Friday, 31 October 2008


Do you take good photos? You do, don't you? I've seen them on your blogs, so I know that it's true. Well, I'll let you into another of my little secrets. I take crap photos, but the sad truth is, that I didn't realise it until my husband bought me a digital photo frame for my birthday, back in June.

I was quite excited when I opened my birthday present. It was the best toy I'd received in ages. My delight soon turned to disappointment, however, as I began searching through my memory cards for some decent photos. There were a few good ones, mostly from when my husband had borrowed the camera, but, there was no doubt about it, most of mine were crap.

I resigned myself to the situation, sorted out the best ones and put them on a memory card, which I then inserted into my digital frame. Within a few days, I was bored with looking at the same mediocre photos.

Eventually, my husband decided to have a few days off work. We couldn't afford to go away on holiday, but we went out for day trips, here and there. Wherever we travelled, I took my digital camera, ignoring my husband's snorts of laughter, whilst I attempted to take some average photos to display in my frame. I constantly struggled with my fashionably large handbag, camera case, specs and, very occasionally, with my sunglasses. Sometimes, I forgot to put on my specs, or take off the lens cap. On one occasion, I left my specs at home. At other times, I dithered over framing a good shot, but then found out that I didn't have a memory card in the camera. I balanced precariously on stiles to get a good view of the countryside, or waited endlessly, for a gap in the crowds, so that I could capture a scene in the middle of the city. By the time my husband returned to work, I felt that I had some better photos to display in my photo frame. Once I had them on show, however, I was disappointed once more, as I suddenly realised that most of the skies were overcast and some of them were spoiled by unwanted objects.

It wasn't possible to wait for some good weather and return to all of these places, to have another attempt, so I decided to take a better look at the photo application, which had accompanied my digital camera. I had only ever used it, previously, for a few basic tasks. It wasn't Adobe Photoshop, unfortunately, but with the help of the magic wand select tool and the cloning tool, I was able to improve some of the photos to display in my digital frame. They wouldn't stand close examination, of course, but it's not as if I'm entering them into any competitions, so I don't see that it matters.

Here are a few before and after photos, which I am quite pleased with. Some were taken last year and others quite recently.

The photo below left was taken last year in a village not far from where we live. I have enhanced the colours, so that they show up better on my photo frame and cloned the sky from another photo.

The photo below left was taken just outside the village of Fotheringay, Northamptonshire. Again, I enhanced the colours slightly and cloned the sky from another photo.

The photo below left was taken from the University Parks in Oxford and it is of Keble College Chapel. It was difficult to change the sky in this one and I had about 4 attempts. I had to completely remove the tree on the left and clone it back in again. To get rid of the over exposed spot, on the right, to the side of the tree, I cloned in a few extra leaves, as you can see.

The photos above and below are of Hertford College bridge, in Oxford. I had wanted to see this particular bridge for quite a long time, so we decided to have a day trip into Oxford. The bridge is very popular with sightseers and I waited for 20 minutes, or more, so that I could take a shot of it without people. Unfortunately, it wasn't a brilliant day and the buildings behind needed transporting to a more suitable site! The cloning out of the bicycle, leaning against the railings, in the photo below left, was particularly tricky.

I've been a dreadful cheat, and, obviously the Bridge of Sighs photo isn't a true depiction of the scene, but I am quite pleased, now, with a lot of the photos on display in my digital frame. I only found out recently that I didn't have the quality on my digital camera set to 'fine', so I am hoping that the next lot of photos I take will be an improvement on the last.

Now, how about you? Do you ever enhance your photos, or do you find it unnecessary? Come on, you know you want to tell me!

magic wand select tool - allows you to select an area of your photo based on colour similarity. It is then possible to apply various effects to change that particular selection, only.
cloning tool - duplicates one part of your photo to another part of a photo.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

How To See Dead People

I have to confess that I went to Gunther von Hagens' 'BODY WORLDS and The Mirror of Time' exhibition at the O2, in Greenwich, last Friday and was totally fascinated by it! I also visited his first exhibition when it was on show in Brick Lane in 2000. I went with my husband and we took student son and middle son with us. After all of the hype, I can remember that they were almost disappointed when there were no gory or scary exhibits!

This time, we were accompanied only by student son, and, as he is studying to be a nurse, it seemed like an opportunity that shouldn't be missed. It is a shame, in my opinion, that von Hagens' exhibitions are sensationalised so much, although the man himself seems to encourage this attitude, to some extent! He is a bit of a showman, but he has to pay his bills, like anyone else, I suppose! Unfortunately, though, some photographers seem to go out of their way, to capture the exhibits in the most unnatural light possible and I have been startled by some of the photographs I have seen, even though I have not been startled by any of the exhibits in situ. It's surprising the effect that a little colour enhancement and a dark background can have on a subject.

I've found that the 'bodies' on show appear as if they have been manufactured from plastic, once they have undergone the process of
plastination. Anyone viewing, in the hope of seeing blood and gore, or of being frightened stupid, will be disappointed. The only thing I found slightly scary was the smoker's blackened lung! What a relief that I only smoked for a short while, in my misguided youth and never became addicted to it.

Perhaps you are already moving on to the next post, because you feel that the Body Worlds exhibitions are unethical, or perhaps you object for religious reasons. I feel I should point out, that the individuals appearing in this exhibition gave permission for their bodies to be used, in this way, for educational purposes, but, naturally, I can only speak for myself, when I say that I find them informative and interesting, without being humiliating, or disrespectful. For anyone studying anatomy, for any reason, a visit to one of the Body Worlds exhibitions would be invaluable. In my experience, they are not viewed by ghouls, or by youngsters looking for kicks, (as long as you leave our 2 out of the equation, when they went to the first exhibition, that is!) they are visited by people who are simply interested in understanding their own bodies, or other peoples.

The only part of this exhibition, which I found very sad, was the room where there are several foetuses on display, at various stages of development. I lost a baby myself, and had to go through the labour, when I was 6 months pregnant, even though I knew that the baby was dead, so this section stirred a few memories, for me. It would have been a simple matter to avoid this part of the exhibition, however, if I had found it too upsetting. Anyone thinking of visiting the exhibition, with young children, should also be made aware of the fact that all genitals are on display. Personally, I feel sure that many an innocent young woman could be saved from a fearful shock, on her wedding night, by a timely visit to a Body Worlds exhibition!

Speaking for myself, I don't find the whole body plastinates of much interest. I am much more fascinated by the body parts in glass cases, the healthy and diseased organs, the transparent body slices and the interesting facts accompanying most of the displays. The current exhibition focuses on health, wellbeing and the ageing process, so there is some interesting information and advice about following a healthy lifestyle, with the consequences of failing to do so being plain to see.

During this visit, I learned a lot, but 3 of the things that really caught my attention were:
  1. we begin to lose our hearing from the age of 18
  2. taking our size into consideration, we should only live for 25 years (eg a dormouse only lives a few months, whereas an elephant can live up to 80 years) and
  3. it is possible to die from constipation (!)

I am careful not to fall into vast expanses of water, and never climb to the top of high buildings, in case I fall off, but dying from constipation is a danger I had never even considered! Fortunately, I suffer from panic attacks if I am more than 6 feet away from a box of Bran Flakes or Weetabix, so it would be truly amazing if I ever died from constipation, but there you are - you've been warned!

Another thing I was interested to read about was, that the part of the brain controlling judgement and risk taking doesn't develop until adulthood. It reminded me of one of my mother's favourite sayings. 'You can't put an old head on young shoulders!' As the mother of 3 sons aged 25, 23 and 19, I feel that this particular saying should be engraved upon my heart.

At the end of the exhibition, there were leaflets available, which gave you the opportunity to donate your own body, after your death, to be used for educational purposes, in future exhibitions. I considered the idea, but rejected it, when I realised that, although I would not object to anyone examining my insides, after my death, I couldn't bear the thought of anyone seeing me without my clothes!

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

The (Imaginary) Diary Of A White Van Man And Woman

What a busy and profitable few days we have enjoyed with our white van! On Monday, we travelled up to London with a delivery. We dropped a load of rotting compost on the doorstep of number 10 at maggie may's request. We left no accompanying card, but I'm sure that the occupant got the message, even if he didn't know exactly who sent it!

The next day, after dressing up as police officers, we set up our own speed camera, in a lay-by, at suburbia's suggestion and imposed 'on the spot' fines. What a lucrative business that turned out to be! Unfortunately, the real police caught up with us and forced us to hand over all of our 'easy money'. They explained that, up until the introduction of speed cameras, the length and occurrence of their Christmas party had been dependent upon the availability of an empty cell in the local police station. The ever increasing amounts of money generated by the speed cameras, however, meant that, last year, they had all enjoyed a long weekend partying in Mallorca and, this year, they had their fingers crossed for a week in an exclusive hotel in the Maldives.

On Wednesday, at irene's suggestion, we decided to rob a bank. With hindsight, we realised that we should have chosen a British one, rather than an Icelandic one, but our Financial Advisor has suggested that we should hold on to the sack loads of IOUs we succeeded in stealing, as he feels that we have an excellent chance of them becoming legal tender, within the next few days.

The next day, I teamed up with robin for a bit of kidnapping. We managed to grab George Clooney and Johnny Depp, with every intention of demanding a king's ransom for their safe return. After a little consideration, however, we decided to keep them and 'to hell with the ransom!' It's my turn for George next week.

On Friday, I parked on the side of the road, at the suggestion of auntiegwen and commandeered the back of the van, in order to dabble in the profession, which is widely accepted as the oldest known to mankind. I do hope that you didn't get caught up in the ensuing traffic jam, caused by men with white sticks, or guide dogs, crossing the dual carriageway in a rather willy-nilly fashion. You'll be relieved to know that no one was seriously hurt and, in fact, a jolly good time was had by all.

On Saturday, we picked up some radiators from the side of working mum's house and sold them for scrap. She was a little annoyed that the deed preceded the invitation, but it's my belief that she'll see the funny side of it any day now. Working mum has shown great commitment to the cause for energy conservation, by discarding her radiators and we would strongly advise you all to follow her example. We will gladly relieve you of the scrap metal and you will have the satisfaction of feeling virtuous, if rather chilly, for the duration of the winter months.

On Sunday, at merry weather's suggestion, we loaded up the van with a tent and provisions and headed off for a well-earned short break. We decided to go to France, at the invitation of farming-frenchstyle, in the expectation of picking up some useful tips from her other half, who is also a white van driver. Our hopes of travelling alone were dashed, however, when some of our neighbours heard that we were crossing the Channel. We were inundated with requests from British Citizens, begging us to help them escape from a life of unemployment and poverty. We squeezed in as many Brits as our van would hold and headed off for Shangri-La.

By the time we met up with farming-frenchstyle, we had dropped off our cargo and were almost totally exhausted from counting our ill-gotten Euros. We were somewhat surprised to learn from farming-frenchstyle and her husband, that a white van could be used for legitimate money-making ventures and, as a result of our enlightenment, we vowed that our criminal activities would cease once we had returned to England.

It was impossible to resist liz's suggestion of picking up a few ill-informed 'illegals' on the way home, though. They hadn't seen a newspaper for 3 weeks and couldn't understand why we were requesting payment in gold jewellery, (in need of repair, or not) when the streets of London were paved with gold. English folklore and the British pantomime still have a lot to answer for.

We stopped only to stock up with booze and fags, to sell on the black market, before wending our weary way back across the Channel. On our return, we decided to remove temptation from our lives and we gave back the company van. All of our illegal activities have now ceased, but we feel that we've been enormously fortunate in finding respectable jobs in the city.

Anyone want to buy any stocks and shares? Come on, now, there couldn't be a better time to buy! From here, the only way is up, isn't it?

With apologies to the majority of white van drivers who use their vehicles for legitimate purposes and whose reputations suffer, because of a minority who indulge in criminal activity.

Note for the confused: This post has been constructed around some of the comments from the previous one.

Friday, 10 October 2008


Last weekend my husband borrowed the company van. We had a busy time planned, which included some furniture moving. Eldest son was picking up student son from university, on Friday evening and taking him to his house for the night. The following day student son was accompanying us on our furniture moving mission.

On Saturday morning, my husband and I began by dismantling student son's cabin bed, with incorporated desk area, as we needed to transport it up north, to my sister-in-law's house, so that my husband's 8 year old nephew could make use of it. After lunch, on Saturday, we loaded the bed onto the large, white van, before driving over to eldest son's house to pick up student son. I couldn't ever remember travelling in a large van before. I rather liked being able to see over the hedgerows, as we drove along. We slowly began to experience a change in outlook on life, from our elevated position and vaguely became aware of subtle changes in our attitudes and behaviour. My husband became rather bold at roundabouts, began to tailgate all car drivers adhering to the speed limit, and suddenly developed a new and startling affinity with other large van drivers. By the time we screeched to a halt in front of eldest son's house, he was driving with all the steely determination of a DHL delivery driver, intending to have his feet up on his own coffee table, by 1pm on Christmas Eve and addressing me in a rather colloquial fashion as 'mate'.

Whilst I leapt from the van the second it came to a standstill, my husband slammed the van doors loudly to alert the neighbours to his presence, so that they all dashed to their front windows, in pathetic, but eager anticipation of a surprise delivery. I charged up to eldest son's front door, rang the doorbell twice, banged on the front door repeatedly and shouted through the letterbox, in a rather coarse manner. By the time student son had opened the front door, I had already pushed a card through, which said that we would call again, whenever it was inconvenient and as soon as the fancy took us. We drove off at breakneck speed and were on the outskirts of the village, before student son managed to catch up with us and fling himself, breathlessly, onto the vacant passenger seat beside me. We grinned apologetically, explaining that he had been so slow in opening the door, we thought that they had all gone out.

When we arrived at my sister-in-law's house, we dropped off the bed, and student son, and then drove a mile or so, to my mother-in-law's home, in order to dismantle and collect the double bed she was giving to us and the bookcase she was passing on to eldest son. We then hoisted my mother-in-law up into the front of the van and returned to my sister-in-law's house for a family meal.

On our arrival, we discovered that the food wasn't quite ready, so my husband and son borrowed a ladder and quickly visited a few householders in the next road. They kindly explained to the house owners, that they had noticed a few of their roof tiles had slipped out of place, charging extortionate amounts of money for climbing up onto the roof and doing little more than admiring the view. Meanwhile, I walked into the town centre, pressed some unsuspecting late Saturday afternoon shoppers into buying a few bundles of lucky heather and pestered a few of my sister-in-law's neighbours to buy some clothes pegs, on my return journey.

We enjoyed a very pleasant meal at my sister-in-law's house, before setting off for home in the late evening. We were relieved to fall into bed, a few hours later, after putting up the newly acquired double bed in eldest son's old room, recently commandeered by student son.

The next day, we had all been invited to lunch by eldest son and his girlfriend. Buoyed up by the success of yesterday's shenanigans, we decided to get there early, to give ourselves some time to spend on more money-making ventures. This time, we all donned oversized jackets, with reflective bands and knocked on several people's doors, in the neighbourhood, explaining that we had some left over tarmac, after doing some work nearby and ultimately succeeded in charging several vulnerable people an over-inflated amount, for tarmacking their drives in a cowboy-like fashion.

At the end of the day, we counted up the money we had earned and were overjoyed to discover that we had managed to collect enough together to buy 6 lamb cutlets, from Waitrose, for the following day's main meal. What a treat! Fortunately, I already had a few old potatoes, which weren't too green and didn't have too many shoots, and a few floppy carrots hanging around in the bottom of the 'fridge, so we didn't need to splash out on any extras.

We were so pleased with the results of our enterprises that we decided to keep the van for an extra couple of weeks. Next weekend, we plan to sell a few DVDs at a nearby Sunday market. You might like to come along, if you're interested in buying any poor quality DVDs, with accompanying soundtracks of background whispering and the crackling of popcorn being trodden underfoot.

I have inserted an advert in the local newspaper, similar to the one below:



Mob No: ***********

If you have any suggestions for money-making schemes we could engage in, whilst we still have the use of our anonymous van, I would be glad to hear about them.
Is there a job we could do for you? Our prices are very unreasonable!

Friday, 3 October 2008

Yay! I've Found Another Silly Meme!

I found this meme at suburbia's place, today. OK. It wasn't silly until I got hold of it.

What are your initials? MM. This is pips,* so far.

What is your favorite thing to wear? Something that fits. If you're female, you'll know what I mean.

Last thing you ate? My hat for dinner, followed by my words for dessert.

Name one thing that scares you: Feeling very sad, having no comments on my blog, confined spaces, bungee jumping, whitewater rafting, my inability to count up to one.

I say Shotgun, you say: Oh, thanks, Gordon. That'll save me the expense of buying one. After you, however. I never dreamt that it would come to this, did you? Oh, you did? Why didn't you and your lot do something about it, then? Oh! That's him well splattered, then! OK, now it's my turn. How do you work this thing, again?

Who was the last person in your bed? My husband will be in big trouble, if it was anyone other than me.

What were you doing at 7:00am? Mumbling a lot, whilst trying to find the snooze button on my alarm clock, without opening my eyes.

Last person you hugged? Apart from my husband, the person who said that I only looked 54 years old, even though I am actually 55.

Does anyone want to date you? There's one of those religious fanatics, who go around knocking on people's doors, who really fancies me, I think. He's always ringing my bell (if you'll pardon the expression) and conducting a deep and meaningful conversation with me, on the doorstep. I think I might ask him in, next time.

When was your last encounter with the police? They'll have to catch me first. That police helicopter doesn't stand a chance. I know this area like the back of my hand.

Have you ever driven without a license? No, but some other drivers have been known to question this in a most aggressive and unreasonable manner.

The last place you went out to dinner? One of those upmarket pubs, with young waiters and waitresses, where the dining tables now outnumber the drinking tables. You know the sort I mean.

Do you like your name? Not much. I don't meet anyone under 50 with the same Christian name as me, these days. Sob!

What time of day is it? It's OK. The sun is definitely over the yardarm.

Who/What made you angry today? The man at the foreign call centre, who wouldn't transfer any money from my savings account, even though I have always transferred by telephone request, over the past 10 years or so, without a problem.

Do you want anyone? Well, certainly not that man at the foreign call centre.

Do you like birds? Not those overweight wood pigeons, who sit on our tv aerial and splash the patio, in a reckless manner, with copious amounts of bird poo. Anyone got another shotgun?

Favorite holiday? One we can afford. We couldn't afford one this year.

Do you download music? No, I listen to radio 2.

Do you care if your socks are dirty? What? It's difficult enough trying to find a matching pair! Do they have to be clean as well?

Opinion of Chinese symbol tattoos? Tattoos are awful. My son has left and right tattooed on his arms, in Chinese. He'll be sorry!

What are you doing tonight? Later tonight I will be doing the things I ought to be doing now, instead of doing this.

Do you like to cuddle? Yes, but not strangers - not unless they are very good looking and male, anyway.

Do you love anyone? I do.

Whose bed did you sleep in last night? No one offered me a choice, strangely enough, so I slept in my own bed.

Have you ever bungee jumped? You can't be serious! (My eldest son has.)

Have you ever gone whitewater rafting? Certainly not! Have you been reading my memes?

Has anyone 10 years older than you ever hit on you? There was that distinguished, elderly gentleman, the last time I went to the theatre with my friend. He pretended that I was sitting in his seat, but I knew what he was really after.

How many pets do you have? 3. That's 3 too many, in my opinion!

Have you met a real redneck? I don't think so. I don't know, though. There was that elderly gentleman in the theatre. He became very red in the face, when I told him to feck off. I think that his neck was quite red, too, now that you mention it.

How is the weather right now? The sun did come out today, but it's gone now. I missed it, because I was writing this.

What are you listening to right now? The voices.

What was the last movie you watched? Mamma Mia! Yay! Mamma Mia, here I go again. My my, how can I resist you? Mamma Mia, does it show again? My my, just how much I've missed you. Oh, sorry! Are you still here?

Do you wear contacts? No. Do you think that I might be able to find my way home, if I did? I'm fed up of lying in this alleyway.

Where was the last place you went besides your house? You mean apart from the alleyway? Waitrose. It's my second home, but I'm feeling the pinch, at the moment, so I'm considering moving into the Co-0p.

What are you wearing? Just my odd socks.

What's one thing you've learned this year? That people habitually spend more money than they have coming in. Especially sons who share my surname.

What do you usually order from Starbucks? Tea. You know that I only drink tea. Are you new to my blog?

Ever had someone sing to you? A pub' full of people in the Black Country once sang Happy Birthday to me. Fortunately, it was my birthday, so that was lucky.

Have you ever fired a gun? Not a real one, but never say never.

Are you missing someone? If you've ever read my blog, you will know that I miss my young family, now that they are grown up. Some things I just can't joke about.

Favourite tv show? The News on any channel. It's great when it's over, at the moment. How much more of this can we take?

What do you have an obsession with? Strange smells.

Has anyone ever said you looked like a celeb? Yes, I'm the spitting image of that Waynetta Slob, who used to be on the Harry Enfield show, apparently. I never saw it, unfortunately. Was she very glamorous?

Who would you like to see right now? That man from the foreign call centre. I want to knock his block off for causing me so much stress. (That's a funny expression, isn't it? 'Knock his block off'. I wonder where that originated?)

Ever had a near death experience? No, but I wouldn't mind arranging one for that man at the foreign call centre.

Are you afraid of falling in love? No. Falling out of it is much more scary.

Have you ever been caught doing something you weren't supposed to? Yes, my mother once caught me dressing up in the nurse's outfit, which had been hidden away and was intended as a Christmas present. It was last October. I'd forgotten that she was visiting. (Oh, for heaven's sake! The first sentence was true. It happened when I was about 6 years old. The rest was a joke. OK?)

Has anyone you were really close to passed away recently? Please don't tempt fate.

Our Lady Peace or Nickelback? Pass. I'm foreign, you know.

What's something that really bugs you? I'm surprised that you need to ask. Foreign fecking call centres.

Do you like Michael Jackson? Does he work for a foreign call centre, currently? Probably not, then.

Taco Bell or Burger King? One advantage of having grown up children, is that I don't have to eat at BK any more. I've never eaten at Taco Bell, so the answer is neither, I'm afraid.

Next time you will kiss someone? I might go for that religious fanatic, when he calls next Wednesday. What do you think?

Favorite baseball team? None.

Ever call a 1-900 phone number? No. I'm still foreign, you know. Is it something to do with sex lines? I'm thinking about starting one.

Nipple or Nose rings? A nose ring is better. It's easier for people to lead me around by.

What's the longest time you've gone without sleep? My eldest son was born in 1983 and I don't think I slept until my youngest son was 7. That would be 13 years, then, I suppose.

Last time you went bowling? About 1995, I think. I didn't do very well. I seem to remember feeling very tired.

Where is the weirdest place you have slept? I suppose that it was Birmingham Town Hall in about 1970. I slept through a live David Bowie concert.

Who was your last phone call? I don't know, but he was very out of breath. My money's on the religious fanatic.

What does your last received text message say? We would like you to come to our wedding, in the evening on .... Time, date, place and names follow, but I don't know these people. It's next Saturday. I'm at a loose end that evening, though, so I think I'll probably go, anyway.

What's the closest orange object to you? My nose. I'm feeling a bit 'out of sorts'

* Pips - For all of you non-Brits, it means 'easy'!

Thanks for publishing that meme, yesterday, suburbia and throwing it open to one and all. I hate to miss an opportunity to be silly. It's a great release.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Lecture Failure!

Continued from Friday 26th September........

I realised that my son must have been hooked up to an ECG machine, which explained the stickers all over his chest and that the sticking plaster was covering the site where some of his blood had been taken. I felt quite bewildered and all I could manage to say was 'Why?'

Apparently, student son and his friends had been in a club, but had gone outside for a while, because 2 of them wanted a cigarette. They were not allowed to take their drinks with them, and had to leave them on one of the tables inside the club. When they returned, my son picked up his drink, finished it and collapsed. One of his friends called an ambulance and accompanied him to the hospital, whilst his other friends followed in a taxi.

Student son came round, as he was being put into the ambulance by the paramedics. One of them asked for the telephone number of anyone he wanted notified of his hospital admission, but student son was able to think clearly enough to decide that he didn't want his parents at the hospital, so he gave them his own mobile number. (This explained why we had not been contacted, then!) The hospital monitored him throughout the night and discharged him the following morning, when they were satisfied that he was alright.

After I'd recovered a little from the impact of these revelations, we discussed the possible reasons for student son's collapse. He and his friends felt that his drink had been spiked. I couldn't help but wonder whether he had simply drunk more than his body could cope with, as he is very slim and probably of less than average height. The hospital was unable to offer any explanation for student son's collapse.

My husband and I gave my son a(nother) lecture about the dangers of alcohol abuse, and leaving his drink unattended, before he returned to university that evening. My son doesn't often have the opportunity to go out, because he is kept busy with lectures and placements, but I suspect that on a lot of the occasions he goes drinking, he has too much. Most of the places catering for students offer cheap alcohol. The club my son and his friends had been in, on the fateful evening, was 'students only' and had been selling beer for a £1 per pint. I knew that my student son was intending to go to a party the following Friday evening, so I reminded him a couple of times, over the telephone, during the next week, that he needed to cut down his alcohol intake at the party.

My husband and I were late going to bed, on the night of the party and were watching the end of a film on tv, at 12.30am, when my middle son came into the room, saying that he had just had a conversation with student son, on his mobile 'phone. Middle son had kept student son talking, as he walked home from the pub', where the party had been held. He had realised that student son was a bit 'the worse for wear', so he felt that he should keep him talking until he was safely inside his student house. After a few minutes of talking, middle son remarked that it was taking student son a long time to get back to the house. 'Yes, I know' said student son. 'It's taking ages.'

'Why is it taking so long?' asked middle son, who needed to go to sleep, as he was working the next day.

'Cos I can't walk in a straight line!' said student son.

I smiled weakly, through my despair. That was another lecture that had fallen on deaf ears, then.