A Busy Life

When people ask me what I do, I silently judge them for their nosiness before telling them I’m a copywriter.  I then explain what a copywriter is, unless they’re fans of ‘Madmen’, in which case I explain what a copywriter isn’t.  But I don’t really have the time for writing at the moment.  Just the creation of that sentence has guaranteed that the bathroom I should be cleaning will, at best, be left with a smeared mirror, while the sentence explaining about the smeared mirror has probably ensured I won’t have time to mop the floor.  If I don’t stop explaining stuff, the bathroom will be a no-go area for all those not in possession of hazmat gear.  As usual.  But the heart wants what it wants and a writer writes and meta crap like that, so I’m neglecting the list of jobs that are mounting up in order to write this.  I’m sure my expected visitors will at least be polite enough to pretend they can’t see the mess as long as they’re here and will only comment on my inadequacy once I’m out of earshot.

There are always things I should do, but don’t.  Find more work, sleep more, get more exercise, wash a dish now and then, train one of the cats to switch the kettle on … important stuff like that.  And there’s also the other list; the things I shouldn’t be doing, or shouldn’t be doing as much: eat less sugar, tweet less, yell less at political programmes, write fewer lists …  But, at the risk of accidentally plagiarising Hallmark’s output for the last century, the thing I should be concentrating on, should have always been concentrating on, is appreciating the things I have while I have them instead of worrying about what I used to have, think I should have had or wish I could get in the future.

Shortly after my dad died at the end of 2014, my mum went into a care home.  Her dementia had left her with short-term memory problems and some confusion, so visits immediately took on a Groundhog Day ambience, only on a 5-minute loop instead of a 24-hour one, and we struggled to have a conversation.  However, a life spent playing board games and doing quizzes had burnt those processes into her brain, so we could still enjoy some quality time together with the Trivial Pursuit or Ludo and little flashes of the intelligence beneath the fog would surface even as she was asking which colour pieces were hers each time it was her turn.  I’d leave when it was time for her to have dinner or for me to go and do mum things instead of daughter things and it’d be just another little interlude in a busy life.

So, when she had an accident last month and went to hospital, we lost those games and had nothing left but Groundhog Day and it was hard to take.  We were all looking forward to the day when we could get her back to the home and slip back into the routine that would let her be herself again, in some small way.  Sadly, that didn’t and won’t happen as she died in the early hours of Wednesday.  Comfortable, clean, sleeping, not alone.  We could all do a lot worse.  Since then, I’ve been cleaning, decorating, making more phone calls than I usually make in a year, eating fast food because I have no time to cook, writing when I shouldn’t be writing and, as ever, not appreciating what I have while I have it.  From now on, when people ask what I do, I’ll give them the honest answer; I fiddle while Rome burns.

Getting lost

Somebody told me, today, that I’m the image of my mother; apparently, they think he’ll be out of the cast by March. Don’t judge me! Unless your mother is Angelina Jolie or Charlize Theron, it’s not what a woman wants to hear. It’s not the first time I’ve heard that and I have to grudgingly admit that it’s true. I have her blonde hair and her blue eyes; I should give them back really – she’s scaring the kids. We do look alike, though, and I’ve inherited other things from her: a love of reading, a memory that seems hardwired to store poetry, dates, useless facts and phone numbers, a virtual addiction to olives and big feet.

It’s harder to say what I’ve inherited from my dad. Perhaps when all my hair drops out, it’ll be easier to spot any resemblance but, looks-wise, it’s difficult to see any similarities. My squidgy nose is nothing like his Roman one and in spite of his brown eyes, a recessive blue-eyed gene obviously allowed me to take after Mammy. I also have excessively long femurs as opposed to his tiny ones that meant I’d have to push the car seat back a foot if I drove his car.

Looks aren’t everything though and I take after him in other ways: I don’t like to spend money unnecessarily, so I’ll have the washing machine in pieces year after year rather than buy another; I love a good detective programme and have shared many a happy hour with him, watching Columbo or the Rockford Files, and I have one of the most appalling senses of direction ever seen in a person who hasn’t been blindfolded and spun for an hour on the Waltzers. My brother-in-law nicknamed my dad ‘Pathfinder’ and it wasn’t a tribute. All who have ever had a lift from him have come to dread the tell-tale signs that a ‘short-cut’ was imminent: the turn down an apparently innocuous side road, the inevitable three-point turn when we would meet the dead end, followed by the attempt to retrace some or all of the turns that had led to us being hopelessly lost and, often, irretrievably late for an appointment. Similarly, I have been known to get lost in my own work building – although I must point out that this was before I worked from home – and after a drive through Aintree, I caused hilarity in the office by asking the question “What racecourse?” Yes, truly, I am ‘Daughter of Pathfinder’.

So, I know that I am in some way ‘a chip off the old block’ and this is a comfort because, earlier this month, he died. At the age of 91, after a lifetime of working hard and being daft and funny when it was right to be daft and funny and being serious when it was right to be serious and being the western world’s foremost advocate for the eating of bananas, he collapsed in the house with my mum, for whom he had long been a carer, and there was nothing anybody could do for him. After being lost with my dad or on my own so often, in many ways now, I think I’ll always be lost.

Why I think I did something really bad in a past life.

You find me in a great mood. (Yes, that was sarcasm.  It doesn’t always translate well to the written word.  Imagine me saying it in Basil Fawlty’s voice, when he’s talking to Sybil. That might help.) I should explain; especially since this is a blog and just telling you I’m in a nark and putting ‘The End’ would be weird.

I have this car.  It’s a Renault Clio, aged 11 years, which in itself is probably not a good thing, but this particular car was a driving school car for a few years before it was mine.  Now, you may not drive, yourself, but I assume most of you have some concept of what a driving school car goes through.  Its poor little wheels have been scraped into thousands of kerbs during parallel parking, effecting a turn in the road using the forward and reverse gears and just general driving (learners aren’t always as good at steering as they would like).  The gear box has been put through such heinous things that Al Qaeda started a petition for legislation to put an end to it and after being subject to many driving tests in its weary lifetime the Clio goes into spasm if I accidentally bring a rolled up newspaper or clipboard into it.  This seriously curtails my desire to swat flies or carry out surveys in my own vehicle.  It’s something of a disaster.

As well as the trauma wrought upon the car by its driving school days, it also has other problems relating to age and shoddy workmanship.  It rains on the inside, like Dali’s Car, but not as fascinating and worth considerably less.  You have to use magic movements to get from second gear to third and, although I do it every day, I am in no way able to explain what those movements are.  I just know that I can do it, but other people can’t.  If it were human, even ATOS wouldn’t send it to work.  Dr Gregory House would look at it and say, ‘Sorry.  It’s beyond me!’  We’d all nod our heads and know deep down that it was for the best.  But it’s not human.  It’s my car and I have to drive it pretty much every day.


And, more or less, finally, there’s the problem with starting it; there’s a special way to do that as well.  Again, something I can’t explain and didn’t really appreciate until this morning.  You see, today, my husband had an appointment for a test-drive and he had decided to take the car and get it appraised as a part exchange for the potential new car, which would probably knock £40 off the price and leave me to inherit his old car.  Which doesn’t work properly either, but at least you don’t need an umbrella to drive it.  Well, yesterday, I spent hours getting it clean, wiping down the upholstery to get rid of the smell of damp, dead dreams and desperation, to the point where one of my arms stopped being fit for purpose and I was hallucinating from the cleaning product fumes.  I imagined the car looked passable: ridiculous! Then this morning my husband took the key, went outside and killed the car.  It sounded like it always sounded at first, then started to protest and finally choked into a racking, tubercular cough and died.  But because he was on a tight schedule he had to go to his appointment anyway, leaving me with this problem; how do you get a 12-year-old in a Las Vegas style dance costume to Ormskirk on Ladies’ day with no car and all the trains packed with 7 inch platform soles, orange spray tan and fascinators?  Answers on a postcard to: ‘I want a divorce or a new car’, Flowery Watts, Liverpool.

The End!!!

Nigella? Not likely!


I know some of you have probably made the assumption that I’m a domestic goddess, which I have recently learned does NOT mean that you have the power to smite cleaners if they refuse to obey your every whim.  But, and I’m trying hard to let you down very gently on this point, there’s a chance I might not be that* good at cooking.  I can make things that I like.  As  vegetarian, I am fond of vegetables; which is handy!  I love a dish of veg, roasted with garlic, pepper, olive oil, maybe a little coarse salt to finish it off.  Lovely! To me! And to nobody else in my house!!  So I struggle to make things they like too and end up in dullsville with baked potatoes, oven chips, pasta that isn’t allowed to have much flavour for fear of it being detectable by fussy children.  If I had some skill, I could probably find something we’d all like.  But I haven’t.

I can do some things in the kitchen, to be fair.  I’m not entirely useless.  I can balance, plank-like on my hands with my elbows dug into my hips and I’m reasonably certain that I’ve done that in a kitchen.  Yes, I can definitely remember having my head right next to the fridge.

If sugar is your poison, I can help you out there, as I can make reasonable cakes in various styles and flavours and, in all modesty, I decorate them very well as only a person who longs for fine art but only has sugarpaste can.  I take out my frustrated desire to be Michelangelo on a covered Madeira like nobody else I know.  My sugarcraft is one of the very few things I do well and in fact, one time, I briefly came 1st, 2nd and 3rd in a cake decorating competition.  When they were giving out the prizes the judge realised they were all for me and changed her mind, demoting my ‘3 Little Pigs’ cake to 4th, in favour of somebody’s ‘Where’s Wally, sitting on a globe’ cake.  It was a bit embarrassing, to be honest, as much for ‘Where’s Wally Lady’ and the judge.  We could see the other contestants and audience looking at each other in disbelief.  The cake that came first had a painting of David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane on it and was a 21st birthday cake for my nephew.  He loved it and I was pretty proud of it.  I came away from the competition experience with 2 books, which went on eBay, the following week because I already had them, and a couple of certificates, which I think I might accidentally have left in the books I sold on eBay because I don’t remember seeing them since.  I didn’t enter any more.  

I digress somewhat.  My main reason for mentioning cookery in the first place is that I now have a son who is a chef and I need a favour from him.  He’s only 18 but has been doing various kinds of cookery for years: GCSE, school cookery competition team (for a boys’ school they were pretty serious about their cookery) and then college and work placements, then real work so now he’s a chef.  He helped me make the Easter roast, in as much as he folded some tinfoil, put it over the roasting dish and added some water.  I was glad he didn’t help any more than that because he has an insatiable urge to flambé everything and I end up spending more time waving magazines at the smoke detector than I do actually getting any cooking done. Not to mention the time spent cleaning spattered fat off everything including the ceiling.  BUT, you say, if you don’t want his help with cooking, what do you actually want?  Well, I just want this; I bought a bag of onions and I’d really like him to chop them, bag them and freeze them for me.  That way, when I next make the Pasta-à la-bland, I don’t have to run the risk of looking like I poked myself in the eye with the corner of a brillo pad repeatedly for half an hour as a dare.

(*am definitely not by any stretch of the imagination any good at cooking)

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday is a very special day in the Christian calendar.  It’s a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, conquering death and sin and paving the way for his followers to be with him in the afterlife. So, naturally we celebrate by eating as much chocolate as humanly possible without (in most cases, at least) actually exploding and watching cheesy films from the food-induced discomfort of our cocoa  and brightly coloured tinfoil littered sofas.

Of course, we all have our own traditions. In my house we go to the Saturday night Easter vigil and this enables us to have a lie-in on Easter Sunday, which doesn’t happen on any other Sunday in the year and is much appreciated.  By those it applies to, at least, which doesn’t include me.  No. I get woken up early, by the youngest member of the family who, at 12, is pretty excited about the chocolate feast in store.  So excited that she then discharges bursts of nervous energy in my direction like North Korean missile attacks until I am forced to try and get the rest of the family out of bed.  On the day that they are trying to have their only lie-in.  Yes, as you would imagine, this makes me extremely popular.  Today, for instance, it took me an hour to get my 18-year-old to come downstairs.  I think he might have been trying to claim back the one we all lost last night.

One of the reasons that my youngest gets so excited is because of the egg-hunt.  It’s a bit different to the egg-hunts I hear of in other households. Now, this might concern some of you.  It may even give you the impression that I am somehow curtailing my brood’s childhood, but as I said, we all have our own traditions.  In my house we don’t believe in the Easter Bunny.  I’ll give you a moment to take that in.  That’s right.  I don’t tell, and have never told my children that a giant rabbit (whether visible or invisible) somehow produces chocolate eggs which it leaves lying around in hidden places.  My children are pretty interested in the environment and I’m sure this chocolate egg-laying giant rabbit would only further convince them that we need to look more carefully into GM produce.

No, our egg-hunt involves a set of clues, each one leading to the next, until eventually they lead to a stash of Easter eggs for the 4 ‘children’ (or more accurately named, ‘offspring’) of the house.  This has worked well for years.  I write 5 or 6 rhyming couplets for the purpose with varying degrees of difficulty and they decipher the clues and go on the hunt.  Well, that’s how it used to be, but one by one they have dropped out of the hunt part and now 3 of them sit on the sofa while the youngest finds their eggs.  They all help crack my code.  They’re getting a bit too good at it, to be honest.  I’m going to have to up my game: especially now that the youngest has downloaded a crossword app for her phone.  When I was her age I had to make do with the Guardian and a pencil and it didn’t do me any harm.  I digress.

I’m beginning to run out of places to hide the eggs.  They’ve been in the washing machine, the dryer, a laundry basket (when there are 6 people in the house, laundry can loom large in the psyche), under everybody’s bed, in the under-the-sink cupboard and in the oven.  That wasn’t a good idea, because it turns out that the bottom oven gets quite hot when you make toast, and apparently Easter lumps are just not as popular as you’d think.

This year saw the introduction of what may be a new tradition.   I got my chef-in-training son to be in charge of the chicken for our roast dinner.  As a confirmed veggie, that’s quite a relief.  I hate cooking food if I can’t taste a bit to test it and I’d rather not relive the food-poisoning extravaganza of 1997 (kidding).

For Liam

I promise that I thought of you when I saw the jumping flame.

And when I had to choose a prayer, I chose to speak your name.

Rejoicing all around me, but I can’t escape the fear

That I’ll never see your face again, that I’ll never feel you near.


I think of you so often. When I’m reading a new book,

I reach to pick the phone up, to suggest you take a look.

I always think you’d like it because we share a certain taste,

The unread books I’ve picked for you are our own peculiar waste.


You used to be the older one, now I’ve caught you up. And more.

But in my head you’re like you were a long, long time before.

Before that damned disease took hold and trapped you in your mind.

Before you had to leave your possibilities behind.

Your hair is black, your skin is brown, your words are light, but keen.

You joke and laugh, you tell me tales of places you have been.

You’re happy, young and free of pain. You’re what you’re meant to be.

Forever my big brother.  And a treasured part of me.

Snow Day

We’re having a ‘snow day’.  The schools are shut, my job interview has been cancelled, my family are unlikely to get a flight over from Ireland, the man who was going to come and mend my husband’s car won’t be doing that now and there’s a pretty strong chance that the cat won’t be leaving the house this side of April.  Not teaching her to use a litter tray is beginning to look like an error of judgement. 

Don’t get me wrong; I like snow.  I built the world’s most inadequate snowman the last time it snowed.  He made it to about 11 inches because I had to keep going back into the house every 3 minutes to recover limb sensation.  Once you’re in the house you get sucked into Twitter or re-runs of ER or catching up on yesterday’s episode of the Archers.  Chris is on the mend, in case you were wondering. 

I got up at stupid o’clock today, same as usual.  Looked out at the predicted snow, sighed and started to compute all the troubles that would come with it; I think this means I’m a grown-up. I still got dressed as though everything hadn’t been thrown into disarray; I put on a newly purchased shirt and my smart work trousers so that I could impress the interviewer with my ability to buy stuff and look like I have a job but the shoes were problematic. My work shoes look fine from the top but let in water like they were designed for straining pasta rather than keeping feet comfy and dry, so I was forced to go to Plan B: the boots! I like my boots. They’re comfy.  I’m definitely a comfort over style kind of a person as you would be able to assess from a glance if you ever saw me.  However, the boots are a bit scuffed and don’t really go with the trousers and shirt.  Alright, they look like I made them from papier maché, had them sprayed in a tanning booth in Essex then wore them to clog dance my way from Liverpool to Sheffield and back.  I didn’t!  The tanning booth was in Runcorn.

Wearing smart stuff from neck to ankles and raggedy boots made me feel like my feet were the only part of me that was actually me but also made me think the interviewer might give the job to everything from the ankles up but not the feet.  This would make certain aspects of the work tricky: standing up, walking, doing a sly tap-dance in the toilets if the day was dragging on a bit. So it was a bit of a relief when the school texted to say it was closed and the company rang to cancel my interview.  This just leaves me unlikely to see my Irish family just yet and my husband’s car troubles may have to stretch into next week.  Not good, but at least we’re all safe in the house.  With an untrained cat.  Now all I have to do is decide whether I’ll watch ER or the box set of Columbo.  I know! Let’s see if we can make a snowman that’s a foot and a half!

Our secret cat


I have a black cat.  No, I don’t have a broomstick or a cauldron and I don’t have eye of newt in my kitchen cupboard. Although, there’s something quite suspect in a tinfoil covered cup in the fridge.  I acquired this black cat in the way that many cat-owners acquire their cats; she turned up one day and basically refused to leave.  I first encountered the black cat during a hot summer night a few years ago.  Panicked screams alerted me to the occurrence of something dreadful and I ran into my girls’ room to find this unknown cat halfway through a very small, partly opened window and my two sleepy daughters, who had been unable to determine quite what devilish creature had been invading their peaceful sleeping space, sitting up and pointing at the billowing curtains from which the hairy little head protruded.  I pushed the cat back through the window and heard a thud as she landed on the extension roof, followed by some claws-on-tile noises as she tried not to fall straight off.  I immediately felt guilty, but in my defence, I was keen to stop the shouting before it disturbed the neighbours.

The following morning, the girls were pleased to have an interesting anecdote to tell their school friends and my guilt over the cat-shoving incident had increased; I like cats and don’t, as a rule, push them out of windows if I can help it.  The cat, however, had either decided to forgive me or had concluded that I owed her some kind of remuneration for her pain and indignity. She was waiting outside the front door when we opened it to head for school and she slipped past me with no trouble since I wasn’t expecting to have to do any cat-blocking.  The girls chased her upstairs and threw her out. End of story, I thought. What a fool!

Over the next few days, I became adept at opening the door enough to check for cats without it being open enough to allow a cat inside.  When we had to leave the house we perfected a squatting, knock-kneed walk that would allow us to create a wall of legs that would repel the black cat until we were out enough to close the door.  Secretly, I was beginning to really like this persistent little creature who seemed to have endorsed our good character with her continued attentions.  It was then that I made my fatal mistake: I fed her.

She looked reasonably healthy.  She wore a collar and was clean, but I was aware that a lady who lived in a house adjoining my garden had been the owner of a large, indeterminate number of adopted stray cats and had very recently died. I suspected that this might be a forgotten little orphan, unnoticed by the people who had come to collect her menagerie.  With this in mind, I decided to give her some fish.  I opened a tin and put it down by the side of my house and made a friend for life.

It is important that you understand the context in which I decided to feed this stray cat; my husband dislikes cats and had made it very clear that he could not have one in the house due to

a. this strong dislike (we’ll call it hatred, shall we) and

b. his allergies.

He does have allergies, so I had to accept this disappointing ban on cats.  However, as I said, this was a hot summer.  We took to leaving the back door open to let in some air and of course, this also admitted the cat.  When my husband was at work, the cat had the run of the house but she preferred to sit on my or my son’s knees from where it was quite easy to grab her and throw her out when my husband’s car pulled onto the drive.  By now, we had taken to buying cat food and hiding it in my sons’ room.  Yes, I know.  Mature!

The weather began to turn cold and we were now the cat’s family.  Everyone, that is, except my allergic husband.  We started to let the cat sleep in the boys’ room at night.  Our secret cat.  We broached the subject with my husband.  “This cat won’t leave us alone,” I told him.  ~Maybe we should just let it live here.  The children love it!” “No!” he replied. “If it just comes in the house it will set off my allergic reaction!”  “That’s funny,” I told him “because it’s been in the house most of the time for weeks.” He reconsidered.

From then on, the cat stayed with us.  Instead of throwing her out when we heard the car, we simply got on with life.  My son named her ‘Cat’ (Capital C, of course) and she took a shine to my husband and began to desert my knee for his.  His mysterious allergy didn’t surface and he became very fond of Cat, using her as an excuse for not doing things such as getting his own drinks: “Can’t move.  Cat’s asleep on my knee!” Hmmm.  I wonder if he could become just as fond of a little kitten friend for Cat.  We could call it Mouse.

A beautiful design



When I was little, my dad told me and my four sisters that mountain sheep were very different to the sheep that we’d see in the fields. “They have” he assured us, as we drove through hilly Wales, “short legs on one side of their body and longer legs on the other side.”  This made perfect sense.  We could see, as we hung out of the car window to watch the sheep walk on the steep inclines above us, that this would have to be true because (think about it) if all four of their legs were the same length then they would surely just topple sideways, roll down the slope in a baa-ing tangle of wool, legs and startled sheep-faces and be flattened by one of the cars driving along the winding road that hugged the foot of the hill. 

This explanation was mildly problematic. What, we all wondered, would happen if the sheep (singular or plural) were to turn around on the hill and FACE THE OTHER WAY!! Oh no! I hear you say.   Imagine you saying.  Alright then, I’m saying it but it’s still a valid point; if their short legs are on the lower part of the incline, won’t they definitely topple sideways, roll down the hillside in a baa-ing tangle of wool etc, etc? Aha! No!  As my wise father told us, the sheep have adapted so well that they never turn around; they simply walk all the way around the hill until they come back to where they need to be. A bit like when you have to set the time on the clock in your car and you go a bit too far and have to keep going.  Same principle.

We continued to believe this for several years, along with several other pieces of mischievously erroneous information (outrageous lies, if you will) about, for example, the purpose of derricks in the Liverpool dockyards (neck braces for giraffes), the original use of the masonry brush owned by our bricklayer neighbour (toothbrush for elephants) and that eating spinach was somehow good for you.  That last one might actually be true; I’ll have to check up on it.

So, erm, I can sense I’m losing you. I feel you’re probably now poring over the writing challenge photo, asking yourself, “What’s this got to do with sheep?” And the answer to that is, well, it hasn’t actually got anything to do with real sheep but it has a certain amount to do with imaginary sheep: those with the two short legs, described by my father who, funnily enough, also has two short legs.  Look at the picture … but look back here when you’ve done it.  What is going on with that tram?

The first thing I see when I look at that picture is the clean, shiny, obviously a-world-away-from-Blackpool tram going up the hill. Or down the hill. I can’t tell.  There’s no sign of a driver, which means it’s probably not a tram really but rather a streetcar (which I think is just American for ‘tram’, actually), a funicular or something more exotic I’ve never heard of, but I think we can all agree that it’s on a very steep slope. And this is where the imaginary sheep come into it.  Not as passengers because that would be weird, but as a comparative design notion.  The tram slash funicular (yes, I KNOW you’re supposed to actually write the slash but I’m trying to boost my word count, so shhh!) has obviously been designed specifically for steep places. Like the imaginary sheep, it appears to have the perfect form for getting up and down that specific gradient.  Slight curves aside, its front appears to align nicely with the doorway in the background, which we must assume has been acquainted with a plumb-line at some point. If you look at the windows you can see that they are at three different levels, corresponding beautifully to the harsh slope of the street.  It’s a wonderful example of ‘horses for courses’. 

I can see a passenger, boldly standing inside. He’s probably doing that thing where you don’t quite hold on so you can pretend you’re surfing but still have time to grab the bar if things get bumpy. No? Just me?  Okay then.  Let’s move on.  I think I can see what looks like seats.  I’m just going to pretend that I know there are seats so that my premise will make sense; if the vehicle fits the gradient it is safe to assume that the seats are accordingly positioned so that the passengers are upright as they travel up or down the hill.

 So the tram is designed to run perfectly parallel to a steep road. Lovely! What a wonderful thing to have vehicles that are designed for each specific part of town. BUT … if you look down the hill, you can see that there is a different gradient further back. Oh no! It’s all going horribly wrong.  What was the journey like then? Were the passengers suddenly flung forward into a potentially tooth-whacking, nose-breaking, life or death situation or slapped backwards into a terrifying, face-flapping, eye-ball bulging G-Force nightmare? Obviously neither of those things; it’s a picturesque hilly tram-ride, not ‘Black Hawk Down’, but you get my drift. What seems to be a really good design has, on closer inspection, some serious flaws.  Like the sheep my dad told us about.

If the hillside sheep really had those two short legs on one side, they’d be in big trouble if they had to chase a wayward lamb and it looped behind them and made a break for the road.  Similarly, the tram would have a big problem if it got to the top of that hill and there was a big slope downwards on the other side. You could really get some surfing practice in if that happened. Yet the answer to the design problem of the hill-tram is beautifully simple: take four giraffes with neck-braces …