Monday, 30 July 2012

Can't Touch This

I like singing.  I tend to sing a lot when I'm at home.  Just bursts of songs as I remember the lyrics, or as the tune pops into my head.  I have listened to a lot of music through doing jobs in various factories, where the radio was constantly on, and somehow most of it seems to have buried itself deep within my brain and will come bursting out, sometimes at very inopportune moments.  Moments of great solemnity can be spoiled by my subconscious suddenly deciding that all I want to do is belt out the chorus to a Beatles track, or something worse.  It hasn't happened yet but my constant fear is that I am going to have a desperate desire to sing 'Barbie Girl' by Aqua whilst in a public place.  If you don't know it you are one of the lucky ones.  A terrible piece of pop featuring the ludicrous line, "Life in Plastic, It's Fantastic."  At least you can't complain about it not rhyming.

This evening my song of choice was 'Can't Touch this' by MC Hammer.  Not a song I like especially, or would recommend to anyone, but the song that bubbled to the top of the pile during tea.  Of course, being at home, with only my wife and N for company, I went for it.  Also of course, it's the sort of tune that demands a dance routine.  So there I was hurling myself around the kitchen whilst the girls sat at the table watching me.  Until the little Buglet decided that she wanted to weigh in on my singing. 

I have already commented on her love of music, and we often have a laugh with me singing and dancing away and her trying to copy my moves.  She's got rhythm, but her balance leaves something to be desired.  She can occasionally resemble Gabrielle Anderson running the last few hundred metres of the frst ever Olympic women's marathon (if you haven't seen it just have a peek at this video.  (Skip through to about the minute mark to get to the actual race footage.)   It would be funny if it wasn't such an epic achievement, I think I would probably look like that roughly a mile into any marathon I tried to run.)

Back to this evening.

Me: Can't touch this *accompanied by some chicken dance which will never be seen in public no matter how much you all ask*
N: Daddy noisy

Only two words, but so crushing.  There goes any dream I may have had to take my talents and go professional.  "Noisy" is not really the critique you are looking for when you showcase your abilities in front of your 20 month old daughter.  At this point my wife burst out laughing and tried to encourage her to say it again while I slunk away into the darker recesses of the kitchen in order to hide the shame. 

Incidentally, this was the same mealtime that had included my wife pouring half a bottle of soy sauce onto her dinner by mistake, and me stuffing a wrap so full that as I took my first bite most of it fell out onto my plate.  A fairly typical mealtime then, except for the part where I learnt that my daughter doesn't like rap, or at least my rendition of it.  Good job I haven't quit my day job then.

Friday, 27 July 2012

A Fish out of Water

It’s sunny.  Not just like an occasional ray of sun poking through thick black clouds, but actual sun, blazing down from a cloudless sky.  This has been the case all week which has caused rejoicing and general merriment everywhere I look.  It has not been a welcome occurrence for me.  I am the sort of person whose general capabilities diminish exponentially as the heat goes up.  I have already mentioned in another post, but if it gets up above 20 degrees or so I turn into this gibbering wreck unable to perform the simplest of tasks.  Tying my shoelaces becomes an ordeal that Hercules would have baulked at, writing my name is completely out of the question, and anything that actually requires physical effort is just unthinkable. 

But then something changed.  Our little girl came along.  Last summer she was only six-seven months and wasn’t mobile so the garden wasn’t quite the excitement which it has become.  Now however, she is desperate to be out and about, and absolutely loves the freedom she has running around the garden.  Which has meant that the rain this summer has been particularly unwelcome, our garden, being as it is at the bottom of a hill, has a tendency to fill up rather quickly when the rain comes.  We have whole areas of the garden which could be deployed as a reserve pool in case anything goes wrong with the Aquatics Centre in London, I would even be prepared to knock up a makeshift podium out of matchboxes and sticky back plastic if they needed the garden for any medal presentations.  I’m also pretty sure that given a little bit of practice N and I could belt out most of the national anthems for the major nations, although I think her personal favourite might be “Yumi, yumi, yumi”  Vanuatu’s national anthem. I don’t think they have sent over a large swimming contingent however.  She needs a bit of work on her tuning, but no one can doubt her enthusiasm for singing, and she does go right to the heart of most songs.  She has recently been introduced to a certain nursery rhyme, and though she doesn’t have all of the words, you know what she’s going for when she bellows out, “three mice runnin’, three mice runnin’,” at the top of her voice. 

That was a long paragraph, let’s try to get back on track shall we?  Having rained pretty well everyday since the beginning of June, thus rendering our garden completely out of action, it has finally got hot.  Which has meant that N can now really enjoy charging round the garden.  What has tipped the enjoyment over the edge however (though not to quite the extent of Boris Johnson’s Olympic mania geiger counter, really, “zoink,” what was he thinking?) is the fact that we have been able to get the paddling pool out.  She does love the paddling pool.  And clearly getting wet doesn’t bother her in the slightest, fully clothed, wellies firmly on she will charge into the water soaking herself, her parents, and anyone else that gets within her orbit. 

Which is how, earlier on today, I found myself, also fully clothed, being dragged into the pool with her.  And then being ordered, nay, forcibly conscripted, into sitting on the edge of the pool whilst she merrily threw pre-wet balls at me, and poured water out of her wellies all over me.  I was soaked, she was soaked, the sun was out and we were both loving it.  And it hit me.  Not just the ball she had just thrown at me, but an epiphany.  Life had changed.  All too often I find myself thinking about how having our daughter has closed opportunities for us, things are just more complicated and the range of things that it is appropriate to do with a little one feels very slim, but now and then you find yourself doing something, and enjoying it, that you would have never done without having a child, something, in fact, that I couldn’t ever have believed I would have enjoyed.

So thank you little girl, you’ve given me a new experience and opened my eyes.  Just think of what we could be doing tomorrow.  Now, how does that anthem go again?  

Wednesday, 25 July 2012



Our little girl loves music.  In fact it would be fair to say that she is a fan of noise in general.  And she seems to have a very good ear.  She can tell the difference between a lawn mower and a motor bike fairly consistently, and she can tell when the bin lorry is coming down the hill well before I’ve been able to pick the noise up.  (She loves the bin lorry, every Wednesday when it comes she will stand at the window and beg to be lifted up so that she can watch it perform and close to every week she is guaranteed a wave from the men, which I think is pretty cool.  The only downside is if they come whilst she is having her daytime sleep, they will wake her up).

Whilst most noises are extremely welcome, especially the percussive delights of the lids she can get out of the pan drawer, it’s really music that she is desperate for.  Instant obedience is commanded simply by threatening to turn the music off, and if the music is off she will demand that it be turned on.  Although, the way she says it makes it sound more like she would like you to bring her a poorly cow.  “Moosick, Moosick.”  This will continue until you either explain why music isn’t possible, or until the music actually starts, at which point she will lapse into silence for a little bit. 

There have been times, however, when her love for music have driven her to dangerous extremes.  We have a hi fi in the lounge which is about three feet off the ground on a little niche built into the wall.  It didn’t take long for N to work out that this is where the moosick comes from when we are in the lounge.  What took her a little longer was to work out how she could get up to it.  However, she’s a bright little thing and it came to her in the end.  If she clambered up onto the settee, teetered across to the wooden arm and hauled herself up onto it she could just about reach over and turn the stereo on. It took a bit of time for her to establish which was the on button, but she got it eventually.  This was not the end of the troubles however.  Just turning it on doesn’t make the music come out, thus more buttons needed to be pressed.  Soon enough she could get the CD drawer to open, but still the music wouldn’t come out. 

It is at this point that the cries for music will start up, and one of us will wander into the lounge to be greeted by a little girl trying to scramble off the settee before we notice that she’s been up there.  Unfortunately she hasn’t worked out that leaving the CD drawer still waiting eagerly for a CD to be put in it is a bit of a give away. 

One day she will learn that the music comes from the little silver discs that she loves to leave strewn around the floor anytime she can get her hands on a pile.  Once that happens there’ll be no stopping her.  Until then I’m just going to enjoy the peace and quiet.

Monday, 23 July 2012


I got a job today!  After a long time trying, going on interviews and not getting anywhere, I got a job today.  Which has made me pretty cheerful, as you can imagine.  As such tonight will be mostly celebratory in our house and so the blog has taken a back seat I’m afraid. 

However, because I can’t leave you with nothing, and as I know that you all hang on my every word, here is a little story about milk.  Milk is currently in the news, farmers don’t think they are being paid enough for it, and supermarkets think that they are, that seems to be the general gist.  And having seen that incisive commentary on the situation, I imagine Jon Humphreys has already begun to plan his retirement as I step into his shoes. 

Anyway, milk.  We like milk in our house, N is a particular fan.  Milk is what she asks for for breakfast, lunch and tea.  Recently we have added a new milk element into the bedtime routine as well, which seems to have gone down like a treat. 

Unfortunately, N does not have quite the cubic capacity in her mouth as she would like.  She loves to fill her mouth with milk and then slowly gulp it down.  Every now and then however she bites off (sucks in?) rather more than she can chew (swallow? I’m sorry this little picture has got a little out of hand).  This results in fountains of milk pouring out of her mouth as she struggles to contain all the milk that she would like in her mouth.  It’s like she saw a documentary on geysers in Yellowstone National Park and thought, ‘now there’s a career move I should give serious consideration to.’  (Although of course she would never leave her conjunctions at the ends of her sentences.)

She’s not quite as regular as Old Faithful, but can be just as impressive when she gets up to peak flow rate.  Now I wouldn’t mind too much.  It’s clear she doesn’t do it on purpose by the forlorn look on her face when she realises that all that good milk has just disappeared, never to be consumed by her.  The only problem is, the majority of the time while she is drinking the milk, she is sat on my lap.  Thus I become some sort of milk target.  My t-shirts, shorts, trousers, shirts, all have succumbed to a blast of milk from the little girl.  I have now taken to trying a technique whereby I return the glass to her mouth almost before I’ve taken it away.  That way milk embarrassments are avoided, and everyone is happy.

I hope the farmers get paid enough to keep on producing milk, I’m not sure what I would tell N if we suddenly had a milk shortage.

Friday, 20 July 2012

A Good Walk Spoiled

Golf is a funny game.  Though perhaps not in the classical sense of the word.  There’s not a lot of humour to be found in strolling around on grass with sticks, unless you have a dog.  And yet there is something inherently amusing about watching people chase a ball around.  Which is why I imagine there were people chuckling the whole time my wife, N and I were playing pitch and putt on holiday.

I want to set the scene a little first.  It was raining.  Lightly at first, but by the time we were half way round it was raining the sort of rain that is reserved  for British summer time by the sea.  Cold, very wet, rain that soaks into your clothes, and doesn’t dry for hours.  And there we were, knocking two little white balls around a course.  You won’t be surprised to know that we were the only ones there, in fact, considering how this summer has gone we’re probably the only people who have been on that course for about 3 months.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Le Tour

I’ve never cycled in the Tour de France.  In fact, of all the major cycling races I can proudly boast an unbroken 100% record for not having competed in them.  Not many men can say that.  Well, maybe the odd one or two.  Anyway, to continue the theme from the previous post of people who think they are having a hard week, I don’t think Le Tour can be as hard as all that.  I’ve ridden a bike and it wasn’t that difficult, and it’s not like any of them are likely to forget how half way around is it? 

Our daughter can’t ride a bike, her main problem is that her feet don’t reach the pedals, and her hands don’t reach the handlebars, and her balance isn’t that great either.  All in all, not a natural cyclist.  She does however have a little pink push-a-long thing that she sits on and rides.  Again, she is not quite up to self propulsion just yet, and so far I’ve been able to convince her that it is not appropriate to fit an internal combustion engine.  I haven’t yet confessed to her that I am not actually competent to fit an engine, nor could I source one at the speed which she demands.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Security Issues

Security is an issue.  I’ve recently been tasked, by my wife, with recruiting 10,000 guards to look after our daughter, but it turns out that even though the deadline is coming up very soon, I’ve had to come clean and admit that due to massive administrative complexities I only managed to recruit around 6 thousand and that the rest of the guards have to be conscripted in from the public sector.  I’ve owned up, and I held daily meetings with my wife to keep her fully abreast of the situation, but somehow she doesn’t seem to have read the memo that I put at the bottom of her briefing documents written in size 3 Wingdings which explained the numbers in detail.

Hang on, that’s not actually true, just something that I’ve heard from somewhere.  Anyway, security is an issue in our house as our daughter is at the age where she can put Houdini to shame with her feats of escapology.  Seriously, I have found her in situations that would push Jonathan Creek to drink. I still have no idea how, when she was quite a bit younger, she managed to climb up and out of her cot, and make it to the floor without damaging herself.  Perhaps it has something to do with that radioactive spider she was bitten by?

Friday, 13 July 2012

Sound of Silence

The silence was wafting through from the living room.  And it wasn’t the good kind.  It was the kind that set your teeth on edge, that caused your heart to pump just that little bit quicker, that gave you goosebumps all over, that caused a feeling of dread to creep over you, like that time you woke up to find yourself all alone in the insect house at the zoo, when all the insects had escaped.  It was the sort of silence that had been known to make grown men cry, and grown women run screaming for the hills, only stopping to grab the phone so that they can live tweet the occasion.  Harry Potter would have quailed at this silence, Frodo and Sam would have had one listen and simply walked into Mordor muttering something about a ring they’d dropped and some guy called Sourman, the entire Justice League would have looked away, whistled a jaunty tune and slunk off pretending they hadn’t heard.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Well D-O-N-E!

I seem to spend a lot of my time telling off my 19 month old daughter.  You know the sort of thing. 
Don’t touch that
You can’t go in there
You remember what I said about going near the nuclear reactor. 
The usual sort of stuff.  But so much of my time seems to be taken up by telling my daughter all the things that we would really rather she didn’t do.   See this post for examples of the sorts of things she does, familiar to you all I’m sure.

This has the effect of making me feel like I am an incredibly mean person.  There are all these things she can’t do, with me acting as the bad guy who has to stop her.  Already this morning I have caused her to have a major grump out at least twice by stopping her from doing things she knows she isn’t allowed to do.  This consists of her being told not to do something, and then being removed from the object of her desire.  At this point she either reacts by just moving on to the next unobtainable, and therefore desirable, thing that catches her attention, or in her crashing onto the floor, and wailing, whilst flailing limbs mean that her body becomes the centre of a no-fly-zone which extends much further than I would have imagined she could stretch.

Friday, 6 July 2012

I like you (yes, you)

I want to like you.  Obviously I love you, but liking you is different, and much more difficult.   You just make it so hard when you behave like you do sometimes:
When you get angry and refuse to do anything that you are asked.

When you are so tired that you fight against everything, especially your mummy and me.

When you decide that eating is for inferior beings and, that you never want to eat anything again but instead, (like those people in that story that I have forgotten) have decided just to be nourished by smell.
When you throw your arms around and nothing is safe.

When you throw your toys around and those things that had been put safe from your arms are suddenly in the strike zone again.

When you say you need the potty, only to sit there for ages and not do anything.

When you’ve sat on the potty for ages, but hold on to whatever you’re going to do until I’ve picked you up.

When we’re outside in the garden and all you want to do is pull plants up.

When you’ve got bored of pulling plants up and decide that the only thing you’ve every wanted is to eat peapods, not the peas so much just the pods they come in.

When you stab me in the chest with a pencil and then get really grumpy when I take it off you.

When toys are not for playing with but for scattering like fairy dust around the house.

When, having done your best Tinker Bell* impression, you want the one thing you’ve scattered that we cannot find.

When you don’t believe me when I tell you that we’re going to put you in your chair to have lunch, so you take it out on my ears.

When you absolutely will not go to sleep no matter how tired you are.

When you decide that if you aren’t going to be asleep no one on the entire street will.

When you hate being in the bath until the exact moment that I take you out of the bath and then you hate being out of the bath.

When mummy is the parent you want, until you’re with mummy, and then daddy is the man for you, until you’re with him.

When you have been told not to touch the cooker time after time after time, and yet just can’t resist playing with the knobs one last time.

When you climb up on the arm of the chair and won’t come down until you’ve fallen off.

When you won’t play with any other children at all but are sad when they leave.

I want to like you, but you make it so hard, are you just keeping me on my toes?  Are you trying to wear me down so far that I will let you get away with anything that you want?  Is this how life will be for the next 18 years, or is is just a phase you are going through?  Is there anything I can do differently?  Will I look back at this one day and wish we were back here again?  Because even though it is so hard to like you, I never want to let you go.

I want to like you, and underneath everything, despite this list that I have put together, you are very likeable, your smile is wide and toothy, your giggle is infectious and comes easily, your cuddles are freely given and heartfelt, you are my daughter and every now and then I see myself in you and almost explode.  Yes, I do like you, but couldn’t you just make it a little easier, even just this much.

Check the awesome table cloth!

*Who knew that Tinker Bell had two names?  Not me before writing this!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Staring, Staring, Staring

Our daughter is a girl of many expressions.  For a long time it made no difference that she couldn’t speak, she managed to convey her feelings through the medium of her facial expressions.  Which I suppose is preferable to the medium of modern dance.  Anyway, she is one of those people who you would not describe as inscrutable.  In fact, scrutable, if it existed as a word, could have been coined just for her.  (It turns out that scrutable has been used and is a recognised word, although it has fallen out of the rather niche use which it once enjoyed.  It even merited a definition in Samuel Johnson’s dictionary, or to give it its full title, A Dictionary of the English Language: In which the Words are Deduced from Their Originals, Explained in Their Different Meanings, and Authorised by the Names of the Writers in Whose Works They are Found.  What a wonderful book that is.  One of these days, when I have totally run out of ideas, I’m just going to dedicate a blog post to words and definitions from that most remarkable book.  Let us all hope that day is a long way off.)

Monday, 2 July 2012

The Road Less Travelled

Our daughter likes walking.  A lot.  She’s really a big fan of perambulation.  Offer her the chance to go for a walk and she’ll have her shoes on before you can finish your sentence.  They usually won’t be on the right foot of course, in fact often they won’t be on her feet at all, but you can tell that she’s eager. 

If you asked her though, she’d probably say that she was a walker in the mould of Sir Ranulph Fiennes or Ray Mears, you know, the adventurous sort, not content to follow the map.  If her grasp of idiom were better she may even say that she was mostly an ‘off the beaten track’ kind of a gal and that walking on pavements was for sissies who couldn’t cope with off roading.  That’s pretty much what I assume she is saying to me anyway as we make our way down another pavement.

Oh can we go up there?  Can we?  What do you mean by car?