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Captain Finn's Journal, Day 1622

The battle continues apace. Mother still claims to be an impartial observer who loves both of us equally, but I remain unconvinced. My sister and I must keep fighting for the position of "best-loved twin".

It's quite remarkable, really, that people born a mere four minutes apart can be so different in looks and temperament, four years later. Vieve is unwavering in her tactics; cuddles and kisses and handfuls of weeds. Mother always says "Thank you, sweetheart!" but I think she's not really that fond of having fistfuls of dandelions shoved in her face. It's sickening, really. Vieve just plays nice-nice and gets lots of cuddles. I'm loath to admit it, but she might be winning.

Whenever I try to sit on Mummy's lap, she always says "Did you pee in your undies?! Go change your pants!" and gets cross. I can't do nice-nice. Can't use the toilet, either.

If I can't get points by being nice like Vieve... I'll have to see if I can take some of her points away. More on that tomorrow.

Captain Finn's Journal, Day 1623

I tried out my new tactics today. I'm quite proud of the concept, but I did it wrong. See, I planned to secretly do something naughty, and then blame it on Vieve. Genius, right?

Except that while peeling paint off the toilet wall went even better than I had expected, the great observer caught me in the act. (Seriously, though, you should have seen the wall. I did not expect the paint to just come off in big sheets like that! It was amazing!)

Unfortunately, I was so prepared to blame my sister that "Vieve did it" just came out of my mouth, even though I was caught paint-handed. Mother was not impressed. Said something about "lying gets you in more trouble". I think I'll have to chalk that one up to experience.

Captain Finn's Journal, Day 1624

Mother keeps saying "Practice makes pervert" or something. I forget exactly, but what it means is that it's important to keep trying.

I want to, but she won't let me go in the toilet room on my own again. I thought it would be okay, though. I found out that the paper stuff on the wall in the hallway peels off just as well. I was extra careful this time, and stopped before Mother saw me doing it.

But she still knew it was me! Even though I said "Vieve did it!" Hrm. I must be doing something wrong. Maybe it's my tone of voice. More conviction next time, and less giggling. Yes, that should do it.

Mother rang the landlord today. Afterwards, she cried. I don't know what a "landlord" is, but it must be scary.

Captain Finn's Journal, Day 1625

Landlords aren't scary at all! He was a very nice man who let me watch while he painted the wall and put new paper stuff up on the wall.

Mother was still a bit grumpy at me after he left, so I drew her a picture. What does "Holy crap, not on the bloody floor" mean? I hope she liked it.

She got even grumpier when I peed on the kitchen floor. I think she really hates pee. What if I say that Vieve did the pee? Will try tomorrow.

Captain Finn's Journal, Day 1626

I peed on the floor and told Mother that Vieve did it. She said "It was you! Look at your pants!" Note to self: change pants afterwards.

Captain Finn's Journal, Day 1627

I peed on the floor and changed my pants, and then I told Mother that Vieve did it. She pulled down the waistband of my pants and said "It was you! Look at your undies!" Note to self: change pants AND undies afterwards.

Captain Finn's Journal, Day 1628

Mother is looking very tired. She has had meetings every night this week. And today she will be away all day at band camp! How rude! How come she is spending all day with her tuba instead of with us?

Captain Finn's Journal, Day 1629

Mother had a lovely time at band camp. Now she has to go be a broomsman. I don't know what that is, but it's at a wedding. Maybe she has to do the sweeping. She should be good at that. Just last night she did a really good job of sweeping up paint again. The new paint is even more fun to peel off the toilet wall!

I said "Vieve did it" but she wouldn't even listen. That made me mad. So I found a pencil, opened up her tuba case, and did lots of big scribbles all over her tuba. I even went round and round and round inside it. Then I shut the case.

Captain Finn's Journal, Day 1630

Mother went back to band camp today. I think she found my drawing, because it sounded like her shouting coming out of the phone. Daddy yelled at me, and he didn't listen to "Vieve did it", either.

I don't think I'm very good at making Mother think that Vieve did it. I just want her to like me best.

But... I'm not sure it matters. Because if Mother doesn't believe "Vieve did it", doesn't that mean she knows it was me? And she still gives me bedtime snuggles and kisses and stories, just the same as Vieve.

Maybe she really does love us both just the same, no matter what.

This is a fictionalised account of a very difficult fortnight back in February, 2014. I love my kids dearly, but my WORD can they push my buttons.

Yes, he really did draw on my tuba. Scratched heck out of the lacquer. Yes, I cried. And then yelled. And then cried some more.
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Somewhere in the centre of Greenland, a snowflake fell. It tumbled in the chaotic winds, but at last it landed, embedded in white. As time passed, more snow fell, pressing down on the layers below. The snowflake shattered, compressed against its compatriots. It could no longer be called snow; it was too hard, too harsh. It was ice.

Ten thousand years passed. The ice inched infinitesimally to the sea, lifted and lubricated by a layer of water. It moaned a dirge of creaks and groans, strained by the unseen ground below. Slowly, so slowly, it crawled forward, seeking the salty kiss of the sea.

The land was as tortured as the ice. Steep cliffs funnelled into the ocean, carving crevasses and creases that creaked and complained. The tide met and eroded the face of the glacier, fighting the relentless onwards pressure of ten thousand years of snowflakes.

A growl like thunder echoed around the fjord. With a crowd of attendants shattered from its sides, a terrible beauty was born. As the iceberg broke from the glacier, it surged downwards, displacing a billion tonnes of water in a wild rush. The raw faces of this glacial diamond shone prismatic blues that contrasted with the soft whites of its upper surface to look deceptively serene.

Its mile-long body was crushed and battered over the next two years. It was a harsh journey down 40 miles of fjord, and it lost half of itself, bashed and sundered in the relentless jostling. Some pieces were significant siblings; others shattered and melted into the sea.

In 1911, the iceberg freed itself from the cluttered fjord. It found freedom in the powerful west Greenland current, and dragged along the coast of Canada. The shallow waters near Labrador ensnared it, and it looked certain to settle there, seeping its fresh waters away into the frigid salt. It shrank and melted over many months, but in January 1912, something strange happened.

The moon shone enormous in the sky. Not only was it a full moon, but the moon was closer than it had been in 1,400 years. The gravitational effect on the tide was remarkable, amplified by the fact that the day before marked the Earth's perihelion, its closest approach to the sun. The iceberg and its stranded associates were lifted in a massive spring tide, and slipped back out into deeper water. The Labrador current embraced them and, over the next few months, took them south in an unusual crowd.

The plethora of ice did not go unremarked. The ships scattered across the Atlantic spread wireless warnings amongst themselves. Some ships took heed; others surged on, confident in their engineering and the power of man.

The iceberg continued, indifferent. Below the water its skirts spread wide. At some point, it gained a scrape of red paint. No matter. South it went, to the warmth, fading away, melting to smaller than a snowflake.
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I hate practicing this piece. It has such a stereotypical tuba part; 68 bars of careful counting, and then a fortissimo blat of low B flat. The second half is better; it swings into a marching om-pah-om-pah, with lots of interesting bom-bom-bom-bom runs between phrases. That's what a tuba player likes to see.

We're not divas. If we were divas, we'd be twittering away on endless curlicues of hemi-demi-semiquavers, or smouldering on sax solos. Nope; being the bass base is what suits me.

The counting gets a tad tedious sometimes, though.

It's not so bad once you know the piece. Then you can just listen out for cues, so long as you trust your band members. Triple timpani thump? Bar 14. Trumpets coming in with the melody, that's bar 32. The bassoon quacks, and we're halfway there.

There's not much point counting the start of this piece, anyway. We've never made it past bar 60 without stopping for the clarinets to sort out their triplet quaver runs. The conductor will raise an eyebrow and repeat the accented rhythm, DAH-dah-dah DAH-dah-dah DAH-dah-dah DAH. She'll ask them to clap the rhythm, then sing it, then play it before she goes back to bar 60 yet again. I'll count from there; we might make it to bar 83 and my blat.

Here we go again. The beginning ticks past; a trumpet fanfare, a piccolo scale, soaring chords from the French horns. I empty condensation out of my slides and clear out the spit valve. There's the timpani, and the trumpet solo, and the bassoon. Bar 60, here we come.

DAH-dah DAH-dah DAH-dah DAH-dah-DAH... doh.

We stop. The clarinets practice, yet again. Our conductor repeats: DAH-dah-dah DAH-dah-dah DAH-dah-dah DAH. OK. Good? OK.

She starts in bar 60. DAH-dah DAH-DAH-dah DAH-dah DAH-DAH-dah-DAH. Arrrgh. My tuba is going cold, and I'm rapidly losing focus. I mindlessly wiggle my fingers up and down, checking that all the valves are moving freely.

She's working again with the clarinets, clapping and singing rhythms. I share a silent look with the euphonium player on my right. She suppresses an amused twitch of her mouth and looks away.

DAH-dah-dah DAH-dah-dah DAH-dah-dah DAH... surely they have it by now? Our conductor is obviously feeling confident; she's taking it from the top. Timpani, trumpets, bassoon... and coming up to the clarinets.

DAH-dah-dah DAH-dah-dah DAH-dah-dah DAH.

They nail it. I'm so surprised that I completely forget to count, and lose my place in the music. I frantically listen, trying to work out where to come in... is it there? There? Arrrgh, too late.

The conductor stops the band with a wave of her hands. "Tuba missed it," she says. "Go back to bar 60."

The trombone player on my left glares at me. "Sixty-nine bloody bars rest," she mutters. "And we nearly made it that time."


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