We went to Comic Con!

You may or may not know, I love dressing up. I love trying to recreate a character or celeb pic, using mostly, just what I have at home. I’ve lived in London 18 years now and have been saying for a fair few of them, that I’d go to Comic Con and this year I finally did. I gotta say though, all the times I thought about going, I never thought I’d be bringing a child, my child with me…..here’s how it went……..

We got on the tube at London Bridge, we were going to meet “Larry Croft” & friends in Greenwich to take our first trip across the Thames on the Emirates Cable Car….a day of firsts! Lots of other cosplayers were on the tube too but being that Small Man was dressed as a mini Darth Vader and looked really cute, people wanted to talk to us….Queue me nearly missing our stop due to politeness, listening to some woman go on about her first Comic Con visit. I thought we had time so I leapt up, grabbed Small Man’s hand and ran for the door. Most of me was through, bar my arm and Small Man when the door closed on me!! HOLY MOTHER OF GOD!!! He was screaming, I was tryna wrench the door back open, I was sweating, he was screaming, more hands appeared in the door and finally plied the tube doors open. Yes this is up there as one of the worst parenting moments of my life! Poor child was devastated…all I could could see was myself meeting a gory end by refusing to pull my arm out and letting the door close with him inside, or possibly worse…leaving him inside a car full of strangers, hoping nobody would steal or hurt him til I reached him. Grim start to the day!

Thankfully the trip across the Thames was slightly less eventful and actually really nice apart from Small Man’s constant chanting of “we’re going to die”. Oh that and it’s kinda

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awkward when his favourite word at the minute is poo. “You’re a poohead, we’ll all die in poo, I’ll throw poo at the boats to make them sink”, ya know that sorta thing, which although is jarring is not the worst word he could be using right? Well I think so, but when the other child you’re travelling with is not allowed to use it so liberally….ugh…though gig! Bad parenting on my part again?

Yay! We made it over to the Excel centre without dying! It was hot and although we were at the Excel, you had to walk almost completely around the building to get in…musta been a mile at least. A mile is nothing really….unless you had no backup plan to your chosen costumes and had to stick to Vader and a Stormtrooper…..in 24 degree heat! FML! Still once you got in, it was aircon central…thank God, Buddha, Odin…whomever!

We went on the Sunday which is the quieter day, but there’s still a lot of people to contend with, so we lost Larry and his daughter in the crowd. We had a quick scout about at the different stalls, during which I realised I hadn’t gone to the bank. FML, yet again! Small Man also spotted the Nintendo stand. FCUKING NIGHTMARE!! He’s just getting interested in computer games and when he seen this of course he wanted to play. I managed to convince him we needed more money and got into the queue, which was short enough, but then 3 out of 4 cash machines stopped working and made our wait at least 35mins. The only break from whinging to play Nintendo during this time was when a Jedi Master noticed my little Vader and challenged him to a duel. The Force answered my plea for help here.

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Money acquired, we headed back into the sea of characters to the continuous whining to plaaaaaay Ninnnnnntennnndo! Once again though, the Force, albeit the Dark Side answered my need for respite and the “real” Darth Vader appeared. This guy was brilliant, even with the top of the helmet off he had the Vader breathing apparatus, just like in the movie. Small Man was a little nervous but stood just close enough for a pic. We ran into BB8 next, and although Small Man was only delighted to see him, he grew a bit concerned when BB8 kept following him.

I foolishly thought the Nintendo idea had been forgotten, until a break in the crowd meant Small Man spotted the big red stand and started asking to play again. You can’t explain to a 4yr old though, that the people already playing the games are most likely proper gamers and have been there aaages. Or that the people queing have also been there ages, and that us queing for him to play will be a ridiculous amount of time, most likely ending in either the shortest game in history followed by lots of crying and refusals to leave, or neither of us knowing how to play hence him dying immediately, followed by lots of crying and refusal to leave. I KNOW you can’t explain this, ‘cos when I did try, it ended in me counting to three three times without result, then me grabbing his hand to walk off but him throwing himself to the floor screaming he wanted to play Nintendo, so he ended up being dragged along slightly, when in turn led to my last resort….pretending to walk away and leave him. This also took it’s time to work. Small Man had to have a little tantrum roll around the floor whilst I threw any fcuks I had left about other people’s opinion on my parenting to the wind, and told him very publically I’d had enough and I was leaving him there to be stolen by aliens. He told me he hated me. Then he ran after me and grabbed my hand……and whinged some more. *sigh* Larry rang to say he was sitting outside with a vodka, if we wanted to meet him there….oh how I wanted that vodka but I spied a really great Bumblebee and told Small Man to get a photo with him. He was still crocodile tearing over that bloody game stand and told me was sick of photos and this was so boring. I said we’d go home so. He said noooooo! Thankfully Bumblebee intervened and managed to coerce him into a photo….without any words, or blips, or songs…why the hell doesn’t this work for me?

In a bid to become friends again, I said he could pick something to buy. He wanted a donut! A DONUT!! I made us queue 35mins to get money out for a donut!! FFS!! We found a donut stand, thank God, and all was right with the world…..til we tried to exit the building. I lost my bearings, we came out the complete wrong side of the building and had to re-enter all over again, to get out all over again. We found the rest of the crew on the steps, Larry was melting, the vodka was gone. I settled for a Twister and wished I’d bought more to shove under me armpits and down me back….the heat lads, was unreal! Small Man finally stopped complaining and ate his donut and a twister and was happy enough to pose for a pic with Rastatrooper (I had major armour inferiority complex right then lads….Me = “£50ebayeffort”, Rastatrooper = “6fansinhishelmetarmourmostlikely£700+”) and over the moon when a Deadpool hi-fived him.

Although it added to our journey home, I didn’t say no to a few beers at Larry Croft’s house.

So did we enjoy it?

“Small Man what was the best part of the day? Well let me tell you the worst part first Mammy…YOU wouldn’t queue for me to play the games. Ok, well was there anything you liked? Yeah, the best bit was the “real” Darth Vader and BB8…..and Deadpool”.

Me….. well yeah, I admired the hard work and effort of the other, proper cosplayers.I enjoyed getting us dressed up together.I loved seeing his face when he recognised characters and pointed them out to me. It made me smile when we ran into Vader’s mini grandaughter, Leia and great grandson, Kylo Ren 😀 The whinginess was ball breaking though. Makes you question your sanity in doing these things but then you think of the memories created and you strap in for the ride.

Tips for next year….consider the weather when deciding on costume. Don’t people please on the tube. Get money out the day before. Bring more snacks for small people. Look at the map….so you can avoid any computer game stands.

Have any of ye been? Tell me how ya got on?…

Love Donna x

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The Legend!

I’m writing this post so it’s here for the future should the Small Man ever choose to read my writings and in case my memories ever start diminishing. It will probably be uninteresting reading to most of you but shur what about it?! I’m going to write it as if talking to my boy……

So who is this person that warrants such a title as “The Legend”, I hear you ask. Who is this person that is so important they need writing about and cannot be forgotten? Well he is…..was my Grandad, your Great Grandad, Tommy O’Connell, one of the coolest dudes I ever knew and a man I constantly miss. Today would have been his 93rd birthday.

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Firstly, let me tell you this fun lil fact about my family name, as it all starts with him….So Grandad was actually Thomas Oliver Connell, some of his official letters used to come addressed to Thomas O. Connell, which over time a clerk somewhere decided that that little dot should have been an apostrophe, and with that we became O’ Connells. This will come in very useful should you ever be involved in an O’ Connell family history quiz….make note. 😀

Anywho, let’s get on with remembering the man….

Grandad had great time for me and I loved him to bits. When I was little, we lived in a mobile in his garden ’til I was two. I don’t know how true this story is but Grandad used to tell me, he’d open his back door some mornings and find a ghostly looking child in a long nightdress just standing there waiting…it was me, sleep walking to, well, I guess my best bud.

There used to be a picture of Granny and Grandad on their wedding day, hanging on the kitchen wall. Grandad was wearing a proper uniform with one of them peaked dress cap thingys. He used to tell me he flew an airplane during the war and he’s take Granny for a spin in it. I used to think, wow, how cool is that. Turns out he used to tell Da, your Grandad, he drove tanks during the war. 😀 He didn’t do either but he was part of the Fórsa Cosanta Áitiúil (FCÁ), the local defence forces during WW2, hence the dapper uniform. I guess it was a bit like the T.A now. (Another bit of family trivia, Grandad’s brother Porrie did fly for the RAF during the war, as a tail gunner in a Lancaster bomber). It makes no odds to me, his coolness has not decreased, but you can imagine from that how good his stories were…..

He had a big garden and behind it they had some fields which at the very bottom included a small wood, a.k.a The Woods. At the time it seemed huuuuge. Grandad used to bring me for walks to the woods, helping me jump the ditches or carrying me across. One wintery day we went down there and Grandad was telling me about The Badgers, who would bite your leg off. He showed me how to keep them away by breaking thick twigs in half as we walked, so they thought is was your bone snapping. I dunno how true that twig snapping story is but at the time I was constantly breaking twigs for fear of losing me leg to a badger. There were wood chopping expeditions to the woods too. Da (your Grandad) and Uncle Mike would go down to chop sticks and Grandad would sit there, give orders and supervise. As I got older,  we discovered some fallen trees that made a really cool fort, that Grandad supplied all the old pots and pans for (probably nicked from Granny’s kitchen). He couldn’t fit in but he’d sit outside. 😀

When they had the big new shed built in the garden, Grandad let us kids use the old shed as a babby house. He hung a swing up for us in there, your Auntie Sarah and Uncle Phil split the back of there heads open falling off it a few times. Grandad would sit there with us, in his deck chair pretending to drink endless cups of coffee made from turf mould and water. Sometimes he’d nod off and me and Sarah would pee ourselves laughing, whilst stealing the biggest logs we could from the stick pile, walking right across in front of him whilst he snoozed. He always approved of the little gardens we’d create next to the babby house.

Grandad loved flowers, he had a great garden. He’d trim the hedges into castle or horse shapes. He showed me what flowers were what…daffodils, tulips, snowdrops, roses, sweet peas and sweet williams….sweet williams and daffodils always remind me of him. There was a field across the road, Grandad would take me into and it was full of cowslips. You never see them anymore. 😦 There used to be a little Robin that hung out in the garden, we’d put out a bowl of bread for him. Grandad used to say he was watching out for us.

When the road was empty, Grandad used to take me onto it and we’d pretend to be driving imaginary cars, him using his walking stick as a steering wheel. Sometimes we’d walk as far as the Thatched Cottage to nose if the Yanks were in or pick the bluebells out of the hedge opposite. Sometimes we’d bring Sheba for a walk up to the canal and watch her swim. During the summer Grandad used to hold my hands whilst I stood on a big stone in the water, dipping me toes in the deeper bit.

Ugh Small Man, I wish you could have met him and him you, ye would have loved each other. I wish I had more photos to show you….you know he was a bit of a photographer too. He’d take pictures of us and send them into The Topic for our birthday’s. I remember him developing photos in the bathroom and hanging them on the line over the bath.

One of my fav memories of Grandad was the night we watched a very satanic Christopher Lee movie (no, there is no way I should’ve been watching these movies at my age, at that time of the morning but Grandad was a rebel babysitter) so I was pretty freaked out going to bed. It was summertime so the windows were open in the kitchen. Anyway I’ve gone in to get a drink before bed and there was probably about 10 “Clocks” (beetles) around the kitchen floor, of course 10 looked like 100 at the time and I started bawling for Grandad. He rushed into the kitchen to see what happened, I was crying over all these clocks so he began standing on them. Oh if you could have seen him in his trousers and vest with his braces on, Grandad looked like he was doing a jig around the kitchen tryna kill all these little beasties. 😀 😀 Uh, I loved staying there, even though the house was a bit isolated and the long hallway creeped me out. In the mornings, I’d get into bed bedside Grandad and we’d do our arm exercises, arms up, arms out. We’d get up and listen to Radio 3 or Grandad would play records. He used to love a bit of Jim Reeves and would play “But you love me Daddy” for me.

So there you go, I could go on with little titbits of memories forever but this is just a taste of Grandad…The Man, The Beetle Killer, THE LEGEND! (Your Grandad has big shoes to fill 🙂 )

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There’s a sad end to my memories of Grandad though, I never got to say goodbye…….Auntie Ina had moved home with our cousin Monica and was living in Granny and Grandad’s. I was jealous. I thought Grandad didn’t love me any more, as he had Monica there all the time now. I remember my 11 year old self telling him this and telling him I wasn’t talking to him. I was going out to Nanny Mooney’s a few days later, and although we stopped at Grandad’s on the way by, I couldn’t get out like I wanted to to say goodbye and tell him I was sorry. We carried on to Nanny Mooney’s. I knew when I woke up the next morning, by the look on my Ma’s face that he had died that night.

So my little Mandingo, there’s an important lesson to be learned here; never be cross with somebody you love and if you have to leave them, even for a short amount of time, tell them you love them and say goodbye.

Love you always my Baby,                                 Love you always Grandad,

Mammy xx                                                                               Donna xx