A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times



There may be worse places for a grown man to spend 2 hours on a Sunday afternoon in early February I suppose...

But as I sat in a Wacky Warehouse one such weekend, I couldn’t readily bring one to mind. Just in case you’re mercifully free of offspring, and don’t know what a Wacky Warehouse is, it’s a sort of padded cell tagged on to the end of an awful pub, cunningly disguised as an indoor children’s adventure playground.

My daughter’s were there for yet another birthday party, and through a process which I still don’t fully understand, I was somehow conned into accompanying them... a role which basically involves stopping them from either killing or being killed. Why can’t they just play nicely?

To be honest, I didn’t think it would be too bad. I had visions of all these sexy young mums desperate to latch on to the only bit of male company around... no matter how ragged around the edges that company might be. Then they’d go back and tell my wife how lucky she was to be married to such a charming, good looking, and sensitive bloke like me. And she’d get all jealous and cross and vow never to let me go to one of these parties ever again. Perfect!

But it wasn’t to be.

All the ‘party mums’ had dressed for warmth, (I can only assume they didn’t know I was coming) and were more interested in discussing the price of children’s shoes, than any razor sharp repartee I might be able to bring to the table.

If I didn’t know better, I’d swear none of them were even remotely interested in me at all!

Anyway, I was left to idly scan the rest of the people in the room, and made a shocking discovery... By an amazing coincidence, our visit to the Wacky Warehouse appeared to have coincided with a... Dysfunctional Family and Scumbag Convention!

That was the only explanation I could come up with for the human flotsam and jetsam before me... either that or the fact that the Wacky Warehouse is on the ‘Shop-Lifter Special’ bus route from the local Dumpsville to a large retail park. As I looked around me for a surprise visit by Jerry Springer, I was seriously starting to despair.

Now if the ‘party mums’ were dressed for warmth, the ‘convention mums’ seemed to be dressed for solicitation. Their mode of dress seemed to be something of a uniform... About half an acre of chalk white flab and stretch marks, exposed between cropped top and low slung trousers... punctuated with a gold belly-button stud. Which to me seemed as pointless as putting a cherry on a turd.

I was just wondering to myself why these women would ever choose to display and highlight their worst features in such a way, when one of the ‘convention’ walked past me and bent down to pick up her toddler, (who was, of course, called Britney, and for some reason, already had pierced ears at 18 months) and I realised the horrific truth...

The belly wasn’t the worst of it. There was far more to follow!

Two giant love handles spilled over her 3-sizes-too-small trousers... like those bolster cushions you get on the end of sofa. And protruding from 4 inches of exposed buttock cleavage, there was clear evidence of a black lacy thong.

It was a scary sight, and one which reminded me of a story I heard recently about an old man who said that in his day, you used to have to move a woman’s underwear to get to her arse... but it appears nowadays, you have to move a woman’s arse to get to her underwear!

For the specimen that stood before me, I think you’d have needed a crow bar, an oxy-acetalene torch and maybe even a mining licence, before attempting to extricate this particular lady’s underwear from its hiding place.

I was just contemplating the logistics of such an operation when the first of many wailing children came running to the table.

First it was Georgina who was distraught because William had jumped on her. She didn’t seem particularly comforted by my “well that’s boys for you” comment, by way of sympathy. And I hereby pronounce that I don’t think I’m cut out for this child caring lark and yes I can see that it is beginning to show.

Next up was Millie, equally distraught because one of the other children had thrown up in the ball pool. Have you ever considered the implications of someone vomiting jelly and ice cream in a ball pool? Neither had I, but I can now share that they’re not very nice, I can assure you.

And then along came Stacey... ”A big boy is swearing at us and using a very naughty word” she said. Everyone resisted the temptation to ask exactly what the word was, and a member of staff was despatched into the padded cell... sorry, play area... to root out the offender. She returned with an overweight, sweaty eight year old wearing a replica football shirt. His Dad was soon on the scene...

5’6” with bleached blond hair, arms full of tattoos, and wearing a grubby T shirt with ‘FCUK YOU’ printed on it in triplicate... just in case you missed it the first time.

"Stop using fucking language in front of t' little ‘uns” he said, suggesting that he didn’t have an issue with his use of bad language per se... but rather the use of it in front of children whose language skills were not sufficiently developed enough to copy it properly.

“I didn’t say owt”, said the lad.

“Well you’d better fucking not,” said his dad, “or you’re fucking going home."

Well on hearing all that, I was sorely tempted to discuss my views on breeding licences with him, but I looked at his face and saw the scars of a dozen other similar discussions.

So instead, like the coward I am, I took the view that getting arrested for brawling in a Wacky Warehouse was going to look very bad on my CV and even worse to my daughters. And while all this was going on, they were mercifully unaware of any of it... or were at least turning a blind eye, because the last thing they wanted was to go home.

And that’s the point I wish to make.

You see, no matter how much I hated the whole Wacky Warehouse experience, they loved it, and so did their friends. And I have to be honest... So did all of the Dysfunctional Family and Scumbag Convention! If it wasn’t for the Wacky Warehouse, none of we people would have been in that pub at 3 o’clock on a Sunday afternoon, and they wouldn’t have been spending money on food and drink in there either.

Fact is, in this day and age, where the kids want to go, the parents are happy to follow and usually spend money. It wasn’t like that when I was growing up. Back then, as a kid, you were sort of an appendage. You were around but you had to fall in with what your parents were doing. It never occurred to them that they might organise some (or indeed any) of their life around you.

You had little or no say in what you did as a family, or where you went, and as a consequence, how the family money was spent. But now it’s different. Whether you agree with it or not, there’s no doubt that in many (if not most) families, the children either directly or indirectly have a huge influence on how, when and where your money is spent.

And whether or not that is a bad thing, I will leave up to you to decide. It was just an observation I made, something as a writer I have to train myself to do. Sorry for babbling on...


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Its my own fault really, its all about what I see in the world, and how it all translates for me.

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