To inform entertain and excite my kids, Jamie, Patrick, Aaron & Sarah Middleburgh, our family and friends.

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Hong Kong

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Patrick& A tale of 2 brothers, family secrets and questionable branding.

How would YOU tell your children that they have a new brother (but different mother) especially when

Well, in my case, I was more concerned with the When, not the how, and it was only when #3 son was 18 months old that I added his name to this blog's snippet. (a low key but nevertheless public "outing", if you will). About 4 weeks later I recieved the anticipated "what the f**K" email from #2 son (he does read this blog .. sometimes). In the follow up phone call he expressed first his opinion (based on personal experience) that I was singularly lacking in parental skills; and then concern for his new brother's well being. In essense he felt I was being somewhat selfish and grossly irresponsible. I thanked him for his insights, apologised for my past poor parenting, promised to do better this time and pointed out.... that it was a done deal. Contrast this with the reactions from my daughter. She simply thought that it was "cool" and congratulated me and #1 son who pragmatically observed that it was my business and not his.

Fast forward to last October: #2 son has taken a sabbatical and is travelling around the world whilst the Irish Economy implodes without him (NB no causal relationship). I get a phone call from mainland china a couple of days before he is due in Hong Kong." I am staying with you .. aren't I?" "Of course you are!" I say, and once off the phone, I go into crisis mode.

As it happens we had just moved flats and #3 son's new room is not yest kitted out or occupied so we have "a room". I also have an inflatable bed which had not been used for a couple of year. So I got it out and tested it and discovered it had a half life of about 30 mins after which it was totally deflated : Dispatch to Bin and activate PLAN B!! This consisted of creating a bed sized pad to sleep on three layers deep using #3 sons's discarded alphabet mats We had 3 sets of these foam mats ie sufficient for a game of scrabble.

when #2 son arrived, I explained the options ie sleep on floor and mats or on floor awithout mats.(no brainer really!) This provoked some serious giggling. I suspect it was hysteria on his part brought on by fatique. For my part it was relief that I didn't get decked. We quickly moved on to a discussion of what to spell. Credit for the term SHITOBED unresevedly goes to #2 I was particularly impressed because there are no repeating letters. Anyway suffice it to say that it served its purpose without complaints for the full 8 days that #2 stayed with us although he did point out that #1 son wouldn't tolerate it (which I already knew) and that I had better draw up a short list of alternative options for when he or #1 daughter comes to visit later this year (see end of post).

I was gratefied to see that whilst #2 was here, the boys appeared to hit it off famously : There was no fighting over toys or girls. #2 was even seen to read books to #3 (no doubt demonstrating how it should be done) and #3 now does a mean high five. (he did however say he was glad to have his room back)

And so to the matter of branding: if you were to Google "shitobed" it will ask whether you meant Shinto Bed (just in case you were either illiterate or had problems coordinating your fingers). It transpires according to PlatformBedsOnline that Shinto Platform beds are for the ultra minimalists amongst us who seek to become one with their bedroom and achieve Zen by combining their low profile Shinto Platform Bed with Fuji nightstands and dressers. (Impressed??) According to Mckinnon Furniture had Asia embraced the Arts and Crafts style, this (their version of a shinto bed) would be the elegant result with gracefully flared legs and floating upper rails defining the look of East meets West etc. Forgive me (or not) but what a load of old "tosh". The so called shinto bed is a western marketing concept.You wanna talk about asian minimalistic aesthics then the SHITOBED is essentially the true embodyment of this concept. Consider which is aesthetically closer to the implied asian/japanese japanese style. A platform bed which would be at home in IKEA or a simple bed made from mats which can be put away during the day. The comparison with tatami mats and futons is inescapable . Also consider which is closer in spirit to traditional craft skills - factory manufactured flat packs (continuing IKEA metaphor) or recycled mats assenbled in rustic mode like in a village deep in the woods. And if we must mention zen and minimalist, we even eliminated the n from Shintobed !!! Now is that not ZEN or what!!!

Options under review

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