Am I too harsh?

“Am I too harsh?”  I sometimes ask myself.  I’m a pads brat.  I’ve worn the Queen’s uniform myself.  I can do touchy-feely.  For a while.  And then I try to move on from moaning about the problem to resolving the problem.  I’m by no means a Marxist, but I do like his assertion:

“The philosophers have only interpreted the world, the point is to change it.”

I suppose my slogan would be in German:

“Meckern, und dann machen.”

(“Moan, and then do [something about it].”)

Today’s poser is this.

Jasna is a friend of mine.  She’s nearly 50 and works in education.  Her son is 21 and in his final year at university, reading Business Studies.  Personally, I think he’s more a creative type, and would have perhaps been more suited to a course such as drama or music.  But that’s his choice.

This academic year, son, has been coming back home almost every single weekend and often not going back to university, two hours away by train, until the Tuesday.  Weekends at home seem to be spent in bed, sleeping, on the living room sofa, snoozing, in the same clothes, four days flat.  His bath towel remains clean and dry – because he doesn’t shower.  It would barely be an exaggeration to say you smell him before you see him.  He and personal hygiene seem to be estranged from one another.

How does mum, Jasna, feel about it?  Recently she let off steam to me.

  • She was fed-up of him being at home, getting under her feet.
  • He was grabbing all the good food at home, from fridge, freezer, cupboards, you name it.
  • He was making the whole house stink.
  • He was rattling on to her about his pretty problems at university.
  • She couldn’t have the house to herself while he was there. She was desperately needing her “me-time.”

He came back yet again “just for the weekend.”   (Just fancy that.)

On Monday evening (much as I had anticipated) he was still home.  (He “didn’t have any lectures till Tuesday afternoon.”)

On Tuesday evening he was still at home.  The Tuesday afternoon lecture “wasn’t that important.”

On Wednesday evening…

On Thursday evening…

Each evening Jasna was expressing her frustration that son had not gone back to university.

Uncle Ginge tried to analyse.

  • Does he actually have any friends at university? Most finalists prefer being at university with their mates, rather than with their parents, cramping their style.
  • Actually, no he doesn’t. He’s a constant cadger (borrower).  “Oh dear, I seem to have left my wallet at home” is his regular comment when it comes to his round down the student union bar.

On Saturday evening – guess what, son was still at home.  Jasna was still letting off steam to me.  But “he’s definitely going back tomorrow.”  Er, right…

Sunday evening Facebook check-in:

Watching film at Super Deluxe Fleapit cinema in Ridsville – with (son).

Pardon?  My jaw drops.  What?  Ah, hang on, this is typical of Jasna.  She sends out mixed signals to her son.  I knew on Monday that he would still be at home a week after coming home.

Jasna changes her story from “He’s getting under my feet, he’s driving me up the wall.”

  • He’s been depressed.
  • He’s been an emotional support to me.
  • He cooked dinner for his sister on Wednesday.
  • He paid for the trip to the cinema tonight.

Jasna sends me a dissertation via WhatsApp.

Message after message after message after message…

He’s definitely going back tomorrow – tomorrow evening – if hubby will drive him back.

The Whatsapp messages keep coming through.

I resolve to: go for a shower, put the rubbish out, make a couple of phone calls, alphabetise my CD collection, clip my toenails, clear a paper jam from my printer…

  • Beep, another WhatsApp message.
  • Beep, another one…
  • Beep, you guessed it, yet another…

In the end – I respond.

“Is it your son’s job to be your emotional support worker?   You said he was depressed.  Oh, his GP said he isn’t depressed?  Shouldn’t he be back at university in the academic environment, in his ‘office’, studying in the library, meeting his mates (if he has any) down the union bar, working out down the gym, keeping himself doing purposeful activity (such as showering)?”

Then we get to the “money shot.”

“But, Ginge in Germany, you don’t understand, because you are not a parent.”

Of course.  I should have realised.  What a fool I am!  All my time as a teacher, uncle, etc, has proven useless.  I am just being too harsh on Jasna’s son.  When will I ever learn?

Have a lenient day, won’t you!


A better class of vandal…

I don’t normally like grafitti.  I will admit that.  However, when I was a student at Nottingham University in the early 1990’s, the gents toilets in the science library had some highly entertaining writings on the cubicle walls.

Sociology degrees: please take one.

Written on one cubicle wall:

To play toilet tennis, please look at the other wall.

Written on the other cubicle wall:

To play toilet tennis, please look at the other wall.

(Note the use of correct punctuation, upper and lower cases and spelling.)

The same joker used to put some joke comments in the science library suggestions book.  Here was one classic.

Name: J R Hartley.

Department: Marine Biology.

Question: Have you any books on fly-fishing?

Fortunately, the library staff had a sense of humour.  Their reply:

No.  Try Yellow Pages!

male and female signage on wall

Photo by Tim Mossholder on

Have an entertaining day, won’t you!

“I never get any post”

Back in 2004 I used to send, Marco, my friend in Düsseldorf, a postcard every time I’d go to the Saturday market at Masham, in the Yorkshire Dales.

It’s the only post I get these days, apart from bank statements.

I paid attention to Marco’s comment.  I resolved the following week to change this situation for him.

The United Kingdom has a lot of universities, from Aberdeen and Aberystwyth to York.  I googled “List of all British universities.”  I went through that list methodically.  It took a day or so.  I ordered Marco a prospectus from pretty much every UK university.  Every single one.

A fortnight later I rang Marco.

Marco thanked me profusely for his collection of reading material.  He had to go to his local post office to collect half of the items.  He had piled them up in his living room next to the TV.  One university had a translation and interpreting course that interested him.

He never complained about receiving very little “proper post” after this avalanche of prospectuses.  I don’t know why.

Have a voluminous day, won’t you!

brown envelopes in mail box

Photo by on

What is Love?

I cannot say what love is.  I can say what love is not.  It’s not about violently assaulting the woman you claim to love.  You may remember me blogging some months ago about my ex-room-mate from university days.  He was convicted of murder in 1991, and was released in 2003, having served a life sentence in various English prisons.

I even appeared on local TV news in 1991 and a documentary in 2004 to provide a character reference along the lines of:

He seemed a likeable bloke, quite charming and charismatic.

After his sentence he moved back to New Zealand, working as a personal trainer and then as a baker.  (He had been studying Classics at university.)

Last night I found out he had this month been convicted of violently assaulting his current girlfriend, expressing little or no remorse.

Newspaper report

My feelings?  Stunned.  I was expecting him after all these years to have calmed down, having learnt his lesson in prison and after fifteen years’ life back in normal society.

But no.

He can’t control his anger.

Horse feathers.  He won’t control his anger.

Murderers in English prisons attend courses to address their underlying issues such as anger management.  They aren’t released until the psychologist consider them no longer to be a threat to society.  It looks to me like he managed to hoodwink the psychologists.

Maybe this prison sentence will make him stop and think.  There again.  Maybe not.


Have a loving day, won’t you!