Thursday, October 29, 2020


Oh dear the tiny problems this pandemic throw up besides the unimaginable ones.

It'll be Halloween in a couple of days!

Every Halloween for the last few decades we've gone along with it, and gone along with whatever our foster children wanted from it. Very few wanted to go out door-knocking. Even fewer wanted to dress scary, for their own reasons. They preferred to stay in, pass judgement on the kids who trick or tretated at our front door, and hold high hopes that our stash of sweets would not be exhausted and that 'someone' would have to help see the sweets off…

But this year...what?!

Do we buy in our usual stash of goodies in case the neighbourhood children are doing it?

Tempted to, just in case they call. Why shouldn't children's life go on?

Will we put the candlelit pumpkin face in our window, which tells the kids we're up for Halloween?

Possibly, just in case.

We're wondering about putting a saucer with a few treats on a table two metres away from our front door, telling them to help themselves, then replenish it for the next wave.

If a 'wave' comes. The sensible me hopes nobody does it this year, the sentimental me worries that some child will go to great lengths with great excitement (the supermarkets are selling pumpkins and witches accessories…) and be disappointed.

"What about masks?" I asked absently in the presence of sharp-as-a-tack eldest foster child.

"Mum…" he said (yes he calls me 'mum', it's his call too, I'm so proud) "Duh. It's Halloween. It's the one night of the year when everyone wears masks…"

He made a decent enough point. I didn't argue that wearing a rubber werewolf mask is not necesssarily in line with face coverings, but that would have been an argument that would have run until Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas…

Oh let's not go there yet…

Happy Halloween, whatever that means!

Monday, October 26, 2020


Fostering throws up plenty of questions such as; "Why did I let myself in for this…"

No, seriously, the questions don't come only from one's own mind. Foster children ask the strangest things, sometimes tinged with enormous wisdom and insight.

Middle one yesterday;

"We put the clocks back an hour? Why?"

Me; "It's to do with daylight saving."

Him: "How does it save daylight? That's stupid. There's the same amount of daylight as before."

Me: "Well not quite, the days are getting shorter."

Him: "So it's just to fool ourselves then yeah?"

Me: "Well it means that children will go to school in daylight and that's safer for them."

Him: "What? Everyone goes by car or bus to school and they've got lights, and the streets have got lights. Queen Victoria's dead dontcha know.."

Me: "Yes but…"

Him: "In any case you say they made you put the clocks back to make it safer for kids to go to school. Bt they did it at the start of most kids half-terms when they er…aren't going to school."

Me: "It's tradition to put the clocks back an hour on the last Sunday in October."

Him: "Tradition? I saw a YouTube where it used to be a tradition in ancient Britain to eat the first born male child but they stopped when they realised the sun would rise anyway even if it didn't get its sacrifice. It's called progress duh."

I'm writing this early on the next morning, the Monday. It's 5.00am, but in my mind it's really 6.00am, we went to bed 'early' or was it our usual  time? Or was it late? I dunno.

He's right, it's silly. So;

I'm plotting letting him have his way and put all the clocks back to where they were. It'll mean dark mornings but light evenings. We work from home at the moment, the children have no reason to get up at the crack of dawn for school. The only glitch will be time checks on the radio and the TV schedules will be an hour out. But the kids don't watch conventional TV anyhoo.

The MAIN THING is - if I do this thing - I've got myself a little thing going. Having a houseful of foster children, your own children, both parents and assorted creatures needs to have something going during holidays, lockdowns, holidays, stay home and isolate, lockdown, holidays...

It might not be much but I can make something of us being the only house in the UK still on SUMMERTIME.

So I will. 


Oh-oh. I've just remembered the danger of encountering the fussy operator on the switchboard who answers the phone at 12.01pm and goes;

"Good Morni…Oh I'm so sorry, it's after noon…Good Afternoon!"

I'll miss that bridge when I come to it.

Saturday, October 17, 2020


 One of the great fallbacks in fostering is cooking. 

On a rainy day, when there's nothing on the TV, when no-one's got any friends, when Contact gets cancelled. It used to get howls of derision;


But down the years I've learned to jazz it up, like last weekend.

The Saturday had dragged and Sunday started too early, the first "I'm bored!" broke ground before my other half had finished watching the morning re-run of last night's Match of the Day. Actually, I think it might have been other half who let out the all-too-familiar whinge.

Me; "Watch yourself everybody. I smell a bake-off coming on!"

Works like this; kids v parents. I put out flour, eggs, sugar and a bunch of other ingredients - loads of jars and packets and sachets. The whole thing looks exciting and challenging, they usually get sucked in partly because they know they're going to win, they win every time. It's as honest as the Nevada boxing commission.

Each of the two teams goes away and discusses what they're going to make. They're allowed multiple entries, up to one person (therefore two for the parents, five for the children). It works best when everyone teams up. My other half plays the fool beautifully, usually manages to drop an egg on the floor (dog gets it), and get himself told off for using doughy hands to turn on the tap.

I get one of the kids to be Mary Berry and eldest LOVES being Paul Hollywood and/or the wonderful Sandi Togsvig.

For me one of the dark arts is making it last as long as possible simply because a) it's a great activity and b) as soon as it's over, their appetite for entertainment sharpened they're baying "I'm bored!" again.

What am I a Butlins Redcoat?

A friend of mine - another foster carer - gets herself dialed up on Whats All to look at the finished efforts and pronounce the kids the winners.

I do exactly the same for her when she wheels it out.

I wonder if it would work with Landscape Artist of the Year?

Friday, October 09, 2020


How are you doing with the way the world is right now?

The thing with blogging is that someone will probably read this post some years from now when (hopefully) there'll be a vaccine for Covid 19 and life will be back to normal. But more likely you're reading this with the pandemic in full flow, the second wave kicking in. We have no idea what the Christmas holidays will be like, and few people will be surprised if there's talk of a third wave in the New Year.

Everywhere you go everyone is putting on what they think is their brave face but inside it seems to me that we're all incredibly sad.

Are you? Maybe not all the time, and there are plenty of times when we are so busy with responsibilities we don't realise we are sad.

How could we not be sad when we're trudging around in face masks, banned from get-togethers, working alone at home and frightened that we're going to get a disease that can kill us inside a month?

Loneliness was a problem before the virus, now it's a hundred times worse.

I'm positive that after the Covid pandemic will come a pandemic of a different kind; a wave of PTSD for which there'll be no preparedness and no easy cure.  Not only post traumatic shock disorder but all sorts of mental ills such as;

Friends and family of those struck down may suffer survivor guilt along with the guilt that they may have inadvertently passed the virus on to the victim. This is especially likely among the people who seem to have an irrational fear of masks.

All the inevitable job losses and financial hardships will heap massive stress on families - we managed a trip to the pub before the latest round of restraints kicked in and couldn't help overhearing the man at the next table (2 metres away) saying to his friend;

"They're going to wait until last thing on Friday afternoon to tell us all, so that we'll have the weekend to calm down."

The nation's news-aholics - people who turn on the news every chance they get - will surely end up addled beyond belief as they dine on endless images of bad news Covid briefings, test and trace failings, empty high streets and reporters in masks. 

Our GP told me that patients are contacting her and asking "What's the point?" My elderly neighbour said to us "I don't want to die like this."

It seems to me - and I'm no psychiatrist although I have an appetite for people and their problems - that the only thing to do when a sadness overwhelms us is to be sad, and say to ourselves;

"Of course I'm sad today, how could I not be sad?"

This is the advice I give my family, including the foster kids, all of whom get plenty sad.

Actually, to be honest, it was one of my children who woke me up to this way of staying mentally fit. He'd had some ups and downs so Blue Sky began making arangements for him to talk to a councillor (via Zoom). But it didn't happen. The boy came to me and said;

"I'm sad. It's alright to be sad. If I wasn't sad there'd be something wrong with my head. There isn't. I'm just sad, and I know it. And so long as I know it it's okay."