Scars and Diapers…

Today I had the thrill of getting a cyst removed from my back. The excitement level of this minor operation was minimal, so I didn’t have to worry about a jolt of high blood pressure kicking me off. Apart from a “slight scratch” as the doctor described it and some “prodding around” he removed something so small that an ant would have turned up his nose at it. (If an ant had a nose that is)

Two stitches later and I was released into the world once again. One more scar to add to my ever-growing collection. The joke around the Smith house is that I’ve got enough scars, impressive and not-so-impressive that I could change my name to Colonel Quaritch, the suitably nasty alpha male in Avatar.

For the record I do have a few. I have a scar on my right knee that I got (along with either 16 or 32 stitches. My memory says 32, but since it tends to exaggerate, it’s probably 16 or even six) from being scared silly by an old man who couldn’t see me on the path or even hear me, let alone harm me. But he scared the hell out of me and I ran like the Devil was chasing my ass. I tripped and opened my knee to the bone (or cap I guess).

What was funny was how I came to be on the path to town that day and my discovery of my injury.

Back in the old days when I was a wee lad of 7 women used old-fashioned cloth diapers (nappies, if you’re English) with diaper pins. *Just a side note about diaper pins. I think that these self-injuring giant clothes pins were the main reason that “throw away” diapers became the rage. Every time you went to thread the pin through the diaper to close it, your fingers automatically got skewered. There were a few folks who never stuck their fingers with the damned things, but no one I knew ever changed a diaper unharmed.*

My brother who had made his entrance into the world just a short time before was doing what every baby does when they first arrive. He was going through diapers at a rapid rate. Our mother had run out of, not diapers, but pins. I was sent to run the half mile or so to the town centre and get a pack. In those day’s you could even walk outside by yourself at 7 years of age in the dark. (Though not likely, we had curfews back then, by God!)

This task was deemed urgent, no pins no diaper for my baby brother, I left in what I was wearing. I don’t remember the shirt I had on, but I do remember I was wearing white blue jeans. I even seem to remember that they were Levis. I scarpered out the front door and headed off at a pretty good pace to town. As I walked in front of the now deserted High School (it was summer) I spied the “old man.”

All the town kids were terrified of him. He wore a black fedora hat and a long black coat, even in blazing heat of the summer. He wore black “clodhopper” boots and used a cane to walk. He rarely looked up when he walked and he mumbled to himself. I was scared of him because he kicked my dog. Scamper got in his way once, tail wagging and trying to be friendly. The old chap immediately kicked the dog a good yard down the path. Scamper squealed with pain and hi-tailed it back to the house. I yelled at the old man for kicking my dog, but he never paused or even looked at me. He just continued down the path looking at the ground.

My dad said that the old man was half blind and pretty much completely deaf. He said that Scamper probably frightened him and that was why he kicked the dog. I remember dad had a talk with him later the same day about the incident and the old fellow spoke in a very loud tone and said, “I didn’t kick your damn dog sonny, now get out of my way.”

Dad came back shaking his head and chuckling. He told me to make sure that Scamper stayed away from the old man. I didn’t think it was amusing or forgivable. I thought the old man was mean and would probably kick me if he got the chance.

That’s why I ran away from him yelling (no words but if I was to translate, it was a YAAAAAAAAH sound). Just as I started to slow myself down, I tripped and did a face plant in the rock and dirt path I’d been sprinting on. I got back up and brushed the dirt off as I ran.

I didn’t slow down till I got to the old general store (Boy, I sure do miss those). I found a packet of diaper pins and brought them up to the counter. I handed them to the lady at the till and gave her my quarter for them and as she handed me my change she nodded her head towards my jeans and asked, “Have you been painting?”

“No,” I replied, “Why?”

She pointed to my right knee and said, “It looks like you got some red paint on your knee. It looks pretty fresh too. Did you brush against something on the way here?”

I looked down at my white jeans and found that from the knee down they were red. My knee was pumping out freshets of blood.

“No, I fell.” I put the change in my pocket. “I’d better get home, these pins are an emergency.”

The lady smiled and said, “You’d better get your mom to look at your knee.”

I thanked her and told her that I would.

I took the back way home so I wouldn’t run into the scary old man. I ran into the house with the diaper pins held out to my mom. She noticed the red jeans right away. As she was a bit harassed, she wasn’t too pleased to see that I’d injured my knee, “Running away from a harmless deaf and blind old man.”

With the sigh of overworked mothers everywhere she then declared that we would have to go see our GP and see if it needed stitches. “You’d better hope you need stitches, buster. I really don’t have time for this.”

Of course I did need stitches so I never found out what would have happened if I didn’t. Not a lot I don’t imagine. My mother to this day remembers the incident and feels guilty that she’d made the, “You’d better hope you need stitches,” remark. On the day, she felt so bad about it that she stopped and got us both a fudgesicle –my favourite.

Not all my scars have such a “quaint” back story. Nor do they hold much in the way of pleasant memory. A lot of them didn’t even get stitches although I’ll wager they probably should have. But what every scar I have does is show that my life has quite often been exciting, scary, painful and for a couple of them at least, fun.

The Children (2008) Have a Holly Jolly Christmas…Not


The Children (2008 film)
The Children (2008 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There were sixty horror films released in 2008 so it is not surprising that yet another low budget Brit-Horror got short shrift from the viewing public. That is a shame because The Children is a cracking film that is relentless in piling on the pressure and making you feel increasingly uneasy.


Directed and co-written by Tom Shankland (with Paul Andrew Williams ) The Children is about two sisters and their families who get together in the country to celebrate Christmas. Sister Elaine, played by Eva Birthistle has brought her two children and new hubby Jonah (played by Stephen Campbell Moore), Elaine’s oldest daughter Casey  (Hannah Tointon) is a teenager from Elaine’s first marriage who doesn’t like her new step-dad or her step sister and would really rather be out with her friends. Elaine and her smarmy second husband Jonah are the modern couple. Jonah speaks Chinese and is teaching Casey’s little sister how to speak the language.


Elaine’s sister Chloe (Rachel Shelley) and her husband Robbie (Jeremy Sheffield) live with their three children in a huge house. Every inch a “new-age” couple they treat their children with a “Dr Spock” mentality and don’t like vaccinations or modern medicine.  Chloe and her husband are very laid back and casual parents and as an aunt and uncle they are the kind every kid in the world would like to have. They are almost the  polar opposite of  Elaine and Jonah.


Elaine and her little family arrive at her sister’s spacious house at the start  of the film. We get a short introduction to all the players in the film. At the first meal in the house it turns out that Elaine’s youngest child has some sort of cold. Elaine explains that something must be going around. Chloe is very annoyed that Elaine thought it was okay to bring a sick child into the house on Christmas.


We find out that Chloe is something of an “Earth Mother” she doesn’t believe in giving her children inoculations against the common childhood diseases. She also home schools her kids, apparently in a bid to keep her children away from the other ‘diseased’ kids. After an unsettling night, everyone goes out in the snow to play and sledge down a hill conveniently across from Chloe and  Robbie’s house. Casey takes little part in the festivities, choosing instead to phone her mates and arrange to meet them so she can leave.


The second night is even more unsettling than the night before. Chloe and Robbie’s pet cat disappears. The younger children have all been acting strangely since their day outside and they seem to have some sort of cold. Chloe has another go at Elaine. The next day Robbie has gone out with the kids to play on the hill again. Casey has gone to meet her friends, She finds a bloody cat collar in the woods; while she is waiting for her friends she hears screaming and she runs back to the hill. Once there she finds that Uncle Robbie has been killed in a horrific accident. The sledge he rode down the hill has crashed into the play tent at the bottom of the hill and his head has been cracked open by a gardening tool.


Unfortunately we know that this was not an accident. When the children started exhibiting cold symptoms they also started exhibiting some very strange behaviour. This behaviour soon turns murderous. Amazingly the parents either don’t act or act too late to save anyone. Casey is the only proactive member of the group.


This film does more to argue the case of children getting vaccinations than any pamphlet I’ve ever seen in a Doctor’s office or school. It is never divulged in the film what has turned the little children into homicidal maniacs but it does show how ineffectual the average grown-up is in handling it. Despite being one of the best Brit-Horror’s of 2008 it did very poorly at the box office. It was not because the film was a low budget production, it definitely did not look like one and the acting in the film was very high calibre.


I think the reason the film did so poorly was because it dealt with violence to children by adults. Never mind that the little buggers had just gotten a huge dose of an evil virus. Never mind that it looked like they were going to kill everyone over the age of thirty. Never mind that it was just a film. It is very hard for the average film goer to respond well to violence against children.


So if you can’t bear to watch evil kiddies hurting and killing adults and have the same done to them, do not watch this film. If, however, you have the ability to recognise that this is a well made, brilliantly paced film, don’t miss it.




Cover of "The Children [Blu-ray]"
Cover of The Children [Blu-ray]








Paying Up

Wipe our Debt
Wipe our Debt (Photo credit: Images_of_Money)

I’m supposed to be paying bills at this particular moment. But as is obvious by this post, I’m not. I will do, I promise. I still have a few days left before they are due. So there’s no real rush.

Instead I am taking a break from the hustle and bustle of settling in. I’ve found homes for just about everything that was laying around on the floor. I’ve separated my post from the landlords post. I’ve pre-cooked tea and washed up the dishes. I’ve done a load of laundry and set it up to dry.  I’ve even made a list (in my head and God know how long that will stay there) of things I need to pick up from the store down the road. I even took Meg (my daughter) the other side of town to meet her mother.  No wonder I need a break, I’ve been busy!

But despite my busy day, the bills I’ve got to pay have never left my thoughts.  I am always afraid I will miss a payment and get a bad credit  rating. I know this comes from my up-bringing. My Dad used to always say, “You can have all the fun you want. But you have to remember that the important thing is paying up. You always have to pay the piper.”

The things my Dad told me are just as true today as they were when I was a youngster.  In this day and age of easy credit and banks gone mad, I think a lot of folks don’t believe that. But it is true, we all have to pay up.

Of course I’m not just talking about money here, I’m talking about life and our actions in it. Call it Karma, or just call it “owing the house,” it all means the same thing.  We build up a debt by our actions and reactions to people, things and events. Stop and think about it. Have you ever refused to give up your seat on the bus for some poor old soul who needed it more? Stolen a parking place from another driver who was clearly waiting for it? I could go on and on about the seemingly trivial things that we do to one another  that helps build up that debt.

Now let me make one thing perfectly clear, I am not talking about religion. I’m talking about evening the scales, balancing how we deal with one another. Because believe it not, ugly actions build up a debt just as much as charging on your credit card. And one way or another we all have to go through the process of paying up that debt. Refusing to do so will result in bankrupting whatever it is inside of us that makes us human.

I  think that if we were afraid of getting a bad rating in life instead of just from the credit companies, everyone would get along a lot better. Remember the piper and what he did when the villagers refused to pay up. I’m going to try to keep paying up my “debts” because I don’t want the “piper” mad at me!

And you shouldn’t want that either.