Good effort, Jen

We’ve just got back from the Cubbly’s Christmas party. And that’s a much bigger thing than it sounds. OK, so it was only Jen, me, C and James, but it was an official ‘do’ with the company paying. Think about that for a second. Our daughter has produced a business where she employs me (and C to a lesser extent) and the business has made enough cash to take us all out to the pub. I think that’s pretty special.

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and we got the Christmas decorations down from the attic…

And it was after a really long day. C finished off about 30 bandanas (bravo) and I slogged through close to the same number of leads and collars. And still the orders keep coming in. OK,  we’re not completely swamped but we always have things to make, and with a trip to the NEC next weekend for the big dog show we are now getting a whole load of stock ready for that.

That’s been, pretty much, my life. Four days last week, three this week – and I have bought stuff back with me tonight so I can make some more things tomorrow. I thought at one point that it wasn’t going to work. As you know Jen has had mental health issues and early on I thought I might be the only one making things … but her mood and energy has improved dramatically with the business. Yesterday, for example, with just me and her in her house, she was Mrs Morale. ‘Suck it up, Dad!’ was a call from across the room when I was swearing at the machine that was chewing my latest work.

Today I made a bespoke harness. It was multi-piece and a combination of ribbon and fabric, tri-glides and rings. And, even if I say so myself, it looked really good. For those of you who know me, you know that I like making things. Art has always been something for me, and I guess writing books is all part of that ‘doing something with your hands’. As I get quicker and much more proficient at the leads and collars I don’t find it dull … it is often a challenge and I do find myself taking some pride in the outcome.

Anyhow, well done Jen. We are both v proud of you.

For the record, I have still not got to the end of book 5. I have managed a chapter a week and when I got to the end of Chapter 20 on Sunday (131,000 words) I found that I still had stuff to write. I’m pretty certain the story will be done by this weekend. We’ll see.

I’m off to the school I work with on Friday, then to Mum and Dad’s on Saturday (leaving C with Mary in Godalming) and then back for a few days with Mary before work (work, work) at Jen’s next week preparing for the NEC. It’s all go … !

We need a bit of love

Christmas is coming. Oh dear.

I feel like stopping there and publishing.

In a world which is coming off its rails what we all need now is a bit of love. We need to remind ourselves (that is most of us) how lucky we are. That we (most of us) have our health, a roof over our heads, food in the fridge, a car in the drive and clothes on our backs. We (most of us) are not sleeping in the streets, are not living in a country ravaged by war, are not abused by loved ones and do not have brains that struggle every day to get out of bed, or work tirelessly to stop ourselves from self-harming – or we’re not suffering under huge debt and worry about every penny when our innate reaction is to say ‘sod it’ and borrow some more.

We (most of us) can afford to think about which presents to buy the ones we love. We can arrange Christmas parties, go out and stock up on the nice things that make Christmas special and even think about phoning the local theatre and booking tickets for the panto. We have rooms to sit down and enjoy a Christmas lunch, and kitchens with electricity to cook it. We have cutlery and crockery, and glassware and a lovely hand-made Christmas decoration.

We (most of us) have people we love and who love us. We have friends, and relatives. We have neighbours and colleagues. We are not alone, and will not be alone at Christmas.

We do not live in a country with a repressive regime, one that governs by diktat, gags the press and arrests our brothers and sisters … some never to be seen again. The women among us are not obliged by our religion to dress a certain way, to miss out on an education or not drive a car. We have voices which can sing and shout and talk – about anything. We can gather in places with placards and demand our rights when we believe those who govern us are not treating us fairly. We have the rule of law, which stops people from doing bad things, and when they’re a genuine threat locks them away so they can’t do those bad things anymore.

We have so much to be thankful for.

And yet some of us are still not satisfied. We still want more. We are still unnecessarily angry … and drive our cars as though we’re late for a live-saving operation and treat those in our way with contempt, mouthing obscenities at them … sticking up a finger. We expect great service and complain at the fallibility of those who serve us. We ignore people in the street, pushing past them as though they are invisible. We don’t treat other people, and even animals, as we would like to be treated.

Some of us are unchristian, in the broadest, non-religious sense of the word. And yet most of us have most things. Most of us have enough.

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We went shopping in Cribbs Causeway yesterday. The photo sums up my Christmas shopping experience. It was a blur.

And to cheer you up a genuine conversation I overheard in T K Maxx yesterday:

Woman: What do you think of these? (Does twirl)

Man: Yes, they’re jeans. Are they comfortable?

Woman: ?