Wow! Look the feeding frenzy known as Christmas is finally over! The cards, the presents, the Need to Eat Turkey is over for another year... and all is quiet - and er strangely green. The other day the Nedster and I emerged from the house to be dazzled by Green Grass. Great patches of the stuff amongst the slush and ice.
Grass wow.
And green?
Ah.. green and peaceful. Lovely...

But hang on... whoah... the peace was too good to last...
Yes the trauma known as a Scottish Hogmanay is right around the corner.

Here it comes. The need to Clean the House.. the need to party like it's Saturday to the power of 100... count down to the BELLS..then kiss everyone... to sing Auld Lang Syne like you know what it means...munch on black bun and shortbread... and go First Footing.
Damn, I need to find a Dark Haired Man to cross my thresh hold with a piece of coal and a bottle of whisky asap.

Meanwhiles Happy New Year! Wish me luck in avoiding Old Mac as the bells ring...
And feel free to join in the ritual singing of gibberish...

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne ?

For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp !
and surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne

They say it's better to give than to receive. I'm not sure of that, seeing's as how already this morning I have received

1. From Ned A walk in clear fresh air through glistening snow in the back woods. (He's a working dog, but seems to earn very little over and above a bowl of Bakers Complete once a day...)

2. From Old Mac, an invitation to the Social Club for drinks later, (on any day apart from Christmas this would be a Worry..)

3. From the Cherub a Present that Cannot be Disclosed, but meant he not only had to navigate a Shop that sells Girly Stuff but also had to Gift Wrap on his own...

4. From the neighbours at No 3 an invite for G&T later (they got my number...)

So as an experiment, here, thanks to the Wonder that is Online Shopping in Virtual Reality comes my Christmas Gifts. Chosen for all those whose blogs and comments I've been enjoying for the past year.

Mr Musgrove - A Christmas Jumper! (Sorry Kev...The Book of Cynicism was sold out...) Yes, yes, yes, I kept the receipt

Roses - THIS Ivy Plant will never die!! See the advantages of virtual reality???

Clyde - Remember those jeans you used to wear in your background picture??? I'm assuming the new dark background means that the old jeans needed replacing....

Rog - Because the Cucumber Bowls last year were a Triumph...

Barb - The Einstein Time Experiment is continuing even as I type....

MmE DeFarge - I know it's been a tough year.. and I k now you are currently out with real huskies, but look, when you get back, have a virtual husky pup from me.

Will the Cute Never End??

Vegetable Assassin - How tough are you to choose presents for??? Mind you since you still seem to have the MOUSE problem...

Nick - AHA! See! You are not so difficult to find pressies for!

Scarlet - Your blogging this year has been woeful. However your past glories live on... I thought you might have use for these guys down south (so to speak..)

And KAZ! I KNOW you're out there. As if I could forget (seeing's how I'm pinching majorly from your blog...) So I'm sending you the best Christmas present anyone could ever want.

I hear his bedside manner is second to none.

And then there's Charlie!, Mapstew, Pat, Pearl, Libby, Malc, Kurt.... all of you guys. I'm sorry I'm running out of time here. What can I do except share my favourite advert of all time.

Check out The BRIDGE (look out for me waving)... follow through to GLASGOW via the Falkirk Bridge and Eileen Donan!

Merry Christmas

Macy

X

Does anyone not know it's the shortest day? This is when the earth finally starts hauling itself around to Spring again - or Autumn as they call it in the Southern Hemisphere. It's also been a day that started with a lunar eclipse.

So it's somehow fitting then, that this is also the evening when Cheesetown Parish Church holds its service for the dead. Or more specifically the bereaved. The Recently Bereaved are invited to attend a service - and I'm still recently bereaved in their books, because I got an invitation.
That's what I was doing at the church. Attending a service because I've been invited, and it's bad manners not to go.

Right...yeah...being polite - and waiting on a sign.

Didn't get one

That'll teach me to be cynical...

Did you know that when your gutter falls off under the weight of 20 cm of snow, it sounds like 35 cats being dragged off the roof all at once? Claws screeching down the tiles, before landing with aloud thump on the perma snow below.

Well it does. I know this because my gutter finally went south last Wednesday. It's not a biggie; gutters have been falling down all around Cheesetown. Some poor souls have lost conservatory roofs and sunporches to the snow sliding off their roof. Since The Nedster wasn't patrolling the back yard at the time, we can afford to be sanguine.

She Who Walks is just going to have to become She Who Phones.

And I found a gutter repair man on only the third attempt!
A gutter repair man in possession of a 4x4, who can visit the scene of the disaster and pronounce "Aye, its straightforward enough, ken* but there's no much ah kin do thi now"

Because of the snow?

Nah, yi cannae get the materiuls.. there's nae guttrin anywhur ken"

It's the unreported calamities that are the real news of this Big Freeze. Our wee nation state has run out of building materials!
Lesson 10 Snow can disrupt the laws of supply and demand.

*"Ken" = "you know" if you live on the East Coast. Every time I hear it I'm reminded of the old Leslie Nielson joke
"Surely you can't be serious?"
"I am, and stop calling me Shirley"

She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways

And went her messages by helicopter

(W Wordsworth + T Leonard)

Bear with me, Canadian readers especially, I know, I know I've mentioned the snow before... I know that as a News Item, it's marginally less interesting than cat coughs hairball.. but look if it's boring you, it'll all be over by next April..

Meanwhiles

Meanwhiles here in Cheesetown it is the gift that keeps on giving.

As of last Sunday it's been three weeks (count them!) three weeks since the Mazda got its last outing. We have main roads open, but the road through the square, and most definitely the hill out of Macy's is still under a couple of inches of snow and ice.
This makes driving a lightweight two seater, rear wheel drive sports vehicle impossible.

As far as I know you can't fit caterpillar tracks to a Mazda.

Three weeks is a long time if you live in the back of beyond - and for these purposes "Back of Beyond" is defined as more than 4 miles from the nearest supermarket.

Organised people will of course have ordered online from Tesco direct. People continuing to live in a state of denial about the weather won't.

And people fast running out of life's necessities such as pasta, dog food and wine are liable to have stupid ideas. Which is a very long explanation of how the dog and I came to spend most of Sunday afternoon crunching through the deep and crisp and even etc between Cheesetown and our nearest superstore.

Today's moral. Always buy the wine in the BOX.

Sometimes it occurs to me I do actually have a purpose in life, I am possibly a fantastic example of what not to do. A fantastic Warning to Others. Really.. I mean here's a few lessons I learned yesterday.

Lesson 1. Do not ever, never ever ever believe the weather forecast over the evidence of your own eyes. Look at me! Early yesterday morning whilst climbing over the snowbanks on either side of the main Cheesetown road, through the latest in what was one of our now regular blizzards, I continued to believe that we would have mild wintry showers, clearing later. All the snow was going to move south. Today all snow would be English Snow.
And just as well too, because I mean who much longer can anyone work from home? Chiz at this rate The Extremely Eminent and Respected Institute of Edinburgh is going to find out what a doddle my job is, and find a cheaper chimp to do it.
Except when I tried to buy a new weekly season ticket to Edinburgh my bus driver said
"Are you sure???"

Lesson 2. Your bus driver might know something you don't.
Four miles down the road it was clear that The Met Office might have been a bit economical with their adverse weather warnings. By the time I got to the Institute the Athens of the North had just become the Reykjavik of the South.
However Penny is not a woman to be easily panicked. through all the rumours "the trains have been cancelled! The M8's blocked! There's no bus services!" she continued to maintain that it would all just blow over.

Lesson 3. Your boss is not ever and never a meteorological expert. Not even if she works in the Met Office (see lesson 1 above)
At half 12 despite Penny's predictions, the snow had failed to blow over, melt and resolve itself into a dew. So we were Sent Home. All we could do was share cars. Which is how I came to share a car with Big D. The Institutes's most learned and senior Expert in Things Obscure.

Lesson 4 It pays to have a fund of small talk, because you never know when you're going to be stuck in a car with a Senior Member of Staff. For four hours.
For four hours (count them...) we inched slowly out of Edinburgh, with a couple of thousand other cars. At one point we spent no less than 40 minutes watching the traffic lights around the Gyle change from red to green and back to red again without moving a single inch.
After the first four hours it was dark. Between us Big D and I had agreed on the causes of the Banking Crisis, the futility of Fair Value Accounting and the likelihood of the stagnation of the economy failing a reformation of the banking regulations (Did I mention I am good at talking?) We'd agreed to disagree on the brilliance of Mad Men. sigh And from the traffic news it was becoming clear that the entire central belt of Scotland had had a total collapse of its traffic infrastructure .

Lesson 5. Sometimes you can be in the middle of a National Emergency and it is still boring.

Lesson 6. You can always walk.
Did I mention I'm good at walking? I can walk. Hell in these conditions I could walk faster than any other vehicle on the A80. I wished Big D well. He had to get to Glasgow, and on current calculations wasn't due to arrive there much before midnight. And he wished me well as I strode off into the dark and snowy wastes which were the fields behind the airport. Because I knew a shortcut back to Cheesetown. Ha! It's only 3 fields from the end of the runway. Which is why I also now know

Lesson 7. Walking alone over fields through in the dark is stupid.
It is stupid because it is dark and the only reason you can still see anything is because of the white glow that comes from the snow, which is freezing, and over the top of your wellies. And the white glow and the freezing fog make it scary.
Super scary. Scary enough that I have to rehearse my happy thoughts for the hour it takes me to cross over to the old mill.
Thoughts like "Well if anything does happen to me at least it'll be an interesting death. If any bastard does leap out the bushes, hes not getting the iPhone...If anything does happen The Cherub is well provided for ...

Lesson 8 Never underestimate the comfort of adequate Life Assurance.

I like to think that some sense in this somewhere, because I got home last night. Hundreds didn't.
Big D spent the night in his car somewhere on the M8. I like to think he had time to re-think his opinion of Mad Men.

Snow? I know.. I know.. I know.. I don't want to write about snow either. Everywhere's got snow. It's white stuff and it falls on you. And it's cold and Canada gets more of it.... but listen up we had 30 cm of snow.
That's a lot of snow.
For Cheesetown.

Taking one border collie as a useful unit of measurement, this is what six centimetres looks like...
Just past paw level. Pretty huh? Add some tinsel and it'd be festive even...

This is what 30cm of the stuff looks like.

See the difference? This might be funny if you want the dog to suffer for getting you out of bed at 5:30 for the third morning in a row...
But with the snow also over the tops of your own wellies it gets less funny fast.
Trust me on that...

30 centimetres... well 30 centimeters means..
• It means that the snow is six inches higher than your doorstep. Open the door and it falls in on you.
• It means that Cheesetown looks like a village of midgets, as all the gravestones are only a couple of inches above snow level.
• It means that the entire world is silent..because Edinburgh International Airport is closed for days. The whole runway! No airplanes!
• And it means that there's no cars, no buses...there's no transport in or out of Cheesetown. The BRIDGE has closed for the first time in 46 years.

And in a fresh twist to anyone elses Snow Saga, 30 centimetres of snow means that it has fallen on me to help the Cherub with his maths revision.

Yeah with no school it's down to me to explain why the merry hell
$x=\frac{-b \pm \sqrt {b^2-4ac}}{2a},$

The Cherub's been fine.
Really.
Yep, it took us all by surprise too. What with him being so close to his dad and all.
But, give or take the odd teary moment watching a sad film. Fine.
No really. FINE. Nothing to talk about. No Need.
FINE.

Too fine. I thought.

And I was right. Because the results from his prelims are just starting to trickle in - and they are looking BAD.
Not "need to try harder this Summer" bad
Not "well at least it's a pass" bad.
Not even a "what the hell happened?" bad
No, for the first time in his life, my child has turned in an earth shattering, phenomenal, unbelievable "What? You're kidding? Is that some kind of school record? BAD.

As one of his teachers said (and why is always the older teachers who seem to notice these things?), "it's as if the jet lag's worn off lately".

OK, I'm going to SHARE something...
But it's a SECRET OK?
If this gets out ... well if anyone ever hears about it...
Blogging Community: Oh you can tell us!
No seriously.. it's embarrassing.
BC Yay!... erm no oh , I meant you can tell us....
If anyone at work hears it... I'm DEAD
BC. {Deep sympathetic} Oohhhh
And in these times, God I shouldn't even be talking about it , never mind blogging it.
Deep silence
.....
Deepening silence from Blogging Community , who, are already remembering STUFF they have to do...
......
...
Patience of Blogging Community appears to wearing thin..
....

I really like my job. I'm really enjoying what I do. No really, for the first time in umpteen thumpy years, I'm not getting depressed on Sunday nights... I'm not dreading Mondays... See me, I'm all fired up about the projects in hand, the budgets, the stocktakes, the Bank Review Panel. I like my team of fellow weirdos. I like the policy wonks on the third floor, the ego driven marketing team, and the "who knows what the hell they do" admin team next door.
Check out the seminars and conferences!
International Financial Reporting Standards for SME
IFRS for SMEs Hwo to convert from UK GAAP
Cross Border Charity Regulation in Scotland
And next week I get to go on the Tax Update course!

I know.. I know.. I know you're thinking WTF? HOW did this happen??

BC Got that right Macy!

Yeah, yeah, the pay's realtively shit, and the vendetta beetween me and the Head of IT is shaping up nicely. But see, when you've had crap jobs for the past 20 years, when you've been through the Work-65-hour-weeks-or-we'll-say-you're-crap culture of Big American Banks. My god, some kind of record seems necessary.

Even if I've now jinxed it, by saying it.

BC D'ye think it's the Karma?

Wouldn't it be nice to think so?
Dunno.

Macy: Ned?.. Ned??? Oh for god's sake! DOWN!!! Off The Sofa Now!!

Ned sighs deeply, and executes slow and theatrical climb off sofa...

Macy: Right. We need a WORD.

Ned: Walkies? Walkies would be a good word...

Macy: No. A word about habits.

Ned: Eh?

Macy: Yeah HABITS. I mean, god knows, I'm easy going enough, I've got used to the pawprints through the house, the drinking out the toilet and the War on Postmen.

Ned: Goes with the turf blue eyes.

Macy: But will you quit with the pawprints on the furniture too? And the curtains? How the hell does anyone get pawprints on the curtains?

Ned: Warned you about the postman sweetcakes!

Macy: And the pigs ears under the pillow in the spare bed?

Ned: Small stuff toots. You're sweating the small stuff.

Macy: And the lab up the road? Can we just for once, just once, for god's sake, meet the blonde lab up the road without you shagging her?

Ned: Ahhh Cassie...

Macy: And can we agree, can we try and agree that when we're down by the pond and I start yelling and howling at you, that you stop eating the decomposing rodent?

Ned ...

Macy: Me screaming is not a sign for you to gulp the last bit of its haunches down your throat.

Ned ....

Macy: Because you know what's going to happen. You're only going to barf it all up again back home.

Ned: Chill dollface.. I'll lick that lot up later.

I know. I know. I'm imagining the headlines now.

Constant Blogger's Silent Shame
Macy enters third week of silence.

Shameless.
Drama Queen Macy refuses to comment on accusations she has abandoned blogging community.

Macy Who?
Blogging Community Ostracises Silent Macy

Stay tuned though.. here comes the horoscope

If Claire Petulengro is WRONG I'm going to be deeply upset.

October 20th 2010 is not a Good Day chez Macy.

Nothing personal against every October 20th mind. God knows, the sun is shining as brightly and the sky is as clear as it was last October 20th, and maybe every October 20 since the beginning of time for all I know. Difference is this October 20th is the one I know that marks the day Wayne died. This year I know he is dead.

Last October 20th he was heavily sedated and we had already been told that he wouldn't be waking up again. Last October 20th the Cherub was sitting in with his dad under sedation, telling him about his new X Box game, and how it was just pasta for dinner that night.
Last October 20th I was telling him we were rooting for him.

Last October I knew he was dying. I just didn't believe it. Not deep, deep down, heart of hearts.

I knew he wasn't going to see Christmas.
I knew that the hospital bed was being imported into the house for him to die on.
I knew the big send off from the hospice when he left to come back here was his last trip out of there.
I knew the Big Bang drugs we had in a sealed box were for the final sedation.
I just didn't believe it.
Just didn't believe it deep down.

I mean obviously one one level I believed it. I was phoning and mailing friends and family to keep them up to date, if anyone had asked me how he was doing... well I wouldn't have pretended all was fine with the world would I?
But deep down, deep deep down, nah. Bad stuff like this doesn't happen.

And here's the thing. It really does take a year before you finally finally believe that he really really is dead, and is not coming back.

The hardest part is knowing AND believing that he really went out there and died on us.

Horoscopes.
Yeah right
So much bunk there's no point even discussing it.

Indeedies.

W died on the 20th October last year.

This one made me cry on the bus to work.

I am an accountant. Technically, if you want to be really, really picky about this, I am a Chartered Accountant (Institute of England and Wales if you want to check it out...).

It's my dad's fault - he told me I'd never stick it...

He could have told me I'd never make it as an astrophysicist, an architect, an anthropologist, but no, he had to tell me I'd never be an accountant.
Of all things...

Yep

I know

No, actually it's worse than that...

But you know, it's a handy enough trade. World always needs number crunchers, yadda yadda yadda. World might not want to hear what you did all day, but you know world pays the going rate.

Trouble is you can be too NICE to be an accountant. It's like plumbing. World always needs plumbers and accountants at the WORST times. At SHORT NOTICE because there is a CRISIS which will ENGULF them. Sensible plumbers set very high call out rates to keep their weekends and evenings free. I don't know what sensible accountants do.. because I keep hearing from people in the shit.

People who forgot they had a tax return to do..people who thought that Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs and Companies House, and the Charities Regulator would all go away if they just ignored them for long enough.

No. I don't know how these rumours start either.

And I am too NICE to tell them it's Not My Problem. I Am No Longer in Practice. I have a day job which takes up enough of my time, and provides enough various and odd numbers to amuse me all day (and some of my weekends) thanks very much.

I have tried. I have tried to say no. I have produced sets of accounts which show eye watering losses, I have completed Business Plans which show this person is a blintering idiot and shouldn't be loaned any more money. I have ruthlessly weeded out non deductible expenses from tax returns...
And still I get the desperate e-mails.
Because I helped out last year and the year before because I am an idiot who is too NICE. And cheap.. because I am NICE.

Today there was yet another development. Despite having said no, and ignored the e-mails..I got a large brown envelope from the Wee Glasgae Church... stuffed with the usual incomplete sets of bank statements, random invoices.. and scary official forms.

Plumbers have it easy. No one can send them a blocked sink in the post.

Can't say I've noticed.

Must cry harder.

And proving once again, that Edinburgh really is the centre of the universe, (or a town full of hicks desperately needing to outdo Glasgow. I can do both sides of that argument), tomorrow we have none other than the Pope amongst us.
The Pope!
The Pope???
Yep the POPE.
(Stick that Glasgow....)

Yeah we've got the Pope most of the day. The Man is going to arrive at Edinburgh International Airport (... get us...you'd think we'd more than one runway or something..). He's then going to drive through the centre of Edinburgh - a feat no ordinary local can manage in these days of tramworks let me tell you. Then he'll meet the Queen before driving off for a cup of tea with a couple of, (presumably forewarned) bishops over in Morningside.

And thousands of the faithful will be flocking to line his route.
And every catholic school in the Central Scotland has been given the day off to go see and wave flags..
And hundreds of vociferous protesters will be making some major points about Child Abuse, and Women Priests and Aids in Africa..
And since it's St Ninian's day there will be Parades and Bands and, oh I don't know confetti and free Irn Bru or whatever.

And it's great... fine.. I mean I'm no pal of John Knox either you know... it's just they've forgotten to let me know how the hell I'm meant to get to work when every main road between Cheesetown and the Institute is going to be closed or packed with the faithful....

Yes it has been quiet around here recently, what with.. well what with whatever it was I was busy with lately.
Dog walking
Cheesemaking
Jivamukti Yoga
Court appearances
(Only one of those is true by the way ...)

The days are shortening, and rain and leaves are pelting down, and the one bright spot The Cherub and I have decided on is the pre-ordering of Halo Reach. So it is with Great Excitement that we got a notice to go and collect a packet at the post office.
It needed signed for....

Guess what?

Maybe she just realised I wasn't going to give up ...

It's not just the NZ Determinations Officer who's been issuing forms lately. They're all at it. Pensions administrators, the tax office, credit card agencies, insurance companies.
Used to be not a problem.
Used to be I could at least breeze through the first couple of questions anyway. Those later parts, the parts needing dates and details, and previous reference numbers and previous employers addresses... yeah they could slow me down, but full name, title, date and place of birth, telephone number yep I know those. Lately though, I've been getting stuck at the "Marital Status" bit...

I dunno.
I dunno which box to tick....

Only one of the usual options does not apply. I am very definitely NOT married. No wedding certificate, no quick Balinese beach ceremony or Las Vegas quickie to note. Which has quite obviously, saved me a small fortune in lawyers' fees and expensive new clothes. Hell, let's look on the bright side.

But "single"?? Single sounds like you are unattached but ready to get attached. Maybe if I was filling in a for for Soulmates R Us. com.. but I'm not. Nope, no thanks. Single sounds like I have a completely unfettered existence, no ties, no dependants, which, you know, if you are filling in the life assurance forms ain't the case... cheese, if I was single I wouldn't be applying for life assurance would I?

For a while back I was "separated" on forms. That was a nice, useful definition for bank accounts, and other interested parties who should know that I am filling in this form for just me, but there is this other bastard out there who could be trouble. "Separated" says "Please do not confuse my bank account with the Dybbuk's constant overdraft."
It was also a nice definition for anything to do with the cherub, the tax credit forms, the school records, parties where they needed to know there was another parent. We are separated, so we will need two copies of the forms and reports thanks very much.

The trouble started when "separated" stopped applying. I needed a category which meant, "separated, but we've ironed it all out, and now I'm caring for him here while we wait for him to die, and I'm really, really, Big Time, sorry"

For awhile the Jobcentre people kindly obliged by designating me W's carer - and even paid me £50 a week because I cared (who knows.. maybe if I'd cared less, been in a professional capacity, they'd have paid me more...). But you can't be separated from someone who's dead... can you? And as far as the Jobcentre is concerned you stops caring two months after date of death.

So

That would leave ... what, "widowed"? Nah. Obviously being a Scottish Widow carries a certain cachet around Edinburgh and it seems more appropriate for motor insurance - because you would not believe how carefully I drive now... but nah.. full circle.. no marriage licence.

My favourite definition of the word "ironic" is this, it's when something turns out the opposite of what was intended.
Pedants among you can have fun correcting the grammar above, I'm going to be illustrating semantics here.

Here's a nice illustration.
When W and I split up we had massive rows about PROPERTY and MONEY.
Massive..
HUGE..

You can imagine it all for yourself (and if you can't , lucky you...I'm going to hope it stays that way for you).

I am digressing. The upshot of the Macy and W property war was he went and bought his own flat. It was probably either that or a nuclear warhead. Anyway I was persona extremely non grata for years. For TWO years I was not allowed in the door. No ways.. I ony got my first cup of coffee there after his diagnosis.

So it's pretty ironic now that I own the flat in trust for the Cherub and his half brother. And really really ironic that I'm fitting a new kitchen and decorating HIS flat.

Life's got a habit of getting ironic on me lately.

I was going to start this post with the immortal words "We've all been there".. Except, of course we haven't. It takes a spectacular talent and spectacular circumstances to wake up feeling this bad after a night out.
Guilt - check
Remorse - check
Details? You want details???
Oh go on... If you can take it. Here's the details...

I got a last minute invite to a barbecue...a good end to the Summer Holidays. No alcohol because I am Driving not Drinking.. take dog... take sprog. Everyone happy.

It's a warm enough / dry enough night that we can actually sit out in the garden till way past dark. We might be huddled ever tighter around the Chimera as the evening goes on, but look , it's a grand night out, chat about the festival and the fair and look at the stars, and scrounge another jumper for warmth because frankly the Chimera isn't doing it... and ...bugger...
.. look at the dog.

He's just drank the entire contents of the fishpond.

The entire contents.....

Does anyone know where I can buy new goldfish in a hurry on a Sunday???

Apparently everyone does it; cruises along on some great zeitgeist, where all the thoughts an d ideas we have are are actually shared by most of our generation. It's a Noosphere, it's a Collective Consciousness, it's all in the memes..

Or put it another way. Back in the 1960's, when my mum and dad first looked at their new infant daughter and decided that the name MACY was radical and original, and memorable.. well thousands of other parents were thinking exactly the same thing.
Especially in Scotland...

Since starting work at the renowned Institute, I have found out exactly how unoriginal they were.
Not only is my Financial Director called Macy, but two of my budget holders are also called Macy.

That's on the third floor. Elsewhere in the institute there are a further THREE Macys at work.

Since there are only 130 people working at the institute worldwide* that means that about 10% of the female workforce in the Institute are called MACY.
HA! And it gets better. Because we are in Scotland - four of us are called Macy Mac...

Oh how we laughed when a dignified trustee sent an effusive e-mail to Macy (Me) inviting me out to lunch. He meant the other Macy of course..

But over the past five months, the joy of e-mails sent to the wrong person, or confusion over which Macy's office we are to meet in has worn off.

My team don't think it's funny anymore when they have to explain that no Macy can't meet with Macy at short notice because she's in a meeting with Macy. No not that Macy the other one...

I've been asked if I have a nickname they could use instead.
And I do .... but it's the one I use on my blog...

I found The Essential Billy Bragg!
It (not HE!) was on sale in a Save the Children shop.. Which is officially a triple whammy!

Wham 1 Because Walk Away Renee is one of the records I've wanted to burn onto CD for ages .. except I don't have one of those vinyl to CD gadgets...
Wham two is that I get a recycled CD that includes no less than 39 of Billy's other classics (St Swithin's Day! Between the Wars!) at an all time low price.. and
(Triple whammy! Bonus points time!) I can Save the Children too!

I think Billy would approve.

I've got my work cut out though, explaining to the Cherub why Billy Bragg is important, and not just some sad old git locked in a studio with a guitar and amp. And why exactly Kanye West has been ejected from the cd player in favour of this. So I'm keeping it very simple and basic and extreme to try and ramp up the enthusiasm levels.

"It's about the last time the Tories got power. When there was a major recession. Millions were unemployed.. they closed the steelworks... they closed the mines... there was a major gulf between the have and have nots.."

{I could give him the details, but I won't bother ..Me? I was at Aberdeen University.. member of Left Students... mini van down to Greenham Common.. assembling in Blytheswood Square in Glasgow to march for jobs ... Monday night meetings, then down to the Prince of Wales or the Blue Lamp .. Left Students discos at the union. Good times... Looking back we had it good in the times before student loans and tuition fees}

See the Bard of Barking is told it like it was. Good protest songs, from the heart.

And he was home spun, and English.. and sweet, St Swithins Day and Walk away Renee are bittersweet.. they still tear me up.

"Were there no communists in those days?"

Communists??? Oh yeah, but they weren't a major force, there weren't that many

{Actually thinking it, the Aberdeen communists were mainly wet... I don't remember them buying many rounds.. smoked a lot though}

And was their music worse?

He'll learn. Meanwhile Billy Bragg's sent me off down memory lane. See if you can spot the communist in the photo from Aberdeen 1984

In a major new development my Determination Officer has phoned me. This is exciting. Things are moving to a whole new personal level... we're on first name terms and everything. And I'm doing my best not to imitate her accent by accident.

BUT she says she needs a new photo of the Cherub.

Because the Cherub was smiling in the last photo I sent.

I say he wasn't. He had his mouth open a bit.. which is not a good look.. but, he wasn't drooling or anything.

Whatever, she needs a new photo.

She's the Determination Officer. She wins.

So it's back to the photo booth. For another photo. Head straight on. Hair out of eyes. Mouth closed. No smiling. Look straight at camera.
And another witness to be found to sign the photos and complete another copy of page 7 (Witness Statement and Proof of Identity).

This is the THIRD photo sent. The Cherub's looking noticeably older in each photo.

Strikes me at this rate he's going to have a beard before the Determination Officer's satisfied...

It's a cry from the heart and it's going out to the British Broadcasting Corporation who are issuing heatwave warnings every hour on the radio and the rest of the allegedly national news media

OK? OK??

Ice cream shortages?
Water rationing?
Sunstroke????

Tell it to someone who cares.
Do a reality check with us up here north of Carlisle will you?

My mother's had her central heating on for the past week, and the dog is frankly getting depressed at the thought of any more walks...

(a) too kind to bore you with tales of how wonderful my holiday was
(b) too lazy to make up for a fortnight's blogging
(c) getting to be of the cynical opinion that all holidays are more or less the same...

I've thrown together the following statements to let you generate your own version of my holiday. All of them are true...

The Cherub and I are just back from holiday in
(a) Sunny Turkey
(b) A beautiful hotel with two swimming pools and a spa
(c) Some part of the Med that will be forever INGERLAND

Early on in the holiday I told myself that I didn't care
(a) That I was the only one there without a partner - hell at least I didn't have Rows and Sulks and Silent Breakfasts....
(b) That, early days, as the lone Scots, the cherub and I were the whitest around the pool. Tanning is easy, it's not turning to leather in your old age that's hard.
(c) That air traffic control strikes in France meant that I spent the best part of my first day on holiday in Manchester Airport

Whilst there I
(a) Once again failed to learn how to swim
(b) Perfected my Mancunian accent
(c) Managed to avoid buying a carpet

I might always remember
(a) Pamukkale's salt pools
(b) The tortoises we found whilst walking in the "ghost village"
(c) Where I was when England were bombed out of the 2010 World Cup....

And let's not forget
(a)Thanks to the great food poisoning disaster of 2010, I lost 5 pounds in two days
(b)Thanks to "Genuine Fakes Limited" my designer handbag collection has trebled
(c)Thanks to hours everyday spent in the pool, I am now indeed the colour of a very old leather sofa...

Nobody said it would be simple did they?
The land of hobbits, Piano Players and the Haka is not rushing to welcome the Cherub with open arms.. They have however assigned us a Determinations Officer, which sounds as if they are taking us seriously.

Hell, don't take my word for it, try typing "Determinations Officer NZ" into google images for yourself.

Things are not going well with my Determinations Officer so far. I'm doing my best here, but his insistance on the Privacy Document being signed by all parties has defeated me.

As I pointed out in my covering letter
Privacy Act Section 6 – Both {the Cherub} and myself have signed this. W-, the parent with NZ citizenship being dead, cannot sign this as requested.

We await further developments forms

Oh yes. Even here chez Macy, there is a World Cup Thing going on.
Previous world cups have seen me working around the thing.

Italia 1990 - Loved Nessum Dorma, developed a major obsession with Salvatore Schillaci (hey I'm Scottish and a GIRL, so I could cheer when he scored a goal against England.. it was allowed!).

The 1994 World Cup was in the US, so what with that and no Schillaci, I could safely ignore it.

In 1998 I was still nursing the baby cherub, so I probably slept through most of it. I remember nothing.

World Cups 2002 through to 2006? I could flit in and out to be sociable make general comments about Rooney's fitness, Beckham's lack of direction, Goren Eriksson's general uselessness... for some reason Scotland had failed to qualify yet again, so there was no drama.

This time around it's a bit different.
Well, still no Scotland obviously.. but more to the point, this year it's just me and the Cherub. This year as sole parent, there can be no cop out... It's me filling in the wall chart, me having to give opinions on the goals...or lack of them.

I've been doing heavy revision here. England's dearth of talent even before Ferdinand dropped out? Maradona going a long way to stiff the Argentine team (and Messi) before the end of the first round? Spain's unstoppable form in the qualifying matches?
Yep, done the basic revision. Got the hang of the offside rule.
Gearing up for the harder stuff; Gerrard as midfielder or second striker to support Rooney?
What was wrong with 4-4-2 as a gameplan?

Sometimes though life gets real simple. Even I didn't have to fake my head in my hands watching the re-runs of .. er... was it Robert Green's goal on Saturday??

Sorry...sorry... English people....I didn't have the heart to put a video of that goal on the blog.. This one's good though.. http://gu.com/p/2hke8

I am explaining the joys of Ladbrokes to Penny.

"Because the odds on the Irish lottery are so much better. See, just two balls matching gets you £53.. None of that three balls gets you £10 here. And they were having an open day in there, all very sociable".

"Could be a good place to meet men"...

Who? Wha? huh?? This woman never fails to amaze. Last time I checked she was a 50 year old Senior Accountant, happily married with two teenage kids and an obsession with standardising typefaces across all the Institute's correspondence.

I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt, and assume she's worrying on my behalf, not her own....

Yeah erm, yeah there were lots of men there ...

Ah! So unless there is Something She Hasn't Told Me about Mr P, this line of thought is headed straight in my direction.

Mmm, well you know anyone I'm going to meet there is going to have their own set of problems....

And only one of my numbers came up...

Behold what was parked chez Macy last Sunday!!
Right outside my front door no less!!

Now what I want to know, is what kind of eejit would buy me a new set of wheels complete with customised number plate and forget to drop the keys through the letterbox..

Yeah, I know, I know, I know, it's been WOEFULLY quiet round here. The average blog flicker could imagine that the Cherub and I were currently washed ashore in deepest NZ already.. huddled around a campfire with only a depressed Collie for warmth.. or worse marooned in my mother in law's front room...
Nope.
As if..

The New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs has been in touch.

They are not impressed with my ten page application and supporting documentation. To be specific:
1. They need to see sight of W's Actual Death Certificate. Not the copy that I haphazardly posted them. Because I naively imagined that it was irrelevant; that the Cherub had dual nationality whether or not his dad was alive or not......That this standard Extract would do since it was issued by the registrar pfft. That word copy on the top of the form seems to have thrown them into a loop..
Well you never know. I might be making all this up - and print the word COPY on the top of all my faked forms, just so I can separate them from real forms later.

2.The Cherub's witness, a teacher at school, did not sign and date BOTH photos of him.
Since both photos are identical, she probably thought one signature would suffice. Fool that she is.

3.The Privacy Act Section 6 was not dated.
Sigh.... I'm blogging this! HA! Take that with your Privacy NZ!

Sensible Self. Macy. Three words. East. Coast. and Winters. Now focus and re-gather the forms.

The dogs in Cheesetown are not having a good run of things right now...In the past couple of months no less than three of Ned's five regular walking companions have gone through the door of the vet's for the last time...

Remember Jock? or Old gentle George? Yeah last week saw another beloved old family hound put down.

Now it's Ned's turn to get the qualified diagnosis from the vet.

Not the full death sentence! Not a terminal diagnosis... but the writing's on the wall.

The Nedster started taking fits last autumn. Nothing to worry about yadda yadda, come back if they become frequent said the vet. How frequent is frequent? I asked being uninformed about all this. More than once a fortnight said the vet.

Within a week I was back.. because he was having attacks twice a day or more..

And the vet was relaxed about this, and Ned got put on drugs. And the drugs worked, until they didn't, when our relaxed vet upped the dosage. To cut a long story short for the past nine months we've been raising the dosage everytime he has more "breakthrough fits".
He's currently on six times the level of drugs he was on last September.

Which is not a Good Thing.

Last week our vet was sounding a bit less relaxed. Ned had had to be taken back after yet another major episode. The vet phoned me with the results of his blood tests.

"Well the good news is that we've still got some scope for increasing the dosage"
Oh..right..good
"But we are approaching the limits he can be given...How old is he again?"
Four and a half.
"Ah.. mm and it's been 9 months since the first episode... I think we may have to accept that we won't be able to control the epilepsy. This does happen I'm afraid".
..
I'm waiting for the usual "Lots of dogs have fits and live to a hundred" routine.
..
It isn't forthcoming.
..
So his fits will keep getting worse?
"Yes, that's entirely possible."
"At the same rate?"
A deep breath from the vet, "Yes, we may have to look at quality of life issues. "

The Nedster and I are currently contemplating the meaning of Quality of Life Issues.

## Welcome to the car crash...

I have a complicated bereavement. I was only reconciled with my ex, W, months before he died of cancer. Luckily (for him) I was made redundant and able to care for him while he died here at home - October 20th.
Currently getting through it with our son, aka the Cherub, dog Ned, and friends here in CHEESETOWN.

## Who Needs a Booker Prize?

Sunny Thinks I'm Stylish

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