Thursday, February 28, 2013

Phew - tax audit is over...or is it?

I know I have been MIA from my blog this last few weeks.  Always seems to happen this way.  This is whats been going on.

  • I get on top of all my work (paid work as opposed to housework - never get on top of that) and start having some quieter days at work
  • This gives me a hope that maybe I could study part time and still get all my work done
  • I enroll at Uni - Unit 1 of 24.
  • I get very excited about it - prepare all my resources  write out a study plan, do a lot of reading, get familiar with how online learning works.  
  • By the 1st February, I am all ready for the start day of 25th Feb.
  • I wait and look at my tub of sharpened pencils.
  • 2nd February, I get a phone call from State Revenue.
  • It appears we have drawn the lucky straw and been selected for a 'random' payroll tax audit.
  • For anyone not familiar with this money gouge tax, its when a business pays $750,000 or more in wages over a financial year.  Not a lot when you think of how much an average wage is.  The govt take from you, 5.5% of every dollar over this threshold.  Doesn't matter if you made a profit at all that year, not relevant apparently. We didn't   We made a loss.  So keeping on staff while we were quiet is going to cost us.  Lesson learnt, sadly.
  • Even though I do keep very good records, always pay what I need to on time  there is still a lot of work goes into collating, getting the documents out of archive, going through SR checklist etc
  • I have been working with my accountant and his assistant for weeks now.  Finally we have it all ready to present.
  • Yesterday, we had the audit (great timing, the last day of the month is always a busy day for me)
  • She said it normally takes anywhere from 4 to 8 hours.
  • My accountant presented her with bound documents for each year, collated and with every record she needed.
  • She took just under an hour to complete her audit!!
  • She gives me a preliminary finding, but I will have to wait for an official one.
  • My accountant says to expect to wait up to 12 months for this!!
  • I sent wine and chocolates and a hundred thank yous to my amazing accountant.
  • We will have a bill for this financial year just gone, but all the other years are fine.
  • We wont be employing any more staff, and pay rises are on hold until they raise the threshold.*
  • Great incentive huh?  We are just a small business - and we get penalised for employing people.
OK.  Back to my study!

* Which I hate, our staff are like family to us.  Each and every one is valued and a human being.  We understand their problems and would love to be able to help with regular pay rises.  We would also like to keep staff on when things get quiet, but sadly we can't now.  This is how, and why bosses have to be tough.  It sucks.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Screaming children in public places

Did anyone else see this news article?

Is this Fair or Not?

I know I am an older mother, and I don't have littlies anymore, but I would be interested to hear what others thought?

I personally hate hearing screaming kids in the shopping centres.  It drives me nuts, and all I want to do is get the hell out of there.  The areas are large and echoey and the noise is horrendous.  I know the Mums/Dads don't hear it as sensitivity as others but surely they know that their kids are making a racket?  And I am not talking about a crying baby here, I am talking  about kids who are capable of knowing better, kids who should have been taught to use inside voices and that when they are out, to behave.

Why is it ok for a small minority of little children to create such a noise and disturb so many, and we all have to smile and put up with it?  I know parenting is hard and continuous, but don't we have a responsibility to teach children how and when to behave?

Yes, I had kids.  Yes, I took them shopping.  Yes, they were normal and had days where I could have killed them.  But no, I did not tolerate them screaming and throwing tantrums in public places.  I used parenting skills to either diffuse the tantrum, or if too late, removed them from a public place so we did not disturb other peoples right to a quiet time.  I did not ignore it.  I did  not make other people part of my problem.  When we got home, I would take the time to explain why that behavior was not appropriate - including evoking empathy and how it wasn't fair that other people were disturbed.  I would have also told them  that unless we can behave well when out, then we won't be able to go out again.  Consequences for our actions.

It's not hard to take the screaming child outside, or back to your car, and apply whatever discipline is appropriate.  Yes, their shopping day is ruined, but then its their kid.  Why should everyone else around them have their shopping day disturbed too?  

If parents are made to remove their screaming child, then maybe they will spend a little more time at home teaching kids to be respectful when they are in public and some self control.

Or, sadly, it could just be that there are certain parents out there that don't give a damn, have no skills when it comes to being a parent and this behavior is something we have to put up with.  I hope not.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Update to Fawlty Hardly Normal

Monday, Mr K came home and asked me if I had made a complaint to HN head office?  Not yet. I haven't been able to actually get to talk to somebody to make a complaint.  I went to their website, looked up the 'contact us' page and was greeted with the usual gate-keeping process of no phone numbers and web-forms.

This frustrates the hell out of me, and I daresay other people too.  It stinks of arrogance, but that's a whole other rant.

I filled out the web-form, with just a request to speak to someone from customer service.  That was all.

I get this reply ...

Feeling very frustrated and as Homer would say "but I am mad now" I went to the HN Facebook page.  I cut and pasted their email reply to me, and just stated that it was rather frustrating.

I get this reply .. (and I can't show you a screen shot because they have removed it!! No bad language, nothing at all nasty, just a cut and paste of their email to me!)

Please advise case number for us to follow-up.

I reply that I would if I had actually got to speak to someone to have a case number.

I left it at that.  End of discussion.  So I thought.

So, back to Mr K coming home.  Turns out he had got a call from the Midland store, our 'dunno' manager who said he had been asked by head office to rectify the situation!

He offered us - a free upgrade to the next model that was in stock, free delivery to our rental home and arranging with the installers to do all this on Friday!

Wow.  I was impressed.  I did not expect any of this, I just wanted to voice my frustration at how their system had failed us.  This offer was beyond my expectations and I was very grateful.  

True to their word, the new unit was installed on Friday, my tenants are happy, I am happy and I hope the customer service dept. feels good.

Thank you Mr Harvey Norman.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Where my time not blogging is being spent

This weeks assignment for a writing course (the one I will finish the same week Uni starts!)  was to write a character description, and link this to a life lesson.  I chose my Grandad as he was such an enigma to me.  The parameters of the essay were it had to be 400-500 words (so hard when I had much more to say), we had to use words to create the character, put the character in a physical situation and then join in the life lesson.  It could be essay or fiction.  I might try and write this again as a fictional story.

The upshot is that I am really enjoying the challenges of the assignments.  I start at Curtin Uni next Monday, the first unit is online. But it does keep me away from my blogging, I need to retire from work so I can just write all day!!
Grandad and Grandma - he always loved cats!

My Grandfathers Gift (or Don’t look a Gift Horse in the Mouth?)
My grandfather scared me.  He was gruff and looked like a small wiry pirate. With his ginger, long beard, sea swept face, and thick glasses, he always looked ancient to me.  His fingers were all bent, one of them at right angles, and he always smelt of wood putty and pipe tobacco.  He evoked an air of distance, like the leader of a dog pack, us littlies approached at our peril, especially when he was eating his sharp cheddar and bread.  He was fond of the saying Silence is Golden, something that I never really understood at the time, but I got the gist when he growled it.  Sometimes, he would pay me attention, by picking me up to show me the little blue cuckoo that would spring out of its carved wooden door when the hour hand struck.  If he was in a good mood, he would indulge my request when I said ‘again Grandad’. 
Grandad rarely gave us kids presents, and certainly not when it was expected.  Christmas, Birthday, Easter - we learnt to not ever expect gifts from him.  I never really thought of this until I was older because what we didn’t know did not hurt us.  As I got older, friends would show me amazing gifts they had got from their Grandparents.  One time my best friend received from her Grandma the biggest Easter egg I had ever seen, nesting in a cardboard box with cellophane and ribbons. I wondered why I never got such things.  It was a fleeting thought, certainly never an issue. 
No, Grandad did not spoil us with material things, but as we grew into more independent beings, and I dare say less silly, noisy and sticky, he was more than generous with his time, his careful teachings, his wisdom.  By the time I was a teenager he treated me as a grown-up. I knew this was given as a gift, so I acted as such around him.  I loved just being in his calm, quiet, contemplative company.  He was always doing something interesting, making things with wood, tinkering with tools, in the garden, reading, debating politics or religion.  Even watching him prepare his pipe, was engaging.
He took a keen interest in my horse riding.  He was a man who loved animals and appreciated the skills in handling them.  One day, he turned up at my parent’s farm, with a very pretty little palomino mare, in foal.  She was way too small for me to ride, but he wanted me to teach my little cousins to ride and care for a horse.  This was his gift to me – the temperament and tool to guide and teach the young as he had done in the ways of quiet, steady, consistent patience.  A horse was the perfect gift for this lesson. 


Monday, February 18, 2013

The story of Harvey Norman, an Air-conditioner and Fawlty Towers Installers

I am absolutely furious with Harvey Norman, Midland and IC Cool installers.  We went into their store a week and a bit ago (10th Feb).  Bought an air conditioner for our rental house, as the old one had died.  Paid for it in full, plus the same price again to have it installed!  Was told it was on back-order.   Was told that the installers would take care of everything and we would get a call from them after they did the installation so we could pay for the decommissioning of the old unit, about $185.00.  Filled out a form that had all the details, where it was to be installed, our name and address, our phone numbers, the tenants phone numbers  etc etc.   Great.  That's another job taken care of.  

Get a call today from IC Cool (the installers) to book the job for 7.30am tomorrow morning.  Fabulous, sooner than we thought.  I did point out that we had asked that the tenants to be called direct (gave them both their numbers) so that a mutual time be arranged   Nope, they don't call tenants.  Ok.  I will play the telephone tennis. Call the tenant to see if 7.30am tomorrow morning suits her?  She has to juggle a few things with work, but yes, they want the air con done.  Call back CC Cool to confirm this.  They then say they have to ask me a few questions.  Fine, ask away.  We then discover they have the wrong address, they have our home suburb, not the rental one (despite us telling the sales guy this, and having to SPELL W.a.t.t.l.e to him, and a discussion about how lucky the tenants are getting an air con in their bedroom when my own home doesn't.)  So we gave him enough clues that it was to be done at a location other than our own house.

CC Cool.  "Oh, the place its being installed is not Basso?  Ahhh no, it's as we wrote on the form. Then they can't install tomorrow, we are only doing the Basso area! (At this stage I have said a few words that I was not proud of).  I asked if they have the form we filled out?  No, Harvey Norman keep that, they just send us an email with the details.  Seems they send the email with the wrong details.  I ask why they called the number we were now speaking on when it was clearly marked that Mr K's mobile was the primary contact number?  Of course, they were only send this number.  Not sure why I filled out the form at all.  

Soooo have to call back tenant, tell her so sorry, they can't do this tomorrow, it will have to be Friday instead.  Is that OK?  Yes she says (of course she did, the poor girl, she just wants her air con).  Call back CC Cool to say this Friday is ok with tenant. Then CC Cool asks where is the new unit?  Ummm Harvey Norman should know that?  Don't they arrange that between them?  Apparently not.  Somehow I have to have ESP to know the unit has come into stock, collect it and drop it off to rental house, all before the installer guys get there.  So call HN, ask to speak to manager as sales guy was USELESS. I ask why wasn't I called and told the unit had arrived as apparently I now had to arrange to get it from HN to rental house?  Manager says unit is still on back order.  Huh?  How come the installers rang me?  Don't you guys talk to each other?  

"I dunno" says the Manager.  

"Well if you don't know, who does?" I logically ask

This wakes him up, as apparently he had been sleeping, and he says he will find out and call me back.  I tell him that no, I will hold thanks, you find out and come back to me.  I hear clicking and sighing. 

He says "You there?"  


"Oh, well it looks like its still on back order."

"OK.  Well, when do you expect it in?" (I am deep breathing this)

"I dunno"

So I ask, with gritted teeth, "So if the unit is not in stock and you have no idea when it will be WHY THE HELL ARE THE INSTALLERS CALLING ME TO ARRANGE INSTALLATION OF A FANTASY AIR CONDITIONER?" 

"Uh, I dunno."

My blood pressure is terminal by this stage, but stupid, stupid me keeps up the performance ( by this stage, I really did think Basil Fawlty would come striding into the room, calling for Manuel).  

"So, what should I do now?" I asked  "Call you everyday to see when the unit arrives?  Ask for a full refund and go someplace else where they have actually heard about the phenomenon of customer service? "

"I dunno."

I say goodbye (despite wanting to hangup rudely.  I felt one of us had to show we were grown up) and call Mr K.  I have lost all patience, I am ranting and no good to anyone now.  I do have to call back our dear tenant and break the bad news to her.  I chicken out and sms her instead.

As you were.  Nothing has changed.  I still don't know when your air con will be done.  So very sorry.  Love Basil.


New Page on this Blog

Started a new page on this blog for a new little project I am running.

Called : A Year with Thermomix

I am keeping this record for a year, as an experiment, to help with the weight loss tracking, to make the most of the new (expensive) toy and perhaps to be of interest/help readers.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Italian Dentists and Writing

This is a representation only of my Italian Dentist - he was WAY better looking than this :-)

Funny where inspiration strikes you.  I went to the dentist yesterday, the last of my appointments to have the black amalgam taken out and replaced with porcelain fillings.  I now have only white fillings and white teeth.  Yay.  No more visits needed other than the 6 monthly cleans and checks.

I always had a real phobia about going to the dentist.  So I didn't go, for a loooong time.  I paid the price however and eventually pain, and Mr K forced me.  I was so terrified that first visit that I actually drew blood as I pressed my hands together.  I had this lovely Chinese lady dentist (Phung) and she was so understanding and kind and she taught me how to meditate and imagine I was somewhere else when I was in the dentists chair.  She helped me for years and eventually I was no longer afraid and went willingly for treatment.  In the beginning, I was so scared, Mr K had to come with me and sit in the room and hold my hand.

I had my happy place I went to each time. It was always laying on a daybed, next to a pool in Bali.  Cool and calm, I would visualise myself reading a book, a fresh watermelon juice laced with vodka next to me.  I got so good at this technique that sometimes Phung would have to bring me round and say, Jodie, we are finished, you can go now.

My Happy Place - hard to be miserable here!

Yesterday, I settled in the dentists chair and tried to go to the Bali day-bed.  My new dentist is a very sexy Italian, he even speaks to his assistants in Italian, so Bali just wasn't cutting it.  He is also a HUGE Springsteen fan and has his music very loud and Joe even sings along sometimes.  Just what I needed - a sexy, singing dentist!  Needless to say, I had all the visualisations right here, I wasn't going anywhere <wink>

Then  the strangest thing happened. The hippy lady who I want to write a book about popped into my head, as clear as day.  She is different to what I first thought she would be, but I like her so much more. Maybe this was why I had trouble starting the book, I had not yet found the right protagonist.  But there she was, in my mind and the first scene of the book.  It was so clear, that I  started to write the words in my head.  

I was so eager to get out of that chair and race home to write, that I didn't hang about and flirt (even just a little) with Joe.  He was asking me to look at my new sparkling teeth (he was very proud of his work) in the mirror and was pointing out the highlights.  I was saying  yeah, yeah, all the while with sentences streaming through my mind.  I must have been crazy!  Who would pass up the opportunity of standing in front of a mirror, with a hunky Italian man very close behind you, paying you the keenest interest (well my teeth anyway)?

I did race home and blurted out the first half of chapter one of my book.  

Wonder if I could go back now and see if Joe wants to still pay me attention!

For the record - I am NOT at all a Springsteen fan - but I wasn't going to say so to Him!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Valentine's Day Date

Well.  It's Valentines Day today and I have a date.  But its not with my husband.  It's OK though, Mr K knows about it as is perfectly OK.  We don't celebrate (or even really acknowledge)  this day of romance  so me going on a date without him is no big deal.  

The man I have the date with is very handsome.  He is Italian.  He is rich.  He has a very sexy man-in-control air and many women runabout serving him.  I had to accept that I would not be the only date he has today.  But I feel very special as I get to see him twice in the same day.  Once for about an hour, and then, after he has rested, another 30 minutes.  

He makes me feel a bit light headed too.  Not sure if its the aftershave he uses or my own feeble feminine constitution.  I must admit, the last time we had a date I was a bit sore and bruised, so I am hoping he will be a little more gentle today.  I hope the hearts and flowers and red will have made him gentler today.

His name is Joe.  He is my dentist.  Today he is giving me the romantic gift of bright white fillings in place of the ugly and not very healthy black ones.

Actually, I must confess that Mr K can be a little romantic.  Last night, when I asked him to drop into the shops on the way home from work to collect milk and bread, he came home with pink iced donuts that had little sugar hearts sprinkled on top.  PLUS a block of my favourite white chocolate.  

This is one dirty little secret I will be keeping from my Valentine date today!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hey! I won a Myers Gift Voucher today

I was really excited today, I was given a gift voucher for $50.00.  I got a phone call and when I answered the lovely young lady with a funny American accent told me.

"Congratulations Mrs Ford (I am not Mrs Ford, but for a $50 gift voucher I was keeping that quiet) you have won gift voucher for Coles/Myers for $50.00. PLUS (she said in a very upbeat tone) you have gone into draw for $1000 prize!"

My lucky day.  

She started to ramble off what I had to do to go into the prize draw, but I am no gambler, and I thought I would just take the prize I had already won and leave it at that.  Share the luck around, someone else could go into the draw for the chance at $1000.  I told Ms Lovely American Voice

"That's ok, just send me the Myers voucher.  Are you going to post it to me?"

She said 'Excuse Mrs Ford' (it was a American accent with Asian inflection).  I repeated my question about if they were going to post my prize.  

She laughed, nervously.  "Oh No Mrs Ford, you have to take survey first"

"Huh?"  I was crest fallen.  "So I didn't win the voucher?  You are not going to post it to me?"

"Yes, yes.  You win voucher."

"Good" I said relieved, "then you will need my address to post it to?"

"Mrs Ford ..." (I was now getting a little miffed at being called Mrs Ford and as I knew exactly why she used that name I was suspecting this was a scam!  Nooo.  Really?)  Twelve years ago, the phone number we have now, belonged to a Mrs Ford.  So I know that anyone who calls asking for her is using a VERY old data base.

I cut her off mid-sentence and stopped playing with the poor girl.

"Well if you are not going to post the prize I just won, I don't think I want to talk to you anymore." (Yeah, what a sore loser I am)

She tried hard to re-engage me, but my heart was broken.

I hung up, sad and deflated.  Dreams of what I would spend at Myers, or even Coles, flashed before my eyes. $50 of Lindt!!

I know this was a mean way to deal with telemarketers, but we get, on average, 2 or 3 of these calls a DAY!  I should know better than to answer the phone, normally I let it go to voice mail, but I am sick of having to avoid real phone calls because of these scammers.  I swore at one the other day, and it made me feel bad.  I had just hung up from one moments before.  The phone had gone flat so I put it on the charger, which is at the other end of the house.  Plonked in my chair, had a tiny sip of my tea, didn't even have time to say 'ahh' and the phone rang.  Thinking it can't possibly be another sales call so soon, assuming it must be a real phone call, I rushed off to answer it.  

Yep.  You guessed it.

"Hello Mrs Ford?"  

I am sorry, I cant actually repeat what I said next.  It would be bleeped out.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Movie Review - Sound City - Dave Grohl

A bit of an indie documentary, it is the story, as told by Dave Grohl (of Nirvana and Foo Fighters fame), of a recording studio in LA that has produced some of the most famous records of all time.  (Of contemporary music anyway).  The movie was released at the 2013 Sundance festival.

The studio went bust in 2011 and Dave Grohl bought it, and the inspirational mixing desk, and has brought back a lot of the artists who recorded there, to play again.  Even Paul McCartney, or should I say Sir Paul came and jammed with the guys.

Dave Grohl - one of Rock n Rolls REALLY nice guys - has a heart of gold. 

The significance of this studio was that back in the 1970's the music being recorded was raw and real.  By the late 1980's and most of 1990's music was being recorded digitally, not by analog.  This meant a very controlled sound, one that was devoid of the human element.  The other factor that made Sound City so unique was the way drums sounded so 'fat'.

When Nirvana (Kurt Cobain fame) went to record Nevermind, they had no money and no record deal.  They went to Sound City to record because by then the studio was almost bankrupt and would take on anybody.  Nevermind the album, blew everyone out of the water as it was a throw back to the dirty sounds of the 1970's and you could hear the humans in the music.

Other pivotal artists that started at Sound City (just a few of the many)

  • Fleetwood Mac 
  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  • Reo Speedwagon
  • Metalica
  • Neil Young
  • Rick Springfield
  • Forienger
  • Pat Benatar
  • Grateful Dead
  • Wolfmother (or as Strawb calls them - EarthMother.

If you like your music (loud), if you grew up in the 70's; 80's or 90's - you will love this doco.  

And if you like this one, check out another favorite It Might Get Loud - three of my all time, awesome, favourite guitarists - Jimmy Page (I want to marry him), The Edge and Jack White.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Writing gets in the way of Blogging!

Sorry my fellow bloggers and readers - I have been MIA of late, but the time away has been spent in very pleasurable pursuits - writing courses and endless assignments.  I thought I might share a recent exercise where we had to go through a newspaper and find something to write about.  It had to be 600 words, with only the first 300 submitted and the rest 'summarised' as if we were submitting it to a magazine for publication.  

I found an advertisement in the Real Estate Section at the back of my local paper that had a by-line that just captured my imagination.  

A Permanent Holiday at Home  - Now that sounds just lovely doesn't it?  Perpetually living your life on holiday, all from the comfort and convenience of your own home, no need to even pack.

The advert leading line was in bold type and just below this was added – resort feel inside and out adds to appeal.  A large colour photograph of a sparkling blue pool, waterfall and palms took up most of the page, balanced by a paragraph of text and six smaller thumbnail pictures.  At first glance this seemed a novel idea, a permanent holiday – yes please!  But it was the last two words that made me think again… at home.  Yes it had an inviting ‘resort-style’ pool, tropical gardens, an outdoor entertaining area, a ‘sweeping open plan living area and games room’.   But something just didn't add up.

From certain angles it did remind me of a villa I once stayed in Bali, with palm trees, swimming pool, large, elegant bathroom - very resort-style indeed - but with a Bali twist, namely beautiful Balinese staff to wait on my every need.  

“Ah, good morning Mrs Jodie.  You want pancake for breakfast today?”

“Yes, Wayan, that would be lovely, thank you.”

“You want fresh pineapple juice Mrs Jodie?”

“For lunch today, Made make Pad Thai, you happy about that Mrs Jodie?”

On goes the day; after breakfast a swim in the (clean) pool, coming back to a freshly made bed and the house maids washing the floor.

“Sorry Mrs Jodie, be finish soon.”

Get my book and go and recline on a daybed in the gardens, all lovingly tended by a team of gardeners raking, watering, weeding.  Later in the day, maybe a facial or a massage.

That is what I call a holiday.  So, tell me more about this house for sale that will be a permanent holiday home?

I can see a chef’s kitchen with no chef in it.  Does this indicate that I will be doing my own cooking?  I see a very white and sparkly bathroom – it got that way by some hard work and spit – who comes in to ‘do your room’?  The pool looks lovely in the picture now, but how much time will be spent vacuuming, scooping, tinkering to keep it that way?  Same goes for the gardens.  All that sweat, effort and dirt don’t spell holiday.  Also noted is a laundry and clothes line – which would indicate that white towels and clean sheets would not just be miraculously appearing on the bed.

I have perused the photo’s in the adverts very carefully and not seen any spa treatment brochures or room service menus, so I am beginning to doubt the honesty of this advert.  No mention of the number of staff this comes with, no mention of what time breakfast tomorrow is.

It’s a long bow being pulled I think.  I am starting to get the distinct impression that this is just an ordinary home, that will cost me $750,000 for the privilege of doing it all for myself in a home that just looks like a resort.  By my calculations, for the same money, my husband and I could live in Bali for 20 years – as if we really were on a permanent holiday.  No brainer really.  I can pretend 20 years is pretty permanent.  I don’t think we will be making an offer.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A hot shower, no Bex and a OK lie down

For people my age, who live in Australia - they would remember the catch-cry of the 1950/60's house wife - what I need is a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down.  There were mothers, in aprons and rollers and hairnets, all up and down this country lamenting this when it all got too much for them.  And I can image that it did get too much - cricket teams of kids, cooking every meal from scratch, cleaning devices that were the neanderthal version of a 'Dyson', husbands that could avoid all this by staying back at work until the kids were in bed - and I am surprised that Bex didn't contain something a little more robust!

The advertising campaign was actually this : "Stressful Day? What you need is a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down" It obviously worked as most mothers took the advice.  I suspect the cup of tea and the lie down did as much, if not more, good as the Bex powder did - it was a combination of asprin, analgesic and caffeine.  I recall the way it was packaged - a white powder, neatly folded up in a little paper envelope.  Not that I know much about drugs, but I have seen the movies, and isn't that how they package cocaine?

By the time it was my turn to be a mother, Bex had long gone.  Ever resourceful, I found a clear liquid called Gin as its replacement.  My mother would come over some afternoons and say she needed some tonic water as it had quinine in it - great to replenish lost salts when you had been sweating (they used this in India during the British Raj era - thus the name Bombay Sapphire Gin).  You can't be as uncultured as to just drink tonic water, it must be taken properly as a Gin and Tonic, with lemon and ice.

We would say 'just the one and then I will start dinner' and sit on the back lawn, watching the boys run about and exhaust themselves (this was a theory, not a fact - little boys never exhaust themselves).  The 'just the one' would go down very quickly, so would become 'awww go on then, one more wont hurt'.  We would drink the second one much slower, that way you could really feel the medicinal effect of wobbly legs and who-the-hell-wants-dinner-anyway.

By the third one, we would call Mr K and my Dad and giggle and shout for them to bring home fish and chips.  The boys would be filthy, and having a ball, and we could not give a flying Bex!

Ahhh, the good ole days.