a classic that says, "from each according
to his ability to each acc- fuck you, beard haters!"
I shaved and trimmed and tidied it about twice between 2010 and now.  It got all of three inches long in places.  Part of me wanted to see just how far I could go with it - could I really manage a full anarchist?  Think of Karl Marx or Bakunin or Godwin.  These people had big bushy beards of doom and, to be honest, part of me rather liked the idea that one could be so obnoxious and in your face that you would grow a humongous beard to get in the way of everyone else.  Also, the beard had long become both a defensive mask (yes, Wendy, we all wear masks) and a conversation opener.  In my group of friends I had become rather well known for my beard.  Ask anyone about me and they'd start off with my beard.

Tilly had also made it known that she didn't like beards when we met.  I offered to shave it off, not really going to, and then she saw a picture of me when I was at Sixth Form - clean shaven.  And a picture of me accepting my MA some five years later - clean shaven.  She decided that I looked twelve in both images and that she'd be some kind of cradle snatcher if I were clean shaven.  And that was that.

The last time I was clean shaven, in 2005, I was dressed as a schoolgirl for a night.  Indeed, it was that whole thing that prompted me to shave my beard in the first place.  I won't pretend that I looked any more feminine but I probably did look less masculine.  When I dressed in a dress round at Catherine's as part of a drunken 'bet' (one she knew she'd win, in fairness, and one that I actively encouraged following a conversation between us regarding my cross-dressing a year previously) I was not clean shaven.  Catherine even complimented me on my ability to look better in the dress than her (a frivilous and untrue compliment but one that I nevertheless appreciate) and to do so with a beard.  She suggested that I should always wear dresses, my legs suited them, and keep the beard just to piss people off.  She has as one of her stated aims the growing of a beard.  Point being, the beard has been a fixture for a looong time.

EDIT - I can't seem to make blogger caption that image there to your right.  Bollocks.  If I could it would say "Something like this.  The dress goes further but fails completely to cover the ankles, something you can't see in this cropped version - typical male in a dress?  Loving the faux fur at the top there.  Also: coconut hairdo!  A beard that says, "I'm so pretty, oh so pret- up yours!""

Lately, though, it got very much in the way.  I was eating a ham sandwich a couple of days ago and every mouthful came with added hair, despite my best efforts to train the moustache hair away from my mouth.  I mean: eeew!  Also, the last week and a bit have been... wobbly.  The beard wasn't offensive enough any more and was failing in its most basic duty of pissing people off.  The only person it was pissing off was me.

So I got rid of it.

I had a haircut yesterday, they didn't do wet shaves, and then retired home.  I took about forty minutes to myself in the bathroom and, to the strains of Kate Bush's Aerial on the evil iPad, I shaved the entire hairy mess from my face.  I took my time, using scissors, razor and a host of soap-based product built up over the years from people assuming that because I have a beard that grows as a goatee I must be perpetually shaving my cheeks and neck (it just doesn't grow there much, I have a natural goatee).  It was nice.  About as close as I'll ever come to having a pampering session I suspect and about as scented as I think I'll get away with.  No aftershave though, haven't had any of that since about 2002!

It was lovely.  The experience, that is, and... yes.  Is it unseemly that such a masculine act should be so... feminine?  Also, it has massively unsettled Tilly which, given events over the last week and a half, is perhaps no bad thing.  As someone pointed out to me, if she is upset by this turn of events it's not like she can withold sex.

So, yes, my chin has now been naked in public and made any kind of physicality between myself and Tilly while watching a DVD last night impossible.  I had a beer too, but was unable to get a review done and it was last night now so... it wouldn't be right to try and review it now.  I'd have it again though, so it's not too bad.  I dunno, can I still review beers now I have a smooth bumface?  "Control, you must learn control."  From Gandhi to Yoda over two posts, nice.

Killing Jokes 1: Parenting

One of a collection  of three posts of varying length trying to order some of the random verbiage cluttering up my head.  This is the long one.

I shall be talking parenting styles in here.  It is not designed to challenge anyone.  The choices that Tilly and I have made we have made together and we made them because they worked for us.  I respect everyone's right to make any decisions regarding parenting that work for them.  What works for us just works for us.  If I evangelise I do so because it works for us, it may not work for other people.  Equally, I am happy to hear what other people do and will not feel challenged.  Parenting is a very touchy subject, I know, but I shall talk about what we do as a record, I do not suggest that we are right or that everyone should do what we've done.

Whatever else has gone on, and wrong, in our relationship Tilly and I have been (almost) as one on the parenting front.  In fact, if anything, I've been the more hippy and oddball one when it comes to the childrens.  One of the only things I feel is worth boasting about bring British for is the NHS.  I love the concept of free at the point of use health care from cradle to grave, I love that the 'market' is not free to set values based on what people hold dear but that, theoretically at least, this sort of thing is left to experts.  It doesn't always work as it should but I love it anyway.  Yeah, it costs a lot of public money, but it's worth it.  Kinda like a well-meaning family member who gambles too much and falls in with the wrong crowd but always loves you and wants to do right by you.  You know the sort of person I mean.  The NHS is like that.  Sure it has its issues but I love it anyway.

Except with birth.  It's pretty shit at using the wealth of data it has and, instead, perpetuates some situations that, with education, care and discussion, could be made better than they are.  So it was with our eldest and when my mother stuck her neb in and started talking about how we should put our eldest down to cry more I ended up defending what we doing rather more virulently than I let on later to Tilly.  I proposed the kangeroo method to my mother before we knew what it was and I equally started talking extended breastfeeding before we knew what that was either.  So it was that we made the decision to co-sleep with the Boy.  And we both made that decision.  I'd read Three in a Bed by Debroah Jackson and The Politics of Breastfeeding by Gabrielle Palmer and Tilly had read a whole bunch of other stuff.  Co-sleeping seemed like it would work for us.

We got rid of our bed.  Seems like an odd place to start for co-sleeping, but we'd worked it out.  We bought three over-sized single mattresses, latex, and laid them on the floor.  We bought an extra duvet.  Tilly knitted another blanket.  We anticipated the eldest joining us in bed again, despite having been sleep trained in another room.

When the Boy was born, at home, I felt empowered in a way that I did not when looked after by the NHS.  I felt part of the process.  Tilly commented that she felt I was part of the process in a way that I was not when the eldest was born.  While Tilly dealt with the afterbirth I slept with the Boy in our enormous nine-and-a-bit foot wide, seven foot long bed.  As we had assumed, eldest did join us once more.  Now it's over two years later.  Eldest has retreated from bed-sharing partly because she fidgeted too much but mainly because she accepted that she slept better in her own bed.  And I have the Boy.  This is to night-wean.  When I mentioned this originally I think I came out all wrong.  Yes, I hate the fact that my alarm has relegated me to the sofa and the timing of the night-weaning was a few days the wrong side of being okay.  But, and this is crucial, Tilly and I made the decision together.  And helping the Boy to sleep tonight was worth it.  He'll likely be with us for at least another year or two - I've heard tales of some staying until they're seven - but the average is for them to leave, voluntarily, at around age four.  Some part of me dreads that.  Why?  Because I ended up tearing up with emotion, positive emotion, as I helped him to sleep last night.  I didn't do much, just whispering to him and looking at his eyes as we both lay down next to one another, telling him how much he was loved just for the simple fact of being.  I mean, I can be proud of what he does, but I lve him because... well, because he's the Boy.  I love my eldest just as much because she's my eldest, if you get what I mean.  I love them for being.  And expressing that as they drift to sleep... I can think of no better way.

Now, you might think that this is what's causing the elongated dry patch.  No, that's down to breastfeeding.  Again, this is a decision that Tilly and I took together.  I was keen for Tilly to breastfeed.  We didn't think about how long this would be for but we knew that a decreased libido would likely be the result (not for everyone, some people have heightened libido) and that we wanted to do it approximately as long as it needed to be done.  It wasn't until the eldest was about six months that we thought we ought to know what to expect and how long was too long.  Scientifically the results shocked us at first.  But, me first and Tilly following, we came to the conclusion that all that mattered were our opinions on how long.  Eldest stopped at eighteen months.  The Boy is still going after over two years.  We both know that he will decide when he's had enough and we'll be on hand to facilitate that move.  It does make things hard and I do know that the breastfeeding isn't all of it.  Tilly has referenced often enough that I don't make her want sex at all for a variety of reasons - I have no way of knowing if she was being truthful or deliberately hurtful - and the time since we last made love, as opposed to simply having sex, has stretched on for the best part of five years now but I did go into this with eyes about as open as I could imagine.  So, though I feel justified in grumbling and feeling hard done to on this matter I can't say I wasn't warned.  I guess my main beef is the lack of love-making rather than sex.  Hell, even to be close physically would be nice, but Tilly has made it clear that having children crawling over her all the time makes her less than willing to be cuddled or kissed by me.  The reasons change, but the overall effect is the same.  I think I can safely say that the parenting approach is not to blame at any rate.

Indeed, this is the parenting style that we've gone with.  Not a conscious choosing - like we read the books and decided which approach to adopt - more something we've happened upon, found has a whole bunch of names and works for us.  We don't do everything any one book says, indeed, most of what we do I don't even know if it's in a book.  I see our role, in our family, as facilitators.  I can't always do it right.  I revert to my own upbringing, Tilly to hers too, but mainly me reverting to the structured, stand-offish and arbitrary upbringing I recieved from my own parents.  It worked for them.  Maybe not me.

This has extended to their schooling.  I have pushed for less mainstream educational options since they were born.  We moved to the least structured kindergarten we could find and then went to Steiner.  From there we have moved toward home schooling and, in that, we are drifting slowly toward the 'unschooling' method.  I haven't done as much research as Tilly has on that, but I have read a few frightening articles on what education is at present and, being immersed in it, have seen my own faith in the system wane.

I like the concept of state schooling.  I think the noble goal of having one local educational provider and abolishing class that way is a good one.  I like that all students have the same grounding and equality of opportunity.  However, I am watching this turn sourer.  I do not believe that private funded educational provision is a good thing.  I was itchy about Steiner for that reason.  But I worry about the sausage factory that education is increasingly becoming.  Where evidence trails, targets and standardised tests increasingly dominate school time and a cascade of strange adults teach nuggets of unconnected information to the tyranny of bells.  If you can't evidence that something has happened then it didn't happen and if the results aren't capable of being put into a computer database then they are irrelevant.

My guiding principle as a teacher has been to make students happier and more confident.  I have not really bothered about their results.  At least, not to their faces.  Their results are more important to my job than they are to their future lives.  I have always been honest to them about that - it's why I'm not untouchable at work, my results are not shit-hot - and I think I've made some difference somewhere and mainly in ways that cannot be measured.  But, of course, I would say that.

So it is that we have edged toward home schooling.  It is a decision that Tilly and I have taken together.  I don't like the ramifications for my own work - but that's mainly because of the dichotomy of it.  I'm an adherent to Gandhi's philosophy on this (though, as a historian, I recognise that he didn't always get it even remotely right): "Be the change you want to see in the world".  He couldn't tell a boy to give up sugar as unhealthy until he himself had done the same.  These things resonate with me.  So why, if we are choosing home schooling, do I work on in the sausage factory?

The point of all of this?  I guess it's to record that, in amongst all the bad lately, there are things that Tilly and I have done together that I remain committed to.  And that some of the decisions that appear ludicrous have at least been made by both of us, largely with me as the engine and the driving factor.  I would defend them if called to do so but I hope I've just set them out here, for they are our decisions and everyone will have their own needs and hopes and so they aren't for everyone.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Wonky records

A brief one.

I was intending to post last night after I took a little control and had a beer anyway before bed, sufficiently in advance that I was sober by bedtime, and post a beer review.  It was Thwaites brewed too, which was a nice little nod to my childhood knowledge of beer and alcohol in general (not that I drank it, I was a tee-totaller and quite vociferous about it).  However, the Boy wouldn't go to sleep and so I passed out with him at some point and then woke briefly at half two in the morning to peel out of my day clothes and go back to sleep.

There's also the fall out from Tilly's night out that I know I'll want to record but not now.

A good friend sent me an e-mail about the last few entries on here that made me think.  And also showed that I've been a tad unfair and unclear about Tilly.  So what, it's my record, right?  Well, yeah, on one level, but on another...

So, to set some parts straight:
1. The co-sleeping thing.  Her timing sucked with it being the last few days of work but we both knew the time was coming.  Given what we're trying to do it made sense.
2. The sofa.  Sleeping there was kinda my choice after my alarm pissed Tilly off and woke the kids every morning.  Tilly likes her sleep and my alarm coupled with broken nights was driving her mental, so I retired to the sofa.
3. Lack of sex.  A sore point, but only for me.  Tilly isn't with-holding anything, she's just not interested - breastfeeding has that effect from what I can gather, it's why it's such an effective birth control method, not because it makes people any less fecund but because it makes the woman less interested in the act, hence abstinence.
4. Tilly's views on my cross-dressing.  She's in denial.  She doesn't want to talk about it.  It's not punishment, she just doesn't think about it.  I ended up throwing out most of my wardrobe this morning - it's not like I ever wear the items I threw out these days, they're practically inaccessible, so it's no great loss - we were having an argument.

And to talk of something else.

I'm not very good at looking at myself positively.  I know that I don't stand a chance of passing as a female.  Part of me wishes that I could but the rest of me knows that this is a forlorn hope.  My best 'feminine' feature, so far as I know, are my legs.  But this is according to Toby from the beginning of our relationship so I'm not sure how much weight to place on that.  Looking in the mirror after a shower, the only time I really see my reflection and something I do, at best, infrequently, I don't see anything that I particularly like or that is particularly feminine.

My beard is a defence mechanism.  It is the facial equivalent of peeing on something to declare boundaries.  I hide behind it.  Not to deny my femininity, nor to accentuate masculinity, it is a fence and a mask.  It is a daily equivalent of donning a uniform for my Nazi lesson.  It is something I wear to prevent connection and discourage conversation.  The bushier and more unkempt it has become the more effectively it does what I want it to do.  I also don't own, nor wish to own, an electric razor.  My wet shaving routine takes a very long time.  My hair is such that it takes a trim with scissors before I can attempt to use a razor anyway, once it reaches a certain length, and I'm much too disorganised and lazy to realistically shave every day.

When I shaved my legs back in 2005 it was nice.  If I were to do that more often, though, I would use delapitory cream or else something like Veet.  I couldn't maintain a shaving regimen for any length of time.  The same goes for my armpits.  They itch enough as it is.

Basically I'm saying I have poor body image and no real drive to improve that.  I'm still skipping breakfasts and so that would be the best place to start any great drive to feel better.  Whilst I would like to get rid of the beard I am also intrigued to see how long I can get it - can I manage a full Karl Marx?

So much for brevity.  Still feeling emotionally tender, a bit off-balance.  Throwing out old clothes shouldn't have the effect that it has had on me.  I kept the denim-effect mini-skirt from Toby though and all the stuff in the rucksack and the stuff squirrelled away in various parts of my wardrobe and the shoes and the boots.  Hardly the grand gesture.  Tilly hasn't really said anything.  She doesn't want to say "thank you" because it seems a bit silly and "well done" would sound patronising.  I guess she's right on both counts.  Don't know what I want her to say or do really.  I was expecting something in return.

We are looking at rehousing our chinchilla though, which I guess is progress.  So, if you're in the UK and want a rodent that'll live for another sixteen years let me know.

No images tonight, just a wall of self-serving and despondent text.  Sorry.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

How to be invisible

Eye of braille / hem of anorak / stem of wallflower / hair of doormat

It was while I was at a parents' meeting at the Daughter's kindergarten that I realised some things.  In the discussion I found that I had some things to say at some point and so attempted to getr attention, like everyone else, by raising my hand - this failed and eventually I gave up.  When I left, early, I had to push past about seven people to leave.  Now, there had been another couple who left slightly before I did, they pushed past no one and everyone said goodbye to them as they went.  No one even noticed I'd gone.

I have this effect, I am the anti-charisma.

Also, we've been co-sleeping... Tilly has been co-sleeping with the Boy since birth.  She got bored of feeding him to sleep.  So now she's on the sofa while I help wean him off boobs.  So far so normal, I guess, no worries.  Here's the kicker: she's banned me from alcohol until she's back in the bed.  This quite apart from the fact that she's been drinking and co-sleeping before now.  Or the fact that tonight she's out clubbing (granted, she deserves the night) and has been drinking.

When I think of how long I couldn't drink, still can't, at gatherings because I'm the driver and how little I drink when I do drink I get a little mad.  There are five wine bottles that are empty over the last week and one beer bottle - all drunk by Tilly.  For me?  Three beer bottles.  That's because we had company, I know, usually it's one.  Over the course of any given week Tilly gets through about two bottles of Rose lately.

I feel... emasculated I guess.  Heh, shouldn't be a problem, right?

contemplatingthedivine.blogspot.com - go there!
It's from contemplating the divine, you should go there.

Friday, 20 July 2012

My addiction and my wife pt3

Almost the anniversary of the events that brought me to therapy and to posting this blog.  And what do you know, quite by accident, Tilly and I ended up having a discussion about my cross-dressing and things surrounding it.

That's as may be, but it's not terribly helpful.
My whinging and bitching on here led me to state a few things to her and this developed into a holding forth from me about my lack of comprehension of the anger that she has shown toward my habit since I brought it up.  I tried to explain why I did not understand her angry response.  I didnb't want to go into things too much as I respected her decision not to talk about it but, at the same time, I explained my bafflement with the questions that she asked to which she already knew the answer and wanted me to state it but was uninterested in my continuing.  Tilly explained that she felt that my usual lie, for it was a lie, was rather convincing so that she ended up doubting what she was seeing or finding.  She explained that she was worried about that ability of mine.  I pointed out that this was down to my own respecting of her decision to not know or want to know about my cross-dressing or anything associated with it.  Tilly then explained that if she did anything that elicited the amount of anger and incomprehension that my cross-dressing did in her then she would give it up.  She used the example of her drinking.

It's-a me-a.
I then pontificated a little.  When we started going out there was an argument after going to a club in which I challenged some of her more stupid angry assertions with some angry ones of my own.  It was this event that prompted her to give up drinking to excess, over time.  I said that I had made a mistake in that exchange and that now, if there was something like that, I would first trry to understand why she did it.  To be honest I miss that part of her, it was irritating at times but it waspart of who she was when I met her and I fell in love with her faults as much as her strengths.  I wasn't quite so eloquent with it when talking, but I made the point that if there was something she was doing that I didn't like then I would first seek to ask her why she did it.  Partly because I love her and want to learn more about her and partly because I'm a nosey-parker.  I then explained that this was the reason why I did not follow her angry reaction: I had been as open as I could manage with her and had been waiting for her to talk about it.  Last July we had started to talk about it and so I was a little taken aback when she entered angry mode and the conversations stopped.

Yes, both cross-dressing and alcoholism
lead to broken homes and domestic abuse.
Heavy sarcasm.
Tilly then explained that she thought my cross-dressing was a historical activity, something I had done in the past and then given up.  I spoke of it in the past tense - I agreed and pointed out that unless I was actually dressed then, yes, all examples would be past tense - and she assumed that meant it was not going on.  She felt I had been keeping it from her and if I was capable of that then I was capable of really hurting her.  She likening cross-dressing to alcoholism or smoking.  I pointed out that the analogy was flawed - alcoholism and smoking are both objectively deterimental to health both mental and physical and directly affect people other than the one afflicted with the addiction.  As far as I know cross-dressing is neither directly harmful to the person who practices it nor does it directly affect those who know the person carrying out - all the moreso if it were done in private and in secret.

Then Tilly moved onto the fact that she felt weary having to keep the children away from the drawer where I keep most of my wardrobe and dreaded having to explain it.  I countered this.  Why, I asked, would she need to explain anything?  If our children are in one of our drawers or the wardrobe then I feel no urge to explain the clothes they discover, only tell them they shouldn't be in there.  If they ask about the clothes I am happy to tell them what they are but I never explain the purpose of them or whose they are - it's not what the children are asking.  In other words, there is no need to explain anything that we don't wish to explain.  I also pointed out that the drawer has been nigh inaccessible for the best part of a year due to piled boxes and various other things.  Tilly conceded that this, and all previous points, were all very reasonable and made her sound unreasonable with her anger.  I said I was not challenging her anger so much, merely expressing why I found it difficult to understand it even after the explanation she had offered.  I pointed out that I had told her about my cross-dressing when we met, when we were in Oxford and that I had written it before we were wed.

Oh I wish.  Just a drawer and my rucksack.
At this Tilly was visibly shocked.  She said that she probably deliberately misinterpreted what I said as she didn't want to hear it or understand it.  She did not remember it being written down - I pointed out that I had discussed it with her at the time and then had not mentioned it since as she said she didn't want to talk about it.  I also reminded her of the time she had been to her own therapist about it, asked what she had learned and when told she couldn't really remember reminded her that she had asked for space before discussing my cross-dressing again.  I was still giving her that space and respecting her want to not know - that meant my first port of call was to avoid direct answers to questions connected to my cross-dressing.  Tilly accepted this.  I pointed out that I would still wait, that I did want to share it all with her.  She remains one of five people, including my mother, who have been specifically told about my cross-dressing by me and only one of three who have been told without me having plausible deniability later on.  One of the others was Toby and the other was Catherine.  I also said that I would probably be waiting until I died, I understood that, but I would still wait.
Area 51, practically the epitome of plausible deniability.

Tilly asked why I couldn't just throw out the clothes and not get more.  I explained that I couldn't really go into that unless she wanted a full discussion on my cross-dressing, she confirmed she didn't, and so I stuck with my hoarding attitude and my miserly nature.  I paid money for the clothes and so that was a reason not to throw them out.  Also I have a hard time parting with anything material and that was the other reason.  I haven't thrown out a tape or CD since we met, I pointed out, and the only clothes I have discarded were socks with holes in and a few shirts that Tilly threw out for being threadbare.  With that history I was, I argued, unlikely to be able to bring myself to chuck out my female wardrobe.  I also alluded to 'purging' behaviour and the psychology of it all, using music as an example, and how it would likely not end the habit at all.  Tilly remained perturbed by the aspect of all of this in which I seemed controlled by the habit, citing her giving up caffeine and drink as examples.  I repeated my discomfort at using those analogies and pointed out that the clothes were a societal construct (we're both historians, we know what we mean) and therefore the clothes couldn't control me, rather it was the urge to wear feminine items - even the material was relatively unimportant.  I later, this morning, realised that I was hinted at cross-dressing being more like OCD behaviour, compulsive, than an addiction.  Well, for me at least.  Yes, I shared that too.
I am a hoarder and I have nuts.  Clearly I'm a squirrel.

We both agreed that the conversation had been a positive one.  We both agreed that Tilly will likely be angry still after the conversation has faded and that she didn't want to understand.  We both agreed that I will likely die waiting to explain it all fully to her.

All in all, it was bittersweet.

There is a whole wealth of things that we did not discuss, I know that, but I think I went as far as I could at present.  Bondage, masculinity, femdom, captions, liberation - all of that I think remained beyond the remit.  I know what triggers the urges but I still don't truly know what brings the urges.  Why women's clothes, of all things?

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Whinge whine whinge

Okay, I was whining last night and now I guess I'm whining again.  Positive stuff first.

This blog.  This place and the people that comment here and the people that I have met through this blog have been really helpful in finding the positives and the happiness over the last month or so.  Yeah, I've bitched and moaned on here about workload and stuff at work but the space to vent has been a major help.  Also, though I've been awful at commenting lately, there are other people's blogs that have also been really helpful.  No, really, they have provided me with diverting questions and answers and all sorts of good honest stuff to mull over.  I have also managed to stay more or less afloat at work.  New Union representative and an update on my situation this week was rather upbeat - he was quite supportive and intimated that the whole shebang would be over quickly as there was nothing that I was actually doing wrong.  Now, he didn't validate my existence or anything like that but he did say what I needed to hear in that his assessment was that it was not all my fault.  This was good.

Now the bad.

Today was hard work, my boss was in and made a bunch more demands of my time.  My timetable was published and I have all exam classes and am now expected to carry out more administration.  Despite my given area of management I am now expected to supply all the stuff for all the other areas so that my boss can hold everyone to what they need to be doing.  In other words, I'm doing her job.  She's had a year to sort this all out and has done... nothing.  She has left the whole staff to figure out their own way through things, ignored the list of things that I sent her regarding these when she asked for them at the beginning of the year and now is asking me to do it again.  Worse, she is constantly arching her eyebrows in mock surprise when told what we do with this bloody disapproving look.  She's complained all year about the burden of two Year 10 classes, with no Year 11, and next year I have three of these and a Year 11 set and two Year 13s and a Year 12 and another subject at Year 13.  How on earth I'm going to carry out all of that administration whilst replanning the whole load of Years 7 to 9 (my management area) and supporting the recording of existing stuff for the rest.  I'm angry.  I am on support procedures for not doing enough and she has done bugger all and is not on support.

I spoke to the man responsible for that process being escalated and he all but admitted that the reason for me being on support now is down to my boss feeling isolated and alone.  Furthermore, she reports to him that I have "been better" these past few weeks.  I haven't actually changed my attitude to her or anything else, if anything I have become less likely to offer help and less supportive in front of other staff.  It's all on her bloody perception that is, in fact, wrong.

I was therefore a little drained when I got back home from work.  I'd busted a gut to arrive home early too, because I wanted to see my wife and children.  On arrival I discover that Tilly is tired, again, and angry at the world.  I am thrust straight into childcare while she takes a bath.  Then she reveals that she wants me to put the Boy to bed and sleep with him (along with the night waking that entails) for the foreseeable future - the whole point of her looking after him was that I was at work and up at 5am and so couldn't really be on call all night too.  The fact that for the past six months I've also been on call for the children from 5am until I leave for work (originally 6.30am but stretching until I leave about 7.25am these days with giving breakfast to the Daughter and wrangling our pre-verbal Boy) has been ignored.  As has the fact that I've been looking after the chinchilla alone since the birth of our firstborn, about four years now, which takes about an hour every other night out of the evening.  And washing the pots, half an hour to an hour every morning for four years.  I realise that these are small tasks and that I shouldn't complain but they are daily, or near daily, and are on top of any work I bring home (I know I shouldn't, but teaching isn't like 9-5 jobs over here - a set of 30 essays takes about five hours to mark, there simply isn't the time to do that in a school day with teaching and planning as well).


I am, it seems, the "third child" as Tilly put it this evening, who acts like she's going to blow up all the time and therefore is completely unhelpful and useless as a support.  Can being called a "block of wood" be far behind?  I love her but I can't give her what she wants.  I know she has a libido again, has had for about a year and a half now, since the birth of the Boy but we haven't had anything approaching a physical relationship, well, we had the physical aspect once this time last year but nothing approaching a loving physical relationship since August 2007!  There are people in chastity who have more release than that!

Whining.  Time to stop, I'm working myself up.  And, I won't get an evening as now Tilly is sleeping downstairs - my last bastion of space is gone.  This upsets me.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Yes, but is it fair?

Complain-y post ahead!

We had friends up over the weekend.  They were mine.  Tim and Lisa.  Tim, Jerry and I were friends at school, they'd been mates since they were in infant school together (so from about five) whereas I got to know them very late on by comparison around the age of twelve.  We stayed as a group through to Sixth Form and then stayed in touch after we all went to University.  Tim was the first of us to marry and remains the only one without children.  Tilly and Lisa get on really well, and Lisa also happens to be the godparent for our daughter.

It's a bit like this - you pay for feed and feed their stock, not
like a petting zoo.
So it was that we spent most of the Friday evening making sure that the kitchen was presentable for company and most of the Saturday getting in food and basically hoovering the worst bits of the house so that they wouldn't be scandalised when stopping overnight.  They arrived slightly earlier than billed, meaning that we hadn't finished, but that didn't matter in the grand scheme of things.  We then took them out to the farm near where we live that our children enjoy going to and had some fun there before getting back, putting the childrens to bed and attempting an adult night.

So far so normal, right?

It was like this I guess.  South African.
Not quite.  On the Friday I had insisted on having a beer, it had been one of those weeks and I hadn't managed to get this place up to date nor had I managed to get and catch up on the Haven.  I was in need of a beer.  Tilly joined me and had a bottle of Rosé at 12.5%.  All was well, we were watching a DVD of a sketch show, and then she got a bit embroiled in her online conversation.  So what?  She started increasingly talking over the DVD about online stuff or big stuff about the kids, I listened and responded properly until eventually it became abundantly clear that she wasn't interested in the show, so I turned it off.

This began a tirade of anger from Tilly.  Claiming that I'd called her drunk and loud (I had done nothing of the sort) and basically attacking me.  She then started crying.  Okay, I know she was drunk, but I wasn't really prepared for that.  Also, and without going into details, much of what she said pushed my buttons, my 'oh shit I'm crap' buttons.  This got me thinking a lot about the handcuffs I had in storage and wondering about liberating them for personal use - I can't claim to be logical either.

Oh, hey, it's been a while, y'know?
Saturday night was to be spent in our bed rather than the sofa so I liberated the handcuffs and stuffed them down the side of the mattress for transfer at some later point.  In the course of the evening the Boy got up and I put him to sleep twice.  The third time, about 11pm, I was unable to repeat the trick - him still being breastfed means there's a limit to what I can do as a male when push comes to shove.  Tilly was, by this point, a bottle and a half of wine, maybe two, into a session with Lisa, Tim wasn't drinking.  The interruptions to the evening for me meant that I wasn't really in a conversation, they were all talking turkey about child rearing, schooling and economics, so I had no real emotional investment in the dinner party.  I wanted to go to bed, the Boy offered a good excuse.  But he needed Mummy, and Tilly was not up for it.  Somehow I managed to talk her out of putting him in front of a DVD for a few hours but then I'd to sit with the agitated tyke for an hour while Tilly got herself dressed for bed (I have only seen her get dressed once since she moved in back in 2007) and did her teeth and so forth.

We are lucky.  Woods like this are right on our doorstep
and the weather was nice.  No rain like what we've had
on and off for a month or so...
Come the morning and it transpires that Tilly and Lisa have arranged to go shopping.  Now, fair play to Tilly, she doesn't really do much without the children and so she needs this time.  Tim and I were to take kids through the woods for a walk.  This we start.  But Daughter is tired, very tired, and melts down half way round.  I deal badly with it because I am embarrassed - this is nothing to do with Tim, who doesn't really care, or the Daughter - a hold-over from my parents telling me how much I embarrassed them as a child I suppose.  The exchange left me feeling pretty crap as a parent on top of feeling overall crap about being a husband.  Before setting off that morning Tilly had discovered the handcuff key in amongst my stuff, why she'd been through it was not explained, and wanted to know what it was.  I tried lying but in the end had to tell her - she was disappointed and muttered something along the lines of "Oh, it's all that stuff that I don't really want to know about".  So, yeah, pretty crap.

On returning home I get an e-mail on the iPad from work that put me in a bit of a spin but with an attachment that wouldn't open on that device.  Tim was showing videos to the kids on my laptop at this point, having borrowed it to check up on his facebook whilst I made lunch - you can see how much talking we'd managed by this point.  I borrowed the laptop back and the daughter melts down again because she wants to see a video.  She needed a nap.  I ham-fistedly try to get her to take one, but a combination of feeling crap and the work e-mail make me jump all wrong and I end up getting angry instead.  It does not end well.  Tilly and Lisa misread the train timetable and need to be picked up so Tim goes to do that, leaving me with both of them and a general feeling of gloom.

I skipped lunch.

The chinchilla... Okay, no, just a chinchilla.  Looks like
ours though.  No, ours chews his feet.
Tilly returns, the Boy takes a nap after seeing her - meaning he won't go to bed at normal time - and Tim and Lisa take their leave.  I broach why I'm feeling shitty to Tilly and probe gently about discussing what happened in the morning.  Tilly confirms that she has no desire to talk about any of my issues and states "I just wish it would just go away, to be honest".  This is to be an end to the matter as she is preparing to go and sing at church in the evening.  I drive her down, as normal, then bring the children home.  Daughter manages to stay awake until 7pm before finally crashing and assenting to sleep but Boy, having napped, was still awake at 9pm.  Of course I then spend the next hour sorting out the chinchilla, I'm sure I've ranted about that before now, and the Boy was screaming with Tilly at 10pm.  No chance of discussion with Tilly, having not seen her for the whole day really, and I'm back on the sofa.

None of this was helped by the references Tim made to the amount of sex married couples have.  He was trying to make light and imply that he and Lisa aren't doing it very often, but finding it fun.  It just reminded me that his once a week, which is so terrible, is light years away from my last doing it in July last year.

So, feeling shit and planning to try some light self-bondage to compensate I retired to the sofa, it doesn't last long - can't have marks for going back to work y'see.  Not that I have some seriously normal issues or anything.  I almost wish Tilly and I had had a row on the Friday, it would have been a damn' sight more worthwhile than not having spoken to her for a day and being frozen out of conversation because I wasn't a female or sober.

Warned you right there at the start.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Beer Review: Two Hoots

Long week at work, plenty of stuff getting put forward with some mad ideas, but nothing new there.  Add to that a weekend of friends coming over (not necessarily a bad thing) and you'll find the big hand pointing to 'beer' and the little hands spinning round.

Tonight's offering is Two Hoots from the Joseph Holt brewery in Manchester.  They make Maplemoon as well and I'm sure they do some ruby variant of something that I've had in the past.

It smelled strong as I opened it with a pungency that put me in mind of yeast and a fizz thagt made sure you smelt it.  No citrus or tang dsiscernible.  At 4.2% ABV it was pretty much inkeeping with my usual brews of late and it had a lovely orangey gold colour that made it seem like it was warmer than it was.  It certainly had a kick to it, sharply elbowing its way into my mouth and making sure my tastebuds remembered it with an after-taste that hung around long after the party was over.  Maybe it was waiting for a girlfriend, maybe it was stalking someone, maybe it was just trying to push some illegal substances, I don't know, but it definitely hung around.

Strong flavour.  It reminded me of the Leeds Best taste, being strong and yeasty, but it definitely had character.  I was mystified as to why anyone would make a beer without some decent hops when I was on the Leeds Best but after having some Sovereign after this Two Hoots I think I get it.  It is a mule of taste with some sparkliness added by the fizz and a heady sort of pulse as you gulp it down.  Not really one for downing, so I didn't and one that made you remember it.  I'm still not altogether sure whether that is a good or a bad thing but it did mean that the more fuggles' style taste of the Sovereign was harder to realise and to track.  I think this would be the beer equivalent of a strong curry or a hot and sour soup - your tastebuds require a moment to rest and recouperate before attempting to work out anything more nuanced in flavour than salt and vinegar crisps.

Value for money, provided its on offer, and pleasing to the gullet.  It's strength means that it doesn't do anything more than offer a pleasantly light head after drinking.  Drink it in front of a comedy show, take sips between sketches, and smoke a pipe.  It's old man's brew and should be attempted by youngsters only in extremis.  More yeasty than a new born and stronger than it looks to taste, be prepared with after-dinner anecdotes that involve swamps, fuzzy-wuzzies and Earls.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

And the beat goes on...

Drums keep pounding a rhythm to my brain...

Well, there was a cough just now, so I won't get long to write this as I am.  However, I can say that my evening has so far been a pleasant one.  I was not anticipating it to be so.  Tilly went out for the evening to go to singhing practice at church, and for the first time I was not giving her a lift so she set out earlier than normal and, just for a change, I was to look after both children.

Five minutes after stating confidently "I'm not tired at all" my
daughter looks a little like this.  This is not her, it was found
on Google and is a 'free image' I believe from a site on
how to get stroppy three year olds to sleep.
They suggest locks on doors.  I am not convinced.
Of course, she immediately went into working herself up because Mummy had gone out and, impressionable thing that the Boy is, he followed.  I was despairing of getting them sensibly to bed.  With trepidation I took them both up, followed our little slightly woolly routine and then settled them both down.  With the Boy I took longer after a method I picked up the previous night.  Tilly was having trouble getting him to sleep yesterday and so I was drafted in at about 8pm to try.  I held him and stroked his head for about an hour and he drifted off around 9pm.  This was after looking after the Boy from when I got in from work (about 4pm yesterday) to bed time, about 7pm.  I then was with the daughter from 7 to 8pm as she was not tired at all and certainly not grouchy.  She fell asleep about five minutes before I was called to bail Tilly out.

Huh, this is the actual collar.
So, tonight I was expecting far worse.  But, ten minutes of stroking the Boy's head and he fell asleep and then about twenty of holding daughter's hand resulted in her being asleep enough that I could retreat.  This all means, with Tilly out until about 9pm, I have some me time tonight.  Predictably I fished my rucksack from the car and am wearing my dress, my boots, a pair of rather frilly little knickers and a collar that I picked up from the pet shop while buying chinchilla food.  Lord knows why, but I did.  For what it's worth, that collar is purple.  It's nice.  The ensemble, I mean, not just the collar.  However, I won't have much longer in it.

Yes!  That's the groan right there when you realise that it's
happening anyway and nothing you can do nor say will make
the blindest bit of difference to what has already been
decided but with the knowledge that somewhere you
fucked up enough to make it happen anyway.  That's me, that
is, but prettier and with less facial hair.
My ridiculous meeting at work went ahead.  It did not get as confrontational as I had feared it might.  I knew that certain things were not right and I was relying on my voicing them to get the discussion started.  I was also very much aware that the last time I tried anything of the sort I was shouted down and my Union representative had had to intervene on my behalf.  Why?  Because under verbal onslaught of any kind I turn to jelly, assume it's all my fault and go to pieces.  It's not a terribly endearing quality.  I was braced for the heated exchange.  It didn't happen.  I did learn some things though.  I'm on the stupid programme of 'support' (and I use the term loosely) because of the insecurities of my new boss, something I suspected but the senior boss practically said it - as an attack on me, by the way, after all, no boss would be insecure if their underling didn't make them so... riiiiiiight.  Also, the process doesn't exist - no records are kept.  Also, the process is flawed - it was not about correcting perceived issues with my work but about engendering better working relationships between my boss and I; I can hit as many targets as I want but so long as my boss remains insecure I shall remain on the process.  I can't even begin to express my frustration and outrage at that last one.

Following that I did little work at work.  Strangely I was somewhat demotivated.  Not terribly, just enough to think "what is the point".  You know the drill.  However, with new iPads at work I simply reached for Temple Run and indulged a little in mindless game playing.  There is oddly little worry at the moment, the day was... fuzzy.  And getting the children to bed went mercifully well, in spite of rather than because of my actions.  Now I'm just luxuriating in clothing that feels like mine.  I must say, unexpectedly, the collar feels as right as does the dress and the boots.

Listening to this (thanks to Dee Mentia) helps:

Make of this what you will.  The collar is off now, I'm dressed for bed, no marks (except from the bra, I bought it back when I'd split from Toby - it was deliberately a bit tight).  I am in null zone now that I'm not dressed.  Not disappointment just... nothing.  I'm not even planning tomorrow, which is my usual fall back position.  I may have that beer.  I don't know.  Next week I plan to start back on the Haven and on commenting on other blogs again.  I miss the community feel that brings.  Not in a bad way, just I notice the absence of it.

Like the collar.  Am strangely feeling its absence more than I felt it on.  Unexpected.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Positive parenting

I can recommend this as a transportation method that
also allows for bonding.  Our's is a Beco but the Boy
is slightly older.
Usually when I talk fatherhood on here it is to complain and to say bad things.  Not so this time.  Yesterday was Tilly's madness.  She organised an event and there were lots of people there and, as is now pretty standard, that means that I look after our children.  I think we were both expecting the worst and as Catherine had agreed to help out we arranged for me and Tarquin to meet and share child keeping duties.

My boy was packed into the carrier and we set off on a walk that turned historical along some city walls before reaching our destination.  Tarquin was late and clearly the worse for wear - he was more tired than I think I've managed over the last few weeks and I'd had an energy drink.  The upshot was that I ended up in charge of all three children while he was ineffectual all around the edges.  But we had a great time.  I thoroughly enjoyed being with my children who, in turn, enjoyed the day.  We listened to a story-telling session, looked at exhibits in the museum (no, really) and played in the park.  Even the walk home, a little much for my daughter, was good on the city walls again.

York has city walls too.  Looks an old view to me though.
You get the idea.  Daughter loved looking through the
When we returned to Tilly the children were tired but happy.  I'd go into more detail but they both napped today before I got back from work, meaning that neither of them are yet fully asleep and I've crashed from yesterday too.  I was going to have a beer, post here and finally start catching up on other peoples' blogs and such but no, instead, I'm sort of having an early night and posting briefly.

On Saturday evening I went alone to set up the hall for Tilly's event, mainly heavy lifting and tables and posters, and my only regret is tht I didn't take my rucksack.  There was no one else there, I was on my own for two whole hours.  I so could have worn my boots and my dress to do the work and it would have been lovely and relaxing and liberating.

Wednesday I have a ridiculous support meeting at work.  I'd rant about it but I am rather tired.  Of it and also generally.

Pants, I was going to write more.

Oh, to look that good when drinking.  Hell, to look that good.
All I have to say is go check out the work of Elle, it was a lovely surprise in the heat of working last week and a nice caption just generally.  She says it strayed from seriousness into silliness.  I'm not so convinced...

I wonder if I can find a way to have a walk and a beer while dressed?

Ah, really more tired than I had hoped, so I shall draw this rather short entry to a close.  Battles rage to decide which is dominant at the moment - happiness or worry - happiness because there are people who take the time to comment and say lovely things, and I seem to be doing good at work and home for a change, and worry because it's when things are going well that I mess things up the most.

I leave you with an image I stole from Limited Audience, I would love to change places for an hour or two, maybe a whole day.  I can't explain why but it would be liberating.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Beer Review: Leeds Best

I have spent the day preparing a large hall with tables and failing to be a good parent.  It was time for indulgence.  Next week is still a couple of days away but the clock was firmly flashing beer.

Tonight's journey through time and space left me with the rather highly priced Leeds Best.  It is apparently made with a strain of yeast unique to the second largest financial centre in the UK and brewed there out of a local brewery that grew up and was abandoned by Tetley's.

It smelled strange, I have to say, I suspect the yeast had something to do with it, but it put me in mind of the smell of my son after a bath or at the end of the day.  Mainly his hair.  There wasn't too much froth and the smell wasn't string, just insistent.  Fizz-wise, there was definitely a tickle, one sip didn't go where it ought as a consequence but this was a minor thing.  There was no warmth to it however, I mean, it was bitter but it wasn't my kind of bitter.  Tasted a bit light, but was 4.3% ABV, and was a bit watery in both flavour and colour.

It was an expensive experiment for me, I usually stick to what's on offer unless I know something about the experience that I am likely to have.  This one was a whim, pure and simple, and priced at the high end of what I would usually pay for from a supermarket.  Nice bottle though, tall and dark, with some nice bumpy bits to help with the holding of it.  It was still too thick to knock back, but lacked that syrupy texture that I seem to enjoy or the fiery aftertaste that comes from some decent hops action.  Unique yeast it may be but it's still just yeast and it can't make up for a lack of nicely brewed hops.  My beard is now actually three inches long in places.  It grew two of those with that last sentence.  I'd say I have a gut, but I don't.  10st 2oz at last count (142lbs).

A tough one to enjoy but not to be completely ignored.  If you find it on offer and you're out on a night out then do try it.  It's a sandwich beer - to be had with a light meal or else between two other beers.  It will clean the palate and it will keep you pleasantly light-headed without being hugely drunk and it won't be Bud.  Basically, it's a CAMRA drinker's light option, like what Carling is for people who drink early and wear no shirt in all weathers.

EDIT - it is apparently quite rare, being the first bottled beer that I have reviewed that is reviewed, so far as I can tell, nowhere else.  Hence the poor picture.