The Meerkat Muse – 25/1/23

stress handwritten text on white printer paper
Photo by Pedro Figueras on

Stress is the word, and stress is the opening theme.


Is it daft to get seriously stressed over placing bedsheets upon a heated, indoor clothes dryer? I find the whole ordeal to be seriously aggravating. The sheets, to me, are unwieldy, and I cannot figure out how to put them onto the dryer in a manner that makes sense. It makes me feel quite stupid. The whole thing just really pisses me off!


Recently, my employer moved warehouses, and in the midst of this, were also running a huge sale. This has created absolute chaos, with orders not going out when they were supposed to, and you can bet that it isn’t the warehouse and transport teams who then have to deal with irate customers.

I do understand that there’s a lot going on, but I can guarantee the customers will not care, and to an extent, why should they? They placed an order (and spent a considerable amount of money) in good faith. What happens behind the scenes is of no concern to them. Some customers are understanding, but others get quite angry, and whilst they certainly should not take it out on us, their reasoning is relatable.

It’s also unfair on the warehouse and transport teams, as this disruption isn’t really their fault either, in many respects. They are getting grief from multiple stores, because the stores are getting grief from multiple customers, and the whole saga of stress and hassle gets sloshed around, without ever really getting resolved (or at least, not getting resolved for a while).

The Approach

It is not without irony (and often a lack of self-awareness) that religious fanatics deride and complain that ‘woke’ culture is getting all up in their faces. No one has ever knocked on my door to speak to me about atheism, or the LGBT community. No one has ever stopped me in the street to discuss feminism or critical race theory. There are no atheist churches, or fundraisers. In fact, where I live, I have never been stopped by a Muslim, Jew, Hindu, or representative of any faith, other than Christianity. I had someone come up to me in town the other day, whilst I was on my way to collect my daughter from school, to ask me if I believed in Jesus. I politely declined the conversation, whilst continuing to walk, because ultimately, my beliefs are my business, and I am not interested in having a chat in the middle of the high street.

Once, I asked someone where to find a particular bank, and in the process of helping me, the guy started to ask religious-based questions, talking about God, Christianity etc. All I was trying to do was find a bank! I humoured the guy to a point, and then he started asking if I’d had sex before marriage. I had to call him on asking such personal questions to complete strangers, in the middle of town.

What is it with the religious right, that sees them demand the right to interfere with people’s lives, to the degree that you cannot walk down the street without being pestered?


I said the opening theme of this Muse was stress, and so it continued. On Friday the 13th (it just had to be, didn’t it?), I locked my keys in the house, and because the keys were in the lock, my wife couldn’t open the door. Cue locksmith, cue £107 down. The price was, in my humble view, extortionate, given all they did was poke a gadget through the letterbox, and unclick something, but then again, I am no expert in the field, so I had to suck it up and pay.

I never shut the door like that, but I was stressed, flustered, and caught out by it all. It was not the ideal start to the day!


Sometimes, it can feel like life is out to get you. Shit happens, and then happens again, and you’re left wondering if fate is playing silly games. Then I remember that I have it far better than most others, and that sometimes, a deep breath, and a few minutes spent chilling out, can make a small difference.

In general terms, these moments dent me. They make me feel stupid. I know I’m not stupid, but I have a hard time shaking off the feelings of idiocy and inadequacy. The bedsheet thing in particular, greatly aggravates me. It is such a trivial thing, yet it thoroughly out-foxes me, and then I feel supremely stupid. If I make even a small mistake at work, I dwell it, beyond all reason. It’s daft, and I know it’s daft, yet shaking that feeling can be very difficult for me.

This might sound quite ‘oh woe is me!’, and I don’t intend for it to sound that way, but sometimes, I feel like I’ve had to battle twice as hard to achieve half the result, as others. There are people out there who are naturally smarter, more charismatic, and stronger, for whom any given effort yields greater results than all the effort I can muster. Ultimately, I know that’s not true, I know I do some stuff better than other people, and I know I am quite creative (I published a sci-fi book, I am definitely creative!).

Eventually, I calm down, and I come to realise I’m being absurd, and I shake off what ails me.


The flipside of the whole stress thing, is that I sometimes find it very hard to ‘switch off’. My brain whirls, sometimes with complete nonsense, leaping from thought to thought, with no rhyme or reason. If I figure out how to not procrastinate, I’ll be dangerous!


In mid January, the cold white stuff returned, though not remotely as bad as in December. A light smattering fell, and this was easily washed away by the near-constant rain we’ve been having. The bigger problem is how cold it’s getting. Energy bills are bad enough as it is, if we have to put the heating on, they’ll surge upwards.

It’s all a ripoff mind. Energy companies are gouging us, and the government is letting them.


Time, after a while, starts to take more than it gives. Such is the case with an aunt of mine. She has been unwell for a number of years (dementia absolutely sucks), but her condition deteriorated over the last couple of years, and moved progressively worse at the turn of the year. At the time of writing this, I have been told the end is imminent.

I try to be philosophical about such things. When the end comes, she will never again feel pain, or fear, or heartache. Nothing will be able to hurt her, or stress her. She will be at peace. That may or may not be comforting to her three sons, who have been through unimaginable turmoil these past few years. I’d like to believe they will draw some measure of solace from knowing their mother is no longer suffering.

The whole situation is surreal. My aunt, like so many of my aunts, uncles and cousins, has always been there. Whilst intellectually, you know one day, you’ll have to say goodbye, emotionally, you’re never ready to lose someone. Emotionally, you come to see these people as permanent fixtures in your life, and the idea that this changes is impossible.

Since I started this part of the post, I’ve since learned that my aunt has passed away. I’m at a loss for words. Whatever awaits us beyond this mortal coil, she will be at peace x


My daughter is having a difficult time at school, and I feel quite powerless to help her. I am trying to be conscious of her mental health, as historically, the mental health of children (and indeed, of people in general) has been dismissed, when really it should never be ignored. However, sometimes you do have to knuckle down and get on with things, and I am wary of her seeking excuses to avoid stuff she doesn’t like. I do get it. I have very mixed memories of school, and sometimes, I wasn’t sure of where to turn, so I am trying to emphasise to my daughter that she can talk to me. It’s not a case of automatically agreeing with everything she says, or saying yes to everything she wants to do, because there will be occasions where she has to compromise, as that is life. However, sometimes, just talking about stuff can be beneficial, and no one can deal with a problem if they don’t know what the problem is.

I remember being a kid, and a teenager, and so I know that it can be hard to articulate what you’re thinking and feeling, and even harder to talk about it openly. The tough times will end, sooner or later, I only hope I can help her push through, to get through them sooner.

Bus Brats

red double deck bus on road
Photo by Caio on

As a parent, I fully understand that sometimes, kids do not do what they’re told. They like to test the boundaries, to push the envelope, to stretch their legs, and this can lead to them acting out. This is where the parents need to step in, though even then, I thoroughly understand it’s not easy. In this instance, a young mother was attempting to keep her children under control on the bus, and one of them absolutely refused to behave. He had some kind of stick, that he kept whacking against the seats, poles, and anything else within reach. The kid also refused to sit down, or hold onto anything, which on a moving bus? That ain’t a good idea.

His abrupt, point-blank ‘no’ to every instruction struck me as really bratty. Sometimes you get the impression some kids are difficult, no matter what their parents do, and I got that impression from this little oink. He was no more than six years old, yet it was clear he had an impertinent streak.

When the bus pulled into town, my daughter and I went to get another bus, and by a stroke of bad luck, this family was getting onto that bus too. The kid proceeded to press the button to stop the bus, despite not actually getting off, though it happened to be our stop. The driver did not stop, perhaps believing the kid had deliberately pressed the button for no reason, or that they’d pressed it by accident. Either way, it was one further little annoyance, in what has been a long, challenging week.

The Accidental Booty Call

No, it’s not what you think, so stop thinking it. I was walking to work the other morning, when I heard voices from somewhere. Upon closer inspection, they were coming from my trouser pocket. Gah, this sounds worse and worse doesn’t it?

I’d somehow pocket-dialled the emergency services, and upon putting the phone to my ear, could not apologise enough. I was mortified, since I’d had wasted their precious time, though the man on the phone was understanding, and if nothing else, wanted to make sure I was genuinely alright.

The incident has given me cause to wonder if these new folding phones might be a good idea. I used to have a flip-top phone, though that was pre-smartphone days, but the new foldable phones are quite intriguing, and they shouldn’t accidentally dial someone when folded! I am some way off being able to upgrade, but I’ve been considering the idea anyway, and this might nudge me further in that direction.

I dare say that’s all for this Muse, so I will bid you all adieu, and keep an eye out for the daily Writing Prompt!

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