On the way home..

I haven’t done one of these for a while, but eldest was on form again.

It’s a thursday catchup as we haven’t seen each other in a few days. The darker nights and the motion of the car tend to be the gentlest lullaby for youngest cub, who is asleep before we hit the main roads. His sister is in full flow.

‘So dad…’ she begins

‘I’ve been thinking about Egypt a lot as we’ve been studying it in school. We talked about the great pyramids of Giza and the curse of the mummy’s tomb. Do you believe in the curse?’

No; I tend to…

‘I don’t believe in the curse. I think it was, wait for this, you’ll like this one; bacteria!’

I’m impressed. Do continue..

‘Well; my friend and I are now scientists who don’t believe in God’

Wait a minute; you go to a Church of England School. You pray every day.

‘I don’t really pray any more; I just think’

Ah so you reflect?

‘No; I just think about things that have happened recently….’

Well it’s fine to challenge beliefs darling; I encourage you to take nothing at face value but, be prepared to come up with an argument, both for and against. And be prepared to respect the views of others, without being dogmatic.

‘That sounds like a lot; I’m only 8. Anyway, a dead body locked in an almost air tight building is bound to generate some bacteria. Either that, or the bodies were coated in something that we can’t detect, that became airborne during the course of decomposition. Once the tomb was disturbed, the entrance of new air caused a reaction and the bacteria was breathed in. Boom’

Are you sure you’re only 8?

‘I told you; I’m a scientist.’

landscape nature sky person
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‘What would happen if the Universe shrunk?’

It depends on how quickly it happened; we probably wouldn’t notice. It could be shrinking now.

‘I don’t believe in aliens. Little things running around out there’

Well it’s hard to discount other life forms. The Universe is infinite, and expanding.

‘Not shrinking?’

Definitely not shrinking. It’s still expanding from the big bang.

‘How many other galaxies do you know?’

Just Andromeda.  I think. I’ll have to check when we get home. Think about this; each star that you can see in the night sky is probably a sun. Each of those suns could, potentially have planets orbiting around them. Any one of those planets in the Goldilocks zone, could support life similar to ours. Now imagine this; all the stars that we can see, in the expanse of the sky above us, are a fraction of the stars out there. For scale, it’s not even equivalent to me placing a pea in our garden, but we can only see one-quarter of the pea. To travel to the other side of that pea, would take millions of light years; do you know what a light year is? It sounds like a measurement of time but it’s actually a measure of distance. It’s the distance that light can travel in a year. Light travels at 186,000 miles, per second. PER SECOND. Times that by the number of seconds in a year.

What do you think of that?

‘My friend at school said he rode his dad’s motorbike down the road one night. I don’t think that’s true’

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‘Do you believe in mythical creatures?’

I’m a fan of cryptozoology, which is the study of mythical creatures. My favourite was Bigfoot, but you have the Loch Ness monster amongst others.

‘What others?’

I’m stumped.

‘A unicorn?’

Yeah; why not.

‘What was so good about Bigfoot?’

Strangely, it was the most plausible of all of the stories, and there was video footage.

‘I’ve seen it; do you believe it?’

No; not really. There’s not enough strong evidence. Where are the bones of the deceased? hair samples? scat?


Scat. Poo. It’s what you look for as evidence of existence. It can tell you loads.

‘I don’t like the sound of that. Maybe it poos out of the other end?’

Which other end?? It’s head?

‘Yes. It could all build up inside and then come out later’

I’m not sure you’ve thought that one through. It would still have to come down and hit the floor.

‘Not for a while though. That’s probably their secret’



On the drive home; and there’s been a case of Head Licence.

“Dad; there’s been a case of head licence at school”

Eh? a case of what?

“Head licence”

I think you mean head lice dear. A licence is…well, it doesn’t matter now.

“One of the boys has them. He was working at his desk and one jumped out onto his book”

Are you sure darling? that’s quite unusual. Did you see it happen?

“No, but one of my friends did and she’s been a good source of information in the past”

I think you listen to daddy talk too closely. Anyway, head lice are quite common and pretty easy to pass from person to person. They only like clean hair.

“I should probably stop washing mine then”


“I think the cold kills them so we should be ok now.”

That’s good to know

“I’m not sure how they feel about spring though”


“The head licence; the cold kills them. It’s pretty cold in Spring still isn’t it?”

Lice. Cold? Who told you that anyway? Was this your friend again?

“No; this was a teacher.”



“Dad; they’ve taken down all those poppies that we saw on the lamppost yesterday” 

They were up for Remembrance Sunday / Armistice day where we pay tribute to those who lost their lives during conflicts and wars.

“How many people died?”

Quite a …..

“And before you say ‘a lot’ can you give me a number please. I need that level of detail”


Well i’m not sure but it was in the 10’s of millions. You’d think that with all that loss of life, humanity would lear……


I guess she is only 7.

Good habits


Yes darling?

“I really don’t like coming home in the dark; can you work a bit less?”

I’d love to, but life is a balancing act at the moment. No work no pay.

“There isn’t a lot of time to do anything by the time we get home”

You could do your homework? there’s always time for that.

“………………………………………..why would you even say that…?”


(Christ) Yes?

“Have you had grapes with cheese before? they’re fantastic! you really should try it!”

Yeah I do darling; quite often.

“Oh ok. Do you like them”

Yes. Adults will often have them with a glass of red wine.



“So can I have some in my packed lunch tomorrow?”

What; cheese and grapes?


Yes of course

“And you’d better put the wine in my water bottle or the teachers might want some”



This conversation was approximately 5 minutes of a 45 minute journey.


We will get to the truth…

So what was your favourite part of the school day?

‘After school club’

Ok (trying to get to a favourite subject) What about during the day? What was your favourite part of the day?


Gives up. 

Also on the way home

Boris Johnson on the radio from the Conservative conference; 


‘BOLD!? But Dad; I like my frizzy hair!’


More serious questions 

This morning’s drive in turned plenty deep plenty quickly.

“Dad; would a hurricane blow the hair off someone with Cancer?”


After skillfully not crashing; I ponder a suitable response. I’d have preferred a ‘Where do babies come from’ as I have a script for that one but this was left field.

‘Those two things are quite unrelated darling; how did you put them together?’


“Well; I’d noticed that when people get Cancer they lose their hair. I suspect that Cancer makes it loose so if you’re in a hurricane, those strong winds will only make matters worse.”

I can see her logic and decide to tackle the big one first.

‘Ok; it’s not the Cancer that causes sufferers to lose their hair, its the treatment. It can be quite aggressive’

Having lost my mother to the big C, I know enough about the topic to feed her facts. Preempting her next enquiry, I continue.

‘Cancer happens in the body at a cellular, microscopic, level. Every part of us is made up of cells. Technically we are constantly regenerating ourselves but slightly older than the version before..”With Cancer, somehow the message to create a new cell gets messed up and misunderstood, so the new cell isn’t quite as it should be. If there are enough of these not-so-right cells, they can attack the good cells. That can be really bad’

She looks creeped out.

‘It’s a gradual process; we call it mutating

Less creeped and now showing the look of ‘I’m gonna tell folk this in the playground’.

“So is a cell small? what’s the smallest living thing?”

Now I’m wading out into deep waters…

‘I think it’s a single celled, protozoa but I’m not sure; I’ll check this evening’

It’s been a while since Biology class.

“I think it’s a woodlouse”

The hurricane went unmentioned.




On the drive in..

“Dad? What makes us different from animals?”

Not your everyday question, but the kind of thing I expect from my daughter on the drive in to school.

Well, it tends to be our ability to express a range of emotions such as compassion grief love et cetera. That and the fact that we can display intelligence. 

“Not like Donald Trump then?”

One high-five later, daddy 🙂


Stress? What stress?

This morning’s school run was a test of patience. 

As seems to be the norm on Britain’s roads, you can’t drive more than a mile without hitting roadworks. 

I’d managed to hustle the cubs into the car in reasonable time and with limited fuss, but we were now confronted with the familiar sight of brake lights. 

I watched my chronological advantage slip away and my ire rise. Not good. 

I took a short cut; brake lights. 

We eventually crawled forwards and I cordially let folk in sideroads out, in order to move everyone along nicely. 

We started to move faster, through a nearby village on the school route. We passed a less than well hedgehog in the road. 

“Dad; is that hedgehog ok?”

Now do I try to protect my daughter from the reality of life and death of fauna on British roads? Yeah of course. 

I think it was ok darling; just moving very slowly…

She didn’t buy it. 

“I think it was dead. There were bits of it scattered everywhere!”


“It’s feet were quite wide apart and it’s hands were further up the road…”

Ok but…maybe….well….

“And it’s intestines look like they’d come out of its backside…

Wow. You saw all that at 30 mph??

“I don’t think it’s going anywhere now dad…”

And she collapses in fits of laughter. 

Daddy needs therapy. 

School run

It’s business as usual by the time I pick up my daughter. 

My son is asleep within 5 minutes of me driving off. The day is warm so I don’t blame him. 

She is full of energy and big hugs which is always something I look forward to. I ask her about her day. 

My friend hypnotised me with a piece of bread and I’ve been practicing my kicks. I can kick to a child’s head!

Ok. I don’t want to know how she knows that, but as I received no phone calls during the day, I’m good.