Sunday, 17 April 2016

Eye Eye!

About a month ago I saw a shooting star, which was a particularly strange occurrence given the level of light pollution in my area and the fact my eyes were shut. The light was fairly bright and travelled down the right side of my left eye and then vanished. Naturally I did what most people do these days and googled it to find;

Flashes and floaters happen because of changes in the vitreous, the clear, jelly-like substance that fills the inside of your eyeball.  The vitreous jelly shrinks as you get older, and slowly pulls away from the inside surface of the eye.  This shrinking and separation or detachment of the vitreous from the retina is a common phenomenon, particularly in people over 50 years of age, and causes no retinal damage in nine out of 10 patients.  It is known as a posterior vitreous detachment.

Bleurgh, I thought and focused on the "nine out of ten" bit and went to sleep.

The next day in the afternoon I was talking to the Wife when I realised that I could see my left eyebrow. This is far less unusual than the shooting star thing, because since my early thirties my body had taken up sprouting hair from a wide and radical array of places. I'm still trying to work out what I'm going to encounter later on in life that will require the white hair that grows from my left ear lobe to deal with it. 

It turns out, you will not be surprised to learn, that it wasn't my eyebrow that I could see, but a blind spot in the top of my vision. So, as any sensible person would do, I tried to ignore it. I managed that for all of about ten minutes before panicking and rushing off to the doctor, who shone a small torch in my eye, and told me to see an optician. This I also felt was best dealt with by panic, so I rushed off to Accident and Emergency (the Emergency Ward, for my colonial brethren).

On entering A&E I was promptly called a four eyed prick, which happens fairly regularly to me on account of my personality (and glasses), but rarely before I've managed to speak. The gentleman in question turned out to have Tourette's syndrome which is clearly no laughing matter. However... this particular chap was describing every person to walk in through the doors. I sat in that ward for over four hours, and I have to say he was spot on every time. How I didn’t lose a lung when he yelled “MASSIVE BANGWANGS!” I don’t know.

Eventually I was told I needed to go to the Eye Clinic downstairs, so bade farewell to “SPOON FACE!”, “SWEAT FLAPS!”  and “CAMEL TOE THUNDERCUNT!” and went off to have a light shone in my eyes for forty-five minutes.

“Hmm. I can see what the problem is. Let me make a quick phone call... Hello, Dr Kesh? Hello. I have a patient here who’s presenting with retinoschisis. Is it usual to see holes in the retina? I see. Yes, yes... I can see the veins bulging over. Ok. Goodbye, Dr Kesh...."

He turned back to me.

"Why are you lying on the floor?" 
"Nnnngggg..." I replied.
"You have unilateral retinoschiIsis which is where the layers of the retina separate and you can lose some of your vision.”
“Right. So, what is the treatment?”
“There isn’t any treatment.”
“Is this blind spot permanent then?”
“Oh yes.”
“Well, that was quite casual... Er. So what’s the prognosis?”  I asked, not actually knowing what the word “prognosis” means, but also not wanting to sound like an amateur.

“Well, it’s usually bilateral.”

He looked at my expression.

“That means in both eyes.”
“Which means I'll lose some vision in the other eye?”
“Quite possibly.”
“Also quite casual... Er... Right. Er...”

So let’s cut to the chase, three weeks later, a lot of sleepless nights and some significant panic attacks later I was called back for an examination. This time a different doctor looked in my eyes, then went off, called in a colleague who looked in my eyes, then had a brief conversation and told me they didn’t know what was wrong with me.

“It might be retinoschisis, or it might be a retinal detachment.”

Retinal detachment is not a phrase you usually want to hear. On the scale of “fuck that” it scores quite a long way below “malignant brain tumour” but significantly higher than “I have tickets to Barbara Streisand.” However, since retinal detachment can be treated, it was actually a better diagnosis than retinoschisis.

The next day I went to Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, where I spent a very large part of the day having lights shone in my eyes. It was a bit like being beamed up to a mothership.

“Well it’s definitely a retinal detachment.”
“That’s good.”
“So we’re going to operate.”

It’s funny how your priorities can change. I can imagine that, sitting there reading this with your hopefully fully functioning and healthy eyes, the thought of an eye operation might be curling your toes right now (and if not, wait for it). Ordinarily, I would probably have reacted by manfully passing out and flopping on the floor like a landed carp. Instead I said;

“Jolly good.”
“So we’re going to do is called a Viterectomy. Which involves removing the gel from inside your eye and replacing it with a gas bubble.”
“Jolly good.” I said, less convincingly.
“It’s done under local anesthetic.”
“FUCK THAT!!” I replied, very convincingly.
“Well, we can do it under general anesthetic if you think it’s going to be torture for you...”
“What part of ‘sucking the juice out of your eye and blowing a bubble into it’ sounds like it’s NOT torture?”
“...but most people find local sufficient.”
"You mean I'm being a bit of a girl's blouse?"
"Yes, petal."

Some good news for both of us here. In the end, I didn’t have this operation, I had a ScleralBuckle and a Cryotherapy Retinopexy, which were conducted under general anesthetic. Which means I can’t describe what happened to me. I’m sure you’re very upset.

You may be wondering how all of this occurred, by the way. I know I was. A little later the surgeon said to me

“When did you take the blow to the head?”
“Er, I haven’t taken a blow to the head. I'm always like this.”
“There’s a scar on your retina, which looks like it has been there for some time. Have you ever taken a blow to the head?”
“I think the last time was in the Sex Museum in Amsterdam.

She looked up from her paperwork.

“I’m sorry?”

“There was... this big penis, you see...” I rather bizarrely decided to continue. In my defence it was true, and my mum said you shouldn’t lie to doctors.

At this point she decided she needed a better look at my retina (possibly to make me stop talking).

“You see, the eye is like a keyhole. It’s easy to see the back, but you can’t see the sides very well.”
“I see, this is very interesting, tell me more...”
“So to see the edges we have to distort the eyeball.”
“Stop talking.”
“By pressing on it...”
“WHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAA!!!”

Now I have to say, all of this sounds awful. But in actual fact it wasn’t and I’m exaggerating for comic effect. Or just exaggerating depending on how funny you find this. The treatment that I had was first class, the care the best you could hope for. I haven’t had much pain, the staff at Moorfields were all kind, and considerate and utterly brilliant. If you find yourself with flashing lights in your eyes, don’t mess about, go straight to your eye doctor and cling to their leg until they treat you. The treatment is a breeze – the anxiety and worry about not knowing what is wrong with you is just awful

I had my op a week ago, and I’m still recovering. At the moment I haven’t had any more flashing lights which means the retina now stable. I still have the dark patch, and that may or may not go away. But it’s in the periphery of my vision and even if it stays, it won’t impact on my life. Plus the Boy now thinks that I’m super-awesome because I have a “zombie eye.” He keeps yelling

“Roll up, roll up! See the zombie eyed freak”

Whenever I pick him up from school, the little bastard.




This is for everyone that took time for me. Thank you all.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Woof

With two warped children, a cat, a horse, a pair of demanding full time jobs, a house that needs more work than Donald Trump's hair and a mortgage so large it could save Tokyo from Godzilla we decided our lives weren't busy enough. So we got a dog.

With the Boy aged nine and the Girl aged seven we hadn't had the thrill of collecting someone else's shit for some time, and some things are just hard to quit.

The Dog (as it will hereafter be known) was named by the children, which is why she regales in the name Lily Barcelona Long Legs Von Schtupp Van Dog For Christ's Sake Stop Pissing Under The Table. Technically the last bit isn't her name it, just gets said a lot.

The Kids are naturally over the moon. One more animal for the Girl to patronise, and for once the Boy seems to have noticed one of the pets.

"I'm starting a dogging club at school."

"DOG club. A club for dogs."

"Yeah, I'm going to call it 'Woofters'"

"Er..."

Which is not always a good thing.

"BOY!"

"Yeah, yeah. I know. 'No twerking in front of the Dog.'"

(Not to leave the Girl out of the ridiculous conversations, the following was about her godfather

"You know Uncle Andy is a waitress on a plane? Does he have to wear lipstick? "

Bless.)

And whilst there are some up sides to having a dog, there are some downsides. Such as having a squirrel in your sofa.

The other day I was sitting on the sofa with the back door open whilst the Dog was outside. As I sat there something hurtled into the room and flung itself into the air directly at my head. I have a vivid mental image of a squirrel, eyes wide, limbs splayed out, mouth almost forming the the same word I said as I ducked:

"Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck!"

It crashed into the window as the Dog came bounding into the house with a goofy look that said "Where'd my friend go?"

Having composed myself I quickly opened the windows and went to the kitchen to find a broom because apparently I live in a Tom and Jerry cartoon. I then flipped the sofa over and... nothing. It had gone. Probably via the open window.

Or so we thought until two days later when the Dog went loopy trying to get under the sofa, and then found squirrel poo on the floor next to it. Obviously we checked inside it (half expecting a crazed and now carnivorous squirrel to go into a berserk rage) but it had left the sofa, and spent a day living in the kitchen knocking everything off the windowsills. I think it has now left, but we can't be sure.

Looks like we've got another pet.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Pop

When I was about fourteen my dad decided it was time to have a conversation about sex. Being the forward thinking type, he started this conversation on the way to my nan's house. Whilst she was in the back of the car.
 
I can't remember exactly what prompted him, but the conversation went:
 
"Now you're a teenager you're going to have times when you feel randy. "
"Randy? What? No..."
"That's quite normal. As long as it's about girls."
"Oh my god, stop."
"You're probably starting to touch yourself - "
 
At this point I made a lunge for the steering, prompted mainly by my nan who was cackling like a witch. My dad deftly reached over and prodded me in the testicles with his index finger. I deflated like an old football.
 
"I guess that'll postpone this conversation for a week or so. "
 
We never had that conversation in the end. The closest we came was when, whilst I was watching Hawaii 5-0 he stood in the doorway of the living room and said:
 
"Alright, Boy?"
"Huh? Yeah. "
"You're not gay, are you?"
"What? No."
"Righto."
 
And off he went.
 
Not that he was particularly helpful when I finally brought a girl home.
 
"Ah, you're the girl he keeps talking about! Nice to meet you, come into the house, Claire. "
*Through gritted teeth* "Her name is Rachel."
"Richard?"
"I f**king hate you."
 
He was an unreconstructed male, my old man - part of the sixties mod scene, somewhat in the mold of Alfie, but without the dress sense.
 
Exhibit #1
So on occasion his opinions were a bit stuck in time. But as a father he couldn't be faulted. Except the time I woke him up an hour after he'd got back from a night shift and he threw my Action Man down the stairs.
 
I was always a bit of weed as a kid, but despite his exasperation at my lack of gumption he was fiercely proud of me and my brother.
 
"Get in the water you big Jessie."
Later in life we worked together at the same place, a race track in the south of England. At one point I was even his boss, which wasn't always the easiest relationship to have.
 
"Chief Marshal to John..."
"What did you call me? "
"Er... John?"
"What, are we on first name terms, now? "
"Well, I..."
"I AM your dad."
"Yeah,  but..."
"I'm not answering unless you call me dad."
"Look, John..."
"I can't HEAR you!"
*Sigh* "Chief Marshal to dad?"
*Chuckling* "You loser."
 
But he was always there in an emergency.
 
"Er, Dad... I've got a bit of a problem."
"We've know that for a long time, Boy. You just have to accept that it won't get bigger than that."
"Can you just... not, for a minute. I've just had a car crash."
"Are you okay?"
"Yes."
"Good."
*Pause*
"Also, you're a dickhead."
"That's not helpful. "
"I was aiming for the truth more than being helpful. Where are you?"
"Trumpington. "
"Bwah hah hah ha! Brilliant!"
 
I have a thousand memories I could bore you with: him racing me home from work,  rounding a corner to find me sheepishly reversing out of a hedgerow. Or the time he came with me when I drove two hundred miles to see Stone Henge on New Years Eve and discovered it was shut ("You," he said with a twinkle in his eye, "are a moron.") Or the time I asked him how many commandments there were in the Ten Commandments which he never let me forget. He taught most of my friends to drive, and they still talk about him like he was a legend. Which he was.
 
And then in 2002 he got cancer. Towards the end, in early June we were sitting in the garden whilst he smoked a Silk Cut ("Why did you get me Silk Cut? It's not like it makes a difference, you tit!") in his pyjamas. We'd both been silent for a while when he asked me
 
"What are you thinking, Boy?"
"I'm trying not to smile when I think about the inheritance."
 
He grinned at me, told me he'd never liked me. It's the last good memory I have of him. He fought very hard for another week and then he was gone. He was fifty seven.
 
Thirteen years have gone past, I got married, had kids, am lurching into my mid life crisis. My world is completely different to then, but I think about my old man all the time.
 
Except when I'm having sex.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Oops!

Thursdays are a ball ache. In particular because I have to take the Kids to their swimming lesson, which appears to be run by the last surviving concentration camp guards dressed as a bunch of menopausal women.

For a refreshing change of pace the Boy's swimming teacher has stopped swimming alongside the Kids whilst criticising their lack of Olympic potential. Now she sits in (or more precisely - wears) a chair and hectors them loudly from the side of the pool. So it appears even buoyancy isn't a requirement for a swimming teacher these days.

This makes me quite ragey, so today I decided to deal with it by staring angrily at the back of her head and not saying anything. It's a good job she didn't turn around because I'd have had to look somewhere else.

Exiting the swimming pool then became an intricate rage inducing maze of bovine parents with vacuous expressions standing in doorways. The Boy then turned getting changed into something akin to pushing an eel into a balloon. While every other kid in the place left fully dressed he failed to negotiate his way into a pair of pants. So I did the parent-wanting-to-shout-at-child-in-public thing by giving him a wide eyed silent snarl that promised lots of shouting later. This would have worked admirably if he'd been paying bloody attention.

So the shouting happened outside. I stomped off to the car, the Kids dawdling in my furious wake. Instead of getting in the car, they started having a fight.

Dear reader, I'm not proud of what happened next for reasons that will become immediately obvious. I must have been thinking of Withnail and I when an emotional ketchup burst came out and I yelled;

"GET IN THE BACK OF THE VAN!"

Several points to make here.

1. I have a car
2. I was standing next to a school
3. There was, on the other side of the road,  a man mowing the lawn who actually stopped to look at me
4. The Girl burst into tears and then, crucially, cried:

"I WANT MY MUMMY!"

On the up side I managed to get a wheel spin out of my twelve year old diesel dustbin. Plus the Girl (who is vegetarian) dropped her guts* in the car so pungently I nearly hit a lamp post.

* farted

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Clarse

I'm writing this during the Kids interminable Saturday morning athletics class in an effort to have somewhere to put my eyes. I rue the invention of Lycra, particularly because the athletics instructors fit into one of two categories: very fit or bizarrely immense. Either way, when they start demonstrating squat thrusts or lunges right in front of me the effect is the same -  my eyes try to get out of my ear.

Athletics is only one of many extracurricular activities the Kids are signed up for. Earlier this week the Boy had a social engagement for which I was his designated driver. Last year he joined the cubs, which strangely he seems to enjoy in a totally unqualified manner. I say "strangely" because you often find him saying things like;

"I love playing Lego, but I wonder if it might be a bit dangerous. "

"Yes, it's right up there with using a rectal thermometer on a crocodile."

Anyway, his social engagment was something called a "Gang Show", which I assume wasn't run by the Bush Boys.  I dropped him off outside the local theatre and was chatting with Akela when he notice that I had a lot of blood on my thumb.

"Industrial injury? "

Now, I could have said that I'd cut myself building a log cabin, or that I'd caught it on my lathe, or that it was a shark attack. Because as a man I will occasionally be sparse with the truth if I think it might postpone someone's inevitable realisation that I am, when all is said and done, a complete tool. However, I went with;

"I was zesting a lemon. "

Which is about the most middle class injury you can get aside from getting a paper cut from your copy of the English Language version of Le Monde Diplomatique.

Plus - I've never zested a lemon in my life. I actually did it grating a carrot whilst making coleslaw. And why was I making coleslaw? Because we're too cheapskate to buy it from the supermarket.

Naturally the response to my reply was a long silence, followed by:

"Oh."

I don't know why I'm trying to convince people I'm middle class. I'm about as middle class as a string vest or a pack of 20 Rothmans. I'm sitting in a sports hall in the rougher end of town and my Kids are the least well dressed here. In fact they look like they're going to tarmac someone's drive. And there's nothing wrong with that. I should embrace my working class heritage. So I will do that back by sitting back and reading the paper.



Oh, bollocks. 

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Buffoon

Once again I'm away from the family on a business trip. This time I'm at an international conference at which I'm due to give a presentation to delegates from Europe, Africa and North America on a very weighty subject. This seems remarkably foolhardy on the part of my employers as only yesterday I found myself utterly foozled by the simple fact that the Wife has the same surname as me.

We are all, at heart, the children we once were. I suspect that even Stalin wondered how he'd got from a small boy in Georgia to the most feared man in the world. Shortly before polishing Hitler's skull no doubt

I realise I've just compared myself to Stalin.

Moving on...

It doesn't feel like thirty years since I was asking questions like this,  from the Girl:

"Mummy, when are we going to  Denmark?"

"What? "

"When are we going to Denmark? No, not Denmark. Where did you say we were going?"

"Southend. *"

Or, as my Dad always like to recall, the day I asked:

"How many commandments are there in the Ten Commandments? "

The correct answer is eleven, by the way. The last one is the most important: Thoult Shall Not Get Caught.

Still, at least he only told everyone he met about that. He didn't, say, put it on the Internet.

You see, whilst the Kids can be excused their eccentricity because they're kids, my penchant for rampant buffoonery isn't as easy to shake off. I still deal with the world on the level of a six year old, so my life is a constant battle with social ineptitude.

Many years ago I was talking about this with a deeply religious friend, who in turn told me that she felt incredibly awkward talking about sex with her boyfriend because it made her feel dirty.

"Don't worry, I won't tell anyone you're a bit odd."

She said, not unkindly.

"And I won't tell anyone you're frigid. "

I replied in a similar tone.

Apparently that's a no-no. She used words which rhymed with " truck" and "bunt". To this day I'm still a bit baffled about her reaction. And the reaction of everyone I've told about this (normally a whistling inhale of breath and a look of disdain).

She's a nun now, by the way.

Even today I've been crippled with the fear that I'm going to look odd carrying around a packet of chocolate digestives at this conference (I'm a mad man for chocolate digestives). It's only that, by pure luck and that I found the hotel have supplied a little paper bag for such an eventuality.

And it's apparently a "sanitary" bag. So that's good.

* For those of you that live outside of the UK, Southend is like Las Vegas, only with less commitment.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Wisdom Truth

OK,  I'm going  to be honest,  we got Netflix and frankly Breaking Bad is a bit addictive. But hey,  don't have a pop at me,  when did you last write to me, eh?   EH?

Exactly.

Recently a friend of mine wrote quite movingly about the experiences he'd had over the course of his life so far, and how he hoped to have the opportunity to pass on his knowledge. Naturally I couldn't miss an opportunity to piss on someone's barbecue. I made the point that I'd been passing on my "wisdom" for eight years with the net result being I now had to share my house with two raving maniacs.

"Daddy? "

*With due sense if dread and resignation* "Yes?"

"Have you ever worn girls clothes?"

"Nope."

"You'd look nice in a dress."

"Thanks, Girl. "

"When we get home you could put on mummy's wedding dress and then she'd laugh when you answered the door."

"She probably wouldn't laugh."

"YOUR BOOBS WOULDN'T FIT! "

"Shut up,  Boy."

For the benefit of posterity, I would look fabulous in the Wife's wedding dress. I have a lovely turn of ankle. However I'm a gentleman and it doesn't do to look better than your wife.

Last week the Boy (in his typically unwitting way) confused a friend of the mother in law  to the point of apoplexy just by telling her his middle name.

"That's a nice name. "

"Yeah,  it's my dad's dad's name."

"Oh really?"

"Yeah, it's quite sad really,  we don't get to see him much any more."

"That's a shame,  why? "

"He died before I was born."

There was a time when I could come home from work put my feet up and watch some telly before the Wife came in and pointed out the washing up needed doing, the laundry was getting rained on and the house was on fire. These days I have to brace myself to ask the question

"How are the Kids?"

"The Girl is climbing the walls."

"Oh god,  what is it now? Did you confiscate her throwing knives?"

"No.  She's literally climbing the walls. Look."

In the living room the Girl had removed her socks and was scaling the wood surround on the wall. She climbed all the way to the ceiling, before throwing herself backwards onto the sofa. Since the Girl has the bone density of hardened steel,  this ejected the cat from the sofa, who exited the room at close to light speed. It also made me have an aneurysm. Since then I've been trying to source Kryptonite on eBay.

God forbid I bother asking the Kids what they did at school. Last time I did it the Boy appeared to go into Factory Reset. We had to teach him to walk all over again.

It doesn't help that over the "festive period" I've been battling manfully with tooth ache caused by a broken wisdom tooth. Battling manfully is defined by crying in the car park outside the dentist surgery, I should add.

Dealing with my Kids when I'm happy is tough enough. Let alone when I feel like someone is hitting me in the face with a rusty shovel. I've been a bit shouty of late. The up side is that because it's tooth ache,  no one can understand what I'm shouting about. So for most of Christmas the Kids treated me like that bloke at the local supermarket who shouts at the cheese. Wary incomprehension.

Still, after an emergency tooth extraction and having three fillings  (one of which was so deep the dentist had to tie a rope to his feet to get back out again)  I'm back to being the usual reasonable person that everybody expects me to be. Now bugger off, it's the season 4 finale.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Pandemonium

It turns out that both my children have birthdays, and as a consequence of this we had to go through the hell of having a second birthday party within a month. Sucks to be me.

Since the Girl shares her birthday with one of her friends, we decided to have a joint party and invite their entire class. Which led to me trying to entertain about 25 five and six year old's. With that volume of potential lawlessness there's quite a lot of pressure. Especially when their parents are present. Ever seen the dads on the touchline of a school football match? You'd think lives were riding on it, which sadly they occasionally are. Even something as innocent as a game of musical statues is too much responsibility for me. I mean, there's just so much riding on it.


A friend of mine booked his daughter's birthday party in June, when I last spoke to him he looked like he'd just got back from Helmand. Apparently they'd had a game of sleeping lions that continued for nearly an hour. He didn't quite have the bottle to pick anyone to be out because it kept turning into a bloodbath whenever he even looked at one of the children.

 Still, as the person people volunteer for such things because "he loves kids" (note: I don't), it fell to me. It took approximately all of my life to get through the bloody thing. We then foolishly embarked on a game of pass the parcel during which I kept forgetting who I'd stopped at before. This culminated in stopping the music on someone who had apparently cheated. And it wasn't just the kids that pointed this out to me. At one point I heard one of the parents mutter "This is rigged."

We muddled through in the end, largely by bribing the children with sweets. I think I managed to get through the whole thing without risking too many death threats. I announced that everyone was a winner, there was a cheer and it was very clear that whilst everyone was a winner, I was definitely the loser.

There's no way you can have any level of interaction with a group of kids that doesn't make you look like a moron at some point.




Yeah. That's me on the right. That's exactly what I look like. So, you know, say hello when you see me in the street,

Overall the party was a success, and led to a haul of booty for the Girl that ranked just below the Brinx-Mat job. She got Frozen loom bands, Frozen puzzles, Frozen coloring books and a set of twin overhead cams for a 2006 Ford Focus with Elsa and Olaf on them. There was a time where not everything had been merchandised by Frozen, but I don't remember it clearly. That's probably due to the heavy alcohol abuse.

 The unfortunate side effect of the party (and therefore her birthday) being over was that she didn't have anything to look forward to (except, like, Christmas). This has become an issue, because of late she's been struggling to get to sleep for a variety of weird and wonderful reasons.



 Which can lead to the odd misunderstanding in the middle of the night when she appears in the doorway of our bedroom at three in the morning.




She sure loves Jesus, that Girl.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Dirty Weekend


I have seen hell, and it looks like an eight year old's birthday party. 

Kids birthday parties are the battleground on which competitive parenting are fought. I say this from the viewpoint of the World's Least Competitive Man (don't even try to disagree - I've got you all beat hands down on this one). I don't see the virtue of spending hundreds of pounds for other people's children to vomit cheesy puffs on the floor of the village hall. Nor for that matter does the Wife - who came up with the plan of taking a handful of the Boy's friends out for the day. We plumped for the British Superbikes at Brands Hatch, partly because both the Wife and I love a bit of motorsport, but mainly because we could make it cheap. Very cheap.

This is how we found ourselves sitting in a borrowed Ford Galaxy with five seven year old boys. The Girl was in a separate car being driven by the parents of one of the Boy's friends. It was a godsend that they decided to come along. For a start, you couldn't put the Girl in a car with five boys. She would have dug out the tyre iron and opened a can of arse kicking before we'd got out of the driveway. Also, by the time we were five minutes into the journey, we realised we were had absolutely no control over the group whatsoever. Cue an hour long journey during which flatulence became sole preoccupation of the majority of the occupants of the car. We hadn't reached the M25 before someone dropped their guts with such gusto the windscreen started to run.

In fairness, if I was in a car with four of my mates farting would still be the mainstay of both our conversation and activity. The difference is, we would have been funny.

It wasn't all bad. The one thing you can say about five boys is that they're easy to wind up.

"Right... Are you all aware of where we're going?"
*Chorus at ear splitting volume* "YES!"
"No need to shout. So - first up we're going pony trekking, then you all get your own princess dress, and finally you're going to have your toenails painted whatever colours you want."

Say whaaaaaaa?
One said;

"I've already had my fingernails painted. Loads of times."
"He's well gay!"

And this led us to the gay conversation, which was as well thought out and urbane as the farting conversation.During this the Boy's excitement reached critical mass and his voice went to a pitch that only dogs can hear.

Eventually we got to Brands, parked, got in and as we walked towards the circuit the Boy said;

"Look! They've got a park with slides and swings. Can we go in the park?"
"What? There are motorbikes racing! We've come here to see cool motorbikes racing, right?"
"Yeah. We can go to the park, and if we get time, we can watch some racing afterwards."
"I have not driven you halfway across the south of England and brought you to a racetrack so you can go on a swing, Boy."

By the time we found somewhere to sit down, at least two of the boys were starting to gnaw on the others out of hunger. So we opened the picnic and were regaled with.

"What have you got to drink?"
"Well, we've got orange..."
"Don't like orange."
"Or apple..."
"Don't like apple."
"Or blackcurrent..."
"Don't li-"
"Blood? Would you like some blood? IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT??? MY BLOOD???"

The Wife made me sit in the shade for a ten minute time out. When I came back she and the other adults were awash in crumbs, muddy picnic rugs and discarded packets of Capri Sun. They were surrounded by a pack of rabid boys battering each other with sausage rolls and a lot of really annoyed spectators who just-wanted-to-watch-the-bloody-racing-thank-you-very-much. I nearly didn't go back. Fortunately, someone brought me a drink. So I drank it and pretended I was single with no dependants. It was bloody lovely. Then;

"We want to go to the park."
"We're not going to the park. We're here to-"

Spin forward five minutes later as we sat in the park wondering what the hell we'd done. Eventually, we made our way to another part of the track where the Wife and the other mum enhanced their parenting with wine.

"You can drive home."
"Thanks, love."

I spent the rest of the trip split between watching the racing and counting how many children we still had sight of whilst they dug a hole in the side of a bank of earth with some sticks. I suppose that's kind of the point. You can spend all the money in the world on your kid's party, but if you give them a pile of mud and a stick they'll be equally happy. Although they do need the loo a lot.

"I need the loo."
"Ok... er... the loos are at the top of the hill. Can you just, er... go in that bush over there."
"No."
"Really? Are you shy?"
"I need to poo."
"Right. Good call. Lets go."

We walked towards the toilet, at which point one of the other boys started following us.

"You need the loo as well?"
"Sure. Why not?"

After a couple of moments the second boy stopped.

"Where are we going?"
"The loo. It's at the top of the hill."
"Ech. Can't be bothered with that. I'm going back."
"Right. Well, we'll have to follow you back then."

We followed him back, then I turned to walk back up the hill with the first boy again. He didn't follow.

"Er... are you coming?"
"Where to?"
"The loo?"
"Oh. Right. I think I'll just go in that bush."
"But you needed a poo."
"Yeah. I changed my mind about the poo."

It was about this time that blood started to run out of my ears, I think. By the time the last race finished and I was rounding the children up with a cheery;

"Back to the car, I'm sick of the sight of you."

most of them looked like a half sucked chocolate biscuit. Especially the Girl who had gone from looking sweet and earnest to John Rambo. The trip home was, surprisingly, even less enjoyable than the trip there. At one point I considered driving into oncoming traffic. 

The day started at 10am and ended just after half past seven in the evening. That has to be the longest eight year old's birthday party on record. After I'd dropped the last of the boys off we got home, put the Kids to bed and the Wife and I slipped into a torpor which lasted a day and a half.

I was considering getting the Boy a divorce for his next birthday, but then he redeemed himself when my sister-in-law came round to drop off his birthday present.

"Happy birthday, Boy!"
"Say it in French or you can't come in."


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Shed Heaven

What? Where the hell did the summer go? It was July just... Oh.

Well, I hope you all had a nice summer holiday. We, like most parents, spent the first morning of the school holidays trying to convince the Kids that they still had to go to school. Or stay in bed all day, or... anything other than come anywhere near us. When I think back to how I felt when the Boy went to school, all misty eyed about the fact that we were sending him into the wider world, and that he would be shaped by other people now, and how sad it would be not to get to spend all day with him. What a plonker I was. Now I react to a day with my Kids like I've just found a spider in my shoe.

The summer holidays are a bit like one of those family comedies from the nineties where the weird relative turns up to stay, and initially he turns the house into a maelstrom of chaos and everyone is all; "Oh no, he's weird and we don't like him" but then as the film progresses it turns out he has a heart of gold despite his weirdness and the family welcome him into their home. Except for the second bit. There's no sudden breakthrough of emotional connection in our house. It's all treading on Lego and shouting. The closest we come to an emotional connection is when we're all crying together because;

a) the Boy wouldn't play with the Girl
b) the Girl elbow-dropped the Boy
c) I JUST CAN'T TAKE IT ANY MORE - IT'S LIKE LIVING WITH THE LOLLIPOP GUILD ON MESCALINE!!!!!

You get the idea.

 In an effort to give ourselves an excuse to avoid the Kids (oh, and because we needed somewhere to put all our crap) we bought a shed. Only its less of a shed and more of a temple to manhood. This is quite ironic given that it's mine and earlier today I was frowned at by my boss for singing show tunes in the office (even more so as I was singing "Suddenly Seymour" from Little Shop of Horrors). Anyhoo, we've managed to turn our shed into a shed-come-summer-house-come-brewery-come-I'm-hiding-from-the-Kids-leave-me-alone place. 

Surprisingly for something that I've been involved in the construction of, it went up surprisingly well. No major mistakes although we nearly forgot to put the doors and windows in, which might have had some minor consequences. Oh, and I forgot to stir the wood paint when I painted the shed and it's a range of different colours. And I made a bit of a pig's ear of the shingling. Aside from that, we're talking the Sistine Chapel here. The only real problem came whilst I was sitting on the roof nailing the shingles on. The Girl was watching me from a short distance, wearing an ethereal expression and singing "Ring a Ring a Roses" in a slightly off-key, threatening manner. 

"You alright, Girl?"

"How many times have you hit your thumb, Daddy?"

"Ha! About eighteen times!"

And then I hit my thumb. This was no gentle tap, dear reader. I flattened it. To celebrate my newly flat digit, I did a bit of rolling around on the roof for a moment and, to take my mind of the pain, said words like "NNNNNNnnnnnngggg!" and "FUCKRYINGOUTLOUD!!!"  

For her part, the Girl said;

"Nineteen!"

in a sing-song voice, and wandered away to push a penshioner under a dust cart, no doubt. This left me to woozily attempt a dismount from the roof of the shed which was punctuated with the following words;

"Whoaaaaaa-sheeeeeeeet!"

and

"Oof!"

And then the Wife kindly taped my thumb nail back on. The post-script to this story is that about a week later the tip of my thumb (which had gone black) fell off whilst I was in an RSPB reserve, and was consequently eaten by a bird. It was a chaffinch. I asked the woman behind the counter.

I don't think the Girl saw the bird eat the end of my thumb, but somewhere along the line she's developed a very suspicious view of them. For instance, at one point during the holidays I was driving down a country lane when four Peahens walked across the road in front of us. I say "walked", it was more of a saunter. They ambled over to someone's front garden and one-by-one, jumped over the garden gate.

"Why are they crossing the road?" 

The Girl asked.

"To get to the other side!"

The Boy and I replied, and then high-fived each other and went; "Yes!". Small things, eh?

"Why are they going in the garden?"

"Dunno, Girl. Maybe they're looking for food."

"Maybe they're murderers

"Well, they're birds. It seems unlikely."

 There was a brief pause, and then the Girl took a deep breath and screamed

"MURDERERS!"

at the top of her lungs. I lurched the car away rather swiftly, spinning the wheels (which, in my old POS takes some doing).

Still, my Kids are the one great constant in my life. In that they constantly drive me freaking nuts.The Boy is still doing all those things that other people tell me make him endearingly eccentric but in actuality are specifically designed to put me in one of those nice canvas jackets that button up the back. Such as when I trod on his last remaining pair of glasses because he'd left them on the floor in the middle of the living room "for safety".

 He's so easily distracted these days that he can't even remember what HE'S talking about most of the time;

(From the other side of the house) "Dad! Dad! DAD! DAD!"

"WHAT?"

*mumble mumble*

"WHAT?.... WHAT??? Oh, forget it, I'll come to you. What do you want?"

"What?"

"You called me."

"Did I?"

*Through gritted teeth* "Yes. You did."

"Oh."

"Why did you call me, Boy."

(Dismissively) "Oh, reasons probably."

 So trying to get him to remember to do something is a complete no goer.

"Boy, you're supposed to be getting into your pajamas."

"But I'm cold!

"You're dancing naked in front of the window, the next door neighbour has just mowed his flower bed because of you and you're complaining you're cold? What do you think this makes you?"

"An imbecile?"

I wouldn't mind, but he cheerily suggested this as if he was going to get a sweet if he was right.

There's none of this with the Girl. Instead we're treated with an endless stream of contrariness. She'll disagree with anything you say. This came to a head the other day when I stuck my head round her door the other night to find that she was zonko, using her duvet as a pillow and having climbed into her pillowcase like a sleeping bag.

Why? Screw you. That's why.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

My Name is Mud

I may have cause a bit of an incident on the M25 last week, so this blog is by way of an apology.

Once again it was time for our annual sojourn of being homeless. We packed filled the car with tents and camping gear to the point it groaned when we pulled away, and headed away from the driest county in England, to the wettest county in England. The one you see on the news with cars being washed away, pensioners sitting on their roof in their nightwear, and people commuting by inflatable dinghies. You know the one.

The incident itself occurred  as we were on a rare stretch of the M25 that was actually moving. Admittedly moving at the speed of continental drift, but moving none the less. I was fiddling with the radio trying to find something other than Classic FM to listen when a spider about the size of my head* crawled out of the air vent in front of me and signaled it's intent to make the next few minutes of my life as stressful as possible. My reaction to this was to take a sharp intake of breath and attempt to get into the back of the car. Fortunately for everyone involved, I wasn't driving at the time (although if I had been, I still would have tried to climb into the back).

"Sp-sp-sp-sp!"

I said, manfully. The Wife glanced across and said, quite wrongly;

"It's only tiny!"

And then;

"Man up!"

I did as instructed and, in the style of someone defusing a bomb, lowered the window as it crawled along the top of the door. The spider paused, looked at me with all eight eyes and, in a very deliberate movement that only I could see, drew a line across it's throat and pointed at me. 

"It wants to kill me!"

I screamed, rationally. The Wife rolled her eyes, leant across me (not easy as I was still trying to get in the back seat) and tried to brush it out of the window. We changed lanes a little. She stopped trying.

Frantically I looked around for something to use to push it out of the window and found, of all things, a pair of bananas, connected at the text, in the picnic bag at my feet.

Like Errol Flynn I wielded the bananas yelling;

"AHA YOU BASTARD!"

And swung at the evil little thing - just in time as it was pulling a tiny knife out to jab at me. There was a thud and, well, I missed. Not only did I miss, but my mighty swing had detached one of the bananas. This flew in a short arc out of the window, across the M25 and through the open window of a rather surprised woman alongside us, finally ending up somewhere in the passenger side of the car. Now, it would have been quite cool if the woman in the car next to us had done a Dani Alves and cheekily eaten the banana. Perhaps with a little wave and toot of the horn. Instead she started shouting. A lot.

"Did you get it?"

"Noooo... Now we have one less banana, that women is shouting at me and there's still a spider in the car."

"What the hell is going on?"

The Boy asked.

"Where's the spider?"

The answer was; no where to be seen. Eventually we lost the woman, but I still had to spend another three hours in a car with a deadly spider ready to pounce - ever fearful the thing was just above my head and the only way I could get away from it was to open the door and roll out into the road.


* It was. Totally. No exaggeration. It definitely wasn't about the size of my thumb nail because I would have dealt with it like a man, not a wet lettuce.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Women Are From Venus, Men Are From Earth

"Dad?"

"Yes, Girl?"

"When you go to work do you have to write about what you did on the weekend?"

Someone once told me that boys are physically exhausting and girls are emotionally exhausting. That's certainly true about the Girl who has, in the past, thrown a wobblers because;

Her horse didn't win the Grand National

The Cat ignored her

It was seven o'clock

The wind was blowing

And most recently because she couldn't find her favourite cuddly toy (called Mega) which was in her bloody hand. In addition to this the hypotheses she makes about the world are, put mildly, ludicrous.

"Snot is magic! When you wipe your nose on a towel it vanishes! "

"I assure you, it doesn't. Hang on, which towel did you use?"

"Your one. "

"Of course you did. Why did I ask?"

On the other hand, girls are more caring. Over the weekend I had a kick-a-bout in the back garden with my brother-in-law. Typically this involved me trying to show that I still had the silky skills of my youth. This was rather unwise because I'm forty one now, and therefore old enough to have forgotten that I never actually had any silky skills. And so, in a moment so beautifully maladroit it was almost graceful, I trod on the ball and attempted to lay down four feet off the ground.

After the laughter had stopped the assembled throng realised that I was - after a whole minute - still only halfway through saying the word "f*ck"

"Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu....! "

And my niece, bless her offered the following sympathy.

"Don't die."

Which is both sweet and disturbing in equal measure.

The Girl's reaction a couple of days later when my foot went black and purple was slightly less compassionate;

"Zombie foot! Aieeee! "

So boys are less random.

"Dad?"

"Yes, Boy?"

"Have you ever gone to work dressed as Joe Calzagie? "

Less weird.

"Is it possible to flambé a platypus?"

And so emotionally stable they never ever burst into tears because an ant didn't want to be their friend.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

A Word of Advice

"Dad, what's the Internet?"

"Well, it's a way for people to tell other people their opinion about things they don't know anything about. "

And so, this blog was born.

Regular readers may have noticed that, for a blog about parenting, there's not a lot of advice in here. At least I hope you have. I am not someone to seek advice from. I am someone on the verge of losing my parenting qualifications for gross incompetence. I was barely qualified as a person before I even had kids. I'm the only person I know who, whilst on a date, was asked;

"Can I ask you a personal question? "

"Sure. "

"How long have you known you are gay?"

"Well... Wait, what? I'm not gay. "

"Really?"

"NO! Er, I mean no. "

*Awkward pause*

"Wait a minute... If you thought I was gay, why did you agree to go on a date with me?"

"This is a date? "

On a holiday I managed (in the space of a weekend) to knock myself unconscious with;

A stairwell
A power shower
A six foot pink plastic phallus

I still can't tell the time on anything other than a digital clock (because digital watches ARE THE FUTURE).
Largely I write this to amuse myself (occasionally, I'm led to believe, other people are amused to. By my grammar). Any advice is accidental.
The reason for this is that parents just can't stop handing out advice at every juncture. It's bad enough in the real world where you can't say;

"My son's a bit poorly at the moment. "

Without some genius replying

"Have you given him calpol?"

No. I've given him methadone, you blithering imbecile.

However on Facebook, as with all things, the arsehollery is multiplied by a factor of the internet³. For instance, if you child has a fever;

"My health visitor said give the calpol when his temperature has come up. "

"Don't give calpol on a day with an 'n' in or SOMETHING AWFUL WILL HAPPEN."

"We distracted our daughter Hegemony by playing the harp and then soothed her pain with a patchouli poultice. "

"The doctor will say that you should give him calprofen. Ignore the doctor because despite their expert knowledge and experience they don't know as much as me because I have two year old and an opinion."

We're all guilty of this (I AM A MASSIVE HYPOCRITE). We justify it with the words "I'm just trying to help" when what we're actually saying is; "Please validate my existence with gratitude."

Why? Because you never hear your kids say;

"Thanks for cooking dinner, it must have taken ages! "

"I'm just going to tidy my room. "

"Would you like me to open a bottle of wine?"

"I've flushed the toilet. "

And if you do they're just covering for the fact that they've shat down the back of the sofa. Again.

So the next time you're gritting your teeth whilst someone vomits their unwanted parenting tips on you, just remember; they're living with slave driving, egocentric ingrates.

Then remember it was their choice, and tell them to piss off.

Friday, 21 March 2014

God Only Knows

I won't lie, this post is going to alienate a few people. Bit of a dangerous move on my part because losing one reader pretty much halves my readership.

The other week I went to see the Boy in a local production of a Russian folk tale. It was about the unilateral annexation of a state by a repressive regime. No wait. It was about an egg and a firebird. Or was that the news? It's so hard to keep up. Anyway, the Boy was proudly playing Chicken Number four. An important role, for the first forty five seconds of the play, leaving him plenty of time to stare vacantly into space and see how far his index finger would fit up his nose for another fifty nine minutes. Still, for the princely sum of five quid I got to sit on a school bench, work on my piles and crane round someone's head to catch a glimpse of the Boy. Who was fiddling with his bits at least all of the time.

This, however, was not the worst of the experience of the day though. Unfortunately, as often happens when I'm unaccompanied, I somehow attracted the attentions of a lunatic. Whilst in the queue I found myself chatting with the support of supermum you often find at these events. Some of you will know the type. Typically isolated by the other parents because they've all spoken to her once in the past, with the unmistakable air of someone who believes that they have been gifted a view of the world that is unshakeably RIGHT and must be shared with the world. Whether or not they want to listen.

Sadly, because I'm not terribly good at being overtly rude, these people are the flies around my dog shit. So this happened;

"Do what school does your Boy go to? "

I foolishly told her.

"Oh. That's a faith school, isn't it?"

"Yes. "

"I couldn't send my child to a faith school. I'm an athiest."

"Fair enough. "

"I don't think my child needs people to tell them fairy tales about heaven so they feel better about dying."

"So your child doesn't believe in fairy tales? "

"No."

"So no Father Christmas? Your kid doesn't believe in Santa? "

"Oh, yes. Of course he does."

"So... What's the difference? "

"Well, I don't believe in heaven."

"Oh, right. I've got some bad news about Father Christmas for you. "

This went on. It struck me as odd, as I tweeted my irritation with her as she continued to talk, that people like her actually exist in the real world. Ordinarily you only encounter them in badly written books. Which may explain why she fits so well into this blog.

"Still, it's nice that dad's make the effort to get to these things. Although I always think, at the end of the day, it's mum that kids want to see. "

"Oh, you can just f**k off."

I replied, before I'd really thought it through, somewhat surprising myself.

You see, there's something about a self righteous atheist that brings out the worst in me. I have no problem with atheists, a person's view is their entitlement. It's not my view, but I understand and respect it. But the sort of bombastic hypocrite that decries the bigotry of religions by sweeping statements about religion being the cause of all the ills in the world really could do with talking less shit and getting enlightened. People cause the world's ills. Not abstract concepts.

My kids believe in heaven and that keeps them from worrying about their own mortality and that of those they love. It hasn't warped them, and they are happier for it.

Although the other day the Girl did tell me;

"I'm not going to die until I'm a hundred. When I'm crucified."

So it might be that I know nothing.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Falling Down

Well, the party season has started, and the stakes just got raised. The Boy went to two parties this weekend, involving him in a trilogy of fun that went from ice hockey to quad biking to Quasar. Gone are the days of standing in the corner of a church hall, drinking a cup of tea whilst watching your little darlings dodge vomit on a bouncy castle. Now I'm being forced to join in. And I'm not a join in sort of chap. I'm more of a "come near me and I'll cut you" sort of chap.

The Boy has been ice skating before. We got him and the Girl six ice skating lessons after Christmas and after six weeks and thirty quid the Boy went from being able to stand up on the ice to being able to lie on his back and yell "I can't get up!". Somehow he managed to remove information from his brain. This was probably because ten minutes into his first lesson he nose dived spectacularly and hurt his wrist. Naturally, when he came off the ice he said he didn't want to do it any more. Naturally, I told him we'd spent the thirty quid, so he was bloody well going back again. I'm caring like that.

It was with some trepidation that the Boy arrived for the ice hockey. Only it wasn't ice, it was a waxed floor. This meant that it was easier to skate on supposedly. It also meant that after an hour everything I owned had wax on it and I was almost entirely frictionless. 

Certainly the Boy found it easier to move around on. Especially when he had one of those penguin shaped things to push around. However, at one point this got taken off him, and he found himself stranded in the middle of the rink. He looked forlornly at me.

"Help!"
"You're fine. Just remember your ice skating lessons!"
"I only learnt how to fall over!"

I couldn't argue with that. So, with a due sense of dread, I went and got some ice skates that purported to be my size, but turned out to be clown shoes.

I have been skating once before. It was about twenty years ago. I remember three things;


  1. I didn't like it
  2. I fell over in such a manner that when I hit the ice my elbow drew a big question mark in blood on the ice
  3. I had to be rescued by a twelve year old boy

You see, dear reader, I have the grace and elegance of a duck with an inner ear problem. Thus, when I went out onto the rink, things were destined to go only one way. Down. 

I managed to get over to the Boy with only a small amount of wind-milling my arms and stood with him, encouraging him to walk like he'd been shown in his lessons. After a moment or two he got the hang of it, and started to build his confidence.

"That's right. Like this, Boy."

And I instantly fell over. Not in a "whoops-a-daisy" way, but the sort of way people fall down a flight of stairs in leg callipers.

"Did you fall?"

The Boy asked, observant as ever. I responded with something that sounded like, but definitely wasn't;

"Nollocks."

One of the other dads had to help me up and take me to the side. The Boy refused to be seen around me for a while after that.

Then he went quad biking, which was hilarious for a range of reasons. One was that I have never seen a group of children so excited. They were literally frothing at the mouth, unable to form coherent sentences or even sounds that resembled words.

"Are you looking forward to this, kids?"
"Fmasdallalla!"
"Er, is that a yes?"
"SHAMALIDUKDUK!"

Secondly because they had to wear crash helmets that were adult sized. So the Boy looked like this;

The Stig's bobble-headed cousin

And finally because, from the moment they had their crash hats on the only thing they wanted to do was either punch each other in the face, or head butt each other. It was like a punch up at the National Association of Midget Bikers AGM. And when they eventually broke the fight up and got them on the quads - well. It turns out that when you put your average seven-year-old boy on a quad, they forget what a corner is. The whole time they were on the bikes they would ride in a straight line, stop when they got to a tyre wall and then look in bemusement over their shoulders at the two poor sods running the place. They would then get dug out of the tyre wall, let loose to ride in a straight line and repeat the whole process. I now know what the most soul destroying job in the world is. After five minutes of this I wanted to kill myself on their behalf.

Quasar was the biggest hit for the Boy it turns out - when I asked him what he enjoyed the most. Although when I asked why he replied;

"Because I shot Leon's dad in the nuts like, a hundred times!"

Friday, 7 March 2014

Embarrassment of Riches

This blog would work better if one email of my children was called Rich.

I often tell people that I'm "unembarrassable", partly because I have only a tenuous grip on the English language, and partly because of my father. My Dad was very keen on winding up his children in whatever manner he could. Making any kind of verbal blunder in front of Dad would inevitably result in being reminded of this for the rest of your life, in public. For instance, I once tried to ask the question; "How many of the ten commandments are negative?" and instead (because God hates me) the words that came tumbling out of my mouth were; "How many commandments are there in the ten commandments?"

This question has fallen into family lore. In fact, he reminded me of this faux pas during my graduation ceremony from university. In Southwark Cathedral - at the lectern. Via a microphone.

If it wasn't the fruits of the vacuum between my ears, then it was anything he thought of that would amuse him. One particular favourite was intentionally calling my girlfriend by the wrong name.

"You must be Clare."
"Daaad."
"Not Clare? Janet?"
"Knock it off, dad. You're not funny."
"Julian?" 

Due to this I have found myself fundamentally unfazed by, for instance, knocking myself unconscious on a six foot phallus in the sex museum in Amsterdam. Or tripping up and falling head first into a toilet at work.

This was all fine and dandy until I had kids. A few weeks back I picked the Boy up from his dodgeball class. He was clearly quite cheery as I walked around the school hall retrieving his school clothes from the floor, the roof, behind his ears, and the other assorted locations he'd strewn them. As we walked out of the door he showed me the paper chatterbox he'd made. You remember them, they look like this;


"Pick a colour, dad."
"Blue."
"Pee. Eye. En. Kay... Pick a number.
"I said 'blue'."
"That's not a number."
"No..." *sigh* "Eight."
"One...two...three...four...five..."
"I said 'eight'"
"It says; 'You are sexy.'"

He managed to say this, just as we were passing the headteacher, who paused for a moment and gave me a quizzical expression.

"Uh. I don't think that's a word that you should be using."
"Why? Aren't you sexy?"
"No... I mean... well, actually no. But..."
"Is Grandma sexy?"
"Will you, for the love of God, shut up?"

Sometimes it's like being haunted by the spirit of my Dad. The Girl doesn't do this sort of thing. She goes for another kind of embarrassing.

"Dad?"
"Yes."
"I didn't get to the toilet on time."
"Oh, no! Have you wet yourself?"
"No."
"Oh, good."
"I did a poo."

However, the award for maximum dadbarrassment has to go to the Boy at yesterday's swimming lesson. After the lesson had finished he went under the showers and, just as I was walking into the changing rooms with him he clutched his winkle and yelled;

"Ooh! I need a wee!"

And he ran away, still holding his winkle. I sighed and went into the changing rooms, sat down and waited. And waited.

And waited.

After about ten minutes it started to dawn on me that I was the only person in the room without a child. That I was, in the eyes of the other parents, a grey haired man with "the look", sitting on his own in a kids changing room. This started to attract looks of suspicion. After a few more minutes the other parents were holding towels around their kids and looking at me as if I was something they'd trod in. This became a little uncomfortable, so as a defence mechanism I put my hand in my pocket and reached for my phone, and stopped when one woman saw what I was doing and her eyes went as wide as saucers.

It was at this precise moment that the Boy strode into the changing rooms, completely naked and twirling his soaking wet swimming trunks around his head. For the first time in his life, he appeared to have a moment of clarity, and became aware of his surroundings. He looked first at me, then at the woman who had been looking at me (now aghast), then dropped his trunks, wiggled his hips so his bits jiggled and went;

"WOO!"