The Mystery of Mark Carter’s Feet

Today, I invite you to take a trip with me down memory lane.

Let me set the scene. It is 1978. Big things are happening in the world. Louise Browne, the world’s first test tube baby has been born. Jim Jones followers commit mass suicide in Jonestown. In the Vatican there is a new Pope- the first non Italian pope in more than four hundred years.

Zooming in to St Mary’s Primary School, Cornwall- little Marie is standing in the dinner queue along with two hundred or so other kids. Note- we are calling this dinner, not lunch, even though it is 12 noon.

The dinner bell sounds and seating is  randomly allocated by the teacher on duty. The system runs like a well oiled cog. The teacher, no doubt, cannot wait to get into the staff room for coffee and a fag.  Marie sits next to her best friend Sally. Sitting opposite her is a little boy called Mark Carter. Mark is talking loudly and excitedly to the boy next to him about Star Wars- a movie which hit the cinema screens last year.

As they wait for dinner to be served, Mark slips off his shoes. Marie slips off her shoes too and waits. Marks foot seeks out her foot and their feet intertwine. Mark’s feet are warm and slightly damp. Whenever Marie sits opposite  Mark, their feet intertwine. Sometimes they swing their intertwined feet backwards and forwards energetically. Other times, their feet remain motionless. They will stay like this all the way through dinner. She likes it.

Today’s dinner is stew. Marie hates stew. She mushes it around a bit on her plate and leaves most of it behind. Dinner helpers come and take the plates away.  The volume in the dinner hall increases as the children prepare to go out to play. Marie and Mark slip their shoes back on. They do not make eye contact. They do not talk to each other. They run off and are engulfed in their separate girl/boy universes until next time they happen to sit opposite each other at dinner. 

Big Marie has often wondered what in the world was going on with Mark and his feet. There are a couple of possible explanations.

  • Mark Carter really liked Marie and sought out her feet above all the other feet in the school??
  • Mark was a nascent foot fetishist and did this with everybody??

But hold on, but let’s apply some GROWN UP perspective here.

Big Marie, mother of three, now sees that Mark Carter was the sort of child, beloved of grannies and aunties all over the world. What Granny/ Auntie wouldn’t adore an angelic little lad with blond hair and puppy dog brown eyes? Furthermore Mark was NOT an angst ridden swot (like someone not too far across the table)  He was a laid back, chilled sort of child. I imagine  he went home in the evenings, threw himself on the sofa, cuddled his mother/ dog/ cat/ auntie as he watched copious amounts of boy TV and eat sweets.

Not being a fan of small boys, all this was was wasted on little Marie.

And- as a Sociologist/ Feminist, Big Marie now understand that it is not easy being a small boy in the rough and tumble, gender stereotyped world of primary school.

What better way to take five than some comforting, under the table foot time with another warm, soft, damp foot? It’s not quite the same as a cuddle with mum but hey-it’s something.

Mark’s foot instinctively knew this!

And we’re back to that puppy dog quality of his. Don’t you just love the way dogs throw themselves in a heap and fall asleep? So companionable and unselfconscious.

We could all learn a lesson from dogs – and I would add- Mark Carter’s feet.










Lady in a hurry


A lady goes into a supermarket-it’s one of the German discount stores that have sprung up everywhere. She is obviously in a hurry.

She pauses at the door, realises she has no coins for the supermarket trolley and grabs a wheely shopping basket instead. It is a fatal error of judgement.

She rushes around the store throwing things into the basket. There is something trance like about her movements. You can see she has done this a million times before.

Having completed a whirlwind tour of the fruit and veg aisle, the chilled produce and the dried goods, she pauses at the wine aisle and chooses a bottle of white. The bottle of white is a reward, no doubt.

Shopping mission accomplished, she get into the queue and unloads the contents of her basket onto the conveyor belt. She then engages in a marathon race with the till attendant (who for present purposes we’ll refer to as Speedy)  to repack her shopping, before he totals up the bill. He moves onto the next customer before she has had a chance to finish what she is doing.

She has brought two plastic bags with her. They are not big enough, so she piles some stuff back into the wheely basket. She pays Speedy and makes her way out of the shop.

She is near the exit when Speedy shouts after her.

‘Hey- you can’t take that basket out of the shop.’ He has a loud voice. Everyone turns and looks at her.

‘So it’s not OK to bring the basket outside for a few minutes and then bring it in again?’ she says, looking hard at him.

It’s not an unreasonable request. It would, however, require a certain amount of rule bending on the part of Speedy to agree to this.

‘No, you can’t take the wheely basket outside,’ he says spiritedly.

Someone in the queue next to Speedy says to him, ‘Go on, be nice!’ Speedy ignores her. He is not going to be nice.

Our unfortunate shopper attempts to manoeuvre her stuff into a nearby corner. As she does so, her basket topples over, spilling all her groceries onto the floor. She really should have got a trolley. She feels pretty stupid.

A young man leaps to her assistance. He is a customer, not a store employee.

‘This happens to me too,’ he says as he picks up her toilet rolls. ‘ALL THE TIME’

She guesses that this has never actually happened to him before. He’s just being nice.

His mother should be very proud of him, she thinks.

She leaves her shopping basket and carries out her two bags. Emptying the contents onto the back seat, she goes back in and retrieves the rest of her shopping from the wheely basket.

Her two teens are waiting for her in the car. She tells them what happened. They are outraged on her behalf. Girl teen launches into a rant about how she would have just walked out- regardless of what Speedy said.

It is a rant about authority, something which girl teen has problems with at the moment.

Boy teen takes her phone, and by some magic known only to the young, transfers one of her favourite songs onto the car speaker.

She wipes away a tear from her eye and pulls off to the sounds of Manu Chao singing;

‘I’M THE KING OF BONGO’ very loudly.

As she makes her way home to unpack her shopping a thought crosses her mind which brings a smile to her face.

This is something I can blog about….









Slippery fish and the Sea of Uncertainty

slippery fish


Whats going to happen next? Who knows. The world waits with baited breath to see how things will pan out in the Trump versus Clinton saga.

Not so long ago it was Brexit. Will they, won’t they? Then when they did, we were all shocked. We are still shocked.

When it comes to the big stuff, stuff that is going to impact on all of us, we feel a need to predict outcomes.  Uncertainty makes us uncomfortable.

In the past, it was customary to follow  political parties in the way you might follow a religion. Party allegiance was central to who you were.  Frequently we followed the same parties our parents and grandparents followed. EASY PEASY.

It’s not so easy now. Somewhere along the path to shiny modernity, the cord has raveled, the anchor chain slipped. A lot of us are now  adrift on a sea of uncertainty.

Maybe the political arena is too vast, too confusing? Maybe we have lost faith in leadership? Maybe we never bought into it in the first place?

For whatever reason, when it comes to exercising our democratic rights, many of us fall into that big camp of unpredictables known as ‘floating voters.’

And the floating voter is a very slippery goldfish.  How s/he will vote is the subject of much speculation.

So the POLSTERS enter the fray- armed with statistical software and social science in an attempt to gauge the pulse of the people- see into their heads.

At best the polls offers some sense of normalcy, some degree of predictability but never certainty. Despite the best statistical software, they don’t always get it right.

Having always favoured shades of grey to black and white, I completely get indecision. I also have to stick my hand up and say that compared to my parents, I am a current affairs dunce, a disaster zone. A lot of it bores me silly.

But, hey- when it comes to something as concrete as our futures and those of our children, it seems to me that there is a responsibility to take a stance; to decide which side of the fence we stand on.


We need to do something to prevent lunatics and nutters ruling the proverbial roost.

And so, a heartfelt message to potential floaters and slippery fish- Go on. Inform yourself, read the papers, watch those boring current affairs programmes, make up your mind. Don’t be swayed by last minute hype.  At the very least, ask your mother!

But enough of heartfelt pleas. Let’s digress.

It was with some surprise that I learned the phenomenon of political last minute-ism- is not altogether new.

Take Merry Olde England back in 1485-Richard III is happily ruling the country when along comes Henry Tudor (all the way from France) to challenge his title.

Richard is not overly bothered as he knows his army is far superior to Henry’s. He has also been promised more men in arms, from his nobles, should he need them.

In the ensuing battle Henry wins. Why? Largely, I would say because of ‘last minute-ism.’

Some of Richard’s most powerful nobles (who really deserved to be knocked off the christmas card list) held back, gauged which way the wind was blowing- then threw in their lot with Henry, who appeared to be winning. With the help of their private armies, he did win.

And so the Battle of Bosworth began early in the morning of the 22 August 1485 and was over by noon. In those few hours the Plantagenet dynasty was defeated, leaving Britain poised to enter a new era under the House of Tudor.

Momentous, ground breaking stuff.

The point I am making is that neither soothsayer, necromancer  nor opinion poll analyst could have predicted that one.

Then, as now, it seems that in the domain of politics, the only certainty is UNCERTAINTY.








The Mysterious Mr. X #atozchallenge


X     Imagine if X was a person. What sort of person would he be?

Based on what we know of X from his infrequent appearances in the English language, I would guess that X is a man.  X  just doesn’t feel to me like a woman- and that is despite the fact that way back when we were all just gametes, us ladies required two x chromosomes to kick off, whereas those of us who are not ladies developed from X Y chromosomes!  Interestingly, the role of the  said ‘X’ Chromosome was discovered by the American geneticist Clarence McClung in 1901. Clarence, being a person of xy derivation.

Biology bit over (Phew!)

Is Mr X a bit of a show off?? I think so. He likes to punch above his weight given that even the Oxford English Dictionary, which contains a lot of obsolete stuff, only has around 400 words beginning with X.

Is Mr X a man of science and technology?? Patently so.  Interestingly X-rays were discovered and named by Wilhelm Röntgen in 1895. Note, this champion of X was a Wilhelm and NOT a Wilhelmina.

Is he mathematically minded? Yes. So much so, that he inserted himself in mathematical symbology as a sign for multiplication in 1631. His champion on this occasion was one, William Oughtred. Not only is he mathematically inclined, he thinks big- EXPONENTIALLY so. Not for him, the diminutive role of little -.

Does X involve himself in the language of emotions? I think not. Does he involve himself in the language of love? I think not. Does Mr X like like clear, direct and simple communication? No, no, no. He makes xero effort on this front.

But, this is not to say that he is without his finer feelings, his softer side…And interestingly the first reference in The Oxford English Dictionary to the use of ‘x’ for a kiss was in 1763.

I would go so far, as to say that our Mr X is a bit of a strange fish. Indeed, the Greek letter Xi, which gave birth to Mr X originated from a letter called ‘samekh’ in, none other than the fabulous PHOENICIAN alphabet- and guess what it represented??? A FISH

Anyway, I stand firm. Mr X is a Mr, and a mysterious one at that! It’s just a hunch I have. Even the great old man of English literature had little to say about X, The only word or name starting with X in any play by Shakespeare is ‘Xanthippe’ who appears in, ‘The Taming of the Shrew,’ which is not renowned for its feminist sympathies!!

So, our duty to Mr X is done.

He can leave now.

EXIT. Stage Left.





U is for Ups and Downs#atozchallenge


U    I have to confess that U is not my favourite letter of the alphabet.

I struggled with U. But then it came to me-every challenge has to have it’s ups and downs.

And then I had it- that little concept that every blog requires to wrap itself around before going out into the world.

My first literary encounter with  the idea of ‘Up’s and ‘Downs’ was on my father’s knee, as he recited a poem remembered from his childhood. It was about the fairies. The fairies are big news in Ireland. Not the fluttery, pretty type, but the ugly, otherworldly folk of mythology and superstition. They are a scary bunch and you’d be well advised not to annoy them or there’s big trouble. Anyway, back to the poem. It was written by William Allingham -

‘Up the airy mountain, Down the rushing glen,

We dare not go hunting, for fear of little men!’

Where next for more juxtapositions of up and down? We needn’t go far. There are a whole host of up and down sayings out there.

Take the laws of gravity:

What goes UP has to come Down.

And of pyschology:

Your head may be UP in the clouds- (Yay!!) but then you could end up

Down in the dumps (Boo…)

Or outdoor pursuits:

You may find yourself UP the creek without a paddle.

But if you get DOWN to brass tacks, it was probably your own fault for neglecting to bring such a vital piece of equipment.

In poker, you might well UP the ante- (and not the aunty as I used to think)

If you were cheating at poker, you might need to get DOWN and dirty (as in intently and fiercely competitive, not bawdy and lewd mind!)

And finally, in this whistle stop tour of possible ups and downs, let’s look at our very own Irish addition to the gamut.

headUP here for thinking


DOWN there for dancing. feet


But no, I think the last word on this should go to Mehmet, who advises us:

“Climb up the stairs cheerfully, climb down the stairs cheerfully! Let your mind be unaffected by the ups and downs of life!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

Well said, Mehmet!


T is for Buried Treasure #atozchallenge





T.jpgLast night I was lying in bed pondering the T challenge. The idea popped into my head that I could write about buried treasure, and then I drew a blank.  Apart from liking pirate stories, I couldn’t think of much to actually say about the subject.  Then I fell asleep, and had a dream.  It was a really weird dream.

In the dream, Ger and I were off on holiday somewhere exotic. I went off on my own for a few hours to explore.  So, off I flew…… as you do in dreams- careful not to rise to far above treetop level, wary of obtrusive telephone wires.

Anyway I flew, ha hum…past a bend in the river and came to some swampy ground. The place was lit up with a sort of luminous haze. It was beautiful but also a bit creepy.  I rested a while in the long marsh grass, and saw to my surprise that there were large chunks of rocks submerged in the mud. Each piece was brick shaped and had a series of cut out geometrical holes shot through it.

I fished one out and flew off.

Note, I was not able to fly quite so high this time due the weight of the rock.

When I got back to our accommodation, I found out that I had visited a place called, Jah.  It was an ancient burial ground used by Cuban witch doctors. Apparently, it was a popular destination for tourists!

Anyway, when I woke up, I thought EUREKA!

This dream was about BURIED TREASURE.

(It may also be about what’s buried deep in my possibly dodgy subconscious, but we’ll draw a veil over that!)

So, what I take from all this nonsense is the fact that my vision of buried treasure is a brick shaped rock, shot with holes.

Why did I consider this rock to be a treasure? Four reasons.

  • I liked its sculptural qualities.
  • I planned to give it to Ger, who is artistically inclined.
  • If he failed to appreciate it, it would look nice in my flower border.
  • It had provenance on account of all the dead witch doctors

What is your vision of buried treasure???







M is for Blog Monster #atozchallenge

Mblog monster


  1. Blog monsters are happiest when roaming the virtual plains of blogland.
  2. In general, blog monsters are sociable and docile creatures who like mixing with others of their kind.
  3. An untrained blog monster will  hijack any conversation in an attempt to talk about it’s blog.
  4. The month of April is a very important time in the life cycle of a blog monster. For present purposes, it shall be referred to as ‘blog season.’
  5. Throughout its season, monsters undertake daily challenges comparable to initiation rites and rites of passage in many indigenous cultures.
  6. During blog season, the monster may experience extreme agitation  if it is  denied access to its computer.
  7. Blog monsters have been known to snap and snarl if interrupted whilst at blogging practice.
  8. The monster will, however, become animated and playful if somebody likes, comments or follows its blog..
  9. The appearance of the blog monster may deteriorate over the month of April as blogging activity intensifies.
  10. The blog monsters offspring can become fractious and unruly. Mutinous cries of, ‘Oh no, mum’s blogging AGAIN,’ ring out in homes across blogland.
  11. The condition and smell of the monsters lived habitat also deteriorates during this time as normal housework duties cease.
  12. Blog monsters and their families graze on ready made meals and sandwiches during the all important season.Daily caffeine intake of the monster increases three  fold.
  13. The blog monster is prone to sleep disruption as it’s mind never really rests and it drinks too much coffee.
  14. It is important to note that after  periods of intense blogging , the  blog monster may appear confused and disoriented.  With patient, loving attention, it’s equilibrium can be restored.
  15. A period of hibernation may well occur at the end of blog season. This is natural and should not cause undue concern.

Do you know of any blog monsters out there???