Category Archives: Animals

Failure isn’t falling, it’s not getting back up again….

I’m going to let you into a secret, deep down I’m one of those people who would love to live in a world of rainbows, fairies, seahorses and unicorns!   It wouldn’t be for everyone but here is my idea of a perfect world…

….and this is what I’ve got!

Now, don’t get me wrong, Lorie asleep in her Unicorn onesie that I bought her for Christmas is wonderful and very endearing, and I love Bear very much indeed and he does do a passable impression of a Unicorn, for a dog.

But you can see the difference, huh?  It’s not quite the same as my fantasy world is it?

It’s sad that we can’t all live in a happy world of unicorns, fairies etc….but this is real life and sometimes it sucks!  The last year for the Shanks family has been one of incredible highs and desperate lows, it’s all very confusing.  The film being launched, winning a major award and being nominated for a BIFA and now a BAFTA was beyond our wildest dreams at the time of filming, and the film receiving such an incredible response from the audience on Netflix is simply amazing.

On the other hand, me having a heart attack, the children’s grandmother passing away and  various other rubbish events have had us all on a rollercoaster of emotions from which we’re all still recovering!

But that’s life isn’t it?  Highs and lows…the trick is managing to ride them well enough to be able to get through to the next rainbow on the horizon.  Oh yes, and keep searching for Unicorns, they’re out there somewhere!


Autism: Kittens in the freezer

Yes, your eyes are working just fine, the title does say ‘Kittens in the Freezer’!  I put something up on Facebook yesterday mentioning this and had a lot of raised eyebrows, should we be reported to the RSPCA?

No, it wasn’t quite like this!

Errrr…no, we might be bizarre, but we’re not cruel, so let me explain.

It came to pass some years ago that myself and all of the children were on holiday in Devon for a week and a very dear friend was very kindly house sitting for us.  He was minding the dog and all of the cats and making sure the roof didn’t blow off in a storm (it has happened!) or marauding invaders didn’t take over the property (that hasn’t happened yet but there’s plenty of time!), he was also minding our very pregnant cat who wasn’t due to have her babies for at least 2/3 more weeks.

On day two he rang me to say that she’d had 5 beautiful but very small kittens in one of the girls wardrobes, and, so far so good.  Maybe we’d got it wrong and she was a lot further gone than we thought, anyway, she’d had them and Lewis was doing a stirling job of making sure all was well.

Until the next morning when he rang to say that one had died overnight but the rest seemed fine.  I was heartbroken and knew the children would be even more so and they hadn’t even had a chance to see the one we’d lost.

Now, I guess in a normal house this wouldn’t present too much of a problem beyond the grieving process, but, as a lot of you know, most of my children are on the autistic spectrum, so normal rules just don’t apply.  I had to think quickly to try and work out an appropriate resolution where they would at least have the chance of seeing him/her before burial.

I could think of nothing other than emptying a freezer drawer, wrapping it in tissue and putting it in a freezer bag so that we could bury her in the ‘animal burial grounds’ when we returned.  I felt pretty chuffed with myself, this seemed to solve the problem pretty well I thought.

The next day there was more bad news, we’d lost another one, so, the same instructions for poor old Lewis, wrap it in tissue and put it in the freezer.  Over the next couple of day the remaining 3 sadly passed away, they had obviously been born far too early and just couldn’t survive.  The children were all devastated but actually took it better than I had hoped, and they also knew that they would be able to see them when they returned and give them the send off we give all of our departed pets and random wildlife that we’ve tried to rescue over the years ( all dearly loved and named!).

We returned from holiday a few days later and we agreed to bury the kittens the next day as it was late when we got back.  It didn’t happen, nor the next day, or the next.  Chaotic life carried on and the kittens were forgotten, which I feel terribly guilty about but with 7 children to focus on I should probably let myself off the hook!

Time went by and it was about 6 months later that someone came across some mysterious plastic freezer bags with tissue inside.  One of Osborn’s weird experiments?  Probably!  And then it dawned, the kittens!

Everyone felt terrible, how could we have forgotten them for so long?  Life I guess, just busy life.

They were duly given a fitting funeral within the next day or so and laid to rest in somewhere rather more appropriate than the spare freezer.  Putting the kittens in the freezer in the first place had just been a rather wacky solution to the challenges that autism can throw up, they need to see for themselves, they need proof most of the time otherwise it’s too abstract, it’s not real.  My intentions had always been entirely honourable.

So, there it is, the story of The Kittens in the Freezer!




Apple Mac’s, Cats and Baths!

I think we all know that most Apple products don’t mix with water very well?  I certainly did, hence why in the 3 years I’ve had my Mac, it’s only been into the bathroom (very cautiously) 3 times!  On the third occasion THE disaster struck………yes, that one, the one I had nightmares about, the one that would end my world as I knew it!

I had started to run a bath and turned it off as 2 of my beautiful children had started talking to me about totally different subjects.  Only having 2 of them talking to me at same time was nothing I couldn’t handle, the cacophony is usually much worse, this was a walk in the park!


These items should never be introduced to a bath full of water!

Having said that, it distracted me, after a few seconds I looked around the upstairs hallway looking for my Mac and iPhone that I knew were together……nothing.  The penny dropped and I rushed into the bathroom just in time to see Tabby, one of our……..errrrrrr!!!!……..beautiful cats, jump onto the cabinet next to the bath, right on top of my phone and laptop!  It might have been my involuntary scream that frightened her and caused her to launch herself off but before I could mutter ‘shit’ under my breath, she pushed herself off the laptop as I watched, in agonising slow motion, both devices float into 2 inches of warm bath water!

Did I panic?  Well, I guess that’s one word for it?!  Having just watched my entire life being destroyed, I don’t think panic is really the appropriate word……my world stopped turning….

As fast as I could I dragged both items from the water and grabbed the towel, screaming at the kids to Google what to do if your Mac and iPhone fall into the bath.  We followed what instructions we could find but to no avail, the Mac was well and truly ‘Dodo’d’……  Miraculously, the phone still works, one point in favour of Apple for managing to create a phone that can survive more than the most obsessively cautious individuals ownership.  No points for me for thinking everything I did was backed up to the Cloud only to discover that I’ve lost everything on the Mac.  Manuscripts, proposals, photos, my media stuff….everything……GONE!

My life is now in hands of Todd at Spaghetti Agency who has the power and the contacts to (hopefully) download the contents of my hard drive so I can get most of it back, that’s if the hard drive isn’t fried!

So, here I sit with my new Mac (courtesy of interest free credit and no deposit!) trying to piece my virtual life back together, except that these days my virtual life and my real life have become so inextricably linked that they are now ‘as one’, life as I knew it 3 days ago have come to an end, I am now re-building it.

The most traumatic events in life include bereavement, divorce, changing jobs etc…..they need to add the death of a computer to that list, I am definitely in mourning!

Please take this as sage advice, I took my laptop into the bathroom to watch a talk someone had recommended to me, I thought I was being super productive by watching it in the bath….killing 2 birds with one stone so to speak.  Talk about backfire, the 20 minutes I would have saved have become entire days of trying to retrieve stuff, setting up my new computer and crying……..