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Family stories
17 August 2019 18:40


Many years ago, when I was about 8-years old, we had a cat. This was the grown-up version of the kitten we’d got a few years ago in response to a “kittens free to a good home” notice we’d seen when out on a family walk.
“Yes,” replied parents in response to our pleading: “you can have a kitten if you go to the house and ask”. That would normally be enough to stop us in our tracks, but not this time.
“Come on Ruby,” called elder sister. And we went and got ourselves a kitten.

Anyway, scroll forward a couple of years and we moved house. The cat was kept in for a few days, but eventually mum and dad had had enough of being dive-bombed from the wardrobe in the middle of the night, and put the cat outside. We never saw the cat again.

My sisters and I spent a few days walking the streets and local woods (different times: you wouldn’t let children wander the woods alone nowadays), shaking biscuits and calling the cat’s name.

What we didn’t know at the time – but our parents did – was that we were never going to find the cat because ... er ... it was already dead. It had died in somewhat tragic and violent circumstances, having sought shelter in the engine compartment of the neighbour’s car. I’ll leave you to imagine the gory bits. Suffice to say it cost the neighbour a fair bit of money to get the engine fixed and cleaned.

So in order to save us from having nightmares, my parents decided not to tell us the truth – or, indeed to tell us anything. I was told several weeks later – by my grandmother – that the cat had been found run over further up the road. Well, I suppose that story kept to the spirit if the truth, if not the actuality of it.

I was eventually told what had happened about twelve years later – but then only because I was relating a conversation, I’d had with a motor mechanic who’d told me that such things happen.

This family has recently resurfaced because Younger Sister has only just found out the true story. FORTY-FIVE YEARS AFTER THE EVENT! She put an indignant post on the family fakebook page “Who else knew the truth about poor Felix?”

It’s all rather amusing – especially the bit about the parents allowing (possibly even encouraging) us to keep looking for this ex-cat. It’s the sort of joke I would play on children too.

I guess all families have these sorts of secrets (or maybe it is just mine). Thing you don’t tell the children at the time because you don’t want to upset them, and then just never get around to revealing. Like the fact that our grandmother had had a stroke shortly before he dies. I was told that only a few years ago – and Younger Sis was told, er, only a few days ago (as part of the dead-cat fakebook conversation). Sometimes it must be hard being the youngest child!


Child 3 got her AS Further Maths result this week. AS exams are half-way between GCSE and A-Level. They used to count towards A-level grades but don’t any more, and most of them have been scrapped. Further Maths, however, is one that is still there as a “filler” for the first A-level year.

She was convinced she wouldn’t get above a C, and felt it more likely to be an E or a fail. “You won’t mind if I fail?” she asked.

She got an A. To everyone’s surprise, not least her own. “I keep expecting to get an email to say they’ve made a mistake”, she says.

“Well done; you worked hard for that and deserved it” said Child 2.
“But I didn’t do any work” she replied.


A few weeks ago, I pulled a muscle in my shoulder. I wasn’t too bothered by it. I’ve pulled muscles before and they generally get better after a few days.

This one didn’t. Possible exacerbated by a week’s holiday when I was pulling on and off rucksacks, sleeping on a futon, and hauling myself round a Go Ape course (every zip wire I crash-landed unceremoniously on my back / shoulder / bum. Child 3 gracefully came in feet-first and stepped off as if she were stepping off a bus)

By Thursday it was hurting enough to start taking ibuprofen. Friday, I added paracetamol. Early hour of Sunday morning I was downstairs taking painkillers and as soon as the pharmacy opened I was down there begging “please give me something to take the pain away”. Bear in mind in all this that I generally don’t take painkillers.

They gave me ibuprofen and codeine which the instructions say you should not take for more than three days without seeing a doctor.

Monday, I made an appointment to see the doctor – for the following Wednesday. This would probably be the second time I have seen a doctor (outside routine medicals) for maybe 15 years.

Someone (well, several someone’s) suggested booking a physio session as well. I though physios were just for super-keen sports people, and people who had suffered major mobility-affecting trauma or illnesses. But I found a physio near home that did evening appointments and booked for that evening.

Oh my goodness. I couldn’t believe how much relief a single physio session would be. I cancelled the doctor appointment. I have rotator cuff syndrome and an impinged nerve in my neck.

The impinged nerve causes pain in my lower arm. It was getting up to a score of 7 or 8 out of 10 but is now down to a much more manageable 2 or 3. It now feels as if I’ve scraped my arm along a hard surface (such as the edge of a desk). I realised this morning that I’ve actually had this pain for quite a long time. I’d assumed that I had banged my wrist against something – maybe I was hitting the underside of me seeks while at work owing to poor posture. Well, I was half right. It was caused by pepper posture; but the site of in just is my neck, not in my arm. Who Knew?

Four sessions on and the injuries are well on their way to recovery. I’m still using my injured arm as an excuse not to play rounders at the barbecue we’re going to tomorrow. No one likes rounders.


Mrs B and Child 3 have just got home from their inaugural bouldering session. “You’d really enjoy it”, they enthused.
“Maybe when my shoulder is better,” I replied.
“Yes, “, responded Child 3 with unnecessary sadism: “then we can damage you again”

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