“We are all weird. There is no such thing as the normal family. I wish someone had told me that when I was young.” That’s Sandie. She is sitting next to me in Easingwold. She’s not old but she’s older than I am. I’m writing on her iPad because my phone won’t take charge and my own iPad is on a Narrow Boat somewhere in Hackney Wick. But I have to write this somehow. “I hope it hasn’t become a burden on you,” she says. “No,” I reply, working it out as I speak. “I think I need it. It’s useful to have something I can sublimate as being a responsibility, every day, no matter what. Besides, I enjoy it. Fuck knows why. But I do.” “I see,” she replies. And a silence falls, punctuated by the tapping of  my fingers on the screen. Eventually … “I must go and feed the hedgehog.” And she is out through the French windows leaving me with the ticking of her crazy clock that chimes like it’s a meth addict every hour on the hour, superfast. Lucky hedgehog. I just had lasagne and a shitload of Picpoul, but it got cat biscuits and water which is probably the hedgehog equivalent.

I woke up in Catford on my best friend’s floor. She’s raising a baby and living her life at the same time, proving to us all that it’s can be done. But she needs more time to sit and write. I offered to take some of her hours and wander around trying not to lose the baby. She seemed okay with that, but told me she would need to “train me.” I’ll take a training. Kids are fucking hard work. I know the basics ten point baby list: 1: Do not drop the baby on the head even if wasps. 2: Do not forget you have the baby with you and become distracted by shiny things. 3: If the baby shouts, attempt to discover what is causing the shout. If it is a lack of attention lavish attention in the pathetic hope that the shouting stops. Realise this doesn’t work. Become more inventive. 4: The baby can derive no nutrition from Al nipples. Do not pander to its lippy insistence that this is not the case. 5: Baby. 6: Oh but the head smells like milk. 7: Baby. 8: Why is it shouting? Look at my funny glasses. Face! Weird finger things. Singing. Help? 9: Aaaargh 10: Baby.

They need some sort of stability, these babies. If you shift the routine they start shouting. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with a bit of shouting. But it’s noisy. So I guess I’ll have to make myself more familiar by spending more time with the milky little hedgehog. Then I can give Min some rest when I am not running around the country with a van full of trunks.

For now though it’s bedtime in the north again, and tomorrow to Sheffield. Then I actually have a day and a half of downtime on the payroll. My life is odd. It’s undeniable. But it’s glorious. I’m very happy with the weirdness, although I would warn you that you might struggle to communicate with me until I renew my phone contract (it is now up for renewal though. Finally.


This is the clock. “It’s demented,” says Sandie. It’s 200 years old. Made in Leeds. Very very insistent. But keeps good time. It’s beautiful.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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