Silly Saturday Short Story – 515 – Upside Down

‘CLOSED – Closed due to illness… the one evening we finally get to try the trendy micro brewery and it’s closed.’

‘Shall we settle for The George?’

No way, they’re showing the football said Lucy. ‘Can’t we go back to yours Sal, grab a bottle of wine and order a takeaway.’

‘No, Alan’s got his mates round for a few beers to watch the match, that’s why I wanted to come out in the first place. Shall we go round yours Tam?’

‘Sorry, Milly’s invited her new boyfriend, promised we would be out till at least ten.’

‘Okay Lucy, let’s go to yours, Ed’s away, no problem.’

‘No, No… you can’t possibly come round mine, everything’s totally upside down.’

‘Ha ha, I find that hard to believe, your immaculate house always puts me and Tam to shame.’

‘It can’t possibly be as bad as the state I left mine in this morning’ said Tam. ‘Come on, we can pick up a couple of bottles at the Co Op on the way and ring up for a pizza.’

‘Okay, if you don’t believe me, you are going to be in for a shock.’

‘Yay, it is Shocktober, we’re ready for anything as long as we have wine, one white, one pink, one red.’

The closer we got to Lucy’s corner the more worried she looked, there seemed to be a lot of traffic around and as we got nearer to her little road there were lots of people walking in the same direction.  I was about to say Oh, I hope there’s nothing wrong… when we turned the corner and got a shock Tam and I certainly weren’t expecting.

Lucy’s immaculate house, with its new blue cladding, was upside down, literally. A crowd was gathering, staring in awe at the house balancing on its roof. From the crowd a woman was emerging with a microphone.  

Lucy grabbed both of us, there was a horrible clanking as the wine bottles hit the pavement.

‘Quick, park, hole in fence, before neighbours recognise me’ mumbled Lucy.

Stumbling through a hedge, slipping on wet grass, this was not the girls’ night out we had hoped for.

‘Lucy, this isn’t your road, can’t be, it’s a film set, no other explanation’ I hissed.

‘If only it was a film set, I was hoping I had imagined the whole thing this morning’ gasped Lucy. ‘I lost the key to Ed’s mother’s house; I’m meant to be feeding the cats every evening while she’s away, locking them in safely for the night. I was in a right panic this morning, she’ll kill me if anything happens to her precious cats.’

‘Cats are the least of your problems’ said Tam.

‘I know that now, but this morning I said to myself, or perhaps I said it out loud

“I’m going to turn this place upside down till I find that wretched key.”

I went out the front to make sure I hadn’t dropped it on the driveway last night and when I turned to go back inside, the house was upside down.’

Monday Monologue 475 – Right Move

Don’t tell anyone Terry, but next door are moving… I know, I couldn’t believe it either.  Purple Bricks, I saw the board up. Of course I wouldn’t say anything to anyone, but I had my appointment at the hairdressers and I was so shocked I told Deb and she said her step daughter was looking to move. Yes you did know she had a step daughter, her husband’s much older. Anyway, when I got home the board had disappeared. Ah ha but it is still for sale, I know that because Deb looked it up on line and the house was there, with the price and pictures and everything, did you know you could do that?  Oh I suppose you’re au fait with all that modern stuff. Do you think they know their house is there for everyone to see?

Hello Terry, no they didn’t say anything when I was watering the front garden, but guess what, Pat the other side of them said Tony and Tim the other side of her got a message from a friend who thought their house was up for sale; he had seen it on Purple Bricks, so it must be true. Oh you looked it up as well, can you show me how to look it up on my iPad when you come round. No they haven’t been there long and they had all that work done and blinds and a new patio. Testing the market… perhaps, but who would dare to move at the moment.

Come in Terry, the iPad’s warming up… no I think they’re keeping a low profile, but Pete across the road said he saw it on Right Move…    Isn’t that amazing, you’re so good with computers . Good heavens, who would buy a house with that wallpaper and at that price, surely they can’t be asking that much, Monopoly money. I feel nosey though, looking round their house in secret. No I haven’t been inside, we had lockdown soon after they moved in, they did keep saying you must come round for a cup of coffee when things are normal, but they’re always so busy, nice couple though and their son just started school. Will they know I’ve been looking… oh thank goodness…  What? Anyone in the whole country, or the world could look into their house, how awful, can’t they stop it?  So if you want to sell your house you put it on line and you want lots of people to look? Oh quick Terry, go and look out the window, is that a couple coming to look at their house? No, no I think those are their friends, I recognise the dog and the red car. Come away from the window Terry, we don’t want them to think we’re being nosey.

Drama at the Big House

As none of my novels have been snapped up for serialisation on prime time television I decided to go straight to producing my own psychological drama. Here are some handy hints in case you want to do the same. First you have to remember how to spell cycalojical, then you have to find a big house.

If you wondered why the characters in modern dramas all seem to live in architect designed huge houses it is because directors and crew love having plenty of space to film and of course more room for DRAMA. As I will be filming only with my iPhone you might think I will not need the Big House, but with the huge home comes that vital feature, the staircase. Because the house is architect designed and the ceilings very high the staircase is tall and never has a banister or railing of any sort. The main character will inevitably fall down the stairs, perhaps within the first five minutes of episode one.

This provides the opportunity for confusing flash backs as the character lies in hospital or in the morgue. Did they fall, jump or were they pushed? You have six to ten episodes to work this out. The story starts, or rather ends, as it’s back to front, with the main characters moving in to a new house that no mere mortal could possibly afford. They are in a new town / city / rural Wales / remote spot on the Scottish coast making a new start. The divorced / widowed parent has a teenage son and a teenage daughter who did not want to move, even though they now each have a huge bedroom with ensuite bathroom and their own home cinema and indoor swimming pool.

The family eats breakfast in an open plan kitchen the size of a mainline station concourse. The table is as long as the one used by Putin to speak to Western leaders. Everyone is in a rush for the first day at the new school and the new job. Our main character is a detective / brilliant surgeon / amazing artist. Everyone rushes out the door with a piece of toast in their hand, nobody clears the table, loads the dishwasher, cleans their teeth or makes their bed.

 That’s okay because over the coming weeks the house remains immaculate despite no evidence that they employ a cleaner. They always have clean clothes to wear, though no one ever does any washing. Meals appear by magic; not so much as an onion graces the immaculate marble work tops and nobody ever goes shopping. The main character has more important things to worry about than doing a big shop at Sainsburys or going on line to do the Tesco order. Occasionally the new love interest will pose at the huge kitchen island and slice a red pepper, announcing that they are making a special celebratory meal.

Nobody turns up when the feast is ready because one of the teenagers has run away and the other one is in hospital after an overdose. The parent has not noticed they are having trouble settling in and has already been called away to deal with a murder / emergency brain surgery / trouble at the art gallery; they will have difficulty concentrating after the messages from / meeting with the mystery person plaguing their life.

As the wonderful meal dries up, new love interest has no idea where anybody is, but takes the opportunity to answer a mobile phone ringing from some remote part of the house / look out the huge picture window to see a stranger peering in / rifle through a locked drawer after finding a key in another drawer while searching for a wooden spoon…

There are now only three days and two episodes left before the main character is going to fall down the stairs, but you will have to wait till my new drama arrives on television in 2024 to find out why or how. If you can’t wait that long, why not dip into one of my dramatic novels?

Twosday – a Tale of Two Tiles

Nothing much happens on Tuesdays, except perhaps a special date. Today is 22-2-22, but if I don’t hurry up and post this it will be Wednesday, except in the Americas where it will still be Tuesday, but written 2-22-22.

 The previous few days were more eventful as we had three storms in a row. Since the Met Office started naming storms we seem to have them more often, the aim being to make us take them seriously. On Thursday we were still thinking ‘not a nuther storm coming, up to E already, Eunice…’

But soon we were receiving RED warnings! Yes, just when you thought it was safe to go out again after Covid / chemotherapy / knee operation / kidnap by aliens – delete as appropriate, we were being instructed to stay home again.

Yellow, amber and even the most severe red warnings are in place for vast swathes of the United Kingdom – from Inverness to the Isle of Wight – for Friday.’

Our local council announced that almost everything would be closed on Friday. Team H deferred their long weekend visit, just like lockdown again, then cancelled as we heard that Eunice was to be followed by Storm Franklin and perhaps Gladys…

Friday dawned fair…

Friends and families warned each other ( well me ) not to go out to see the sea. I thought I would pop out to the recycling bin, but the front door nearly blew off. The front and side of our house takes the brunt of the prevailing south westerly and a record wind speed of 122 miles per hour was recorded on the Isle of Wight, as the wind wended its way to our house.

Unless you live in solitary splendour in the countryside you are probably very close or joined to your neighbours.  It was our neighbour who alerted us to tiles fallen off our roof, just missing their car. Only two tiles lost and one loose, but up high…

A good while ago it was the neighbours the other side who had major building work done to their house with the scaffolding in our driveway. The builders inadvertently broke one of our tiles, but how lucky was that because they fixed it and had four tiles left over and left them with us. Even luckier, considering I always forget where I put everything, I remembered where the spare tiles were hidden in the potting shed.

My son planned to fix the roof before Eunice took unfair advantage of the weak spot. I didn’t think anyone should be doing anything with ladders. My daughter-in-law was dispatched to Wickes to buy a hook attachment for the ladder and some spongy glue stuff. I didn’t think anyone should be going out.

Luckily we have the ‘right sort of roof’ for the proposed action and with careful checking of wind speeds, yet another thing you can do on the internet and the use of two ladders, the roof was repaired later in the day. We did not have to join the queues of home owners waiting for builders and roofers.

We had of course got off lightly. People had four hundred year old oak trees falling on their house and homes were flooded. Sadly the red warnings were justified as several people were killed by toppling trees.

Friday Flash Fiction – Trinity Tree

As the ground shook violently tiny fungal filaments sent out warnings and pleas for help. Mighty roots that had lain undisturbed for centuries trembled. Then there was a silent scream as she felt herself cleaved in three from the highest twig down, down, down to her deepest roots.

‘Giles, I pleaded with you not to do this, how could you, that tree was planted by your ancestor.’

‘He planted loads of trees, that’s why we have woodland; one less tree on the edge won’t make any difference. What will make a difference is the fortune that rich idiot is paying us for digging up an old oak tree. Enough to keep the estate going for another year.’

‘What if it doesn’t work, how can it work, transplanting a huge ancient tree into his back garden in London.’

‘That’s his problem, we’ve got the money, no refund.’

The residents of Oak Avenue had thought they had seen everything in the past year. Despite their many objections the new neighbour had demolished the pleasant square of sheltered bungalows for the elderly and built his dream house. Noise, dust and the very real fear their own homes would collapse in a man made earthquake had created a nightmare. As peace settled they gazed upon the geometric glass edifice of jumbled storeys, rumoured to have a split level basement with a kitchen, cinema, offices, snooker room or swimming pool, depending on who you talked to. Some rather liked the building and imagined it would be elegant inside with the central atrium apparently bringing light to all the rooms and the basement. But they had not been invited in to look so it was not welcome in their avenue. Now at nine am on Tuesday morning local social media had alerted them to the closure of all surrounding roads, to facilitate an oversized delivery to the new house. Amid jokes about huge Amazon parcels everyone was out to watch, especially when a television filming unit was spotted round the corner.


Never had she been horizontal; survivor of many storms, now she was fallen, brutally felled. Once tall and stout, one being, now she was three. But as she found herselves raised up again she realised they were a sacred number, a holy trinity with a new power. Her roots trembled for a different reason now, she must gain a hold and use her strength.


Harry smiled at his scowling neighbours as the cameras focused on him and the reporter asked the questions everyone wanted answers to; why, how, where?

‘The only way to uproot and transport such a huge tree was to slice it in three vertically and put it on three over length loaders. Now London has a bit more greenery and I have improved the neighbourhood. ….yes we dug down so deep to accommodate the basement there is a good tree sized hole, just like buying a shrub from the garden centre, but on a bigger scale. It will work, the bark will join up again.’


Harry’s wife looked out at the designer garden. The ancient tree just off centre enough to look natural. Harry was clever, she hoped he hadn’t been too clever this time, but her new home was fantastic, just a pity the neighbours weren’t very friendly.
As they enjoyed their morning swim and clambered out to sit in the jacuzzi she noticed the pool level seemed lower, Harry promised to check the pumps. Back in her office with the skylight view of the tree she thought she saw a crack in the wall. She went up to the kitchen to make coffee and wondered if that was a hairline crack in the window. In the garden she felt better as she nursed her coffee. Two weeks and the tree was showing tiny acorn buds and the leaves were green. She touched the healed bark and felt happy.

The next morning the pool was lower and she noticed something strange at the bottom of the pool. Harry said it was just twigs fallen off the poolside plants, but she insisted on diving down the six foot depth. She tugged and tugged, but had to come up for air.

‘Harry, I think that is a tree root pushing up through the tiles.’
’Don’t be ridiculous, I’ll go down and look.’
When he didn’t come up again she wondered if he had had a heart attack and as she slipped into the water in panic she heard an almighty shattering.

Oak Avenue was a scene of devastation. The neighbours’ first thoughts as they heard the horrendous crash of glass was that the tree had fallen on the house, but it was still standing, surrounded by the debris of concrete and glass. The fire brigade and police assumed a gas explosion or bomb, but the building seemed to have imploded rather than exploded and it would not be easy to search for survivors.


Silly Saturday – Strange Strollings

Going for a walk is all many of us are allowed to do in lockdown and a change of scenery is always good. The photos are courtesy of my sister in Australia.

Time for a walk.

Is it far?

I think we have missed the train.

Neighbour’s rockery is looking good.

Which way in?

Better Go before we leave.

Lucky we got a lift back.

Friday Flash Fiction – Click and Collect

I logged in on my dashboard computer – Friday 15th January 2040. I was getting a new work experience person today. It didn’t matter what day of the week they started, we worked seven days a week and every day was the same, though today was going to be rather different. Their name was Hope, sixteen years old, no idea if they would be a boy, girl or other, I would have to wait and see how or if they self identified. Dressed in biohaz suits it was difficult to tell, so it didn’t much matter. What sort of name was Hope; parents must have been optimistic, must have been optimistic in the first place to have a baby in 2024.

‘Good morning Hope, welcome to the team, what the hell made you want to try this job?’

‘To get away from home, get outside.’

‘They all say that, outside’s not all it’s cracked up to be, every day’s much the same, but I have to tell you we have an NR7 to deal with first today, did they tell you about that in your on line induction?’

‘Nope, don’t think so, wasn’t really listening…’

‘I thought not, well you can back out now, it might not be very nice.’

‘No way, I’d have to go to the back of the jobs queue.’

‘NR7 means No Response for seven days, weekly food parcel still on front path and housebot has set off the alarm – no signs of life detected. We have to go in, it’s almost certain resident is dead, probably of old age.’

‘Whaat…’ came the gruff exclamation through their mask voice box.

‘I’ve seen a few cases. Rich relatives paid or bribed for them to be exempt from the euthanasia programme, unkindest thing they could have done, but I guess years ago they thought this would all be over and Granny would come round for tea again.’

‘Why would you want your Granny to come round, when you could see her on Omegazoom?’

‘So she could play with her grandchildren… oh never mind, let’s get on with this. According to our records all her family predeceased her, otherwise they would have notified us that she was not responding.’

Hope gazed out of the window of my solar powered vehicle as we turned into the ‘Granny’s’ street.

‘I’ve never been down a street before, we live in a tower block, those gardens look so pretty, how do they get them all the same?’

‘Gardenbots, programmed to create the sort of garden the average person wants to look out on. Ah, here we are, Click and Collect food box still out on the front path, regulation two metres from the front door. Only time residents are allowed out; to click on the box, collect it and take it indoors, but obviously you know all that.’

Yes, I always volunteer to go out in the corridor and collect ours.’

‘NR7 is the only time we are allowed to enter a private home, I had to sign out the entry device, let’s hope it works.’

I pointed and pressed the button and it showed entry code overridden. I pushed at the front door, but it didn’t give easily; we soon saw why and I thought my other half had a lot of pot plants. It was like a jungle, not that I have ever seen a jungle. Through the leaves emerged a four foot angular housebot. It was no use asking it what had happened, one of the outdated models that didn’t speak, programmed only for house maintenance, not companionship. It didn’t need to speak, I knew at this very moment it would be signalling back to base, alien human life detected. I quickly tapped my wrist phone to register with base my arrival here.

‘Okay Hope, I’ll go first into each room, starting with the front room.’

Obviously the housebot was programmed to stay out of the little old fashioned sitting room; in the corner was the skeleton of a tree, beneath it a carpet of dead pine needles and under that thick dusty layer could just be discerned some grey shapes that had once been Christmas parcels.

Hope pointed in horror as if this might be the body we were looking for.

‘What is thaat?’

‘It was once a Christmas Tree.’

‘A what?’

‘Before your time, a relic from the last Christmas of 2020.’

I felt a lump in my throat. I remembered that last Christmas. We never did go round to Granny’s to have a  ‘proper Christmas when things are better’ – it seems I was not the only child who didn’t get Granny’s presents that year.

We moved through the kitchen, all neat and tidy; the housebot would have cleared away any clues as to when the resident had last eaten.  Out in a little conservatory was another housebot free area, the plants had run riot and on a table covered in cobwebs, a closer inspection revealed a half built Lego set, like I used to play with. But the smiling faces of the Lego people could not be seen under the thick coat of dust.

‘Wouldn’t she have been a bit old to be playing with Lego?’

‘I imagine that was the last time her grandchildren came round, she left the Lego out ready for them to play with next time, but next time never came.’

But Hope wasn’t listening, they had wrenched open the filthy patio door to gaze in wonder at the back garden and it was a wonderful display of colour to cheer us up. The rich relatives must have paid out an endowment long ago for a personal gardenbot.

Reluctantly I lead the way upstairs, the worst part of our job was still to come. I pushed open the bedroom door and there she was, lying tucked up in bed, the blank Omegazoom screen at an easy to see angle beside her. I wondered when was the last time she had spoken to anyone on the screen.

‘Well Hope, you should get your parents to check in to the home bidding, there will be a house and garden available in a week or so.’

‘Do you think we stand a chance, a real garden I could go out into?’

‘Tell them to get in quick before everyone else hears about it.’

Saturday Short Story – Lockdown Two

Vivienne looked out of her front window, the road was quiet, empty; Saturday, day three of the new lockdown. At least in the first lockdown it had been spring, a spring as warm as summer and she had not been living by herself. Glad as she was for the peace and quiet after her divorced, inexplicably homeless son had left, you could have too much peace and quiet. She was used to living by herself since Geoff died, but that was without a pandemic; going to her groups, lunches out, friends round for coffee. Now the clocks had gone back, the nights were drawing in, dark by five o’clock… a month was a long time, but there seemed little hope that it would be only a month. It made little difference that Julia had been stuck in Tier Three, no one was going anywhere. If James drove her up there for Christmas they would be the exact limit of six people, but she presumed that was another rule that had gone by the board. Now her son was talking about helping cook Christmas dinner for the homeless, no doubt because Cassie had also volunteered. Vivienne felt like a statistic, vulnerable because of her age and pitied as a one person household. Could join a bubble or was that just lonely old people who needed help, certainly not her. Meet one other person for a walk, hmm, Sonya down the road had said she must pop in for a cup of tea a couple of weeks ago, after her ex husband had departed from Sonya’s life and his own… but her new friend had been busy with the funeral and both daughters returning from abroad and now it was too late.

A morning walk would be good and the autumn weather was pleasant, a newspaper was all she needed, with James still insisting on doing her on line shopping, but it gave a little purpose to the outing. As she passed by Sonya’s front gate she was pathetically grateful to see Sonya coming towards her with the dog.

‘Oh I’m glad I caught you Vivienne, why don’t you come in for that cup of tea, I’ve still got cake left over from the funeral, I’m sure no one is going to tell on us.’

Vivienne didn’t take much persuading, she was rather curious to see inside the house. Their front gate chats had really only been about Covid, the dreadful ( Vivienne’s opinion ) dying ex husband Sonya had taken in for his last two months that had turned into seven and Vivienne’s trials and tribulations having a son in his forties back at home.

Inside, the house was bright and tidy, not at all the gloomy hospital scenario she had imagined from Sonya’s descriptions.

‘The girls did a great job helping me put the house back to rights, once the hospital bed and all that equipment had gone. Glad to get rid of all those things with wheels and brakes, the number of times I banged my ankles. It is a bit strange without him; they rang me up, the cancer charity, in case I wanted to talk. I felt like saying I would be more upset if the dog died.’

‘But you might benefit from someone to talk to, it must have been very stressful.’

‘I feel sorry for our daughters, nothing much was really resolved, especially as he was dead by the time they got here.’

‘Oh dear, I’m sorry, but it must have been good for the three of you to be together.’

‘Yes, they decided we must celebrate the good times; all those photos I had up in the loft have been digitalised and you wouldn’t believe what you can order on line.’

Vivienne could hardly miss the large framed photo in the hall. The young man bore no resemblance to the withered scowling figure Sonya pushed in his wheelchair.

‘He was very good looking.’

‘Yes, unfortunately lots of women thought so.’

Sonya led her into the front room where a large framed collage of photos took up one wall; babies, holidays, happy days by the look of it. Turning away Vivienne supressed a smile as she saw heart shaped cushions scattered on the large sofa, each bearing pictures of young Sonya with her beloved.

‘Goodness…’

‘Wait till you see the dining room, I’ll put the kettle on.’

On the dining table was a colourful jigsaw in progress, as Vivienne tried to make out the picture her friend came in with two mugs of tea and slices of cake.

‘Only his cousin actually came to the funeral, so we didn’t have to worry about numbers or getting much food in – do you like the jigsaw, that was when we had the caravan.’

Vivienne picked up the large bright mug, disconcerted to look into the eyes of the deceased ex. She thought of the one family photo and picture of she and Geoff at that dinner and dance displayed in her living room and wondered how many items in this house were dedicated to Sonya’s husband.

‘Did you see on top of the piano?’

A very blingy metal frame contained a picture of an impossibly glamorous Sonya leaning against the muscular loved one, who in turn leant against a huge shining motorbike.

‘That was before we had the children and how about this, I ordered it from Amazon, my family tree.’

On the other end of the piano was a gaudy metallic tree with heart shaped frames hanging from its branches. Tiny babies and aged people peered out.

‘It was a very reasonable price, for real silver. But I still like this best.’

Vivienne followed her gaze to a large family portrait, two little girls swamped in frills and their father gazing adoringly at his wife and daughters.

‘We won a free studio session, though it turned out you had to pay a fortune if you actually wanted to keep any pictures, but I’m glad we had that done.’

‘I wish Geoff and I had thought to do something like that, you can’t beat a professional photographer.’

‘Yes, that was taken just before he deserted us.’

Two Metre Movement

Writers can still keep writing in isolation and quarantine, but what of photographers? No more traveling to local beauty spots, let alone visiting exotic locations, no more turning up at weddings and social gatherings to take formal and informal shots. One of our local award winning photographers has still been busy; Emily Endean has been using her daily exercise to walk to the homes of volunteering locals and snap them at their front door or in the garden – while staying at a safe distance on the pavement. A piece of everyman history, recording what we hope will be a unique year, not the new normal.

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Gardens were already important to many of us, but have taken on a new significance in isolation for those of us lucky enough to have one. Are they a zoo compound or is your front garden your own little stage where all life takes place? We stand in it to chat safely to neighbours or passers by; on Thursday evenings we stand at 8pm to clap and bang saucepan lids for the NHS and all carers.

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Hopefully a few or more flowers will brighten the daily walks of others. No one could have foreseen back in the autumn, when we were planting bulbs and wallflowers, how much time we would spend enjoying the splash of colour. With garden centres closing there has been dismay among gardeners looking forward to getting their bedding plants; we like to fill in gaps as spring flowers fade and plant up pots and patio tubs for the summer. Luckily our local greengrocer’s has been delivering plants; tidying the garden and planting is perfect for fresh air and exercise.

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I had my chance to take part in Emily’s project on Sunday. If you want to stroll around peeping at homes and seeing who lives there, visit Emily’s website here.

https://www.emilyendeanphotography.co.uk/post/the-two-metre-movement-people-in-quarantine

Getting Out

One Saturday morning at 7am I got up and looked out of the bedroom window to see our next door neighbours standing across the road in their dressing gowns. I then noticed a fire engine standing outside their house. We had slept through the fire and the arrival of the fire brigade. A fire in their loft had prompted the hasty exit of three generations.

I sent Cyberspouse down in his dressing gown to bring them into our house, while I put some clothes and the kettle on. Over the next couple  of hours, other branches of the family, who luckily lived close, arrived and we chatted more to all of them than we had since we lived there.

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Fortunately ‘getting out of the house’ for most of us, most of the time is less dramatic, usually accompanied by cries of ‘Are you ready yet?’ I wonder why it’s so hard to get out of the house in time. I always end up rushing. If you were told you had five minutes to leave the house, leave the house forever because of imminent war or natural disaster, would you be ready, could you decide what to take? It takes me longer than that to get ready to go to the shops.

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It is a wonder that anybody ever gets to work or school. Here is a handy list of items you need before you set off from home; delete those not currently applicable.

Door keys, car keys, keys for bike lock, watch, ID for work, bus pass /season ticket, lunch box, homework /briefcase, bottle of water, reusable coffee cup, mobile phone, phone charger, tablet – electronic, tablets – medicinal, inhaler, reading glasses, sun glasses, shopping list, shopping bags,  book/kindle to read on the bus /in the canteen, coat, umbrella, PE kit/gym kit, dog, children, baby. If you are a writer add pens and note book.

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If you are a citizen of the the USA and believe in the right to bear arms you may have even more to remember. When Team G were coming back from Las Vegas for their visit I asked them to bring some magazines – think craft, gardening, cooking, lifestyle, culture – What I got was ‘Guns & Ammo’, I turned the first page to see this handy advertisement..

You say it to yourself every time you leave the house ‘Phone. Keys. Watch. Wallet. SCCY.’ You’re not fully dressed unless you’re carrying concealed.

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I would be even slower getting out of the house if I had to remember my firearm.

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Perhaps this one would fit in my handbag.

But even if you’re sure you have everything and your easy to conceal gun is loaded, it’s not easy to leave the house. Did you put the bin out for the dustmen, are all the doors locked, lights, gas turned off, toilets flushed, dog in, cat out, goldfish fed, plants watered. Interior doors closed in case fire rips through the house, burglar alarm set. We don’t have a burglar alarm, but I’m sure that would add more minutes and stress to getting out the door.

And as you finally close the front door and turn round to look at your home you realise there’s a window wide open upstairs. There’s  a big black cloud looming and you haven’t got your umbrella, but that’s okay, because as you re-enter the house you realise the baby is still in the high chair, so the cat must be in the pram.