Chatter shattered dreaming

This is a poem about what it felt like to be a working father of 4 small children: experiencing them in intense bursts before, between and after work.

The day explodes as Mad Mike Hoare

kicks in the door and stands above my head,

beside the bed, in grinning triumph.

Morning Daddy!

Mummy, I need the toilet; can I have my colouring now?

Will I let the cat in?  What is that Fiona’s sat in?

(He’s brought his spearhead group).

Morning Swine!

It’s breakfast time.

Sit down, stand up, and where’s your cup,

 and can I have;  please don’t do that,

 but feed the cat; Will you stop it! Mind, you’ll drop it!

 Are you ready? Leave your Teddy,

Late for work again.

Mmm. Lunch smells good.

Coat off, brain off, open door:

Hello Daddy!

Duncan bit me! Hannah hit me!

I was sick, and do be quick – you’re running late,

I broke a plate, the fridge is bust and now I must

remember, later, buy some coal; did you, will you, fill that hole?

Give me that, I’ll kill the cat, she’s wet the floor

And out the door – late for school again.

Darkness.  Home at last.

Lights off, keys out, open door:

Hello Daddy!

Look what I did, falling down I cut my eyelid!

Daddy, what’s a mortal sinner?   Not now dear,

just eat your dinner.  Nappy!  Nappy!  Wait ‘til later.

Use your spoon for mashed potato,

Into bathroom, washed and dressed for bed.

And now, each soft and silky head

is quietly laid in perfect dreams of their reality.

While Mum and Dad sit stunned, in peace,

and think of all the hasty words and

half-heard stories, fears, and wonder how, through these few years,

they have remembered who they are

and manage, somehow, to convey their love.

Adulteration of food for profit

Horse burger anyone?  I for one am not surprised that some pre-prepared foods don’t contain what they purport to.  Any industry (and food is a multi-billion £/$ industry) that is susceptible to fraud will suffer fraud, the ‘crims’ will try anything.   I wonder how far this might go: any foodstuff which contains a high value component is at risk of having part, or all, of that component substituted by a similar, lower value, component.  How sure are you that your tuna mayo sandwich is really all tuna, and not part mackerel, or that the mayo really is mayonnaise?

What is more disturbing is that we seem to have learned little from the BSE crisis.The  answer must be buying, or growing, your own ingredients and cooking your own food.


PS I wrote to the Food Standards Agency about the testing of other foods; they said, in effect, that they don’t have the resources to test anything but the high risk items and were concentration on the beef issue for now.

Mis-selling insurance and one-way car hire charges

We’ve, presumably, all heard about the PPI (Payment Protection Insurance) mis-selling scandal.  Here’s another dodge to get you hot under the dashboard – Car Hire Collision Damage Waiver (CDW).  When you hire a car all the companies (Hertz, Europcar, Avis etc.) tell you that if you damage the car at all you will be liable for the first guzzilion pounds of repair costs.  Then they offer to mitigate your risk by selling additional insurance – often adding 50% to the apparently competitive headline daily rate for hire alone.

I recently hired a car from, a broker, who subcontracted me to Avis at Exeter Airport for a one-way trip to Bristol Airport.  In round numbers that’s £80 for a one-way, one day, hire plus £20 for CDW.  When I picked up the car Avis told me that the CDW I had prepaid to did not mitigate my risk to Avis and that, in any case, it didn’t cover everything that Avis insurance would do (windscreen, tyres etc.).  Given they had upgraded me, for reasons unexplained, from a cheapo Peugeot 107 to an Audi A3 I was obliged to buy another load of insurance: scratch an Audi and it’s going to cost a lot more to fix than a Peugeot roller skate.  We (the Avis receptionist and I) spoke to who confirmed that their CDW was limited in scope (though this is not confirmed on their website).  So, my 75 mile trip cost £120 + fuel.  Despite the fact that my contract was with, I was railroaded by their subcontractor.

As for one-way premium charges, what’s that all about?  Lots of people want to go from A to B rather than A to A.  I don’t believe the individual hire locations have a fixed inventory – they hire out what they have ‘in stock’ (hence unexplained upgrades) and only rarely have to transport a car back to base.  If it were that common an occurence they could offer one-way hirers to take the car back: “I’m going from A to B, have you got any cars to return there?”



I e-mailed, via their customer services contact, and they very promptly considered my complaint.  They stated that the ‘small print’ gave them the high ground but, as a gesture, refunded the charge for CDW insurance that I couldn’t use.  My advice would be that, if you regularly hire cars, you take out a comprehensive stand-alone CDW policy (e.g. from which will cover you for unlimited hires over a year for substantially less than the hire companies will charge.