E-mail from my brother: Teddy bear hat and possible career change edition

Hi Fay,

How's it going?  I very much liked the picture of you wearing a teddy bear hat.  I reckon you should make a teddy bear balaclava so that your face looks like it's inside the teddy bear's open mouth. If you stitch some angry eyebrows onto the teddy bear's face you can make it look like it's swallowed you in an angry teddy bear wrathful way.   Or you can make a balaclava that looks like a Batman mask.  Or a Spider-man mask.  I think that would be awesome.  From the neck down, normal, from the neck up, Spider-man and/or Batman.  Ironman balaclava could be a big hit too, or you could do a complete balaclava face mask that makes you look like Barack Obama, Jamie Oliver, Adolf Hitler or maybe something even more fun like Peggy Ollerenshaw from Hi-de-Hi.  If I could knit I'd make one for you, but I can't.  Sorry.  It'd be in the post otherwise.

This week we had Sam's 2nd birthday and "naming ceremony".  We felt sort of duty bound to do a naming ceremony because we did one for Eva.  However everything in New Zealand is so less formal that getting dressed up and doing something like we did for Eva didn't fit right.  So instead we ate vegetarian food and said a few words while we planted some trees.  I insisted we shoot fire arrows into a bonfire to de-hippify the event a little.  I think the event went well.  Even when the father-in-law miss shot his fire arrow and nearly set alight his terylene action slacks.  Oh how we laughed.

Last week we had the alpacas rounded up and taken away to have their winter fleeces cut off.  It's been so long since we've had them in their harness' that it took me nearly an hour of them spitting and kicking before we got them ready to be taken away.  The lady who sold them to us arranged the shearing and she popped by afterwards to see how things were.  I told her about the problems with the kicking and spitting and to my surprise she said I should spit and kick back.  Really?  Apparently if they kick, you have to round house one of their legs from out beneath them.  Brilliant!  Someone walking over the hill gets to see me going all Chuck Norris with the alpacas in the paddock AND I get to spit in their faces on their way down too.  I thought having alpacas would be boring but it's totally not true.

I did the Ohaupo Fireworks display last Saturday night.  Basically it's a chance for our group to dress up in our medieval gear, demonstrate medieval fighting and shooting and charge the public for some have-a-go archery.  The weather on the Saturday was pretty bad so the turn out was slow to begin with.  This meant we could do some demonstration archery which is way more fun than trying to teach a six year old how to shoot.  Seriously it's hard work sometimes.  You have to start off by finding out whether the kid is left handed or right handed.  I do this by asking the simple question "Which had do you draw with?".  This is in case the child in question can't write yet and doesn't know if they're left or right handed.  The number of blank stares I get like I've just asked them to name all of the seven dwarves in their ascending height order.  Then I get kids who hold up their left hand and I say "okay, you're left handed" and they say, "oh no, I draw with this hand," and they hold up their right hand instead like they've just remembered that Christmas falls on a Tuesday this year and not a Sunday which is what they first thought.  Or some say "I write with my right hand but I'm left handed."  What the f....?  My patience is pretty much all used up on my own kids so when it comes to other people's off spring I'm biting my lip and having violent Walter Mitty fantasies when dealing with them.

Get them with a bow in their hands, arrow nocked, bow drawn and ready to fly and you get kids that let go of the bow rather than the bow string (try to imagine that for a moment).  Sometimes we get kids that let go of the string by letting it down so painfully slowly that the arrow drops at their feet (you've just got to pick it up and offer them another go).  Then you get kids that just completely fail to let go of the string like they've got super glue on their fingers.  They're at full draw, their arms are wobbling under the strain and they just can't let go.  The advice of "Let go of the string!" soon wants to become a Gordon Ramseyesque "For the love of God, pull back on the string and then let the f*cker go!  What's your f*cking problem?  Let go of the f*cking string, it's not hard to f*cking do you arsehat!  Let the f*cker go!  Let it go!  Stop f*cking clown dancing and let the f*cker go!  Pretend it's red hot and let the string go!".  Spit would be flying into their tiny face by now.  "F*cksake you tiny mothef*cker I'm dying of old age!  Are you f*cking with me?  Are you f*cking with me?  Get off the range, get off the f*cking range you useless sh*t.  Go practice letting go of things.  Try a rock first, pick one up and then drop it.  Work yourself up to an apple or maybe an orange, progress to a tennis ball and then come back when you can drop a bag of shopping.  Now f*ck off out of it YOU USELESS, USELESS, TW*T!"

But I'm not allowed to rant at them.  Not after the last time anyway.  Juliette has suggested I work as a classroom assistant but I've always said "no".

Actually the hardest part was during a demo shoot after we started shooting two or more arrows at the same time off the same string.  You'd explain that archers did this to make it appear that there were double the number of archers on the field.  After a while this kid came up to the barrier and caught my attention.   You see I'd just shot two arrows at once and although they'd hit the target they weren't great shots.  They never are because with two arrows you're splitting the energy from the bow  and ... no, no, no come back, I'll stop being all "technical".  So anyway this kid stares me straight in the eye, pauses and says "Better to succeed with one arrow than fail with two".   I could totally see his point, I was of course new to this archery business what with having done it longer than he'd been alive, but on the other hand I just really wanted to say, and I mean this sincerely from the bottom of my heart, I really wanted to say "F*ck off, Yoda."  But instead I smiled politely, tussled his hair and said "oh, you" in a fond way and then spun kicked his legs out from under him and spat on him like an alpaca.  I didn't really of course.  Not after the last time.

I'm not a nasty horrible person really, as I said sometimes you want to say or do something when you know you shouldn't.  Anyway got to go, those alpaca goolies won't kick themselves black and blue on their own.  Take care and speak to you next week.  Hey, how about an alpaca balaclava?  Awesome.

Love Mark xxx

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