Thread The Needle

Following a recent cold snap Mrs M and I decided to bring out our winter
coats from hibernation. There is something both concerning and comforting
about such an event; concerning because I become all too aware of another
passing year. Comforting because I am reminded how much I love to wear my
winter coat.

As I pulled from its pockets old train tickets and a selection of receipts
I was reminded of some of the things we enjoyed during last winter. A trip
to York to visit our youngest daughter. A day out with our parents to
sample real ale and country fare in a Yorkshire dale’s village.

I tried the coat on to make sure that my summer intake of beer and pork
pies hadn’t enlarged my frame too much. With a gasp of success I exclaimed
that it still fitted me ‘like a glove’. But only just!

As I displayed my victory over the calories to Mrs M she reminded me that
there was a time when growing out of our clothes was seen as a normal part
of life.

We reminisced about the last few days of school summer holidays when our
parents would prepare for our return by buying new uniforms. My mother, as
with most other parents back then, would always buy my jacket a couple of
sizes too big.

Then, as I complained about it not fitting she would announce, as if
offering a timeless truth, ‘you will grow into it’.

And so I would turn up for that first day back at high school to meet all
my friends and compare how much of our hands were showing from beneath our
coat sleeves.

That was then, and this is now. I don’t need a new coat every year. I can
make my old faithful jacket work a treat. As I expressed this last
sentiment to my bride a button popped off as if to puncture my elation.

Not to be defeated I found the family sowing box and began the repair

It is some time since I last tried to thread a needle and I don’t recall
having any difficult with the process. In fact I always prided myself on
being able to offer my mother support for such things.

Now, however, this seemingly simple exercise has turned into a major test
of my grown up abilities. No matter how much I squinted I could not get the
needle threaded.

I donned the reading glasses that I only need for ‘the smallest of
writing’ and still could not find a way to complete my task.

Not to be beaten I tried to find a bigger needle hoping that the eye would
be larger and give me a better chance to thread the cotton.

I am nothing if I am not a tryer and I swear that I missed several TV
programmes before I followed my mother’s example and asked for help from my

Almost without taking her attention from the TV she threaded the needle
and handed it back. In an instant I realised what my mother felt like when
she had to rely on me for such tasks.

Once the job was done I put the coat to show the result of my work. As I
inhaled in order to fasten the buttons Mrs M offered me the following
comforting words ‘don’t worry you can slim into it’

Christmas Too Early

Apparently a shopper with aspirations of being a social commentator has
again taken a stand against retailers stocking Christmas product too early.

The individual concerned has taken the bold step of re-labelling the
festive signs found in a supermarket with other home made slogans
including; ‘Not Yet Christmas’ and ‘Come Back In December’.

I am not sure what drove them to this end but the fact that they came
prepared suggest they had spent some time brewing their anger.

As funny as I find this action I am not advocating that we should all take
to the isles in such an act of defiance even though I can understand the
sentiment behind this latest protest.

I wonder if the store in question has any CCTV footage of the perpetrator
and whether they intend taking further action.

I can’t help thinking that life is meant to be seasonal and that having a
gap between summer and winter is good for us. They used to call this gap
autumn but now the edges of our historic divisions have been smudged.

All of this begs the question ‘when should the Christmas festivities

If we follow the song then we should start on the 24th December and
celebrate the twelve days of Christmas. If we enjoy the chocolate offered
by modern advent calendars then we would have to start at the very
beginning of the month.

Retailers, however, follow neither of these models and start well before
the rest of us have mourned the loss of summer. They then begin to rip
through the tinsel on Boxing Day to entice us in with massive sales.

Every family will have their own tradition and ours is no exception. The
tree is brought out on December the first and we begin our countdown to one
of our favourite holidays.

We often don’t even begin our shopping until this point. This will seem
odd to some. We have friends who begin buying their presents in the post
Christmas sales in preparation for the following year.

Whilst I admire their organisational skills in doing so, and the fact that
they save a good deal of money, I feel as if this is step too far for my

It also seems unfair to Santa (just in case we have younger readers) who
then has to store them for a full twelve months. This is a logistical
nightmare and must present health and safety issues in the North Pole.

You could imagine Father Christmas contacting his union in order to
complain about the extra workload. I wonder what type of action he might
take in order to place the celebrations firmly back where they have
traditionally been.
He could work to rule and only deliver to houses that still have chimneys.
He could limit his involvement to families that can be bothered to provide
mince pies and a tot of whiskey as he makes his travels.

Or he could visit the Bradford area in September and re-label the
Christmas decorations in a supermarket. I cant wait to see the CCTV

Student Waste Binb

Last week my wife and I took one of our regular trips to York with the
intention of visiting our youngest daughter, who is attending university in
that fine city.

I say that she is attending this honoured place of learning without any
real evidence of this being true.

Back in the days of primary school we parents were almost completely
connected to the education process; letters from teachers, parent’s
evenings, assemblies all added to this connection.

By the time your children start to become embarrassed by your every move
they are protected by the high school years.

Then, before you can get used to sight of their first piercings, your
offspring are heading towards adulthood.

If it weren’t for the regular depletions from your bank balance and the
occasional Facebook messages you wouldn’t really know that university

On this recent trip our stated agenda was to visit our daughter and have a
spot of lunch. Not once was I told that we would spend a good amount of our
time cleaning her room and repairing various broken items.

Not that I resent this; I tend to be grateful for any contact with our
daughters even if I am valued by my usefulness.

What I mind is our continual pretence that we are making the forty-mile
journey merely for lunch.

As we began to wade through several months’ worth of student debris I
couldn’t help notice that although the floor was completely covered,
neither the waste bin nor the wash basket contained any items.

I commented that these containers resembled by bank account but mum and
daughter we enjoying putting clothes in the wardrobe. I have occasionally
tried this myself but I can’t say that I understand the thrill.

I think my enjoyment has been somewhat quashed by the constant comments
offered by my bride. It seems that you cannot count it as a successful
exercise if all the hangers are not placed on the rail facing the same way.
I tried to ask why this was important but my wife answered in her customary
fashion ‘If you don’t know then I cant explain it’.

I have a suspicion that it might be woman code for ‘I don’t really know
but I wont admit it’.

Either way, my youngest daughter and my bride of nearly thirty years, both
seemed to understand the rules of engagement without need for explanation.

Once the room was good enough to be photographed, and the said pic was
uploaded to Facebook, we headed off for lunch.

Before long my wife and I were reminiscing about our own student days and
Mrs Molineaux’s youngest commented about the similarities with her

Our parents would often ask us about our studies and we would offer only
monosyllabic replies; much as our daughters have done to us.

‘Did you keep your rooms tidy’ our precious offspring enquired. We laughed
and then I pointed out that in comparison she was living in relative

My waste bin was a plastic shopping bag and I used a pillowcase to hold my
washing. I confess that I did occasionally tidy up if things became too

‘You have more motivation to clean your room’ Mrs M informed our daughter
‘So that the Facebook photograph looks good’.

The Genetic Factor

Is anyone else a bit fed up of TV presenters telling us that the future of
their contestants depends on us? Whether it is singing wannabees or
celebrity dancers it seems that they just cannot manage without us.

This appears somewhat ironic given the fact that they present us with a
panel of experts all vying to give us their opinions.

‘If you don’t want your favourite to leave then pick up the phone now’ the
presenter informs the audience presuming that a) We have a favourite and b)
that we care enough to spend our money in order to secure their future.

Perhaps if they had a ‘none of the above’ option I might be more tempted
to take up the responsibility that they so freely offer me.

I expressed this thought to Mrs M and she suggested that I was looking at
the whole thing a little too negatively. She even intimated that I might
feel more at home watching Grumpy Old Men.

Perhaps she has a point but I can’t help feeling that these programmes
bring out the worst in me.

I wonder how long it will be before newscasters start asking us to vote on
which headlines they cover. Or when weather reporters start running a
phone-in competition so that we can decide the kind of weather we should

This all sits well with the media obsession of getting the public’s
opinion on virtual every subject you can name. They start by asking a few
well-educated professionals to start the debate rolling. Then before you
know it they are on the streets to ask Doris from Bolton what she thinks
about genetic modification.

Not that people christened Doris, nor indeed the residents of Bolton,
have the right to speak; it’s just that I am not sure whether either label
qualifies you to have a useful viewpoint on multi cellular organisms.

Perhaps the future of genetic engineering is more important than the X
Factor (although you wouldn’t know that from the viewing figures) but I
don’t really care what Doris thinks about either and I am quite sure that
my thoughts are equally useless in such things.

I expressed this opinion to Mrs M and she replied ‘You are making the huge
assumption that Doris doesn’t have a PHD in such matters or that she
doesn’t work as a record producer.’

I detected that she was offering a little too much sarcasm so I explained
to her why she was missing the point but she was too busy listening to
Simon Cowell destroy another young hopefuls dreams.

If you want my unqualified opinion, if it wasn’t for genetics the X Factor
wouldn’t be nearly as popular as it is.