Thursday, 5 December 2013

New morn, new born

They were playing Michael Jackson when we went in, not, perhaps, as auspicious as I might have liked but when someone is holding the door open for you at 5:30 in the morning I think it’s a bit impolite to ask them to change the radio station.  The moment was perhaps made a little better by the fact that my wife had just cracked her first, and last, mid-labour joke, remarking to the receptionist, as we were walking at a snail’s pace into the hospital stopping every few steps as B went into agony and doubled over, “Can you guess why we’re here?”  I can’t even blame the gas and air as we hadn’t got that far yet.  It wouldn’t have been so bad but as we made our incredibly slow way through winding corridors which stretched out like tunnels in the ‘Railway Children’, B kept telling me that I needed to make sure that her joke got into the blog

Hope you enjoyed it.  Please make requests for further guest blogs by B in the comments.  She’s said if we get to 100 she’ll think about it.

Monday, 29 July 2013

A Cry for Help

(This post was originally written last Tuesday, but has been delayed due to excessive busy, as well as lack of sleep and general bad temperedness, read on for the details)

Wit’s End - Where jokes go to die.

It’s a story that will be familiar to many of you, but here is my own version of the old classic, “Help, I’m the parent of a two year old who refuses to sleep and won’t do anything she’s told.”

As with all good stories this one starts with a change in the weather.  The hot weather has really messed us up unfortunately, none more so than the little tyrant.  Although it has been a particularly hard time for my wife who is (I hope I get this right) 28 weeks pregnant, but whose bump, according to the funky little bump chart measurement thingTM (I am available for all your technical term needs) is actually measuring about 3 weeks bigger than it should be.  This,  coupled with the heat (did I mention it was warm?), has made things extra difficult for B looking after the monster.  

Another side effect of the hot weather, which has been really quite warm, is that N has not been going to sleep.  I choose to assume it is the hot weather as then I can lull myself into the, probably foolish, hope that once it cools down a bit this will improve.  I have devoted words on this blog already to the subject of my daughter’s exceptional sleep regime so I won’t rehash that, except to say that things are in no way as bad as they were for the first 10 months of her life, which we affectionately refer to round here as the lost months, and I am very grateful that I have bumped my sleep average up to about 6 hours a night now, positively blissful.  However, gratitude aside, it is getting just a little wearing that whilst N will sleep all the way through now, which sounds great, we need to drill down into those numbers just a little.  Let me especially highlight the Time of First Sleep (TOFS) number which is currently fluctuating between 9 and 10:30pm.  Which when you compare that with the Time of First Awakening (TOFA) number of 5-6am leaves you with an equation which spits out the nightmarish number for Length of Sleep for Two Year Old (LOSFTYO) of around 8 hours.  This may be enough for you and me, it is not enough to prevent my two year old daughter from turning into a whining, exhausted, misbehaving wreck of a little girl.

We have tried a number of things to solve the problem.  From cutting out the afternoon sleep which she has still been having - doesn’t work as she won’t go to sleep much earlier and she becomes impossible to deal with by about 4 o’clock if we try that - to trying to get her to sleep in longer in the mornings - also hasn’t work as she has a built in Daddy’s Going Downstairs, Must Go Down With Him (DGDMGDWH, I think she needs to work on her acronyms) alarm which goes off whenever she hears me creeping downstairs.  Unfortunately she is just at the moment in a cycle where she is not getting enough sleep, is hot and bothered, and is driving us both crazy.

Anyway, this is all a fairly long winded preamble to letting you know that for a while this blog may have to come with a Danger, Lack of Jokes (DLOJ) warning sign while we all wait for things to cool off.  Oh and hopefully this hot weather will stop as well.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Down the Garden Path

It’s got hot.  Very hot.  So hot that the internal combustion engine that keeps me warm in the coldest temperatures in winter is currently squinting at the thermometer and relishing the fact that it has finally found some serious competition.  It has bought itself some training shoes and recruited a personal trainer and is really getting into shape, I think it’s building itself up for the heating Olympics.  This will likely sound familiar to many of you who also feeling the heat a bit, but I say it to try to explain why I am currently struggling to put one word after another in a way that is anything other than arrant gibberish (it may also go someway to explaining why I find the word arrant quite so bewitching.  It clearly means nothing at all, but has the potential to go with pretty much everything to brighten things up, much like salad cream really.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Swinging Doors

We’ve reached that stage with N.  You know the one.  The one where what you thought were innocent doors are actually revealed to be secret playground equipment (which sounds like a great name for an indie band made up entirely of 7 year olds).  You don’t remember that?  Let me refresh your memory/tell you about what my life is like at the moment.


Squeak Squeak

“N, stop playing with the gate!”

Squeak Squeak

“I said stop it”

*Looks round to find N swinging wildly on the stair gate with her foot stuck trying to extract it from between the bars.*

This has happened on numerous occasions in the last few days, and it is often followed by plaintive and slightly sheepish cries for help as one of us has to go and pull her out.  

It’s not just the stair gates though (although those pieces of apparatus are probably the most worrying considering they are the only hinged items in our house that I put up, and whilst my DIY skills are cosmically great, it turns out stair gates are tricky things to get right. At least she doesn’t swing on the gate which is across the arch into the kitchen, mostly because my wife had to take it down because I put it up so badly that N could basically walk underneath it).  Anything with a hinge, it turns out, is fair game for a bit of fun.  The doors are swung on wildly, seemingly in an attempt to cause a draft ferocious enough to cool down the vicious heat of the British summer.  Even the door on the little play oven that sits in the lounge has been receiving the treatment.  Not so much with the swinging, but it has been clattered into the wall on a number of occasions.

What I need to know then is this: Which will come first, N growing out of this phase, or me having to purchase and hang new doors? With my level of skill I may need some practice.

Answers on a postcard please to

The House With No Doors
Squeaky Lane

Or you could just pop it in the comments, whichever you think is easier.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

A Close Shave

Wimbledon is in crisis.  No, don’t panic, they still have strawberries and I believe the cream situation is also under control.  No, this is, if you can believe it, a problem for the well-manicured lawns of SW19.  For, you see, a number of players seem to have grown rather too fond of the grass.  So fond in fact that they have developed a habit of throwing themselves at it rather hard in an effort to make an imprint of their body in it.  This extreme act has, understandably, caused a startling number of injuries and withdrawals from ‘The Championships.’  At current count there have been twelve retirements through injury (though not all of them can be attributed to the grass mania which is sweeping the tournament) and one player is currently in the midst of a medical timeout, (he’s up and about now.  I bet you weren’t expecting a live tennis blog when you came were you?)

Mystery not-injured-anymore player has just gone 2-1 up in the first set on serve.   

It is becoming pretty clear now that this is my year, I have never had a better chance to win Wimbledon than this year. As long as I don’t get struck down by the mysterious grass malady, I think I could go far.

I’m joking of course, I’ll have a much better chance next year when they turn the whole complex into one big soft play to avoid injuries, and decree that the only competition that will be played is mixed doubles where one of the competitors must be 3 years old or younger.  I’d take me and my daughter against any of them in a game which took place in the revamped Centre Court, otherwise known as the biggest indoor ball pool in the world.  Remember when you see the announcements in the press that you heard it here first.  It really is a fool-proof idea which has the added benefit of giving at least some of the players an excuse for squealing and whining like toddlers.

Uninjured player now at 1 set all and is 3-2, on serve, in the third set, he is looking very sprightly as well

Anyway, back to grass.  You see I had a slight run-in with the grass in my own garden just this week,  and when I say a run-in with the grass what I mean is a run-in with my lawn-mower.  And when I say run-in with my lawn-mower what I really mean is that I ran over the wire powering my lawn-mower which meant that having mowed a neat little patch, and then a running track down one edge, progress was halted for quite a while as I attempted to patch up my mess.  This was a relatively simple job for one of my undoubted DIY ability.  All I had to do was get a terminal block and connect the wires up in it and Bob would, in fact, be your Uncle.  This was accomplished with little hassle and I was soon on my way mowing like a champion.  Until there was a massive bang, followed by another explosion, at which point the lawn-mower, understandably I’m sure you’ll agree, decided that discretion was the better part of valour and refused to play its, fairly crucial, part in the mowing of the lawn.

Having established, through the medium of sparks flying everywhere, that the green wire and the blue wire shouldn’t be able to come into contact (although I would like to offer, in my defence, the mitigation that I am colour blind.  I realise that this is not much mitigation as they are the only two wires in there, but I feel something needs to be said in my defence) I then spent the better part of half an hour trying to strip the wires back enough so that they would fit into the terminal block, but not so much that they would be dangling out and therefore at risk of causing my entire garden to go up in flames.  I’m afraid to tell you that my natural talent and flair for all things practical failed me at this crucial juncture and even though I thought I had managed to get the wires just right I still couldn’t make the lawn-mower do any actual mowing, instead it just stood in the middle of the patch it had just mowed sulking and muttering something under its breath about health and safety.

It eventually dawned on me that perhaps, amidst all the pyrotechnics, a fuse may have possibly blown.  Unfortunately, the time now being somewhere in the region of getting up and going to work time, such a thing was unobtainable and thus the adventure with the lawn-mower came to a rather premature end.

The Garden in better days.

I have decided though that this may, in fact, serve a greater purpose.  All we need to do is to get the players at Wimbledon to pop up here for the weekend and spend some time in my garden.  There’s so much grass here they’d be cured of their grass infatuation in minutes.

Final update on unidentified, totally fine man: 8-9 down in the final set, play has been suspended due to slight sog.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Potty Coaching

Job interviews are a phenomenon I am fairly sure only Dr Who can fully get his head around.  With his comprehensive knowledge of timey wimey stuff I eagerly await the episode where he gives a full and convincing explanation about how time can be so quick during the inevitable ‘write nonsense about a hypothetical totally unrealistic and unrelated to the job you are applying for’ test element of the selection process and yet slow down to such an extent that it is always a surprise when you leave an interview and people are still not taking the intergalactic express to commute to work.  Surely that sort of time-bending shenanigans is just begging to be tackled in an episode of Dr Who.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

All Grown Up

Your chips will never be the same again
Let me talk to you about hot sauce.  Oh go on.  A really good hot sauce is a transcendent experience.  You see a really good hot sauce has the potential to completely ruin your meal because:

a) You will not be able to taste anything else for the rest of the day
b) Why would you want to?  

This is a really good hot sauce remember, which, when done properly is just the most sublime of tastes that there is (except for maybe a raspberry which is just the greatest flavour of them all).

It is not just hot sauce that is like this though, sometimes you experience something which just spoils you for everything else.  Something which is so far and above your ordinary experience that it leaves everything else lacking in lustre just a little, something which is of a quality that it seems as though it will never be matched, even though you keep trying to recreate the moment.  

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Rearing 'The Whirlwind'

Last week my wife was ill.  This is a distressing event at the best of times, but as she was also pregnant, experiencing stomach pains, unable to sleep and not desirous of food we were a little more worried than perhaps we needed to have been.  She is well on the way to being better now but for a week she couldn’t really get out of bed.  This meant that I had to take some time off work to look after N while she was incapacitated.


In the end I spent 4 whole days with her and came away with a renewed appreciation for my wife and a hearty dread of ever having to look after my daughter for an extended period of time without proper adult supervision ever again.  It was a grueling four days of playdough, crayons, playdough and crayons, stickers, stickers being unpeeled from crayons, stickers being unpeeled from walls and tables, playdough being scraped from the table, quick run in the garden, lunch, sleep, playdough, Ivor the Engine, tea, bath, all of which took us to about 2 in the afternoon.  I’m pretty sure when she grows up N’s wrestling nickname will be ‘The Whirlwind.’

The illness was the reason why I was dispensed to do the shopping with N which led to the joyous incident that I wrote about in this post.  It was also the reason why nothing domestic seemed to get done in our house for pretty much the entirety of last week.  I just about kept on top of the washing up, but if you are expecting me to have managed to tidy up after each day’s wrecking ball type activities, or done those jobs which are mysteriously being added to the kitchen notice board, I’m afraid we need to have a little chat about your expectation levels.

Each evening after ‘The Whirlwind’TM  had finally been put to bed (which is a blogpost all of its own) I would curl myself into a little ball wondering how much mileage there was in calling in a storm chaser to supervise my daughter for a day.  

And yet my wife somehow makes it all look very effortless, like the moment of complete stillness achieved by Pele in the build up to That Goal, or the moment of time-slowing brilliance exhibited by Joe Montana for The Catch.  She is the area of effortless yet effective calm in the middle of my daughter’s daily imitation of El Nino.

It just so happens to be our anniversary today and there’s really only one thing I want to say.  Thank-you.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Water, Water, Everywhere

In the year 480 BC Athens was in trouble.  Xerxes I had defeated the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae and had turned his attention to the next obstacle, the men of Athens.  In response to this threat the Athenians did the only thing a Classical Greek person would do.  No, not run, or fly the white flag, they turned to the Oracle at Delphi.  When the envoys had arrived and as they walked in, they would have read the words inscribed in the wall of the fore court, ‘γνῶθι σεαυτόν,’ gnothi seauton, which would have commanded them, before they went in, to ‘Know yourself.’    

This phrase was debated endlessly by men in antiquity, even Socrates weighed in on what he thought it meant, but basically it seems to have been an injunction to understand your own limitations in the face of the god Apollo, the god who was the power behind the Delphic oracle, and to accept his words without question.  Those of you who have read any of this blog before, particularly the DIY parts, or who have read the ‘About me’ page (go and have a quick look now if you want, I won’t go anywhere), will know that I am quite familiar with a number of my limitations, mostly because they are illuminated on a daily basis by my wife and my daughter, mostly my daughter.  Such an illumination took place today when N and I went shopping.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Much A-Doing About nothing

My life currently feels like it is a television show being hosted by David Dimbleby, and not one of those nice ones where people are driven around in horse-drawn carriages to open parliament or get married at Westminster Abbey.  No, my life currently feels like David Dimbleby is hosting and moderating a debate in which members of the audience get to fire questions at me non-stop until either I crack or they fall asleep.  So far it has been rather more of the former than the latter unfortunately.

Friday, 15 February 2013

I'm Not a Pear Either

You know that feeling?

Yeah, that one.

The one where you’ve not been somewhere for a long time and now you’re a bit scared of going in?  Or where you’ve not seen someone for a while and you’re just a little bit nervous of seeing him, in case they’re not the same person anymore, or you aren’t?

I feel a bit like that right now.  My blog is very much foreign territory to me at the moment.  I very rarely look at it (N probably wouldn’t even recognise it if I checked on the stats like she used to) and when I do it is with one eye closed and my face scrunched up in case I find that it has actually given up on me and disappeared.  So far I’ve been in luck, but soon it really will just up and find someone who will look after it better, so I really ought to put something new there.

Unfortunately I can confirm that the lack of blogging hasn’t come about because of my vastly improved fatherhood skills, those are still struggling to get out of first gear.  I haven’t committed any real howlers recently, like feeding N a meal solely of peas and sweetcorn, or playing chase with her so excitedly that she got scared of me and I had to spend twenty minutes cuddling her before she would play again.(1)  Nothing like that has happened in the last couple of days, which means I must be learning, although my general level is probably still novice. 

Lack of blogging is simply down to lack of opportunity, but today N came out with a statement which I just had to blog about, and so here we are again, and I really think that this could be the start of something wonderful.

But back to N.  Now I will readily admit that I am not a lot of things.  I am not an artist, of any type or description.  I am not good at DIY (see here and here for examples of my particular ineptitude in this regard).  I am not over 30.  See?  There are lots of things that I cannot claim to be, some of them I would like to be, though I don’t ask for much, I would just like to be able to paint a picture without people having to ask what it is, and if I could just learn to hang a picture I would be happy for days.  Some things I am not, however, and I haven’t even thought about it, which is where N comes in.

We were sat eating our tea and N was entertaining us with little morsels of her Cowardesque wit when she came out with a pearler of a one-liner.  “Daddy is not silly.”  This might not seem funny to you, bordering on downright dishonest as it does, but the best was yet to come.  “Daddy is not orange.”  This was delivered in the sort of voice one might associate with announcing that it was raining again, or that Nottingham Forest had dropped another three points.  A totally reasonable, unsurprising statement.  And suddenly I saw myself in a new light.  I had never really thought of myself that way before but she was absolutely right, she had struck right to the heart of the matter.  I am not, in fact, orange.  It was a revelation.

I still don’t know where it came from.  We hadn’t been talking about oranges, we have no oranges in the house, our walls are not orange, and I don’t think N has recently become acquainted with David Dickinson.  It was just a bolt from the blue, not orange.

Welcome back everyone.  It’s nice to be back and as with all of these things, there really was no reason for that feeling.  I’ll try to make sure I have no reason for it again.

(1) Both of which I have, unfortunately, done in the past.