Goodnight, Campers!

My stats tell me that the majority of my readers – hello! – ain’t from round these parts. More specifically, you are mostly American, with a fair dollop of Australian and western European, and … how can I explain Butlins – as quintessentially English a phenomenon as cream teas or a weather fixation – to an overseas audience? I was thinking about this last week, before I drove to BOGNOR, baby! for the MADS awards, which Butlins sponsored. There were a number of adjectives that were clamouring for their rightful inclusion in my mental picture of this near-75 year-old British Institution, foremost, Vulgar, Tawdry and God-sodding-Awful.

But no sooner had I had a sneer – and it was a good sneer, with condescension, snobbery and arrogance  – than I wondered if I should actually wrench my head out of my bum, where I might actually have it firmly stuck – not least on the basis that I probably couldn’t afford a Butlins holiday these days, which I felt rather invalidated my destination brand conceit.

These are dark and murky Anglo Saxon seawaters for a foreigner to swim, I appreciate, but stick with me. You’ll understand the Great British Psyche* rather better by the end.

It was easy, not so long ago, to be supercilious about Butlins, but I think that time may now be past. In 1936, Billy Butlin, observing the dyed-in-wool bloody-mindedness of the average Guesthouse landlady (Bed & Breakfast accommodation and their proprietors are another British Institution, conjuring up a set of [only partly outdated] images to the average British middle-classer. Interesting segue, but I think we must say no to it.) set up his first holiday camp near Skegness (yet another British Institution, conjuring up a… look, there’s some stuff you’ll just have to get your head round quick, ok? Or we’ll be stuck in parentheses all night. There are a number of traditional family coastal holiday destinations in the UK, and Skegness is one of  a group in which I mentally include Minehead, Clacton, Blackpool, Eastbourne, Weston Super Mare… and Bognor Regis. Think: sea, sand, biting winds, piers, towers, knotted handkerchieves as hats, ballrooms, rolled-up trousers, beachballs, and driving rain, and you’ll be half-way home.) and… I’ve lost Billy in all the bracketing. Start again.

In fact, I am going to borrow a paragraph from the Seaside History site, or we’ll never get as far as the MADS before Christmas.

‘The golden age of the holiday camp was in the ‘fifties and ‘sixties. After the War there was a great rush to the coast. Many people had not had a holiday for years and could not wait to get away. The holiday camp provided what they were looking for. Prices were reasonable, food was plentiful – for the time – and there was plenty to do, even when it was raining. The holiday camp sector expanded rapidly in the late ‘forties and early ‘fifties. Many camps used by the forces in the War quickly became holiday camps. Many holiday camps had, in fact, been taken over for military use and once again opened their doors to holiday makers. In some cases, the campers moved in almost as the soldiers marched out!’

My mother has black & white pictures of herself as a child at Butlins in the late 1950s, as a good many people her age do. It was where you went if you were upper working/lower middle class and could afford a holiday. It was popular with parents, as they all cheerfully left their kids in bed in the army-style rows of chalets in the evening (the thin walls of which made it easy for the patrolling Redcoats – of which, more anon – to overhear any Out Of Bed children) while they enjoyed the evening Entertainment in the main pavilion. You did that sort of thing with your children back then.

The chalets generally only had cold running water. Competitions such as ‘Knobbliest Knees’ and ‘Most Glamorous Granny’ were legendary. You were heavily encouraged to Have Fun and Take Part, and, by and large, you did as you were told, because there was a constantly grinning and more-than-slightly manic Entertainer in a scarlet coat yelling jolly hockey sticks in your lughole from morning til night. The Butlins Redcoats, and the entire holiday camp genre, were parodied in a sitcom called Hi-de-Hi, which I think you need a quick clip of

and the end credits of the show are actual vintage footage: I particularly like the shots of the spaghetti-eating contest underway. (You will ideally need a migraine-like blind spot to obliterate the awfulness in the centre of the screen to begin with.)

And then came the 1960s and 70s and cheap overseas holidays to that rare British migrant: hot sunshine. The camps began to decline, and some judicious late 1980s rebranding wasn’t successful. And then, something strange happened, and in 2000 the Butlins brand was re-launched.

I do understand branding, in as much as anyone outside a career in marketing can. I work in an industry where brand identity is absolutely fundamental, and I do not understand why Butlins want to be Butlins. I am absolutely their target demographic – our child has turned us from travellers into holiday-makers, for sure –  and yet the shades of knock-kneed, pasta-gobbling be-handker-hatted fathers, long-fringed children excavating primeval sandpits, and demure bikini parades are still firmly occupying the box in my head entitled Butlins, and I can’t shake them off, simply because of those two innocent syllables. But. Lins. So easy just to change the name! Call it Haven Holidays, or something, and I’d probably be itching to go! Oh, wait…

Of course, there is a glimmer of a possibility of an outside chance that modifying this exact sort of preconception might have been what prompted Butlins to sponsor an award that was presumably designed to garner some positive coverage among young families of its new image, facilities, and accommodation.

So, do you understand a little better now why I approached Bognor with trepidation on more than one level?



I shall tell you tomorrow** what happened.

* I fear that an explanation of Spotted Dick is beyond me, however. Nothing here can give an insight into that particular British Peculiarity.

**I have a given value of ‘tomorrow’, and it is a complex equation involving village fetes, work, housework, agriculture, and Being 3 And Bouncy. Sorry.

For A Given Value Of ‘Speech’

I wish I had a fiver – a quid, even – for every time I’ve been happily told by a fellow Speech Worrier that once kids start talking ‘you can’t shut them up.’ I am difficult to reassure on this particular topic, but, as it happens, my informants have been – broadly – correct.

True: I can’t shut Harry up; there is a stream of conversation and song bubbling constantly in my ears. It is equal parts delightful, wearying and insanely frustrating, because – you guessed it – it’s unintelligible. Lest you think me unreasonable and ungrateful: you try hearing – and praising! – a staccato twenty-minute rendition of (what we assume) is a particularly favoured song, sung entirely on 3 (bum) notes with 2 lonely syllables. I am pretty sure I suffered some degree of cortical atrophy in May.

This is not to say that progress is not being made. ‘Baaarrrrrrr!’ (‘Bye’) ‘Uh’ (‘No’) and ‘Airrrrrroww!’ (‘Hello’ – often delivered à la Stewie


are entirely distinguishable by his familiars in context. ‘Dere’ (‘Voila!’) and ‘Dere-tis’ (I can see it!) feature frequently. Harry’s long standing preference for ‘eess’ as a default syllable means that we can manipulate his output a little further: he can achieve an ‘Ieessss!’ when asked to say ‘Geese’ and ‘Ooouss!’ when asked what he wants to drink. ‘Ooouss’ he has to work especially hard for, cerebrally – his eyes virtually cross and his mouth works frantically for a second or so before the word bursts forth, Tourette’s-fashion.

10 days before we see his new Paed. 10 long days. I have much to discuss. Strangely, I have a paucity of expectation regarding the nature of Harry’s EEG results. All I can say with confidence at this stage is that neither a clear or abnormal result would surprise me.

His mobility is improving, slowly but discernably; we had a trip to the big park this week entirely devoid of maternal trauma and toddler bruising. His understanding seems good; certainly the phrase ‘devious little bugger’ gets thrown around a lot. His latest tantrum technique is lamentably cliched: throwing himself petulantly face-down on the floor with an outraged wail of woe, which would be side-splittingly comical if it wasn’t so tediously frequent and attached to an emotional hair-trigger. His Makaton is improving, but lesser-used signs are awfully, awfully vague.

‘Sign it again, please, Harry. Ummm… Car? No, not car. Truck? Bus? Lorry? No? No. God. Umm. I don’t know, I’m sorry, sweetie. Do it again for Mummy? Right-ho… errr… Train? No. God. Let me see… you’re moving both your hands up and down… little noise… Poorly? Naughty? No? No… Oh, I’m sorry, sweetheart, I just don’t get it at all. Try it again? Poor lad. Oh! Hands near your mouth? Harry, do you mean food? Yes? Apple? Nice shiny apple ? You DO? Yes! Fantastic! Good signing! Apple! Yes!

And no, darling, you can’t have an apple.’


Today is, incidentally, your last opportunity to propel me towards everlasting glory in the Butlins-sponsored MAD awards. Do click here to wield your all-powerful voting finger for me if you wish!

(I must tell you about John’s trip, complete with local cohort of AGM-ing Young Farmers, to Butlins Minehead in 1992. I will tell you after the September awards ceremony, though, as they may still remember the staggering repair bill and refuse to let me come, finalist or no, and I do so want to wear a pretty frock.)

Do, or Do Not. There Is No Try.

The diet goes well.

The diet goes so well that I manage to prostrate myself, smack-bang in the middle of hosting a dinner party for 12 on Saturday night.

I’ve given this some serious thought, and I think it might have been either the copious amounts of codeine I was swallowing to negate the considerable pain from the first period I have had since the miscarriage, or the fact that I’d eaten near-bugger-all for 3 days, or the fact that I’d been on my feet working hard for 36 hours interspersed with a lousy sleep, or the large, heavy meal I was half-way through troughing, or the fact that my frantic diet has evidently shrivelled my stomach down to the size of a particularly under-endowed Dik-dik scrotum, or the large glass of fizzy lemonade cut with 1/4 white wine that I had convivially sent down to keep the opiates and the Heavy Meal company, or, and this is just a wild stab in the dark, all of the above? At no point was I surprised to feel suddenly, acutely, painfully unwell, you understand; I knew I’d been a spectacularly daft twat. 

My stomach accepted the starter without a murmur

(Warwickshire asparagus spears in camembert, with beetroot jelly, wrapped in leek, based on this) and was happily half-way through the main course (Chicken stuffed with wholegrain mustard, mozzarella & cheddar, Alastair‘s (who first fed it to me) veg pie, potato dauphinoise, roast courgettes & baby tomatoes, carrots & peas) – when I received the sudden and distinct impression that Capacity Had Been Seriously Exceeded. This was a completely new experience for me. I prodded my plate listlessly, but could summon no enthusiasm at all; in fact, the unambivalent message coming up from the Dik-dik scrote was that Immediately Ceasing To Eat Forthwith would be an awfully good idea. I managed to half-heartedly heave some dessert (apple strudel, slightly-disaster-stricken-sunken profiteroles with simply the nicest & simplest chocolate sauce ever) into assorted guest bowls, before sinking into my chair with a badly-stifled whimper.

I’ve never not been able to polish off a plate of good food in my life. Ever! I now know exactly what a gastric band must feel like, and I’ve acquired a fair insight into pyloric stenosis, too. The sensation was appalling, yet I struggled womanfully to keep it all down, purely because I was becoming convinced that the effort of ejecting it might actually kill me dead, given that I was freezing cold, shaking like a leaf, and having a degree of heart arrhythmia that I would normally associate with a brutal gym session.

I am fortunate in possessing kind and competent girlfriends: I progressed from Sofa to Bed, where I cuddled a bucket just in case, shivering, occasionally groaning at a particularly vicious stomach spasm, whilst other hands cleared the table, served coffee, and located the fudge and mints. John, having missed my subdued announcement of departure, eventually noticed that his wife had disappeared some time before, and, given that it was a murder-mystery party, came on a search & retrieve upstairs. He found me bitterly and just-audibly fulminating on fizzy drinks, codeine and sugar levels, and, taking squeamish alarm at the sight of my – redundant, as it happens – bucket perched atop his pillow, backed out and retired downstairs again.

By 2am I felt tentatively certain I would live, and by 4am I felt sufficiently invested in the new day to take some cautious sips of water. By 5am, when Harry woke up for the day, I actually felt in considerably better shape than John – who had been been on the red wine, by the look of him.

Yes, the diet goes well.

And speaking of things going well, you remember that blogging awards thing you very kindly nominated me for? The MADS? Yes?

Well, you’ll note that t’badge up top now reads ‘Finalist’. I have, to my astonishment, emerged as one the five finalists for best MAD blog writer, for which I thank you all very, very much indeed. I am exceedingly and sincerely touched. Mind you, coming as it does on top of a post purely about my inability to digest a meal, I give you ample leave to erupt with uproarious, disbelieving laughter and vote for one of the other talented contenders, especially given that one of those others is a verrrry fine writer and damn good buddy of mine.

I was evidently not paying an awful lot of attention at the beginning of all this, as I now discover from the press release (a press release! To all the national and local press! Ummm. Errk!) that there is a proper awards dinner at which the winners are announced, and furthermore, I have heard a fairly solid rumour that there will be… gulp… TV cameras. The funk that the thought of the resulting publicity has sent John and I into: I will spare you; there is some urgent bloggy housekeeping in the immediate pipeline, is all. The thought of appearing on camera I have not yet let my brain examine properly, lest it recoil in horror right up its own fundament.

In short, I am absolutely delighted and grateful for all your nominations, and should you wish to vote again and propel me further forward, and tell all your friends! then… well, that’d be just grand.

And awfully nice of you.

Tell you what, just on the off-chance that feeling sorry for me’d help your voting finger, here’s a picture of the poor old wreck that is I, tonight, wearing a sinister-looking ECG heartbeat-tracker machine-thingy. It’s ferociously itchy and digs in me and I have to sleep in it.  Boo-hoo.

That do any good?!

Lots of Nutshells

Once I have fought my groggy way, clutching my coffee, past the agony that is Waking (a confused and prolonged event involving small Tiggers, CBeebies, and the lusty blast of a 99p descant recorder that some abject fucking fool keeps forgetting to hide from the said Tigger) I spend my mornings feeling chirpily wide-awake, inspired and bloggyfied-up. I could write reams in the morning. By 8pm, when I am free to type uninterrupted, my Get Up & Go has slunk, shame-faced, off to bed and is snoring GnARrkKily with its mouth wide open and its chins wobbling. Lookin’ good, Billy Ray!

You must also factor in the fact that Harry had an awful tummy bug this morning, and I am waiting apprehensively for the first sinister flip-flop of nausea.

 There. I have made my excuses in advance.

Thank you so kindly for your bountiful MADS nominations. I haven’t aspired to much beyond avoiding arrest (both literal and cardiac) lately, but I would be ever-so deliriously pleased were I to actually make it onto… (intake of breath)… a shortlist. I am seemingly the proud possessor of nominations for Blogger of the Year, Funniest Blog, Best Baby Blogger, Inspiring Blogger, and Best Blog Writer – the typing of all of which makes me blush rosily, because I naturally feel that I am none of those things.

This does not prevent me being repulsively greedily acquisitive over the prizes, though, and the shortlists will be a highest-number-of-nominations-type-thing, so if you feel like pasting into any of the categories… then I shall only mutter ‘Oh, please don’t give yourself any trouble!’ once, (quietly) before politely holding open the bloggy door and beaming at you.

Given that the UK have just kicked off a general election campaign (US readers please note: our election is on the 6th of May; the campaign is a single month long. One. Month. It is quite a sufficient time to slog it out. And if your news programmes become clogged up with our political frivolities – which they won’t, because why should you care? – then be consoled by my jubilant approval, in the nicest possible way, of the poetic justice. Your election, despite being an interesting one, killed me.) I shall add a word on tactical voting: the long-suffering organiser of this whole shooting match non-competitive bit of lovely bloggy fun is naturally full of angst at the nominations for baby bloggers who no longer have a baby, precisely. I feel Harry is now a tad too old for me to have a proper chance at winning that one.

Which brings me neatly onto the small man himself. His Paed’s appointment went ok. Ish. Sort of a no-score draw.

I took some notes along so I didn’t forget anything; although esoterically abbreviated, they were broadly comprehensible to all. I mention this because at the end of the appointment, the Paed asked if he could have them to refer to when writing his clinic letters. If I get copies of referrals describing Harry’s behaviour as Bloody Fucking Awful, then I’ll know he’s cribbed it verbatim.

Anyhoo. He listened. He’s always been a damn good listener, even when he wasn’t concerned because he just couldn’t see in Harry what I saw. (Neither could many people, to begin with, so I don’t hold it against the chap.) In a nutshell, I told him that Harry still has no speech (he currently has no meaningful words at all, and only a small handful of stock articulations ‘dis’, ‘dere tis’), has great difficulty with his attention & listening, is a compulsive & high-energy fidget & climber, has behavioural meltdowns of epic & violent proportions, is continuing to mobilise unsteadily, and has senses that appear to be wired up curiously – and are becoming curiouser.

In an even smaller nutshell, he took me entirely seriously – no speech at 2¾ years old does tend to get people’s attention, I’m finally finding – and said that he was no longer the right chap to be looking after Harry – which I was expecting. His colleague (whom I am hoping I have never met, coz if she’s the random Consultant Paed I had a run-in with in SCBU when Harry was 11 days old then we are already Not Friends; I have now perfected the rant that I should have delivered then and didn’t.) is the School Fabulous Paediatrician, with a specialist interest in neurodevelopment. He said he would meet with her in the next couple of weeks and relay all the information I had given him: she will then see Harry herself, probably in a classroom setting.

He did a particularly good job of not actually criticising his previous locum colleague for referring us, last appointment, to a paediatric psychology service that does not accept pre-teens. He explained that upon being made aware (by me) of the error, he had referred Harry to the child development service instead, for the multi disciplinary assessment that we were keen to have last year. I had, in fact, already heard a rumour to this effect; someone had spoken to someone who knew someone who had seen Harry’s name on the latest waiting list. Harry’s ex-Portage worker had been musing on the wisdom of referring him herself, some months ago, but had decided that an early referral would not necessarily shorten the wait.

Because that, right there, is the issue. The inevitable wait. There are hordes of kids backlogged, awaiting assessment, consequently, until they’ve turned 3, they’ve nary a hope of being seen. The multi-disciplinary assessment is the Thing To Have, you see. The various agencies have all changed their names so dizzyingly often that even the Paed was using old terminology, but essentially, a MDA is an in-depth look at a child’s quirks and capabilities, involves every appropriate professional service, be it psychology or physiotherapy, and results in an Individual Education Plan. Which is all fine and dandy, but I want it now, not in 6-12 month’s time. I asked him if a private referral was possible, but I think the sheer volume of disciplines involved makes expediting it impossible. He is asking the question for me. 

All I can do in the interim is highlight the things that Harry is not currently receiving any input for to his new Paediatrician when we see her – which had better be soon, or I will kick off sharply. Things need to be put in place: pronto. Current chap agreed with me that a epilepsy-type protective helmet for Harry would be a very useful thing to have, but I think I’m supposed to take that up with New Woman. He was very interested to hear that School Fabulous’s physiotherapist had already taken an informal look at Harry and proclaimed him to be Officially Unsteady (ummm… hooray? At last?!) and definitely needing supportive boots and possibly also a lycra suit for stability – but again, I think New Woman is going to be in charge of getting physio started, as she is already working on a daily basis with the physiotherapist in question.

I talked about an MRI. I talked about dyspraxia. I talked about ataxic cerebral palsy. I talked about Sensory Integration Disorder. There was, significantly, absolutely no squeaking of horrified accelerating chair-wheels from him this time.

In a final nutshell, he told me straight – as my medical friends have told me before – that a formal diagnosis is something that they will give only if and when they are able to do so – it is not what they are necessarily working toward having. They want to treat his function first, and worry about what label they’ve printed out for him afterwards.

I do see their point. I hate it, and I want answers for his difficulties about as badly as I want to breathe, but I do see their point: struggling to figure out the Why makes zero difference to Harry’s professional input at this stage.

I know all this, yet I’m fighting to keep down panic. I am struggling with an immense, crushing sense of urgency because I feel that we are losing time. Harry’s brain will only soak up information like a sponge for so long – anything he should naturally assimilate now, and can’t, will be so very much harder to learn later on. Study after study after keeping-me-awake-at-night-googling study has strongly (like: worry-type ‘strongly’. Worry Lots. Worry NOW.) linked language disorders to stunted academic achievement and, more importantly, psycho-social issues. I’ve already had to let go of some of the expectations I came into pregnancy with (happily including death, obvs.); I’m not ready to give up all the vicarious aspirations I have for him yet. I have a visceral urge to fight. Fight hard. And… I can’t see the foe.

Harry is developing wonderfully in some respects – his makaton signing and eye-contact is improving by gazelle-like leaps and bounds, and his understanding is demonstrably light years ahead of where he was at Christmas. He keeps remonstrating with me for saying the incorrect thing, for heaven’s sake; he’s undoubtedly smack-bang on his right age for receptive language skills. But not a word can he say, not a bloody word, and his sensory quirks are seemingly gathering momentum. He has started to taste, lick, and press his open-mouthed face against everything from tables to books. He is increasingly demanding that we – or anyone – apply firm squeezing pressure to his trunk in the shape of continual, continual, continual hugs. He is revolted by every imaginable scent. He is increasingly touchy about removing his coat and shoes, and clutches them to him desperately. He constantly chews his fingers, and rubs his gums until they bleed. He is still pressing his head into the floor and holding it there, spinning around in circles, and ‘windscreen-wipering’ his eyes back and forth.

These things are frightening me. They are the sort of spectres that the combustible bundle of beautiful gelignite that is Harry, could become extinguished by. I want these to be meaningless toddler phases, not symptoms of a disorder that could swallow him. My gut (which has yet to suffer an ignominious failure of insight) tells me to worry like almighty Buggery Fuckington and Seek More Help; utterly alarmed out of all intestinal countenance, not by any single developmental difficulty or potentially ominous quirk, but by the sheer multiplicity of them.

And now, now, I’m stupidly agitated with pounding heart and rapid breath, and my brain looks like this
Wordle: Tonight's Thoughts

and I need to remind myself that there’s a nihility of action-options open to me at 9 at night during the school holidays. I tell myself: we have a new Paed who is supposedly rather good with heads. Let’s meet her. Soon. Tell her how I feel. Learn more. Explore all the options. Keep Calm. Then panic and freak out.

Anyway. I was describing our Paed’s appointment. He gave Harry a sticker. Harry likes stickers, and beamed winningly, before recommencing Operation: Frantic Departure and swinging off the Dr’s coat hanging on the door. 

This is likely the last time I will encounter the chap, so before I left I made a point of offering my hand and thanking him, again, for being there to save my son’s life in the very small hours of that memorable August night when Harry stopped breathing.

[There were three doctors present who struggled to stabilise Harry (a particularly difficult intubation, one of the Registrars later told me) when he turned very critical indeed. One was black as the beautiful African night, the other was – I believe – Pakistani, and the third was a Sikh. And that, among other equally heartfelt reasons, is why that fuckwit Griffin can bite me.]

On a slightly more up-beat note: whilst reading all the hoo-ha about the new iPad earlier this week, I suddenly had a primordial vision regarding the exciting potentiality of touchscreen interactive devices for people with special needs. I kid you not, I felt as if I’d just birthed a new theory of relativity that even explained gravitational motion in uniformed aunts. Really keen observers might have seen an cartoon light bulb flashing above my head.

When you’ve finished pissing yourselves laughing at me – I’m always late to parties, btw – tell me if you happen to know anything pertinent about pre-schoolers using an iTouch successfully? By successfully, I don’t necessarily mean figuring it out. I left the room for a pee earlier to find on my return that Harry had rummaged out an interactive kids’ disc, opened the tray on an external hard drive he has never seen used, inserted the disc, and clicked past the welcome page. In-between vomits, this was. He also turns the TV on, selects his own DVD if permitted, opens the tray, loads it, presses play… want your new hardware installing? Harry’s your lad. I suppose I mean: successfully showing an appreciation that it is not entirely a toy. And not killing it stone-cold pricey dead by dropping it. 

School Fabulous are keen to start Harry off on PECS and the thought of lugging the folder about had been depressing me hugely; although I know he’ll pick the system up beautifully, it’s not an attractive option in practice. I’ve seen the future and I want one.

Can we come and practice on yours?


(Updated to add: I have un-passworded some old posts, merely because I happened to come across them earlier, and Google reader has decided that they are New Output. Useless bastard thing.)


Hello. Blogging is now my sole intelligible source of communication with the outer world. My voice is failing, my face is glowing like a belisha beacon, and when I do try to say something it DOWNED DIKE DUMB WONE DOLDING DY DOZE. 

I have three boxes of tissues on the go, all of which, with the innate malice of inanimate objects, keep hiding from me. My distress when there is actual fluid egress from my nose and my flailing, questing hands cannot unearth a single tissue, is absurd and pitiful. I have a feeling it looks horribly reminiscent of a portly yet scrabblingly desperate squirrel attempting, and comically failing, to relocate a particularly juicy cache of nuts.

You will surmise from the above mental image that the housework continues to stay firmly on top of me.

Harry, whose recent behaviour I am too miserable to actually regurgitate here, has his long, long awaited appointment with his Paediatrician tomorrow. It will be a tense affair, as not only am I expecting strenous attempts at further watching-and-waiting on the doctor’s part, but there is significant disagreement subsisting between John and I also. I am shortly crawling away to bed to conserve what I can of my brain cells and my voice, in the hope of being better-able to present a coherent and rational argument tomorrow. The mood I’m in, however, I shall probably just burst into tears as soon as I sit down in his office.

This would Not Be Helpful.  Which, naturally, considerably shortens the odds of it occurring. 

I’m sat here casting around, trying to strike a more cheerful note to end on – I feel a vague moral responsibility for those of you who click away thinking, ‘Well. That was a pisser of a post. I’m depressed now!’ but I’m buggered if I can. Sorry. Really sorry. Maybe next week.

The best I can manage today is shameless lobbying for your nominations, please, because I really rather want to win an iPhone, if that’s ok…

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