Parental dysfunction (or What Philip Larkin Said)

1. I'm sure my dad thought I was gay, or was going to turn out gay. I didn't like football, motor racing, darts or cars ... I was bookish and drew pictures of superheroes. It was the late 70s and he came from a different age. Every evening he would walk in the door from the factory where he worked, sit down at the table where I and my sister were waiting for mum to dish up the dinner, and he'd pull out a copy of the Sun from his pocket, open it to page 3, turn the black-and-white image of the semi-naked woman towards me and pronounce, "Cor, look at them, son. Don't get many of them to the pound do ya!" or "She won't sink in the swimming baths eh!" To this day I do not know what reaction he expected. I was 7.

2. When I was about 10 my dad came down wearing a fire-engine red, wide-collared, disco-style shirt to take me to parents' evening. I begged him not to wear it but he did ... for every parents' evening until I left school ... W****r move, but I will do the same when I have kids, no doubt.

3. One day, when I was 13, they divorced. My mum had been seeing another man, someone from her work, and they moved in together. But then they argued, worse than my parents ever did. And each Wednesday and every second weekend I'd have to sit through it, a teenage witness to their relationship dysfunction. As an adult I don't know what lessons it's taught me. I've sustained a 16-year marriage in multiple countries and starting a family, but I don't attribute it to any lessons I learned in my childhood. Perhaps I'm more quick to seek resolution with my wife, reluctant to simply score points in an argument for its own sake. But if so it's a lesson I could have done without, save only to illustrate the depressing reality that we humans are capable of being messed up in myriad different ways. And any adult should know this by now. (Via

Kathy wonders what's with the new box of teabags (on left) which looks larger, but has 20 teabags rather than the 30 they have always held.
Kathy wonders what's with the new box of teabags (on left) which looks larger, but has 20 teabags rather than the 30 they have always held.

Laziest hitchhiker - or the smartest

A woman qualified for the title of laziest hitchhiker in 1951 when police in the New York city of Syracuse found her sitting in a parked car. They said she told them: "I often sit in parked cars hoping the owners will come back and give me a ride downtown. You see, I hate buses."


Local: "I'm sorry, given the effort put into TV3's Westside series, to have to point out a wee continuity glitch in what otherwise seems a fairly historically-faithful production," writes a reader. "A park-up beside the Waikato River was a great setting for a meeting of the West gang before the aborted Springbok test match at Hamilton's Rugby Park in 1981. Trouble is, the old coal-fired Meremere Power Station was still blazing away in those days, and wouldn't become the huge shrink-wrapped white elephant in the background of the episode just screened before being mothballed in 1991 amid fears of serious asbestos-related health problems for its redundant workers."

Good read: To find a bad attitude to women, you don't have to look further than the world of sport. After this week, when Australia's Eddie McGuire said "there was no malice involved" in his joke about drowning a woman at a family event at the MCG and the comments were made "in the spirit of the fun of the day", here are Seven Tips For Making "Playful Banter" About Women In Sport
Video: You were born to sing...

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