Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat?

Trick or treat
Smell my Feet
Give me something nice to eat
(or something pre- approved by my mother, like raisons…)

I love Halloween. Maybe it's the heathen in me! Even when it wasn't so high profile, when I was little, we had halloween parties. I always thought that Halloween was a relatively harmless bit of fun. Its origins are in Pagan Britain and it was later hijacked by the Christian Calendar. I thought that Jack o’lanterns and ‘Trick or Treat’ were American inventions to supersize and commercialize Halloween into an annual $7 billion mega money making machine. The shops dedicate aisles to Halloween as early as August and people begin to decorate their houses early October. Turns out though we can’t blame America for Trick or Treat, the custom of ‘begging’ on Halloween is mentioned by Shakespeare and in medieval times they carved lanterns out of turnips. Americans had bigger vegetables to hand and pumpkins are easier to carve!
I was pleasantly surprised by my first Halloween in the states last year. The atmosphere on 31st was lovely. People sat outside their highly decorated houses with cauldrons full of candy. Children walked the neighbourhood and got SACKFULS of sweets. It had a real festival atmosphere and the streets were full of kiddies in fancy dress. A real treat! Being acclimatized to the USA now I realize I missed some of the dark tricks of Halloween:

Traditional games like ‘apple bobbing’ (where you get a tub full of water and apples and, only using your mouth you have to retrieve as many apples as possible) are a life threatening hazard unless:
  1. Clear dangers of drowning are explained and a life belt is available. (Remember small children and inebriated adults can drown in centimeters of water)
  2. The water must be changed after each apple bobbing contestant as potentially deadly bodily fluids will be lurking in the water. Killer GERMS!
I didn’t realize why many neighbours were reluctant to participate in my Halloween street party apple bobbing – but having undergone Americanization I now know how foolish, dangerous and irresponsible my party shenanigans were!

My daughter was a rare thing last Halloween. She was a witch. Hardly any witches, ghouls or zombies! They are not appropriate. They are scary. My Son brought home a list of ‘safety rules’ he had copied for Halloween. They included wearing white ‘so people in cars can see you’ (nothing scary then in the traditional Halloween colour of black). My children have a ‘Vocabulary parade’ today at school where they can dress up in a theme related to science. I guess it is the school’s way of embracing Halloween but the children are explicitly not allowed to wear anything scary!

My son’s guideline also wisely advises to ‘check your treats before you eat them’. I guess they will end up with sweets you don’t normally allow but isn’t that the fun of it? I remember my friend’s little girl at my daughter’s 3rd birthday party. As requested I had supplied some vegetable rolls for her as she was being brought up a strict vegetarian. It was too late to stop her (unnoticed by her mother) as she chomped away on a sausage roll. I guess I could have stopped her eating 5 of them but she was enjoying them so much and it was a party! Halloween Candy is the same (sort of). I do not allow my children to eat blue sweets. They will happily be sticking their blue tongues out at me later, high on a sugar rush!
1 in 3 American children are obese, apparently. Sackfuls of sweets is bad news for fatties and not great news for dentists.
Great schools, an education website calls Halloween an "unmitigated disaster for parents trying to protect their children from OD'ing" on sugar, and suggests ways for parents to swizzle their kids out of the "upcoming tsunami of sucrose." (swap it for toys, sell it, give it away to late trick or treaters who come knocking, bulimic mother to eat it and puke it up later when the kids are in bed….)
Adding to the danger are allergies. 54% of Americans have allergies. They love them! We had American friends round to drink like only the Brits know how. The next morning we met up for breakfast and they were looking very much the worse for wear. One proclaimed he had terrible allergies that morning. Allergies? We call it a hangover!  My son got into big trouble for inadvertently drinking out of the water bottle of a boy with peanut allergies – apparently causing risk to the boy. I couldn’t work out the risk as my son may be a nut but he isn’t a peanut! My children tell people they are allergic to things just so they don’t feel left out.
I’m surprised there isn’t a general ‘no peanuts’ rule for anyone giving away candy. My daughter said yesterday I couldn’t buy peanut M&M’s to give away to Trick or Treaters incase of allergies. I kind of think if you’re getting free sweets it is up to you to check what you eat – so wise advice from the school!

The general rule is ‘if your porch light is on you welcome trick or treaters…. Unless you are a pedophile then you have no business having your light on. I had the misfortune to listen to a radio phone in on local radio this morning advising parents to look up the location of local pedophiles and be sure to avoid their houses for candy …If their lights are on, go round with the local vigilantes and put their lights out!
I have to say the whole Halloween thing contradicts some of the US watchdog guidelines to stay safe for Halloween:
§         Always tell your parents where you are going. (Traipsing round the streets knocking on random strangers’ doors)
§         Never approach any house that is not well lit. (unless it has spooky Halloween lights and adults in costumes lurking outside)
§         Remember anything weird that an adult says or does to you and tell your parents immediately. (that would be anything to do with Halloween then!)
§         Run away from people who offer you candy or other treats or want you to help look for their puppy or kitten. (…and the purpose of trick or treat, endorsed and encouraged by adults, is for children to take candy from total strangers)

The date:
Just downright inconvenient on a week day and retailers do better when Halloween falls on a Saturday! Simple! In the name of economics, ignore centuries of tradition and meaning and support law makers in Connecticut who want to move Halloween to the last Saturday in October. This would be highly convenient for working parents and children would not have to rush home from school, do homework or get up the next morning (except for Church of course).

So – Perhaps I was na├»ve last year. Halloween is not a celebration, based loosely on tradition and exploited for the benefit of children so they can dress up and have fun and get lots of sweeties. It is primarily of commercial significance – movable and not needing to be fixed to any particular date, for the benefit of dentists and bulimic mothers and fraught with E numbers and scary costumes. .. But if we stop the dressing up and the treats then it will no longer be of commercial significance and therefore have no point in American society. I have a great idea – rather than move the day – just ban it altogether to protect children from germs, sweets, allergies, pedophiles and other scary things! If you think about it too much it is definitely trick not treat! 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Field of Dreams!

The Texas Rangers are in the best-of-7 play-offs in the World Series against the St Louis Cardinals this week. You know! …the World Series, which no one else in the world competes in! I should try and take some interest in this but having been to a baseball game this summer it doesn’t seem like an attractive use of my time. Perhaps I was bored witless at the Durham Bulls game (the venue for the other Kevin Costner baseball film!) because I didn’t understand the rules. I just looked on Wikipedia to educate my self but lost the will to live. I even looked at baseball rules for ‘dummies’, idiots’ and ‘kids’ and it still made no sense!  We took my Dad to the baseball game. He is a huge cricket fan. He was bored witless too. It made no sense!

Beckham on the sidelines

I thought it would be a nice family thing to do. It was very civilized. You could drink beer and no-one sang ‘Did you come in a taxi?’ from the terraces, when they didn’t perform (which appeared to be most of the time). A girly sang the Star spangled banner and everyone stood, arm across chest, in a patriotic stance. Everyone, except 6 Brits, that is. I can only assume, like everyone else who sings the American Anthem at sporting events, she didn’t know the words. The home team came on to a carnival atmosphere with music and clapping. The poor ‘away’ team were greeted with silence! Didn’t seem very sporty to me. Where was the abuse and booing?
I waited for the game to get going. I was still waiting 2 ½ hours later. It was so slow they had to play bursts of loud music every 10 minutes and shoot hotdogs into the crowds to wake everyone up. This fanfare allowed the players to sit down and do nothing for a few minutes, in much the same way they had for the previous 10 minutes of ‘playing’. It also allowed for the commercials as the game was televised. We didn’t get to see the commercials. We just saw selected members of the crowd do something silly with people dressed up as furry animals and girls in short jhorts (girls who should know better than to wear short jhorts!). During the whole proceedings, the crowd simultaneously burst into clapping every so often. To the untrained eye it appeared that they did this randomly for absolutely no apparent reason.
I could say it was like cricket for girls. In fact it was more like Rounders only slower, hideously boring and with armour. They had all manner of head gear on. I don’t know why. No one really moved very much. I still bare the scar on my chin of a game of Rounders in the playground as an 8 year old.  Pity I didn’t play baseball instead. I might have avoided that particular drama. So it wasn’t even like Rounders- less dangerous and less active. The players had muffin tops. That gear is very unflattering. Tight pantaloons and collarless shirts tucked in to emphasize their billowing bellies. If they actually had to run round they might get fit and lose some weight but that would require them to hit the ball. There was definitely some skill in hitting the ball. It was so skilful in fact, that hardly anyone did it. For a start the bowler constantly threw ‘no-ball’s’. Either that or they were allowed as many goes as they wanted. Try as I might I couldn’t work out what the hell was going on! If they did hit the ball they were invariably caught out – unsurprisingly really as the fielders wore huge washing basket sized gloves to catch a little ball. A neon sigh flashed a warning ‘Be alert! Foul balls and bats hurt’. When they actually hit the ball and make a run for it, they throw their bat. We were not allowed to do that in Rounders. It’s dangerous! The warning was followed by an ad for a personal injury claim firm! I love it when they are caught out. They carry on running for a while, in the same way someone runs a little after a trip, in the hope that no one will notice.
My Dad, who sits and watches cricket for days, was bored. I thought cricket was complicated but a friend assures me cricket was simple:

You have two sides, one out in the field and one in.
Each man that's in the side that's in goes out, and when he's out he comes in and the next man goes in until he's out.
When they are all out, the side that's out comes in and the side that's been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out.
Sometimes you get men still in and not out.
When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in. There are two men called umpires who stay all out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out.
When both sides have been in and all the men have been out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game.

Simple! I think baseball may be similar, only they have 9 innings and a different shaped bat. I think they have softer balls. I found a site that gave some basic fundamentals of baseball. I selected a few of the more simple ones:

Batting order. Make it simple. Keep team’s batting order posted in the dugout.
Dugout? Sounds like trench warfare!

Keep the helmet on.
Be alert… Foul balls and bats hurt! Sissies!

Strike zone. It takes a steady eye for a batter to cover the entire strike zone. Although it is subjective from umpire to umpire, the strike zone is considered the space over home plate between the batter’s shoulders and the top of his knees (when the batter uses a natural stance).
Yep! Simple!

Three strikes and you’re not out? Obviously, a batter is out if the catcher catches a third strike during an at bat. But if the catcher drops the third strike or the ball gets past him, and a baserunner is not occupying first base, the batter can run to first base and try to arrive safely before the catcher throws the ball there to force him out.

Tie goes to the runner. It’s as simple as it sounds. An umpire judges whether a baserunner is safe or out. If the runner can be forced out at a base and he arrives there at the same instance the fielder catches the ball, the runner is considered safe.
Baserunning. Running the bases is one of the most fun parts of youth baseball, but, yes, there are plenty of rules for it. A runner must touch each base when going around the infield and won’t score a run until he touches first, second and third base and then home plate in succession (if he misses one he has to go back to that base while touching them in succession and not passing any other runners). A baserunner can’t pass a fellow runner in front of him when rounding the bases. He also can’t run more than three feet away from his baseline to avoid being tagged out unless he is trying to avoid interference with a fielder. Make sure the runners know how to slide properly, safely and within the rules.

Tagging out. To tag out a runner, a fielder must touch him with the ball or with his glove when the ball is in. A runner is not out if the fielder tags him with his glove but has the ball in his other hand.

Make the right pitch. A pitcher has to keep one foot on the rubber during his windup and must come to a complete stop – though brief – during it. It’s also important to stress that a pitcher can’t put either hand to his mouth within the pitching circle unless the umpire has allowed it beforehand (perhaps on a cold day).
So – that explains why the pitcher does that silly leg up statue pose. …but the link to cold weather? WTF? Maybe he is allowed to wipe snot away in cold weather

So…there may be a good reason why the World Series is only played in once place. The same reason Cricket is only played in the Commonwealth and former British Empire.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Leave your message after the beep

When we moved to Texas we opted for an internet phone. There are 2 reasons for this. Firstly all tele-communications are a hideous rip off in the USA. Internet connection is very expensive, as is cable TV and phone. The second reason is I simply don’t use the phone. My family get free calls from the UK and I use skype to call those who have it because it is free. We decided to just have the internet and use a Boxee and Netflix for internet TV (Don’t ask - it’s a man thing). We do have a phone line for incoming calls only and it is truly irritating because the number has been sold to every cold caller in the USA. I had one call at the ungodly hour of . I put on my best teacher posh voice and enquired if the caller thought it reasonable to call, unsolicited at such a time. They were speechless. Probably wondering what the Queen of England or Hermione Grainger was doing answering a phone in Houston.
I thought there was a few seconds delay when picking up the phone on cold calls so my next tactic was to put the phone down until I realised the delay happened on all calls and I had been putting the phone down on my mom! Now I just answer and say I am out.
What I hadn’t anticipated was door to door cold calling. I have to commend the company and the salesman for Steakhouse inc. They were not trying to take advantage of desperate housewives. It was pure co-incidence that he called at the point where the kids had just got in from school with demands for food, homework help and attention every 30 seconds. Of course I had to invite him in when, at the point I made eye contact, he ran off to his van and returned with 6 boxes of steaks in his arms. He couldn’t just stand there holding them. That wasn’t the point of no return! Of course it wasn’t. I was under no obligation to buy!
He plonked his wares on the kitchen counter. I was standing just by a black bin bag next to him. I had been gathering up the rubbish around the house. I didn’t remember putting any scoops from the cat litter tray in there but the smell of poo was embarrassing. I can’t use it as an excuse… if I were looking for one, but it made me anxious for the ordeal (sorry – experience) to be over.
He was selling combination packs of frozen vacuum packed steak. MMmmmmmm! He was so helpful. Yes! I could see that it would be so much better to have a year’s supply of steak in the freezer rather than just go and buy steak fresh when I wanted it. I appreciated that it sounded a lot of money (when he finally got round to prices – he was very polite – it would have been vulgar to raise the delicate issue of payment straight away). I really appreciated that as a new customer I could get 40% off. I didn’t know at the time that I could buy it on the internet as a BOGOF – which makes it 50% off! But then he was so nice – it was worth the 10% extra.
He was so genuine. He wrote down his email address and cell phone and said if I didn’t like the steaks he would come straight back and change them. I think he accidentally picked up the leaflet with that information on it when he left. Not to worry – I’m sure I’ll love the steaks… from Illinois! I’m sure the Texas reputation for the best steaks in the states is over-rated. And no… it isn’t just unscrupulous manufacturers that add up to 15% ‘broth’ to cuts of meat. It can add flavour to even the best steak…

I’m sure you’ve done it. Purchased something you know you shouldn’t have. Something in the sale you’ll never wear. Something you can’t afford and didn’t need. Six boxes of different cuts of beef from some random bloke who turns up at the door… You know the feeling. That agitated gnawing in the pit of your stomach when you know you’ve fucked up? Well, I felt it even before I paid. If I’m honest I felt it when I didn’t just shut the door in his face. He caught me unawares. I thought it might be a neighbour welcoming me to the neighbourhood with a pumpkin pie.
He did the credit card slip and pointed out that I was welcome to leave a tip as he had to pay for his own gas. For a moment I found my self and said:
‘You know that is what I truly hate about America – the whole expectation for tips for inappropriate things. You knock on my door asking me to buy your stuff, when I can drive to the supermarket and use my own petrol and buy it cheaper and you expect me to tip you? Well, here’s a tip – keep up with the good work because you’re a great salesman and you’ve got me to buy steaks I don’t want or need. And don’t even think about giving me that coupon you’ve got for my ‘next purchase. Just charge a fair price in the first place’

He said ‘Wow, I really like your attitude, sign here’.

It turned out it wasn’t the black bin bag that had the nasty odour. It left with him, leaving me just a little bit queasy about the steak we would be eating for the next 6 months. Next time the phone or the door bell rings I am NOT in!

Monday, October 17, 2011


Texas is experiencing the worst ‘one year drought’ since rainfall records began in 1895. It was a bloody hot summer – with temperatures above 40°C for weeks! Most of Texas is experiencing ‘exceptional drought’ and the remaining areas are ‘extreme’ or ‘severe’, It got so bad that by June, Houston launched ‘stage 1’ of their plan. This is a voluntary stage where residents were asked to refrain from non-essential water use such as ‘washing cars or boats’ and only water their lawns twice a week, avoiding mid day. How will Texans cope? Seriously tough measures for the lowest rainfall on record.
Don’t get washing your boat. No point! You can’t take your boat out to the lakes anyway. There’s a drought – numpty!
In August Houston Public Radio reported that boats were getting stranded on sand bars in Lake Houston. Sgt. Tolan Harding who runs the police boat patrol on Lake Houston had the answer. ‘Pray for rain.’
I appreciate that the stereotypical Texan is likely to be a republican evangelical, full on God slotter, and let’s face it – I only deal in stereotypes (they are the only Americans I ever meet). They must have followed Sgt Harding’s advice as law abiding citizens. It would appear that the Texan prayers were answered last weekend. I had been in Houston 3 days when it decided to make up the lack of rainfall for months in just a few hours. The rain was torrential.
It was indeed a ‘godsend’. The house we are renting has a pool. I felt it was the least I should demand for being dragged around America. Given the temperatures in Houston, I was hoping to extend the ‘holiday’ feeling of this mad adventure I find myself on. I can pretend I am on a long holiday. A very long holiday- which will make going back to work a bit of a killer. The pool had been leaking 6” of water a week since we took over the lease and we were waiting for it to be fixed. I don’t know if stage one drought planning meant that you should refrain form topping up the pool but it did say ‘non-essential’ use and the pool is ESSENTIAL!
After the mini monsoon the pool was full to the brim of water… and debris. Like swimming in soup. I felt I was really conserving water and a huge amount of money by turning off the steady stream to replace the leaking water. (Leaking, I assume into little puddles where the mosquitoes who have bitten me relentlessly since I arrived, are breeding). Apparently I can claim from the water company for the leaked water as water that was not usable! Only in America!
We ventured out during the downpour to find somewhere to eat (our furniture was still on a truck in Louisiana) and as we backed out of the drive way I noticed the sprinklers were on. On in the middle of the day. On in the pouring rain. You have to pay for water here on a meter! Note to self – work out how the sprinkler system works and turn the f**ker off! I started to get concerned about how many clauses of the voluntary water cessation I was breaking. What if i-neighbors reported me for excessive (albeit involuntary) water use?
My best water violation however was yet to come. I’m not sure if the timing of Hubby’s business trips is random. I had been in North Carolina a week when he buggered off to Sweden. I have been in Houston a week and he’s HAD to go to Poland. Perfectly timed at the point of my ‘WTF am I doing here’ meltdown. Coincidence? He knows if he isn’t here I have no choice but to get on with it. I prepared myself for visits to Wal-mart ALONE! I did it! I felt that I was a winner in so many ways when I won a $5 Wal-mart gift card at the Wal-mart MacDonald’s on Sunday. Reward for my bravery. I chilled! I let the kids watch Netflix all afternoon. Loudly! That is why I didn’t here the flow of water until it was too late! We reported to our new landlord that the upstairs loo mechanism didn’t work so the toilet constantly filled with water. Not a problem til your 6 year old fills it with poo and paper. What is it with little kids that they can use that amount of loo roll and still have shitty arses? Your toilet was blocked (but it’s alright now – for any aficionados out there you’ll know where that is from!) and it didn’t stop filling. Like the little porridge pot overflowing. Overflowing until I thought someone had turned my shower on (for some reason the master bedroom is downstairs). It was water flooding through the light fittings, walls and ceiling! I quickly, if a little hysterically, turned the water off and used a dust pan to scoop the flood upstairs into the bath. It was free from poo as the poo was well buried under all the loo roll… That is until I flushed the toilet again. I know, I know! Only someone who needs sectioning would do such a thing. I thought it would flush away. I can’t tell you the despair I felt when it overflowed onto the recently cleared floor. This time, full of poo particles. I stopped the flow in the cistern and I got my dust pan again, a little over zealously. I can’t describe the subsequent despair I felt as I dried the splashes from my face and went to the third bathroom to shower for a very long time.
I have violated the water plan on so many levels. Mostly not on purpose but my final violation is one that goes against all my Greenpeace credentials. Short of flooding the bathroom (again) in the stuff and bathing in it myself, I have used a shameful amount of bleach in the last two days, cleaning up floodgate. I wonder if Houston has any laws on the use of harmful chemicals. If it is anything like their water guidelines I think I only have my own conscience to deal with!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

By the Time I get to Houston…

Driven by boredom and inspired by songs sung by the great Glenn Campbell – not least because I am now living just 4o miles or so from Galveston- I decided to rework a cover of Glen Campbell’s – ‘By the time I get to Phoenix’. (if you don’t know the tune I’ve added the original) I’ve done it as though Barry White – who is driving the removals van with my furniture and other personal items from North Carolina to Texas – is singing it to me. I was concerned that my things might not get to Houston when the removals firm couldn’t find us in North Carolina a week ago. My concerns were well founded. I waved goodbye to my things on Tuesday, being assured I would be reunited with them, in Houston, on Friday. Thursday we were told the truck had broken down but it would be fixed by the morning. The saga continued until Barry was too afraid to phone with the latest update today, having spun a yarn for the last 3 days. He got the company director to call! Apparently Barry will be here in the morning….

Sing along if you know the tune!
By the time I get to Atlanta you’ll be arriving
in your new house in Texas with no furniture at all
You’ll be excited to think that I’ll still be on my way and driving
But that would make you a silly fool

By the time I make Louisiana You’ll be desperate
After two nights with no TV, sitting on the floor
But I’ll be phoning to tell you I’ve got an oil leak
and the truck wont be moving any more

By the time I make Houston, You’ll be crying
Shouting ‘where the F**K are you?' And banging your head on blank walls
I’ll tell you your stuff will arrive in the morning
Just 5 days later than we promised you so
You silly optimist, didn’t you know we were on a go slow?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Moving on Out!

‘Goodbye cruel world. I’m off to join the circus’
Make that ‘good bye NC I’m of to move to Texas!”

The removal men turned up very late to pack our lives into their truck and move it to a new, possibly even stranger land. They got lost and called to ask us where they were. “Why the f**k would I know?” was my first thought but I had to spend 2 days in NC and a day in Texas with them. I didn’t want to upset the driver when he was going to be driving off into the sunset with all my worldly goods (other than some personal items). He described his location and we identified his whereabouts on Google earth. He said ‘can you come and get me?’ I could see that it was going to be an interesting few days.
I confess I did greet him with ‘Why don’t you get a sat nav’ (hastily translated into American – ‘GPS’). This was followed with ‘Barry – aren’t you selling enough records anymore?’ Barry White was moving us. If it wasn’t Barry, then had to be his brother!
Moving can be stressful. This is our 3rd move in 18 months and practically, it doesn’t get any easier. Emotionally, leaving North Carolina did not feel the same as leaving England a lifetime ago!
When the company came round to quote for the move the little man who turned up said he was ex-military. I was sure he was ex-travelling circus but people are full of surprises. He said he could tell people’s nationality by their furniture. No Shit Sherlock! I thought my accent and huge union Jack rug might be a give away! I found my daughter in my room looking very embarrassed with something behind her back. When the man left the room she revealed a bra and gave me a stern ‘Mommy!’. I hadn’t been expecting him. I guess I was lucky it was just a bra exposed. Thankfully my daughter has a sense of modesty and decorum I lack! Ironically it was the same bra I saw Barry White fishing out from under the bed when they were packing up.
It did make me wonder what people do with ‘personal items’ when they move. Do you leave your vibrator for the packers to ‘find’ or take it as personal luggage and run the risk of airport security getting it out. Someone I know carries a tube of Anusol (haemorrhoids cream) through airport security to try to embarass the staff on purpose. If I tell you (and I have never told anyone before so keep it secret) that I throw dirty underwear away rather than risk the possibility that customs might mooch through my knickers then you’ll understand that I could never cope with more major luggage indiscretions like battery operated sex toys! I wouldn’t want to be arrested and in ‘Busted Locals’ for smutty smuggling!
You can imagine my horror when I thought my worse fears (or most secret hopes) had been realised when one of the packers said ‘Barry wants you upstairs in the bedroom’. I didn’t know what to expect but my mouth went a little dry at the thought! He just wanted to know what was in some boxes I had pre-packed. I dramatically shooed the kids out of the room, shut the door, tried to flutter my eyelashes and look demur (hard when you feel stressed and look like shite) and whispered in his ear ‘they are Christmas presents for the children’. That had him! He quickly taped up the box without checking. My blushes (or his) were spared. My ‘personal items’ were safe, along with the illegal contraband not allowed on the truck – candles, aerosols, washing powder… anything inflammable which they had confused with anything you burn. The washing power has the environmentally disastrous potential to SPILL and ruin other things. I pleaded that if it spilled it would spill on my things so that was ok but Washing powder was banned form the journey south!
They absolutely refused to take 3 cans of paint I wanted to take as touch-up paint for my Son’s furniture. It was water-based and safer than kiddie poster paint. You could put fires out with it but Barry refused and it was too late to smuggle them into my ‘Christmas box’. All rather senseless when Barry happily drove our two cars on the truck (it was a BIG truck) full of petrol, which to my knowledge is highly flammable! As all matches and candles had been confiscated there was nothing to actually ignite the cars with though!
I asked Barry if I could take the fireworks I had smuggled from South Carolina for New Years Eve and never used (It wasn’t a party state). Barry didn’t think I was very funny at all!
It took two days to pack our things into the truck. Hubby and daughter departed early with the cats as hand luggage while me and my son stayed to wave goodbye to ‘the moving truck’ as he called it. I signed all the paper work and bid them farewell THEN discovered the deep gauge in the wooden floor, the deep trammel lines across one of the doors and the hole in the lino. Bugger, that is the deposit gone and Barry gone, with all my worldly goods and a few personal items as stowaways.