Monday, 27 February 2012

Skool Dayz

The other day I inadvertently referred to an old teacher of mine’s penchant for dishing out ridiculous punishment essays if you misbehaved. One was to write about the inside of a ping-pong ball, and another was about what was in the centre of a polo mint. It certainly took a long time to dream up two pages of A4 on those topics, and it was symptomatic of a man who clearly thought carefully on his revenge.

I recall plenty stories about the head case pupils at my school, but will come back to them another day. Instead, my mind is wandering towards memories of some of the unfortunate staff who had to teach the delinquents that attended my pretty rough secondary. In fact, I think that’s why I loved Grange Hill so much because things really did happen in my school like on T.V. Before I start, I should clarify that I was one of the good kids who respected most of my teachers.
Mr R had a little speech impediment where he had a slight Jonathon Woss, but would also hang on his r’s a second too long and try to growl his way through. This was particularly unfortunate for a person teaching physics. Fowwrr evewry action thewre is an equal and opposite wwrrreaction. The laws of Gwwravity. Wrrefwrraction of light through a Pwwrrism. The poor guy didn’t stand a chance and used to get ribbed senseless. Someone once asked him if he could say “round the rugged rocks” and was promptly given the belt on the spot.

MR G was a PE teacher, and was actually a decent enough bloke. However, the rumour went round that someone had walked into his office and caught him with his hands down his pants, lets just say “rummaging”. The story continued that he had then bribed the individual with £5 to keep it quiet. Whether it did or did not happen is irrelevant, for this poor man was subject to anonymous shouts of “give us a Fiver” every time his back was turned. Kids are bloody awful to people aren’t they.
Miss M and Mr G were witnessed out together in town one Saturday night. Cue endless embarrassment and questions. Some wit decided it would be a good idea to draw a massive cupid style heart on the chalkboard. “Miss, are you getting married to Mr G?” “Miss is it true you are having Mr G’s baby”.” Miss do you and Mr G, like, do it?” Then one day Mr G came into the classroom, well I tell you, the poor woman didn’t know what to do with herself and neither did the class. Think it ended up in a mass detention.

I said I got on with most of my teachers. Mrs D taught English and was the most sour faced evil woman I had ever encountered. We had to write a piece on what career we would choose. I picked a Civil Engineer and she told me directly to my face that she found me hard to be civil at all. I’m afraid for once in my goody two shoes school career, I muttered under my breath that she was a f***ing cow. I was immediately sent to the head of department and had to tell him what I said. I was cacking myself and fully expected to be belted, six on each hand. Mr F took me aside, sat down and shook his head. “Now, look here”, he said. “You may think Mrs D is a f***ing cow, and for once I am inclined to agree with you, but you can’t go round saying it to her, now get out of here, go back to class and tell her I belted you” What a star Mr F was.
Another teacher who was one of my favourites was an old gent, Mr B. He was my first year from tutor and was impressed with my academic skills and good behaviour, obviously. A few years later, I was sitting outside the careers office and just as the adviser came out to get me, Mr B walked past. “I see your doing Prime Ministers today”, he said.
(Vote for Me and Beer is Free?)

Friday, 24 February 2012

The Epic Meme

Ok, so this is another one of those “meme” things that are going around and like flu, no matter how hard you try to avoid it someone always sneezes on you and you end up catching it anyway.

So cheers to the Vicar's wife for sharing this one !

The original premise was to provide twelve facts about yourself, followed by answering twelve questions from the person who volunteered you to take part.

I’m also going to cheat and refer you to my previous blog post 7x7 which covers the first seven, and here are another five for good measure;-

8. I once thought I would be cool and dive off the top board at the local baths. You know the 10m one. What a walk of shame that was, climbing back down again in front of everyone.

9. My biggest faux pas was asking friends we met at a wedding when the baby was due – and she wasn’t pregnant.

10. My second biggest faux pas was when my girlfriend’s, rather large friend said she wanted a mini (the ones before BMW made them cool) and I asked if she was sure she would fit in a mini.

11. When I was 13 and three quarters, I really did start monitoring my penis growth on a chart like Adrian Mole did. Gave up after lack of progress.

12. Someone once put their false teeth in my pint and I was dared to drink it. Yes, I did, every drop. I must have been really drunk that night.

Ok, so now for the questions that need to be answered

If you could have an audience with any British monarch which would it be?
As a relatively staunch republican (with the exception of Kate Middleton and her sister’s bottom), I’m not really that into royalty. However, I share a birthday with Henry VIII, so I will choose him. I’m sure we would get on and must have an astral connection anyway. That might explain why I occasionally feel the urge to decapitate my wife. (Its ok, the feeling is mutual)

What is the most frightening thing that has ever happened to you?
In all honesty, apart from coming in to land in a plane during very windy weather, it would be the first time my daughter had a febrile convulsion. We didn’t know what was going on and really thought we were losing her when she had a fit at 18months. That was scary. However, once we understood what was happening we got used to having to apply rectal diazepam every time she fitted. We got some strange looks when she had one in a restaurant in Gran Canaria though. Kind of put a few people off their dinner.

If you appeared on Desert Island Disc what would your luxury be?
It would definitely have to be a nice comfortable sun lounger, one with a cushion. If I’m going to be stuck there, there’s no way I’m running up a tab of £4 a day to hire one.

What kind of museum or gallery exhibition would you cross a city to see?
I think the Egyptian stuff always has an air of intrigue about it, whether it’s the stories of curses, ancient aliens or their feats of construction. Either that or Boat-Shed-Boat, which is obviously art. Isn’t it ?

What would you choose as your last meal?
Gee, that’s one order where I wouldn’t mind waiting an extra hour for a table. I do have an interest in food, so it really depends whether you go for an exquisite Heston BloomingMental fine dining experience or something more mundane. I’d probably sit looking at the menu for fifteen minutes, hum and hah a bit and then opt for the cheeseburger because I couldn’t make up my mind.

If you became leader of a political party what would your slogan be?
Vote for Me and Beer is Free !

What piece of music makes your pulse race?
Another tough one. It’s definitely not Westlife though. I actually think it would have to be some rock thing with a guitar riff. Ah, but wait, I shamefully forgot the most rousing song of my nation “The Flower of Scotland”. That is really powerful, especially pre-Football or Rugby, gets me all into a frenzy, before the inevitable disappointment.

What human quality to do value most highly?
For me, it’s pure and simple honesty. I can’t stand those who choose to spend their lives conniving, backstabbing and lying for their own good. What goes round comes round – and its heading their way one of these days.

What is your greatest regret?
Regrets, I’ve had a few,
Most of my life,
Working on the highway.
I should, have jacked it sooner,
Cause I’m really not,
Much of a crooner.

Can you do a forward roll (if yes, photographic evidence is required)
Possibly, but given the lack of space and my benign paradoxical positional vertigo, health and safety dictates it is not safe to do so. I can pat my head and rub my tummy at the same time though.

What would you like your epitaph to be?

1970 to 2135
Who knew large amounts of wine and Pringles
was the secret elixir of youth?

What ingredients do you rate in a blog?
Wit, wisdom, satire and a touch of innuendo. Shit it’s actually Viz I should be reading.

Ok, twelve questions coming up.

This time one victim will be the person who made the remark "Cheesy Bum Cheeks" on twitter the other night. She knows who she is.

And another, The Brighton Dad has just had a baby, so may not have time for such an epic meme.

Who would you like to have dinner with ?
What’s your favourite City?
Jam Donuts or Chocolate Éclairs?
What’s your favourite kind of cheese?
What fictional character would you like to be?
Holiday By the Beach or Coach Trip ?
If you won a million pounds what would you do first ?
If you could turn back time, one thing you would change?
Cats or Dogs?
Do you have any phobias?
What was the last film you saw in the cinema?
What is your latest ambition?

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Strange Times

I do not know where the time has gone these last few days. I’m incredibly busy at work with lots of deadlines and pressure I could do without, but the days just fly by. Time is a funny thing, I know it technically moves at the same speed but how can it seem so fast sometimes and then drag like an eternity at others.

Using a computer is a great example, sometimes you can be surfing the web or on Twit-Face and before you realise it, 3 hours have gone by. Alternatively, you may be preparing a report or a blog post, get writers block and stare at the screen for what feels like three weeks and only 30mins have passed.

Sleep is another good example. Some days you’re out like a light and then you wake up and it only feels like a few minutes since your head hit the pillow. On other nights, you struggle to drift off, wake two or three times through the night, go back to sleep, wake again and its still only 5am.

Actually, that’s me most nights. I’m not sure if I am a closet insomniac who hasn’t got round to admitting it or just one of those people who always have some thoughts in my head. Typically, what I need to do the following day.

One strange thing that happens to me regularly during these intermittent bouts of interrupted sleep is another set of weird numerical coincidences that are uncanny.

I have one of those digital clocks on the bedside table, most people do. I always wake up at times like 1:11, 2:22 in fact 3.33 is an absolute favourite of mine. This is happening more and more often, and I’m not sure if its my own internal body clock that’s doing it on purpose just to freak me out.

There are other times too. I have also been aware of waking at 1:23, 3:45 and 4:56. However, I cannot recall any reverse of those.

I’m not sure if I remember these because they stand out as odd, and simply disregard ‘normal’ times subconsciously when I’m half-asleep. Either that or I’ve become embroiled in a Derren Brown hypnotic experiment where I’m secretly being filmed and one day will end up trying to assassinate Stephen Fry in a theatre after the number 3:33 flashes on a screen.

I did once go to see a hypnotist a few years back. Maybe I didn’t come out of the trance properly. I suppose that might explain why I inadvertently want to dance like a chicken every time Maroon 5 comes on.

Hey, I got the moves like Jagger.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

A Tale of Two C-Sections

When my daughter was born, she was delivered by Caesarean section. This was primarily due to her being in the breach position. We had a date set and relaxed with some certainty of when she would arrive.

I’ve blogged previously about her impatience and she decided she would arrive three weeks before the date we had been given, throwing us into a panic in the middle of the night. With hindsight, we had all the time in the world, but with your first one you don’t really know that, so we grabbed all we could and rushed to hospital.

It was a very foggy night, and I could hardly see a few feet in front of me, which made the relatively short 15minute drive feel like hours. One thing I will never be forgiven for was stopping on the way at an all night garage to buy sandwiches, drinks and Pringles. My wife didn’t see this as urgent funnily enough, but I always like to be ahead of the game and knew I’d be in need of some sustenance in the long hours ahead. Always be prepared. (Disclaimer, I do not recommend you do this, possibly for medical reasons but your wife may not see the funny side either, especially if her contractions are only a few minutes apart).

On arrival at the hospital, we were eventually taken to a ward with absolutely no urgency at all. A couple of hours later someone bothered to turn up, had a look at my wife’s punani and said there was no need to worry, we’d be booked on to the schedule for the section and we’d just have to wait our turn.

This was more than I could take. My precious soon to be first-born child was now just a component waiting on a production line. I had a quiet word with the charming ward sister to sort out when our slot was, and to see if I could wangle an earlier one. You can imagine how that went. I think I was lucky not to be thrown out.

What seemed like the best part of a day, but was really just a few hours passed and we were given the nod, my wife was given the spinal/epidural or whatever they call them now and we waited. A helpful doctor showed me to a little room, which reminded me of a school common room with mismatched chairs and some old battered lockers in the corner, and I was told to get my “greens” on. I proceeded to put on the trousers, top, facemask, washed my hands and then saw the room led into the Theatre. I walked through the door, nervous with anticipation and was immediately shouted at by one of the surgical team to get the hell out of there.

Someone rushed me out and then explained to me that I wasn’t supposed to put the greens over my clothes. Doh! I just thought they were like a boiler suit, nobody told me I had to remove my clothes because it was a sterile environment.

Once I had made my apologies, I was escorted back in and led to my wife’s head. It was the only part of her visible because there was a green sheet raised in front of her. Four or five masked up and shower capped wearing surgical staff were all standing up on the other side and I was aware of them moving their arms and talking to each other. This seemed completely surreal but I could imagine them cutting my wife open and sensed them rummaging around trying to extract the baby.

Within a few minutes, I saw them lift my daughter out and she was whisked away to a table opposite. I waited for a cry, but didn’t hear one. I panicked – there is that few seconds, maybe half a minute where there was nothing. I could see one of the team furiously working away on our baby. My wife could see it in my face and asked me if everything was ok, she looked helpless and was unable to move. I could see the colour drain from her face….and then it came, our baby cried. I’d never felt so much relief. Our world had changed. I thanked God at that point, and coming from an agnostic, I’m sure he appreciated it.

My son was also born by Caesarean section. This time my wife had been through the best part of ten hours of labour, she was 95% dilated and it seemed like a natural delivery was on the cards. The midwife had fitted a monitor to the baby’s head earlier and all had been fine, but suddenly the pattern changed. She came back into the room and realised our son was showing signs of distress.

We were told that a C-Section was needed about 4.30am; they said it was not an immediate emergency but it would be done very soon. There was some discussion outside the room with a consultant and the midwife, and I could tell something wasn’t quite right. We waited, and waited. My wife had been coping very well with the pain up until this point – but was becoming increasingly distressed herself with the lack of progress. I was also becoming more anxious. I can’t describe how horrible it feels having to watch someone you care about being in pain. We waited two hours and by this time I was climbing the walls, I actually went and got a hold of the consultant to try to find out what was going on.

He told me more than he should have done, because he admitted that the problem was they only had one anaesthetist on duty and couldn’t open up the second theatre as a result. It wasn’t the time to argue, but it explained why we were being kept waiting. Another section had been in progress when we were first told it was necessary but afterwards a woman also required emergency treatment. This also pushed them close to the shift change at 6am, so in effect we had to wait for the staff change over.

Eventually my wife was rushed through to the theatre and I grabbed my greens like a seasoned veteran and entered to hear someone shouting, “We have to get this baby out NOW!”

I could see the staff were not hanging about; they all rushed with a degree of panic I didn’t expect. From my vantage point, I still couldn’t quite see my wife’s tummy, but the eyes on two of the team told me something was wrong. The way they looked at each other told me they were worried. It seemed to take much longer to get the baby out this time – probably because he would have been further down the birth canal. I think there may have also been an issue with the cord. He was immediately whisked away to the table. Again, I didn’t hear a cry for a while but could see the oxygen and hear the suction tube being put in his mouth and then it came, he cried, we relaxed, our baby was handed to us and all seemed right with the world. He was born on a Sunday at 06:28 and for those of you who have any interest in numerology associations; my birthday is June 28th

I still feel uncomfortable about the delays we experienced today. We were lucky, tragically, some people are not and while I am grateful we have our son, a small part of me wonders whether his autistic disorder may be linked to his birth trauma. It’s just a gut feeling, an instinct I have – probably unfounded, but it’s there nevertheless.

Research on autism is a hotch potch of studies, theories and hypothesis and when you throw in to the mix all the non-academic opinions and political spin you don’t know what to believe and if in fact there is any real truth about what causes the condition. I’ve given up looking and I’ve given up reading about it because it was taking over my life. I spent the last five years doing that.

I wouldn’t dream of criticising the hospital staff either. They were incredibly busy that night and probably saved a woman and a child’s life. In fact, they probably do that every day; we all have to be thankful for that.

This post is part of a "linky" hosted by actuallymummy and if you have a birth story to share, you can join in here

Friday, 17 February 2012


I was ‘tagged’ yesterday in a meme by the one and only Poshbird who writes good stuff in her viewfromtheloungewindow blog, and likes to tweet a lot. She’s taking me back to my teenage years for this one, so I’d better bash a quick one out.

First Boyfriend?
Well it was almost by best mate Mark. We used to get drunk on smuggled bottles of Becks beer and stay over when we were about fourteen / fifteen. We once actually woke up in the same bed with our arms around each other. It was a shock to both of us. Thankfully it was only a brief encounter…… Ok, my first girlfriend then… I actually had a few when I was around primary 7, one called Julie, one called Leeanne and another called Shona.

First person I kissed?
Was definitely one of the aforementioned three. In fact, I kissed all of them but remember full on snogging with Shona after a primary school disco one evening. The sounds of Bucks Fizz, Adam and the Ants and Kim Wilde were still ringing in my ears when she showed me a thing a boy should learn. What a night that was for an 11 year old. Up until that point girls were yeughh, and I would have run a mile just to get away from them playing kiss, cuddle or torture. Now I was the master of French kissing, whether I wanted to or not. Having someone ram their tongue in your mouth soon helps you learn. On the job experience is infinitely better than reading about it or watching others do it.

First job
Was for the local council Roads Dept. A trainee civil engineering technician at the ripe old age of 17. I was supposed to go to Uni, but failed two of my Highers after being in love for a year with my first real, proper girlfriend. I didn’t do any revision and spent the whole year having the best horny intimacy a 16 year old could wish for. If anyone ever does invent a time machine, take me back to 1986 please. I’m not interested in saving the world or re-writing history but I’d settle for the John and Yoko style love-ins we used to have, sustained only by chicken and mushroom pot noodles and cherry coke.

I started sixth form with the intention of re-sitting the exams, but within a few week realised I was past school. I was going out drinking on Sunday’s and not making it to school on Monday mornings, it was time to grow up and find my way in the real world.

First pay Packet – What did you buy?
I can’t recall my exact wage slip but I know I started on £3700 per year so it must have been about £300/month back in 1987. I also have no idea what I bought with it, other than loads of alcohol in the pub and probably a jumper from Next, cause that’s what everyone wore back then.

First CD I remember buying
I stuck with vinyl for many years before succumbing to CD’s – then went and bought a top of the range surround sound, five speaker beast of a thing to scare the neighbours with. I think my first actual CD purchase was therefore technically The Verve – Northern Soul or Oasis Definitely Maybe.  As far as the first black shiny vinyl disc goes it was actually AC/DC - If You Want Blood You’ve Got It. I was a little head banger when I was ten, but soon grew out of it and moved on to much cooler stuff. Ironically, how cool have AC/DC become in that retro way recently with Iron Man sound track etc.

First holiday abroad
Anyone following my blog may have read my recent musings about Majorca. My first holiday abroad was to Palma Nova in the early eighties, which set the trend for many visits and experiences there as I grew from boy to adolescent to man. I loved the pool, the beach, the ice creams, and the boat trip where Dolphins actually swam along with the boat and then silly daft adults got drunk and dived off the boat to chase bottles of cheap fizz thrown into the sea.

What age when moved out of parent house?
I was “asked to leave” at the age of 17, following a stupid drunken argument with my stepdad. It all got way out of hand, and with my mind full of drink and bravado, I over stepped the mark big style. I stayed at my Gran's for a couple of months before moving in to a flat share with a bloke a few years older than me. I soon realised my £300 per month didn’t go very far, but I had to step up to the plate and looked after myself ever since. How I survived is anyone’s guess, between drunken chip pan fires (flatmate and me both at separate times), a chimney fire and living off toast and frozen turkey burgers when money was tight. It must have been the beer that kept me alive

I have to ‘tag’ another two victims bloggers, so they can disclose their embarrassing firsts too.
So i’ll pick slightlysuburbandad and musodad because I can tag them on twitter and then run and hide.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Odd Socks ?

yeah write #46

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I always get those seven pair packs of socks at Christmas. Over the years, I’ve had ones with different coloured toes, ones with different coloured logos, ones with different coloured toes and logos. You get the picture.

This year, someone even thought it would be great to buy me ones with the days of the week on them – just incase at the age of 42, I’ve forgotten what they are called or even what day it is. Actually, come to think of it, I do sometimes forget what day it is …hmmm.

Here lies the problem. Before I had these socks, every morning I would randomly pick a pair from the drawer and not really care one jot whether they were the red toe ones, or the green  logo ones, or even the brown stripy ones – even if they are a bit awful. Now, I pick out a pair and as I go to put them on, the day of the week catches my eye. This is seriously starting to un-nerve me.

There is something just not right about putting Wednesday’s socks on when it’s Monday. Or Tuesday’s, when it’s Sunday. Something deep inside of me shouts NO, DON’T DO IT.  I have to spend the next few minutes opening every pair of socks out until I find the ones with today’s day on them.

Well at least I do up until a point and then reluctantly accept it doesn’t really matter. I reassure myself slowly, they are only socks for god sake man, pull yourself together. I then gradually, still feeling that bit uneasy move on to the rest of my apparel.

Conversely, this game of sock roulette also provides a major buzz when you actually choose the right day. Oh, what joy – it’s Friday and I’ve chosen Fridays socks – it’s like I’ve won the sock lottery or something. I mean what are the chances, seven days – probably fourteen pairs of socks in the drawer. (Gets fingers and toes out) Ah, but wait, what if all the days of the week socks aren’t in there because they are in the wash. That changes the odds dramatically. Shit I’m taking this too seriously and I cannot remember how to work out multiple probabilities anyway, Argggghhhh.

Anyway, this is no doubt a good example of the kind of OCD type behaviour that is considered ‘normal’. It bothers me, but I can cope with it (just). If I put myself in my son’s shoes (wanted to say socks there), it gives me a glimpse of why he becomes so ritualised about certain things or explains why he simply cannot cope with the type of compulsions he has. What makes me slightly uncomfortable for that brief moment, would continue to play on him, and get to him and drive him into a frenzy.

If it were him, the whole house would be turned upside down to find the right socks. Even to the point where if they were in the washing basket he may not even be able to go out that day. Thankfully, socks are not his issue, but his perception of cleanliness and germs can sometimes drive him to that place beyond coping, where a true obsessive-compulsive nature starts to affect your life significantly.

Me, I am wearing Wednesday’s socks today – and guess what – it’s Wednesday !
However, the question remains did I win the sock lottery today or turn my drawer upside down to find them ????

Monday, 13 February 2012

Life's a Beach

The world is a huge place, or so I’m told. I kind of envy the people who were able to have that gap year thing, who explored the far-flung parts of Indonesia or Thailand and no doubt had a whale of a time in some re-creation of “The Beach”. Well at least the early part, before it all got a bit serious and deranged. (Great book by the way)

I haven’t had the opportunity to travel much further than a holiday charter jet will take me. Generally to the Canaries, Portugal, Cyprus (once) and Majorca about ten times. I think I must be eligible for the freedom of  Palma de Mallorca airport by now, or at least some extra discount at duty free.

Majorca is a place I’ve been to as a boy, teenager, adult and parent. I love the place. As a child, I loved the beaches, the ice-cream cones, the chicken at the half board buffet, the watermelon, the freshly squeezed orange juice and the fizzy Lemon. Exotic fare indeed for a council estate eleven year old.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not advocating Magaluf as the best thing since sliced bread, but when you were under 21 it was.

My first experience of San Miguel (at sixteen) ended up in a vomit fest of embarrassment, as I lay in the bathroom unable to move with my parents trying to explain to the police I wasn’t involved with the two Swedish drug dealers they’d just arrested.

The long drunken walk up the Torrenova hill was a bit of a stretch, but thankfully, the last bar on the right always had lovely burgers and it was also the first stop on the way down too, with a good old happy hour to start the evening.

I’ll never forget my times drinking in the grotty Tartan Arms bar just because it was a Scottish Pub and it served Tenents Lager. Nor the free shots touted at every other doorway as you headed along to Bananas nightclub (which I believe might even still be there). The girls used to get plastered on two or three of those green looking Grasshopper cocktails and you always found someone to snog on the way home, even if neither of you knew much about it.

That sounded wrong, but it was in the days before rohypnol, and I’m sure it was all consensual. To be honest, it was all part of that rite of passage thing, where you go on holiday thinking you’ll pull someone exotic and then wake up next to Brenda from East Kilbride. You then both have to avoid each other for the next six days because she realises your not exactly Tom Cruise and despite your ‘mates’ insistence she was a seven out of ten, they were blatantly lying just so they could get off with her much fitter friend.

We went back to Palma Nova as a couple and again as first time parents. That’s me and the wife by the way, not Brenda. I seem to remember walking round and round with a baby buggy for hours in the vain hope our insomniac baby would go to sleep and we would get to enjoy a three-course meal undisturbed. No chance, and actually never again since.

Our last few trips there have been to the slightly more sophisticated Cala D’or, which has some lovely little coves and small beaches to discover. No more hedonistic fun though, early dinners, thirst quencher on the way home and bed well before closing time. That’s assuming we have negotiated with autistic son, who is pedantic when we say we are stopping for a drink – that’s exactly all we are getting. A drink….and that’s only if he likes where we are sitting, the music isn’t too loud and nothing else upsets him.

We take turns so one of us stays out a little longer with our daughter, who has now matured into the tween from hell and wants to be involved in any evening entertainment, especially if there are any poor 13 year old boys around.

Shit, it’s only a few years until she’ll be sneaking off and necking dodgy green cocktails. Might be time to start booking remote cottages in the Lake District, at least until she is old enough to find her own Beach.

Mind you, my partying days may not quite be over. In eight years time I’ll be 50.
That apparently gets you entry to SAGA, which I’m led to believe stands for Sex And Games for the Aged. I guess its important to have something to look forward to.

…..Wonder if they do Magaluf.

Friday, 10 February 2012

No S**t

So another weekday evening descends into chaos in my household. I shouldn’t be surprised, you kind of just get used to it.

On Wednesday my wife was working in the evening and of course that meant I was left with the added responsibility of meeting the puppy’s needs as well as my contractual child looking-after duties. “It’s no problem”, says my wife as she left for work – “Just keep a eye on her, take her outside when she wakes up, feed her at 9, give it another 20 minutes and take her out again”

What could go wrong?

Well, firstly the puppy decided to wake up just as I stepped out of the bath. Remembering my instructions, I hurriedly threw some clothes on. The inside out, back to front t-shirt was testament to my efforts, but by the time I got back downstairs there was a large wet spot on the rug. Ok, so now, here is the dilemma. Do I get the puppy outside first and let the pee settle into the rug – or quickly try and get some kitchen towel to catch the worst of it and risk more serious effluent arriving.

I decide the latter, but am no sooner dabbing away when I see the inevitable and imminent arrival of some puppy poo. I drop all the cleaning up gear, grab the puppy and manage to avert disaster by getting her outside just in time, Phew, a close call.

I come back in, finish the cleaning up and spray the carpet cleaner / disinfectant spray on the rug. Only it wasn’t the carpet shampoo, it was a liquid bleach bathroom cleaner I had picked up by mistake. An easy error to make. How am I supposed to know which spray to use? I mean, when do I ever do the cleaning ?

The wife is now going to kill me for wrecking the rug, but hey I figure it's going to be replaced anyway – given the puppy’s tendency to pee on it. Anyway, I make some effort to rinse it out, but I can already tell I’m going to be in bigger trouble than the pup.

During my domestic disaster, my daughter is also repeatedly asking me to help explain the history of the Anglo Irish Agreement as part of her homework. She got short shrift as you would imagine, particularly when I told her to “Google it” and she said she couldn’t find it, in that sarcastic voice that really meant she couldn’t be bothered looking for it.

Grrrr. When I was her age we had to go to the bloody library and search the reference cards, then find a few books, then find the right paragraphs, and then write it down by hand – and she can’t even type it into a search engine without a carry on, before cutting and pasting the answers. Kids nowadays!

Anyway, after a bit of an argument, I end up helping her find something like 3000000 hits on the subject and point out she didn’t try very hard. She ran off to the toilet, with me thinking this was just an excuse to avoid the reprimand. However, she protested “she really had to go”.

About 30minutes later, I’m climbing the walls thinking she has pushed her luck too far. I get distracted by our son, who also needs the toilet and can’t go because “his” toilet is occupied by his sister. I tell him not be silly and to use the one downstairs – but because of his autistic traits, he refuses because he’s already decided he was going to the one upstairs.

Meanwhile, the puppy has been chewing my discarded newspaper which it managed to get off the sofa and there are now shreds of newsprint everywhere.

Eventually, daughter exits toilet, son enters.

“Eughhhh” screams son. “The toilets blocked and it stinks up here”. Being particularly sensitive to smell, I figure he’s probably overreacting and I shout up just to flush the toilet again.

I count about four flushes, and then son appears saying it’s still blocked. Fortunately he does see sense and goes to the other bathroom, so that’s one less worry. I head upstairs to investigate. As I pass my daughter, she looks flustered.

Well, I tell you. I have never, ever seen a human poo that size before. I’m talking the diameter of a coke can, by the length of a baby’s arm. I shit you not. How that came out of my poor child, I’ll never know.
I won’t go into the full gory details, but let’s just say I had to get my hands in there at one point. 

At which time, my son appears and because of his OCD tendencies starts to become really alarmed. So he’s bordering on meltdown and I’m trying to reassure him that I’ll get cleaned up properly and it will all be okay.

With impeccable timing, daughter arrives to announce the puppy has just pooped on the rug.

Who deals with all the crap in this house? .....well, me obviously.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The February Sunshine Award

…… a mantle that’s being passed around like the Olympic torch or the baton in a relay race, and I’m not going to be the one who drops it.

Having been selected by slightlysuburbandad, in order to complete my leg and head for gold medal status, I need to complete the following information and pass on to another 5 bloggers.

Favourite Colour:  When I was ten this was easy, it was red. Aberdeen played in red, Ferraris were red, simple. When you get older though, red becomes a bit disappointing. Red means stop, red means danger, red means you better get that checked out and don’t even mention red rags to bulls. In fact, the only redeeming factor about red these days is the special K lady. Her aside, I’m going to go for White. Controversial, I know but white is the enabler of all colours. White is responsible for all the variations on the Dulux colour chart and of course white light contains all the colours of the spectrum.

Favourite Animal: There are so many to choose from but I’m definitely not picking the Praying Mantas or any other female species who does away with their other half as soon as their use is done. I can see that particular gene starting to cross over to Human females (goes and runs for cover). I’m quite partial to the beauty of big cats, so will opt for Tiger. If for no other excuse than to use one of the all time classic chat up lines from the eighties. “What winks and goes like a Tiger?” ;-)

Favourite non-alcoholic drink: I could get drawn in to the whole Pepsi v Coke debate, but I’m not going to. I’ll pick Lemon Fanta. However, it must be the kind you get poured over ice on holiday, while sitting at the pool in Spain. it tastes so much better there.

Facebook or Twitter: If there was something called FaceTwit it would suit me down to the ground. I guess on Twitter any dodgy posts are soon confined to history, while Facebook kind of harbours your embarrassing photos (you know the semi naked ones from last weekend that seemed like a good idea at the time). So I’ll go for Twitter and I better go and delete those pics.

Favourite Number: Is of course 7 if you have read any of my mysterious posts, you will understand. Other than that ‘Google’ is by far the most useful number ever.

Favourite Day of The Week: Has to be Saturday, just because of that extra hour in bed in the morning and the fact I don’t have to go to work. Mind you it’s a double edged sword because a hangover is never far away.

My Passion: Apart from the special K lady and Emma Forbes, it would have to be red wine, in moderation of course, but only cause it gives you a beast of a hangover. Don’t mix your drinks – that’s good advice.

Getting or Giving Presents: I like to give but am also partial to receiving too. However I’m such a procrastinator that I can never make up my mind what to ask for xmas or birthday presents and end up getting things I don’t really want. Giving is good.

Favourite Pattern: Hmmm, not being an interior designer I was scratching my head for a bit. I have to consider Tartan as I’m from Scotland, but it’s not that great. I’m going to go all leftfield on you and choose something called "Fractals" which are a mathematic / scientific pattern occurring where as you zoom further and further in, the pattern repeats and is quite mesmerizing.

Favourite Flower: Usually my association with flowers has been to spend an enormous amount of money on a bunch and send to the missus, who immediately knows I am guilty of some wrongdoing (unless we’ve just had a baby - and that’s only happened twice). I could pick something manly like a Cactus or go all out rare Wild Orchid on you, but that wouldn’t be true to my roots. I will have to honour my country and choose the Thistle – its compulsory or I’ll be deported if we ever gain independence.

Now its over to you lot. Your mission. should you choose to accept it is to replicate the award and pass on to other deserving individuals. This message will self destruct in sixty seconds…….59,…….58,……

its not compulsory, but join in if you would like to ;-)

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Bike For Sale, Like New

You know the good old days. Yes the ones we keep convincing ourselves of. A clearer marker of impending or recently arrived middle age you could not get.
I think it’s because there is such a stark change from then and now, which you never really noticed happening. It all moved gradually. Small, tiny, incremental changes that crept up on you when you weren’t paying attention, became the norm and will most likely leave you behind blissfully unaware as they pass you by and the younger generation embrace the new.
Life was simpler and operated on much clearer distinctions or it certainly seemed that way when we were young. You knew the boundaries, there were clear realities of existence and if you came from a working class family, there definitely wasn’t much money around. However, our responsibilities and roles have changed over time too, so it is an ever-moving perspective.
When you compare like for like though, and I’m talking about the ten year old of today and the one who was there in the early eighties, the two are oceans apart.
I have recently had to get rid of two bikes that our kids have outgrown. They have had them for probably two or three years and there is not a scratch on them. The tyres still have the sticky out wobbly bits round the edges.
There lies a clear example of the Wii / Computer / X-Box generation who just don’t go out to play anymore. Also, probably a clearer example of suspicious parents, who wrap their children up in cotton wool to protect them from the media hyped dangers of society, from child kidnappers to drug peddlers who are lurking on every corner (we convince ourselves).
Was my own childhood of playing outside endlessly, and taking my bike everywhere really more dangerous than today? I used that bike so much we had to replace the tyres on it, has anybody actually had to buy a new tyre for their kids bike recently ?
Of course, it’s our own fault for not encouraging more active play. I have always made a point of trying to get them outside and make sure we get to the beach or forest walk at the weekend. But in general, you just don’t see kids playing in the street much, bar the summer holidays.
When I was maybe ten or eleven, I also remember taking the bus into town or cycling to the park a few miles away with friends. I can barely trust my daughter to go round the block on her own; she just doesn’t seem “streetwise”.
So despite all the i-pods, androids, tablets and techno savvy kids going round – there’s something missing in their development. That practical, common sense, learn the hard way ‘something’ you had and they simply have missed out on.
Granted, they have some really cool stuff that we couldn’t have dreamed of back in the times of 48Kb Spectrum Computers.
However, I think the good old days, for all of their rose tinted failings actually did serve most of us well. But then what do I know, I’m just a nostalgic old fart now. Boy, I loved that Raleigh Grifter.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Ok, so she's a bit of a dog

Puppy Day is here. I promised I’d keep you updated.
Here is the lovely Misha, otherwise known as Lomondhills Marzipan !

We are now several hundred pounds out of pocket, with an ongoing food and insurance bill of about £50 per month. Another one of the ‘benefits’ to our family my wife forgot to mention. Hmmm.
We also need to go to the vet in the next few days to have the first round of inoculations, which I’m pretty sure won’t be free either.
I found a receipt from the pet shop yesterday too. I say found, because I’m almost certain my wife had hidden it to cover up the fact she spent almost £80 on various paraphernalia from pink check blankets, bedding, chew toys, bowls and soother. If it hadn’t been for the collar and lead, I would have sworn she’d been to Mothercare.
I suppose all that’s distinguishing her from a baby is the fact she won’t be wearing nappies. (Hang on, do you get puppy nappies? surely that’s one for Dragon’s Den) 
However, the husband doth protest too much. It’s too late for that, the horse has bolted......Thankfully we don’t have room for one of those!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

7 x 7

Strangely enough, I wrote a blog post titled "Seven" not that long ago, which highlighted my long and mysterious association with this number. Low and behold, only a few weeks later a fellow blogger slightlysuburbundad goes and “Tags” me to join in with a post titled 7 x 7. (Twilight zone music now playing in background)
The idea originated from motherventing to explore and list seven posts from seven bloggers you found interesting and to also list seven things about yourself.
Because I’m relatively new to the blogging world, I have been visiting a wide variety of blogs, many of which are written by parents and also those that have connections to Autism. So, here are seven posts that have caught my eye recently, and I’ll also just refer you to the blog sites themselves to kill two birds with one stone.
In no particular order;
A Good Cause... put your best boob forward  by Poshbird, because it is for a good cause, although I'm a bit uncomfortable reading some of her other posts about her own special new arrivals.
Around The World in 80 Words by Sahdandproud because it was a great idea and one that got the imagination going for a lot of people.
What's on your MP3? by Actuallymummy for the same reason and it also gave me huge street cred when I joined in !
The life of a creme egg by Aspieinthefamily because it was something completley different and the blog is also very relevant to me because my son has autistic disorder. In fact there are many good ASD blogs out there, but I can't list them all for this post.
Aspergers Worrying What The Future holds by A Boy With Aspergers -again because this resonates with my own circumstances and raises awareness of the condition.
The Dangers of A Three Year Old Playing with Your Phone by Mumofalltrades is a reminder to us all how easy technology makes for general embarrassment.
A Beginners Guide To Middle Age by agingmatron, which is a giggle for anyone over or approaching 'a certain age' - and i also find the concept of a beer drinking journalist / vicars wife an interesting paradox.
I’m not sure there are seven interesting things about me (courts sympathy), but here goes.
1.       Despite being a skilled driver, I took three times to pass my test. One of the examiners never fully recovered.
2.       In first year of secondary school I won the school quiz. Well, me and Rachel Smith won it together. Ok, Rachel was the smartest kid in school, and she won the quiz, with me sitting next to her.
3.       I can do the the Rubik Cube in less than two-minutes on a good day.
4.       I can speak fluent mandarin Chinese and six other languages.
5.       I am a compulsive liar. See number 4.
6.       My philosophy in life used to be what goes around comes around, but there are an awful lot of people on my list who are still due it coming round in their direction. I’m thinking of changing my philosophy to something more direct.
7.       The number most closely associated with my existence (see post link above) and the number of living things now in my household with the addition of new puppy. So that’s 1xWife, 2xKids, 1xLabrador 1xCat, 1xHamster and of course.... 1xunappreciated, hard done to, bottom of the list *husband/computer fixer/dustbin taker-outer/car washer/extreme supermarket shopper.
(*sometimes referred to as lazy/moaning/grumpy/allergic to housework/toilet seat leaver upper)