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#11 Christmas in England

Over Christmas we spent a few welcome weeks back in the UK where, I have to admit, my behaviour was nothing short of locust-like. Every goodie set before my eyes was demolished in seconds. From every type of chocolate and biscuit to cheese and bacon and English roasts, every consumable fell before an all-consuming appetite until my belly resembled a giant space hopper from the 1970s.

We stayed at a charming hotel in Lowestoft called Aldi Towers where the Willow family treated us to exceptional sustenance and entertainment as part of a ‘Perfect Parenting’ intensive course that we desperately needed to enrol on. Every day the Willows modelled exceptional family behaviour and gently nudged us to try out their patented techniques on our wayward son Tom – all in an effort to bring much needed reformation before his upcoming thirteenth birthday.

Barnie Willow zealously stressed that a perfect family functions best in a perfectly grime-free environment. We had never considered the link between hygiene and behaviour before. “When children see dust or dirty crocks, they perceive neglect” he argues. “If the parent doesn’t instantly deal with the crumbs, then the crumbs become OK. And when the crumbs are acceptable then what price the drink stains? Children need absolutes in their developmental stages, they need parents that freak out at the slightest crumb and this will help them strive for perfection”

We were so pleased to have met Mr Willow and accessed such great wisdom. Hattie Willow was equally inspirational, teaching us that parenting was best done using the iPhone. “There’s an ‘app’ for virtually everything you need to do. It takes the thinking right out of your mind, and so you can never be stressed because there’s nothing to stress on. This inspires children to rise from the mundanities of life and aspire to attempting creativity with the extra time saved.”

We witnessed a ‘calorie counter’ app that beeped an alarm whenever Hattie ate too much (so it was constantly on) and a ‘meal planner’ based on child behaviour. “Whenever the child is irritating you just type in a capital “I”. If they mess up the toilet it’s capital “M” but if they do something pleasing, like go to bed early, they get a capital “P”. When you’re ready press ‘enter’ and a recipe comes out based on their behaviour”. We noticed that the Willow kids seemed to consume a large amount of raisins and prunes and almonds at meal times and can only assume their behaviour was disrupted during the contamination of our stay.

Outside of Aldi Towers, I loved being back on my bike again which has been so missed and using Wifi rather than phone internet which is so stingy and limiting. In Ghana I can’t access YouTube and have to go to an internet café to use Skype. On the negative side, Lowestoft seemed to have grown in aggression. We witnessed a number of incidents whereby angry blokes of all ages lost their tempers and swore constantly at other blokes in front of people and Heather got swore at as well. You would never get that behaviour in Ghana. I don’t think I’ve heard one swear word since being here and there’s no graffiti, no yobs, nothing like that. Living is safer here than England.

So now we’re back and a month has already gone. For the first few weeks the power was constantly on but that didn’t last and the last few days is back to the daily powercut. Also I lost my wallet which contained an identity card and they’re about £80 to replace and a big wodge of cash. Still, I’m back to playing football and the belly is returning to a more suitable shape for a middle-aged gentleman. Plus we have a new TV system installed and now I can watch Premiership football while Heather gets two Discovery channels.

Next week at the school is G-fest. The G stands for God and there will be 3 days devoted to biblical teaching on New Man, New Family, New Nation – or something like that – I wasn’t quite concentrating at the time it was announced.