You see, you feel, you know – 5th September 1994

Change. All change involves a challenge. I remember when I lived with my mother I was content there, I was also fussy and finicky. A cup of coffee was only nice out of my special mug. I had particular knives and forks that I had to use, no others would do. Those two tiny things were barriers I had made to stop myself from leaving. Wrapped up in a golden blanket of security, I would dread the thought of having to use a different knife.

Then I left, scared of watching all that security get old and withered. I learnt how to use a washing machine and how to cook and I learnt that I didn’t have all the time in the world and started using my spare time to good effect instead of wasting it. I slowly discovered who I was and became content again.

Broni gets herself home from work early, now she’s finishing up things she’s on a self-admitted skive but remember back when I was telling you how hard she worked, now at last the slow down.

So with time on our hands (yes, time, that funny thing that you can never have enough of and when we feel so short of it all of a sudden we are presented with some) we take off on a whim down to Poole Quay and the aquarium which is full of fish on the ground floor, swimming around in their swimming round circles, round and round. Only the piranha seem to stay in some territorial still, and Broni sits and watches the silver dollar fish, light reflecting prism-like into her eyeballs, hypnotic, entranced.

Upstairs, crocodiles lounge like dead things in their 12 inches of water, not a blink nor a twitch, then Broni walks into a room where a man sits waiting to take your picture with a 20 foot python, 6 inches across. But Broni doesn’t see the snake until it’s rubbing her hand and she makes a quick exit! The rest of the snakes we watch through glass, most being lazy and restful. But beautiful, the nest of vipers all piled on top of each other like it was cold and were seeking warmth.

Snakes and spiders, then upstairs to a model railway which fascinates the child in me watching a little replicas stopping starting whistling shunting chuffing. A great place to go and visit despite the steep entrance fee, maybe Poole Aquarium is a bit of an odd description too.

By this time we are exhausted again and return home to comfy chairs and brief dreams for a half hour. Next on the agenda is a meal we’ve planned, so I goes with my sweet to pick up my mum and we drive with a remarkable sunset behind us up to Ringwood where we joined Kerry, Ron, Cath and Simon, drinks already underway. I wanted to come back to this restaurant, the India Cottage, as it is the first place I was introduced to Indian cuisine by my boss at the time, now some six or thereabouts years ago. We were served by two young beautiful people, both English but dark skinned. Him in bright white shirt and black trousers, the nervous and anxious to please gentleman, and her also, dressed in a tie-dye one-piece dress, dark and pretty as her skin. With seven of us all giggling away we took some time in there and the best thing was the slow service which gave us all plenty of time to digest one course before stuffing another and I, probably for the first time ever, managed to eat everything I ordered. So the atmosphere was nice and relaxed right through to the last Tia Maria.

So arrived the weekend, Broni off to get her haircut then us both over to Rosemary’s for lunch where we sit and play with Jade, kid cute, running around or having us to run around after her. I feel really good around kids, I enjoy the freedom they express and their ignorance of worry, real life giver.

Our joy takes us home for a brief encounter on the bed where we frenzy practice babymaking before diversion to Wimborne for pizza and then Southampton for our last gig there before we leave, now just three weeks away. Oh yes.

Atmosphere at The Joiners is, as ever, relaxed and exciting, but tonight tinged with some sadness for us as we say our farewells to some of the regulars, brightened up though by new people eager to get involved.

So at the end of the night, midnight we bring back Rob and Rich to Chrissy’s place, Chrissy out on the tiles but Sharon there to let us in. Rich soon leaves as the rest of us prepare to have a few drinks, Rich still on his straight edge kick and good luck to him if it makes him feel better about himself, which I’ve noticed it has.

We make an effort to wait up for Chrissy but all fall asleep dead drunk after playing every single kids game in the cupboard.

It’s light and Chrissy stumbles in, 7 am, she goes to bed and we get up and not only do we get up, so do Amanda, Luke, Sam and Rebecca, our company for the morning, four beautiful active screaming monster children. Rebecca amazes us as she is now walking herself about and saying ‘yeah’ whenever it takes her fancy. Snotty nosed Sam, quietly watching and wandering from here to here. Luke demanding to play Nintendo and demanding to play with me, and Amanda being unusually quiet and restrained today, possibly because mum is not there to antagonise, Chrissy now sound asleep oblivious to rowdy rabble.

After a while of preparation we all set off for the park, Amanda demanding piggybanks of me and Luke off Rob, Broni pushes Rebecca and Sharon looking after Sam. One child each, they will never beat us!

So how is it later on I get Sam on my shoulders, Amanda on one hand and Luke on the other and I’m sure if Rebecca could get out of her locked in pushchair she’d be demanding my affection too. But I know the kids see that I have lots of love to give them and I love ’em to bits. Sam called me dad, Luke kicked me till I wouldn’t play with him no more, Sharon then talking to him quietly and Luke coming back looking all forlorn and saying sorry under his breath, little beauty horror tike.

Amanda asked me if I remember when Steve and I took her tree climbing and I surely do, I remember it so well because it was then I realised I too, could look after kids, not be scared of that kind of future. It was something Steve showed me just by doing it and not by mentioning it. The only thing he ever said about kids was that he thought I would enjoy it, and as it made him so happy. Here I was, now free of all those old inhibitions about coolness and, ‘geez I wonder if anybody can see me?’ type thoughts that always entered my head when I was around children. My only regret is that Steve isn’t here to see that in me, because even though I realised it back then, I was still in a kind of awe of him because he was looking after Rebecca and Amanda so well.

When people die, you keep a little piece of them with you and it’s something I kept of Steve (amongst other things) and I find that particularly poignant as Chrissy said to Broni the night before that ‘Shaun is a good bloke, a lot like Steve in many ways.’ That kind of compliment makes me feel good inside, I really love all these people around me. Amanda surprised me by remembering that, maybe not sure how much a seven-year-old might remember about a year before, which is great.

I talk to her about the snakes we saw and carry her down to see the cygnets and the ducklings, then onto the swings and climbing houses where we try to wear the kids out but us with only a couple of hours sleep start flagging it instead.

Get back to Chrissy’s and cook some food, Chrissy now up and pale, looking barely alive as Amanda scoffs at her, her not liking her mum getting drunk because it makes her ‘smelly’. We force Chrissy to eat but she’s had it and at 2 o’clock or so heads back to dreamland. We leave around then too, dropping off Rob on the way, Sharon already gone with the kids to a party.

Broni sleeps in the car and I sleep on the sofa when we get back but only for an hour or so. The rest of the day slips us by slowly and gently as we slow down and let the love in ourselves roll around some and spread through our veins to our fingers and toes. We fall asleep with smiles on our faces and play with our friends in our subconscious.

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