An Adventure in the Congo (contd) Man-eating plants. Hubba Bubba. Knitting!

Part 10

I was getting used to school now, the Eagle didn’t scare me so much, the classmates still ignored me, well to be fair I pretty much paid them no attention either.
The swiss dish was still the object of my affection, except I didn’t exist, he was older than me and barely glanced my way even when I used to hover awkwardly around him and his friends at break time.
I was also abstaining from most lessons and maintaining my scam of not understanding the language.
I did particpate in maths somewhat although, again, I never did any homework whatsoever.

What a ruse!

History, Geography and french lessons forget it, my lack of french became even more profound!

I rarely spoke in class and the teacher virtually gave up on me. Was fantastically awesome!

One of the lessons that I found incredibly odd and yawningly boring was knitting!

I mean what was that about?!
The boys would go off to an another classroom and do something macho like chop wood or dig holes or something and the remaining girls would sit there and knit!

You got to be kidding me!

It was always the longest hour ever and i would sit there knitting this stupid scarf which never grew any longer, whilst others were half finishing jumper master-pieces.

I just used to gaze out of the window longing to be outside.

Break time I tended to spend on my own, wandering about or hanging near Jean-Pierre in the hope he would discover me.
Some days I would buy Coke from one of the two huts but today I was being contrary and ordered a Fanta from the Fanta hut.
The last lesson of the morning was flemish, I enjoyed it because it was an area i could shine just for a moment.
The teacher actually encouraged me, said my accent was very good and I was to become top of the class in it.
Jean-Pierre still never acknowledged me despite my superstar status in these lessons.

It was a language very easy to pronounce because it was quite like english and some of the words were similar. The phrases and vocabulary were still quite bizarre though.
I picked up quite a few irrelevant phrases from the school text book we were working through.
This week at home was my flemish week and I would educate my family members at random moments with my command of the language.
Dad would come back from work and I greeted him with:

“Slaap your knock-kneed vraagt der mus!”

Or atleast thats how I thought it was spelt.
No idea what it meant!
But he seemed impressed so I galloped off into the bedroom, whipping my sides with my invisible crop.
This afternoon Odette was picking up Martine and I and taking us to a large open air swimming pool. We were looking forward to it, it was mega hot today and we couldnt wait to dive in.
The fascia of the building was large and there was a sizeable carpark outside.
Whilst waiting for Odette to collect her things and lock up the car I was studying a curious shrub by the entrance. I’d brushed against it by accident and i noticed that the leaves i had touched all closed up as if by magic.
I ran my finger over several of the other leaves and instantly they closed tightly.


Wow! How cool!

I showed Martine and we spent the next few seconds pretending we were insects landing and watched the effect we were having.
A carnivorous plant, wait till i tell Lindsay!
The pool was full and it was very noisy. We had our cozzies on underneath our clothes, we undressed quickly and jumped in.
There was barely any room to move but we had fun doing squatting bombs off the side and splashing everyone around us.

We clung to the sides of the pool whilst catching our breath. I then started floating on my back with my toes curled under the bar enjoying the hot sun on my face when I became aware I was being watched.
A random girl and her mates were eyeballing me unpleasantly, so I stared back, wondering what I had done to deserve the looks I was receiving.

” Tu es con toi!”

Martine heard her and rolled her eyes in mock shock at me.

Probably french for ‘nob-head’ I thought.

I knew they were swearing at me although I hadnt quite mastered my french slang yet, that would come later.
She took me by surprise so all I could come up with on the spur of the moment was
“Get lost!” I said or words to that effect.
That showed her!
We had drinks by the pool, avoided the nasty girl and later on Odette dropped me home.
I would spend the rest of the day writing to family and friends.

This chair
216 Avenue De Gambela
The World
The universe
The Milky Way


Dear Lindsay

Thanks very much for sending me some Hubba Bubba gum managed to stash it
inside my pillowcase so mum couldn’t find it.
School sucks and is really el boringo. We have to do knitting and stuff and the boys dig holes.
The teacher looks like an eagle and has a huge nose.
I dont do any work, how amazin is that, am awesome at flemmish tho.
Theres this boy thats nice called Jean Pierre and I’m pracktically going out with him.
Mum got drunk other night was well funny.
Went swimming and there was man eating plants, not kiddin I swear!
Got to go now, am playing horses in a mo.
Bet you dont know what this means, SLAAP YOUR KNOCK-KNEED VRAAGT DER MUS
Its a secret, tell you soon ha!



An Adventure in the Congo (Contd) “Giddy up!” A sing song. “Who’s squiffy?!”

Part 9

Martines house was in a leafy suburb on the outskirts of Kinshasa.
A tree lined avenue with bungalows and other two storey houses on either side.
It was a colonial styled house and at the front was a garden with an array of trees and shrubs and a small driveway.
They had a covered verandah running the width of the house with tables and chairs with lots of cushions on.
Purple and orange Bougainvillea clung to the side walls and jasmine scented the air.


It was a lively household and I loved visiting them.

Martine and Dominique were always bickering in a playful way. Martine was loud and boisterous whilst Dominique was a quiet and reserved young lady.
Terry and Odette were very extrovert, she laughed alot and he always told funny stories.
Dad would like to compete in the story telling so it was very entertaining and full of banter.
They would drink lots of beer and get quite loud.

Mum didn’t really drink, she didn’t like to get tipsy!

Mum and dad really enjoyed their company.
It wasn’t a large house but it had all their things from home and was very cosy and welcoming. They even had a piano, which the girls would play regularly.
A big plus was the garden, there was a small area at the back too. Somewhere for Martine to play out.
Living at the flat I missed not having access to a garden to get rid of my excess energy and I wasn’t allowed out on the street by myself.
Back home I was always to be found outside, exploring.
One of my favourite pastimes was playing horses.
Louise and I used to go riding every week, horse riding was another passion of mine.

I would set up a series of jumps on the front lawn with sticks, two verticle and another resting on the top. They would be various heights. A water filled bucket would be the water jump!
Once happy with the show jumping arena I would become a horse!

I would hold my hands up as if holding reins and gallop across the lawn and over the sticks making giddy-up noises and whacking myself with my riding crop!
The crop was a stick I had chosen carefully from the beech tree at the side of the cottage.
Tina would chase me up and down the lawn barking excitedly the whole time.
The cottage was up a dirt track and faced farm gates and not much else so my antics weren’t witnessed by many apart from the odd bemused hiker who passed by and saw me hitting myself with a beech tree branch and yelling “Giddy up Lightening!”

The Stevens family greeted us with great affection, lots of cheek-kissing which took forever. Then eventually seated themselves on the verandah and conversations and catch-ups took full swing.
Martine and I went off to the kitchen to help Michel with drinks for everyone.
Michel was the cook. He was congolese, friendly, funny and I liked him very much.
It was kind of ‘comme il faut’ to hire staff here in Africa if you worked for a large organisation. They felt obliged to employ local people and the company would pay the wages. The ex pat families
didnt want or need staff but this was the way it was so it was just accepted and it provided many much needed jobs.
Michel had a lovely face, refined features, smiling eyes and a mischievous grin.
He adored Martine and she him, he’d been with the family a long time and was very happy here.
He didnt sleep at the house and just for this evening was helping out with the buffet.

“Ndenge nini?”
He said as a welcome to me in Lingala. How’s it going?

” Ee, nazali malamu.”

I’m doing great I said, much to Martines surprise that I’d remembered what she last taught me.
We were both learning bits of Lingala with Michels help.

He looked suitably impressed and gave me a huge smile. He then set about organising us to take drinks back to the verandah.
Tonic for mum, Skol lager for dad and Terry, whiskey for Odette and Louise.

Louise liked a drink, dad had introduced her to whiskey and she took a liking to it!

Drinks served, Michel then came back out with food for the buffet which he had prepared earlier and left it on a table nearby. Everyone showed their appreciation for the lovely spread and mum complimented him.
“Merci beaucoup, it looks fabulous Michel!”

Her french was progressing, somewhat.

Beaming with satisfaction he announced his departure and would see everyone tomorrow.

The evening continued in a noisy fashion, Martine and I played on the piano, joint chopsticks and there was lots of frivolity coming from the verandah.

Dad persuaded mum to have a whiskey which she did.
Two in fact!
Dad and Terry started singing, Odette didnt know the english song but laughed and clapped.
Mum didnt sing, she was too shy and self conscious but was giggling.

” I think I’m quite squiffy Roy!” Threw her head back and laughed.
” I dont think i’d better have any more i can hear my voice outside my head!”
I’d never seen mum tipsy before, it was hysterical.
She roared at everything Terry and dad said like they were comedians and even tried to join in with the singsong.
Mum cant and should never sing!
It was a lovely evening and very shortly we thanked our wonderful friends and took our leave.
We were moving to our new furnished house soon and needed to pack our belongings.
It had a garden!
Again it was a temporary place until we made our final move to the big house which would be filled with all the furniture mum had ordered.
Here we would have staff just like Terry and Odette. I hoped they would be as nice as Michel.

An Adventure in the Congo (Contd) Prince De Liège.The Eagle has landed, The Swiss Dish!

Part 8

The school day started at 7.30am! Yes that’s correct, not a typing error!
7.30 in the morning!
It also finished at a most wonderful 12.30pm.
The main reason for this of course being the high humidity and the heat of the afternoon sun.

I didn’t sleep much the night before and I was feeling extremely nervous about my first day at the Ecole Prince De Liège, my new junior school.
It wasn’t far from the flat we were staying in, just a car ride away and dad would be driving me there.
He had previously taken me shopping for some basic equipment, pens, pencils and some exercise books and ‘pièce de résistance’ a schoolbag. But this wasn’t any ordinary bag it was a leather briefcase!
I felt very official and important but that was the only good thing about this morning.
We didn’t have to wear uniform unlike the Covent, so no swanky blazers here, just our normal day clothes.
Its very easy to wake up early in a tropical climate, the heat tends to do that for you and so starting lessons this early was never going to be a problem.
I’d been up for quite some time . I was wearing one of my lovely dresses that grandma had made for me, nothing too posh though.
Didn’t really feel hungry for breakfast and had to force myself to eat. Was feeling nauseous and had butterflies in my stomach again.
It was almost time to go, mum had been fussing around me the whole time making it seem even more scary like it was some momentous event.
I suppose it was really.

School in a foreign country.

Lessons in a foreign language.

Mum and dad were hugging it out in the kitchen like they would never see each other again, she then came to hug me and wished me luck.
My briefcase was huge, actually ridiculously huge and my few pens, pencils and exercise books were rattling around inside it, it was verging on empty.

It was about ten minutes by car and the traffic was mental even at this time in the morning.
We drew up and parked outside the school gates. The reception building was quite large and terrifying I thought.

Dad took me inside and we were met by a member of staff who then took me away to find my form mistress, who would be in charge of all of our lessons.
My heart sank as dad waved me off.
She looked like an eagle!

She had a hooked nose and wore hideous blue winged glasses like something from the sixties
She couldn’t have been less frightening.

She didn’t smile at me, rattled away in French, something about following her, so i did.

She took me outside to an enormous quadrangle with low bungalow classrooms all the way around with a large stretch of mud basically in the middle. The grass had dried up. In the middle of this square patch were two thatched circular huts a short distance apart.

images (2)

They had signs on them, one said Coca~Cola and the other said Fanta.

Drinks huts.
The grass was very different to english grass, its one of the first things I had noticed when I arrived in Africa. It was a darker green, very coarse and not soft underfoot or close knit grass like ours.
Full of creepy crawlies so I would rarely go barefoot or sit on it.

There were some benches outside the classrooms and she motioned to me to go and sit with a group of kids who were already there. There were lots of children milling about and they were all ages from juniors to seniors.
I was a little overwhelmed. I eyed this bunch near me suspiciously.
No one spoke to me and I never spoke back.
A bell went and everyone seemed to huddle in their groups outside their particular classroom.

The eagle landed and ushered us all into her den.
The classroom was very basic, a selection of tables as opposed to desks.

Painted concrete walls of puke yellow and above the windows there were missing bricks running the length of the room to allow for ventilation….and mosquitoes and geckos! Of which there was one i noticed in the corner by the ceiling.
There were about twenty of us max we were told to pick a table and go sit at it.

I chose to sit three rows from the front.
She introduced herself for some minutes, rambled on about stuff I didnt altogether understand and then proceeded to hand out a series of text books.
I looked around the classroom, there was no one english here, mainly Belgian, Congolese, a few Dutch and one Swiss. Some of them seemed quite grown up and I knew we had mixed ages in here and I started to feel very young and out of my depth.
She spoke very quickly and I found it hard to accustom myself to what she was saying to start with.
Geography was to be our first lesson. We opened our new texts books.

The lesson progressed and became quite animated as the rest of the kids relaxed, opened up and responded to her questioning. That is until she came to me.
“Shhherry Dan Butelair!”

She directed her focus on me. Everyone turned to look.

Whats is it with people pronouncing my name wrong I thought.
She stood there in silence waiting for something, she mustve asked me a question. You couldve heard a pin drop. I mumbled in french that i didnt speak a word of french and that I was in fact english.

“Aaaah l’anglaise!” she said.

Yes that’s me.

She went on to say in not a very pleasant manner that she was sure I would pick the language up very quickly.
I didnt like this woman at all, she scared me and she wasnt nice.
Thats what you think!
If I didnt understand, then she would never pick on me, a light bulb went off!

Break time was sounded by another bell and everyone rushed out to get first in the queue at the huts for a chilled drink.
Dad had forgotten to give me some money so I just wandered about watching people.
My eyes settled on the Swiss boy from my class, who was swigging from his Coke bottle, chatting with another boy he obviously knew.
He was tall with dark wavy hair, dark blue eyes and amazing teeth. He was wearing french tailored white trousers and a black shirt. I couldnt stop looking at him. He was incredibly handsome.
His name was Jean-Pierre.
What a beautiful name I thought and said it in my head several times.


I said in the best french accent I could muster, still in my head of course!
Move over Michael Slater.

Hell…oooo to Jean…rrrrre!
The morning went quickly, we had a history lesson and a bit of maths.
Everytime she came to me with a question I raised my hands in a I-dont-understand-a-word-you’re -saying kind of manner.

She soon ignored me, just the way I wanted her to.
She announced that tomorrow we would be studying Flemish!
Flemish in french?

How bizarre I thought. Flemish was the language that the Belgians spoke alongside french.
My first day ended and as a treat this afternoon I was to go swimming for the rest of the day with Martine at the Embassy.
In the evening mum, dad, Louise and I we were going for dinner at her house and I was looking forward to exchanging thoughts of our first day of school.

I would then divulge to her how my master plan was working!

Poem by Kahlil Gibran

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.

You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days.

Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.

But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,

– And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.


An Adventure in the Congo(contd) Crocodiles! “Piz Buin” and drowned rats!

Part 7

The clouds were dark, brooding and looking ominous. Humidity levels were high but it didnt dampen our enthusiasm.
We were going to spend the afternoon on the banks of the River Congo with a picnic.
Best of all Martine was coming with us.
I’d been spending lots of time with her since our first meeting, mostly at her house.
Afterwards more often than not her mum would take us swimming at the Embassy pool.

My french was improving so much, mainly my understanding of it. I was more reticent about speaking it as I was very shy and self conscious.
I was worried about my accent as I certainly didnt want to sound like mum, so english!

Martine was a great teacher, but I would try overly hard and ended up sounding like a caricature of a french person.
“Shherry Dan tu es rigolo!” Slang for funny.
She would mimic me and fall about laughing. I did sound ridiculous though.
But I was definitely improving.

I was the same colour as Martine now, having gained an ‘enviable’ tan according to Louise.
To her frustration I never once used sun products.

I’d gone way past the golden mediterranean colour of Ambre Solaire, surpassed Hawaiian tropic by a mile and was now deep Piz Buin brown.
It didnt interest me.
I’d acclimatised to the sun, heat, humidity and was totally adapted into my new lifestyle.


Louise had started her new job at the Embassy so she wasnt coming. It was just mum, Odette Martine and I.
Sylvain was driving us.
Oh god!

Picnic packed.
Car packed.
We set off.

Martine conversed with Sylvain during the longish journey and asked him in simple french about the river then she relayed the information back to mum and I.

The river which was also known as the Zaire river was one of the longest in the world at 2,920 miles long. It was the second deepest with depths of over 750 feet.
Sylvain went on proudly to say that it had over 4000 islands on it and crossed the equator twice!

download (3)Congo_FL_015-2

“Wow!” we said in unison.

It was treacherous with rapids and whirl pools and lots of crocodiles he went on, now that he had our full attention.

Martine and I both looked at each other widening our eyes in excitement and fake shock, we gasped dramatically and laughed.

Then Sylvain told us, for effect, that only last week a man had been eaten by one.
He checked to see the look on our faces.
Martine pretended to choke herself, whether it was true or not the mood in the car was one of frivolity.

Tina was in the boot of the car, she was whining and panting, she loved any mention of “car” as it meant “walkies”!

Sylvain took a turn off the main road and the tarmac disappeared and turned into a dirt track.
It was incredibly bumpy and he didnt exactly crawl along, so it made it worse.

Mum was in the front and hanging onto a handle above the door looking somewhat uneasy.

She wasnt what you would call beautiful but I’d heard the word ‘striking’ on several occasions.
She was certainly a head turner and would attract alot of glances.
She was slim, wore lovely clothes and her hair was kind of unusual.
It was sort of Grace kelly style, shoulder length swept off her face, mostly dark pewter and across the front she had a whitish streak.

Dad thought she was beautiful and they were constantly hugging and kissing infront of us.


Far too much information for my liking!

Sylvain pulled over, thankfully, the last bit of the journey was uncomfortable and jerky.

I let Tina out of the boot, she jumped out excitedly and ran off.

We gathered our picnic and followed her.

It was sandy underfoot and I caught a glimpse of the river. We went through some undergrowth and eventually we came across rocks which led down to the water.
There was a huge expanse of boulders and rocks of all shapes and sizes.

Tina was in the distance making her way to the water and kept turning around to check we were still behind her.

And there it was!
I’d never seen anything like it.
It was vast!

My mouth dropped open at the sheer sight of it. Beyond the banks were swirling rapids and the noise was incredibly loud. It looked terrifyingly dangerous.
It was spectacular !

We found a safe spot on some flat rocks and mum and Odette laid the picnic out.
Martine, Tina and I explored the rocks, the rockpools and went down to the tiny beach area looking out across the huge stretch of water to Brazzaville on the banks opposite.
It looked like it was miles across to the other side.

The wind had got up and was blowing our hair about, I thought I had felt a few drops of rain, perhaps it was just spray from the rapids.

It was very cooling and appreciated on this humid afternoon.
After we’d done exploring for a while we joined the others for the picnic. We were starving!

Without any warning the heavens opened!
Just like that.
In a tumultuous down pour, the likes of which i’d never experienced before.


It wasnt just any rain, this was tropical rain, it felt warm not cold.
It was the first rain we’d had since our arrival in this country.
In all of two seconds we were soaked.

How fabulous!

Martine and I twirled and danced about with our faces tilted skywards and arms outstretched.
I loved the rain. But this was more than just rain, this was torrential.


Mum and Odette were shrieking and scrambling to pack up our stuff as quickly as possible to get the heck out of there and back to the car.

Tina was having so much fun, she was trying to get as much rain water in her mouth as possible, she loved water and liked to play with a hosepipe back home.
This was so great.
We ran to the car, the dirt track awash already with channels of water and mud rushing down.
Our clothes dripping and looking like 5 drowned rats!
We got in the hot car and steamed the windows up immediately, Martine and I couldnt stop laughing all the way back home.
” C’est formidable!” She chuckled.
“Smashing” indeed.
I wished it rained like this in England.


Home and dry!

My mood changed as my thoughts went to tomorrow…..SCHOOL!!!

An Adventure in the Congo (contd) “Où est le Patron?!” Letters from home. A shock for mum!

Part 6

A few days later Sylvain, dad’s driver from the factory, delivered our new car.
It was a brand new white Renault, a French make.
We’d never had a foreign car before, mum was a little put out about it and was ready to dislike it immediately.
We all got in it.
I bounced up and down on the seats, they were very springy.
Mum was in the passenger seat making positive noises as to how comfy it was, she was converted.

Dads driver, Sylvain, was Congolese and employed by the company.
Although at weekends and evenings dad would drive the car himself, during a working week he was duty bound to be driven to work, it was just the way it was.

Sylvain was a quiet man, mainly because he didnt speak a word of english and his knowledge of french wasnt very good either. His hair was graying and he had strange scarrings in a design on his face, like channels in his skin which had been made when he was a child.

He was the most awful driver, most locals were. He absolutely never looked in his rear view mirror.

images (1)

There didnt seem to be any rules as far as driving was concerned here.
Lots of honking of horns and yelling out of windows.
Overtaking erratically and no concern for your fellow motorist.

It was survival of the fastest.

I’d never seen so many cars wrapped around trees, up trees and in ditches as I had on my travels around Kinshasa.
I dont think the highway code appplied here.

I didnt like being taken anywhere by Sylvain, it was a scary, noisy ride, him swearing in Lingala and shaking his fists out the window at people and leaving his hand on the horn for ages whilst stopped in a queue. No patience it seemed.

One morning he was waiting outside with the engine running, waiting to take dad to the office.

” Bonjour Sylvain!”
” ça va ?”
” Oui Patron, ça va bien, merci” Sylvain replied cheerily.

Whilst placing his briefcase on the back seat of the car dad said that he’d forgotten something, would go and get it and be back in a second. He closed the car door so as not to obstruct the pavement.
On his return there was no Sylvain and more alarmingly, no car!

He had driven for half an hour all the way to the office with dads briefcase on the back seat, thinking the Patron was in the car!

People at the office asked him ” où est le Patron? ”

Poor Sylvain was mortified afterwards but dad reassured him it was perfectly fine, to see the funny side of it and not to worry about it.

But, how we laughed!
We dined on that story with friends for several weeks after that !

Parcels and letters from home was always the best day ever and we all looked forward to these precious moments.
Grandma was a prolific letter writer and wrote to each one of us separately. They were always long and very interesting about her antics back home, as she was quite a character.

Mum was also to receive a letter from her life long friend Freda.

Louise received letters from friends and I received a letter from Lindsay.

Auntie Freda had sent chocolate, sweets for me, teabags and some underwear from Marks and Sparks, a special request from mum.

To mums horror, Grandma had informed her in her letter that she had taken it upon herself to decorate our cottage in England, so it would be nice on our return.

She was delighted to say that she had carpeted the dining kitchen area to hide that odious slate floor!
The beautiful slate floor!!! Mum practically persuaded dad to buy the cottage because of these very old and original slate slabs!

She went on to say that she’d chosen a fabulous Axminster patterned carpet in shades of deep red.

I was secretly pleased as I had hated that floor, it was cold and uninviting.

Mum looked at dad in shock but dad’s lips were twitching as if he were trying to conceal a smile.


I went off to read my letters in my room in private and was going to write back straight away as letters took a very long time to get to and fro.
I thought i’d impress Lindsay with my french.

216 Avenue De Gambela
The World
The universe
The Milky Way

Date= ‘today’!

Bonjour Lindsay
Commant alley vous?
Je suis fantastic.
Thanks for your letter was brill getting it.
I’m having the most amazingly awesome time.

We had huge lizards in our room, practickly the size of Tina, wassant scared one bit, then we had army ants in the kitchun and had to all get out the flat like in a big immerguncy.

Wow and i met some nice people, a girl called Martine, shes nice but your still my bestest friend.
Got to go now as need the bathroom.

Orevoir mon amigo,

Your best friend


PS I heard Michael Slater likes Sharon, hate her now and you can tell her that, ackshully dont say that i will tell her myself when i get home.

“CAN YOU SEE IT?!!”…. A short anecdote

My family and I lived in a rambling 550 year old farm house in Staffordshire near Cannoch Chase forest.
It was set in beautiful grounds and had views from the patio over the valley.
The heavy beams were stained in ebony and the ceilings were low in most of the rooms except for the kitchen.
This room was large and square, had a vaulted roof with a stange tiny window high up in the wall which those on the upstairs landing could have a birdseye view of what was going on.

In the master bedroom the wall bowed considerably where the fireplace was and according to history there was a ‘priest hole’ behind it.

The house was not without its share of ghostly goings-on.

On this occasion I was standing at the kitchen sink washing the dishes from breakfast with my back to the door to the rest of the house.
It was an old wooden door in ‘tongue and groove’ with an iron latch.

I heard the latch lift up and was waiting for one of the children to come in.

I hummed to myself softly as I went about my task.

” Can you see it?”

A gruff voice said.

It was my second eldest son Michael who was 15.

” Can you see it?!”

With slightly more urgent emphasis.

His voice sounded strained and a bit odd but I was scrubbing at a bit of stubborn food on a pan and didnt bother turning around.

” See what Michael?”

Exasperation and a sort of constipated straining sound came from him.

” Can you see it?!!!!” He yelled.

I turned around to see him stripped to the waist, arms akimbo, chin resting low near his chest and struggling to maintain this very strange posture.

” What am I looking at?”

I was now trying desperately to see what I was supposed to be seeing!

” My six pack! ” He shrieked.

His chin still almost resting on his chest, he was started to sweat with his exertion.

I studied him, with rubber gloves on and dish mop in hand.

He was tall and gangly for his age and a little under weight.

” Absolutely!” I said with enthusiasm and tried to stifle a chuckle.

He relaxed his preposterous pose and visibly looked very smug and pleased with himself.

” Awesome!” He said and went back out of the room.

My face broke out into a huge smile that I couldn’t contain and I thought to myself that I’d actually seen more meat on a Kebab!

I turned back around to finish my chores, what a wonderful moment I thought, one to treasure.