Sunday, 31 August 2008

I'm married to a chav

Another day, another shocking discovery: Vanessa has become a chav.

This is a most disheartening situation, not to mention unforeseen.

I mean, she comes from a good family, her personal hygiene is of an acceptable standard, she doesn't have a hair bauble to her name never mind big hooped earrings, she doesn't own a baseball cap and I've only ever seen her drink in the street from a pub glass and never from a brown paper bag.

But thinking about it, barely a day now goes past without her taking Jamie out for at least one push in the pram and maybe the lifestyles of other local pram pushers have rubbed off on her.

Whatever the truth, she went shopping the other day - yes, with her pram or "accessory" as I should now more properly call it - and came back with a chav handbag (pictured above).

I only discovered this yesterday and obviously decided to find out why.

"I got it from a charity shop, innit," she sought to explain. "It's phat."

"I beg your pardon, young lady," I replied. "It's a chav handbag and I'm fearful that you may have stumbled on to a very slippery slope. What are you intending to come home with next? A shell suit? Vanessa, pull back. I beseech you."

"Don't zaggerate man," responded Mrs White. "And don't be such a div neever. The bag's wicked. Now chill it down and show some respect for the lady, aaiiii."

I really am very disappointed in her and even a little hurt.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Write stuff

I've been very healthy all week and not touched alcohol. Until last night.

I just can't help myself on a Friday evening. Happy in the knowledge that the weekend has arrived, a glass of wine and Chris Evans' All Request Show on Radio 2 is now my idea of heaven. Boy, I'm getting old.

And, of course, when old age is mixed with alcohol, the end result is a sore head the following morning. So, can you guess what I woke up with today? OK, right, Vanessa is not an incorrect answer. But sore head was what I was really looking for.

My headache plus the time spent waiting for the Nurofen to work set my plans back a bit but I'm still delighted to report that 30 August 2008 has turned out to be an historic day for me. For today, my friends, I started writing my sitcom.

Those who know me will probably have heard me talk about this several times over the last 11 years - and then do nothing.

Over this period, the subject has changed several times and my writing partner once after the person I originally asked emigrated to Australia - some people go to the greatest lengths to avoid me, you know.

Ben (pictured above with his little girl Maisie) is my "new" partner although I first asked him about three years ago. We finally had some actual meetings last summer and then things drifted, my excuses including training for the marathon and, more recently, fatherhood.

However, our get togethers did lead to the agreement of a plot, a list of scenes and a cast of characters.

The next stage was for the two of us to go off separately and write a pilot episode before bringing the two drafts together. That, as I say, was last year.

But today, to my own astonishment, I managed to write three whole scenes. And whilst they're not very good, at least I'm underway.

The story is centred around a fictional council in the North of England but I'll say no more than that at this stage in case someone nicks our idea and becomes rich and famous instead of us. However, I will keep you informed on how we're progressing (or not, as the case may be).

Friday, 29 August 2008

Jamie the Giant

Got a bit of a shock today.

Although just two months old, our son is already showing signs that he'll be tall.

This is not a surprise in itself given I'm 6' 2" and a bit myself (the bit is very important to me).

But, having done some Internet research, it now appears Jamie's not just going to be tall; he is actually going to be the tallest man in history. I'd better explain.

After putting him on our bed in his jimmy-jammies last night, he decided to stretch himself out as above.

"Look at him, he's enormous," I yelped excitedly to Vanessa. "I've got to measure him," before shooting off to find the tape measure.

67 cms was what he came out as - or almost 2' 3" in old money which, you know, is pretty darn big (for two months).

Then I had an idea. I remember someone telling me at some point in the past that you could work out how tall your baby/child was going to be as an adult by using some sort of mathematical formula somewhere.

So, during an idle moment at work this afternoon, I had a quick look on Google to see what I could find. And sure enough, something turned up - "The Baby/Child Height Predictor."

"How tall will your baby be when he or she grows up?" it asked, clearly aware that I had no idea. "Will your child end up on the jockey-size side, tall as a NBA player or somewhere in between? Get an idea how the averages play out by entering some information here."

I quickly entered my height and Vanessa's height into a table followed by Jamie's height, weight and age before pressing the "calculate adult height" tab.

I waited excitedly for what seemed like a long time but was obviously only about two seconds.

And I swear this is what it said on the next page (I even printed it out to make sure I got it right).

"Based on the information you entered, your child's height will be approximately 15' 7" which is 4.75 metres. Remember - these numbers are based on averages, so don't come back in 20 years with a complaint."

This is indeed exciting news. For, having also checked this out, I can reveal that the tallest man in history was one Robert Pershing Wadlow from Alton, Illinois.

He was 8' 11" tall. Meanwhile, our Jamie is set to be almost twice that size.

I've always hoped that our son would be special but, you know, this just about tops everything.

A proud day for us all.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Nappy pains

I went to buy nappies at lunchtime and my head's still sore as a result.

The thing is, I've bought nappies before over the last few weeks and that's been easy.

"A packet of newborn nappies, please," was my stock line.

"Here you go, sir," was the common response. Dead easy.

But Jamie's too big for newborn nappies now which led to today's brain ache.

He was weighed again yesterday and tipped the scales at 12lb 10oz. This meant I had to get nappies for little baby people of his increased size (i.e. not newborn). Again, shouldn't be difficult.

However, what I didn't bargain for was the huge choice available - at least in Boots where I was standing, Advantage Card in hand.

We'd had Boots own brand nappies before and they seemed fine. I'd go for them, thought me.

But then I noticed that some types of Pampers and Huggies were on special offer. I'd heard of Pampers and Huggies, even seen adverts for them on the telly. Perhaps they'd be better. But would the prices be as good?

This was where my confusion really began to reign. For example, Pampers Baby Dry and Active Fit were on special offer but not Pampers Easy On Pants (whatever they were). Meanwhile, Huggies Natural Fit were on special offer too but not Huggies Superdry or Preemies (no idea there either).

And as for Boots own brand, Boots Superdry were on special offer but not Boots Active Fit or Boots Easy On Pants.

So, narrowing the choice down only to those on special offer, £13 for for two packs of Boots Superdry seemed good but then I remembered someone saying they were just for night-time use, immediately ruling them out.

£13.50 for two packs of Pampers Active Fit therefore looked like a safe bet so it had to be between them and the Huggies Natural Fit which were also on special offer (there was a sign and everything) although I couldn't, for the life of me, find the actual price. Surely they would be about the same price as the Pampers Active Fit. But which brand was better? How was I to know?

I got a pack of each down from the shelves. The deciding factor soon became clear.

Did Jamie want Pooh and Tigger on the front (of his Huggies) or the cast of Sesame Street (on his Pampers)? Well, I'd be the one looking at the character(s) in question as I changed him. Plus, Jamie wasn't with me and wouldn't be able to talk if he was, so it had to be my call.

I'd never been a fan of Pooh and Tigger as a boy. A bit like Blue Peter, I always thought they were for posh kids.

So Sesame Street it was - or "two packs of Size 3 Pampers Active Fit please," to be precise.

I paid my £13.50, claimed my Advantage points, grabbed the nappies and shuffled out, my head now really beginning to throb.

Thanks goodness I haven't been sent to buy him clothes. Yet.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Sleeping essentials

I was just about to turn off the light last night after putting Jamie down to sleep when I thought, "I've got to get a picture of this!"

As you can see, the dummy is in there although not normally for more than a couple of minutes when his jaw falls open.

In recent days he's taken to cuddling a fluffy bunny which he grips under his left arm as if his life depends on it.

And, following a spate of self-inflicted overnight injuries caused by his sharp nails (despite Vanessa's repeated attempts to cut them), we now also send him to bed in a pair of scratch mitts (which actually look more like mini oven gloves).

All in all, a very cute scene and one which I obviously look forward to sharing with his love interests in the years to come.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Spot the difference

I did something really bad last night.

We'd given Jamie his bath and, after putting on his nappy (on him, not me) and a coating of baby oil, I was administering a final bit of male grooming.

He'd had a bit of a crusty forehead in the early days which has since been cured by a nightly application of baby moisturiser.

But, last night, my mind mustn't have been on the job.

I took a normal amount of moisturiser out of the container and sought to rub it into his head. However, instead of my fingers softly sliding across his skin, they came to something of a standstill.

I applied more moisturiser and, again, my fingers shuddered to a halt.

How could his head have got so dry?

So I slapped on a bit more. The same thing happened.

Jamie looked up at me non-plussed, three large white blobs upon his head.

Then the penny dropped.

It wasn't his moisturiser I was applying after all. It was his bum cream.

I did my best to wipe it off, using a combination of water, cotton wool balls, a towel and about half a dozen baby wipes. But I felt terrible.

And I don't mind admitting it, I also felt like an ar*e.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Clinging to the bandwagon

Sorry but I just couldn't let this go.

As planned, Jamie and I spent a large chunk of this afternoon watching Britain's Olympic heroes return home.

It was a true moment in history and well done to them all.

But did you see the other Team GB's pathetic attempts to muscle in on proceedings?

I speak, of course, of our esteemed Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his two lackeys, Tessa Jowell and Andy Burnham, who lined themselves up at the terminal entrance in front of the world's media to personally welcome each Olympian back to British soil. There were no HRHs or other VIPs standing alongside them. Just these three appendages complete with their inane grins and outstretched hands.

They are the very same individuals who met the very same British athletes at a party in Beijing last night having spent the previous day holding court in Team GB's part of the Olympic village.

At a time when our economy's going through the floor, people are losing their jobs, our troops are fighting two wars and terrorists are threatening our way of life, would you not think Brown and his bag carriers would be better spending their time doing something to tackle these problems rather than hang around an airport trying (for the third time in three days) to achieve some sort of reflective Olympic glory at the expense of athletes who've actually earned it?

Apparently the British team's next stop after seeing their families is a drinks reception. In Downing Street. Hosted by Gordon Brown.

The man makes me itch.

Keep smiling through

John and Vicky have just left and, with Vanessa due off to the cinema in a couple of hours, Jamie and I are preparing for an afternoon of sport and returning Olympians on the telly.

Before that I've got an eight-mile training run lined up. Following my little mistake of registering for the Leeds Half Marathon as a girlie, the organisers have now very kindly swapped my pink number for a black and white man one so I'll definitely be on the start line on Sunday week. And I so almost got out of it.

Then it's back to work tomorrow and, after a fortnight off, it's always hard but this time will be especially difficult.

It's been great to spend so much time with Jamie (and Vanessa, of course). I've seen a lot of changes in him over the last two weeks including his new ability to smile.

But whilst it will undoubtedly be more than a little heart wrenching to walk out the door in the morning, it'll be exciting to think he'll be there waiting for me when I get back.

And, who knows, I might even get another smile.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

A whole lotta sh*t

Did you see the Olympic closing ceremony today?

As with everything at these hugely exhilarating Games, the Chinese bits were excellent.

Having been on leave for the past two weeks and with the three of us not being able to go too far, I've seen almost all the coverage and loved it.

Like so many others, I've been delighted (and pleasantly surprised) at the performance of Team GB. Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe even won his bet after Great Britain finished one ahead of Australia in total medals won. Brilliant stuff.

I've also been very excited about London 2012 and actually signed up to be a volunteer shortly after the bid was successful three years ago.

But I was far from impressed with the London segment in today's closing ceremony. Three years in the planning, two and a half million pounds spent and what's the best they can come up with? A plastic bus, a street theatre group, a reality TV show winner, a sweaty rocker and a part-time footballer more at home on the catwalk than on the pitch. At least we were spared the sight of his talentless and joyless wife.

Aunty Vicky and Uncle John joined the Whites and our telly in the garden for an Olympic barbecue. And we made the best of it. But it was hard (mainly for the others because of my sullen mood).

I mean, did you see the concert which followed the closing ceremony? We were promised the best of British. And what did we get? Myleene Klass and Zoe Salmon's massively informative views on people who run and jump. And McFly plugging their new single.

For me the Olympic Ideal has always been about the pursuit of excellence. From a British point of view - and with the exception of Mayor Boris Johnson's brief cameo which I thought was hilarious - all we got today was a sea of mediocrity, and that's putting it kindly. I really hope the bar is raised over the next four years otherwise we're set for national humiliation.

In the meantime, perhaps tomorrow I'll cheer up - but I can't guarantee it.

UPDATE: I did lighten up a little later on (mainly because I'd had a few) and decided to sing to Jamie. Aunty Vicky took a pic and thought you might like to see it. Perhaps some things are more important than the Olympics.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Jamie goes up in the world

Our son rose to a new level today when we allowed him to sit up in his pushchair for the first time. And it was all because of drink.

Uncle John's staying over this weekend and, at lunchtime, the two of us took Jamie to the supermarket to get provisions for a since aborted barbecue.

Amongst other essential items, we needed beer and, being a barbecue, it obviously had to come in bottle form.

The problem was, we were slightly weighed down and needed to use the undertray on Jamie's pram if we were to get them home safely.

Until this stage, the little man had lain flat in his vehicle but today drastic action was called for and the only answer was to sit him upright.

It worked a treat. Not only could he now see all that was before him, but his adoring public could see him better too. And we got the beer home. An altogether perfect situation for everyone involved.

As a result and despite the barbecue postponement, our night still holds real potential...

Friday, 22 August 2008

The Baby Rover

A bit of fun last night tinged with a real sense of sorrow.

The legendary Dubliners frontman Ronnie Drew sadly died last Saturday after a long illness. I was brought up to the sound of his gravelly tones. And, as I got older, I've drunk to them on more occasions than I'm able to remember (for fairly obvious reasons).

Since the news broke, I've waited patiently for BBC Northern Ireland to air a tribute of some sort and, last night, it hit our screens.

It came in the form of an old Dubliners studio gig in Belfast and many of the favourites - including Seven Drunken Nights which I wrote about a few weeks ago - were in there.

One of my current fatherly duties is to give Jamie his last feed before putting him down for the night (well, about three hours for now but you get the idea).

He's recently got used to his little music box and normally, within about five minutes of it going on, he's under.

But last night, I timed everything to ensure I was feeding him whilst the Dubliners were on the telly. The plan was to wait until the show was over before attempting to get him off to sleep but he finished his supper quicker than I expected.

There was no way I was turning the telly off before Ronnie had sung his final note so I decided to see if Ronnie could get Jamie off for me instead.

As I placed him into his Moses basket, our hairy hero was thanking the audience and introducing the last number - The Irish Rover which, I'm sure you know, became famous when the Dubliners teamed up with The Pogues to release it as a single.

By the time Ronnie had reached the first chorus, Jamie's arms and legs were gyrating to the music and, by the second, his head was rolling from side to side. Indeed, it was probably my proudest moment yet!

The concert over, I turned the telly off and the music box on. Jamie didn't complain but also didn't go to sleep for another half an hour.

A bizarre but entertaining end to the day and all thanks to the late, great Ronnie Drew.

If you have speakers on your computer, click on to this link and enjoy the definitive live version of the Irish Rover from the TV special broadcast 21 years ago to celebrate The Dubliners' quarter century in music.

But a word of advice - don't put it on if you're planning to sleep any time soon.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Have the body snatchers struck again?

Have you ever come across a more relaxed baby?

What you see is the work of what Vanessa and I think is the best babysitter the planet has to offer.

Her name is Aunty Vicky and you, like Jamie, have met her before.

When Vanessa and I headed off for our first post-birth meal out shortly before 8pm last night, our loving son was kicking off big time. The boy we returned to was a very different individual. A wonderful job, I'm sure you'll agree.

But hold on... all might not be how it appears.

Look at Jamie's left hand in the picture opposite. What's going on?!

Does anyone have Doctor Who's number? I've never trusted that Aunty Vicky!

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Feeling his pain

Jamie had his first set of jabs this morning and it's true what they say, it really does hurt the parents more than it hurts their child.

As a youngster, I obviously remember going for blood tests, getting teeth out, having my BCG shot. I dreaded them all. But I genuinely think I was more nervous about what lay ahead for Jamie a few hours ago than when the big needle awaited the little me.

As it turned out, the boy done well.

Sure, he cried sorely as each of the two needles (OW!) were inserted and the drugs administered. And he cried for a little while afterwards too. But then he stopped and we were proud of him.

Whilst Vanessa stayed behind for her own health check-up, I rushed Jamie home to begin the aftercare.

First up was a half-dose of Calpol which he's never had before but comes highly recommended by almost every parent we've met over the last eight weeks.

Then he had a bottle of Mummymilk which Vanessa produced earlier.

As he finished up, Vanessa arrived home and suggested we try him out in his cot which will soon be his new home having almost outgrown his Moses basket.

And, after a half-hour sleep in there (hopefully a positive sign), we hit him with his big treat - a brand new cot mobile which arrived yesterday.

I remember my own cot mobile with great affection and was very keen that Jamie had one as well.

I don't know if you're familiar with Zeddy and Parsnip (we weren't until these things became necessary) but they're a bunny and a donkey (or is it a horse?) who seem to love each other. I'm unsure as to the exact nature of their love, whether they're boys or girls, or even if they've had a civil ceremony - in fact, I don't even know which one is which - but we're hoping their happiness rubs off on our son.

His nursery already includes a Zeddy and Parsnip border and a lantern with the donkey/horsey one hanging from it. So his mobile features our heroes too.

And, although he only had about twenty minutes underneath before deciding he was hungry again, he seemed impressed.

I wonder what we can distract him with next time he comes back from seeing the nice nurse who's only doing her job? Are you sure babies aren't allowed ice cream?!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Like mother like son?

Vanessa was doing a bit of faffing around the house on Sunday afternoon and stumbled across an old baby-in-cot photo of herself I had never seen before.

Coincidentally, I'd earlier taken a couple of pics of the now increasingly smiley Jamie in his own scratcher.

There's two things that strike me about Vanessa's photo.

First, you can tell it's her straight away, which is bizarre.

Second, she looks a bit bonkers. This is less of a shock.

I thought it would be fun to put the two pics up alongside each other so you could decide who you would trust more with your train set.

I know what my answer would be.

Monday, 18 August 2008

A new mode of transport

In one of the surest signs yet that life has changed for ever, the Whites had a family trip to the supermarket today and Daddy was quite excited about it.

The reason for my enthusiasm was that it provided me with my first chance to use one of those shopping trolleys with a seat for baby.

Although clearly not as good as being pushed around in one of them yourself, this has always seemed like fun and it didn't disappoint.

My new vehicle forced me to adhere more closely than usual to the trolley highway code, something I've never been strong on.

And I also had to drop my habit of leaving my trolley somewhere random before heading off in search of an unnecessary item and then trying to remember where I'd parked my wheels; I can cope with people nicking bread from my trolley but I'd have to draw the line at them nicking my son.

But it was all good entertainment and made the whole supermarket experience much less grim than usual.

Thankfully, Master W seemed to enjoy himself too. He had plenty to look at and plenty of people looking at him, which I think he's already starting to enjoy.

Maybe next time I'll treat him to a spot of trolley rallying (although only if Mum's not there).

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Busy doing nothing

Other than having lunch out yesterday, Vanessa pushing Jamie around the locality and me going for a couple of runs, the Whites haven't exactly achieved much this weekend.

Indeed, mother and son are currently having a nap, as the above photo confirms. And why not.

I'm now half way into my two weeks off work and it's been great doing pretty much nothing other than fatherly chores, baby bonding and Olympics watching (I didn't take this particular fortnight off by accident, you understand).

But the pace is due to pick up in the week ahead with several family outings planned, guests coming to stay and even a fun baby sitter lined up so Vanessa and I can get some food on our own for the first time since Jamie moved in.

By the way, the picture on the right was taken during our lunch in North Yorkshire yesterday. It features little Luca Sutton who's two and already something of a character.

As his mum Nicole and dad Ian explained and the photo clearly illustrates, things don't necessarily get easier as your child gets older, "new challenges" simply present themselves.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

A proud mum puts it perfectly

"Those who do not dream do not live."

The words not of Shakespeare or some other poet type bloke but of proud Coleraine mum Jenny Campbell after her son Alan came home fifth for Great Britain in this morning's final of the rowing men's single sculls.

If you haven't been following this story, 25-year-old Alan dedicated the last four years of his life to preparing for these Olympics and had a realistic shot at gold.

But, in a stroke (pardon the pun) of the cruelest luck eight weeks ago, developed a serious knee infection - sparked off by a simple tooth abscess - and was forced under the surgeon's knife.

He spent the next five weeks out of his boat and many thought he would never make it to the start line of the heats never mind become the first British single sculler since 1980 to make an Olympic final.

As Jenny (right) put it so well this morning, many of us did dare to dream as we woke up and turned on our televisions.

Unfortunately the race - Alan's fourth in eight days - proved just one too many given the training he'd missed.

But he did himself, his family and his wee town incredibly proud.

Roll on 2012.

Friday, 15 August 2008

The return of a great leader?

At a time when our country is crying out for a great leader to show the strength and courage to lead us out of the climate of increasing financial uncertainty we now face, my mind turns to Churchill.

Winston would've known what to do. He always did. He was brave, he was bold and he was daring.

During the Second World War, he even offered to fight Hitler on the beach if it would help.

And then I look at my son, whose head of once thick dark hair is gradually thinning out. And suddenly I see it.

Is Churchill amongst us once again? Has he returned to save us from our spiral of impending economic doom?

I think he has and his new name is Jamie.

Either that or I got bored when Vanessa was out swimming yesterday and thought it might be a laugh to see what Jamie looked like in a bow tie.

Whatever the truth, I think he's a dead ringer for the greatest Briton of all-time (just like almost every other recently born baby boy I've seen in my life, I grant you. But let me have my fun).

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Alan's wheelie great

Our son's just seven and a half weeks old and already he's got himself a new set of wheels - thanks to a nice man called Alan.

Let me explain. Vanessa and I were pushing Jamie around in his pram last Saturday when we noticed that one of the left front wheels was, for want of a better description, wonky.

Being in the "not in the least bit technically gifted" category of men, I did the obvious thing and hit it with a hammer. No improvement. So I hit it again. And again. Still no joy.

I then spent the next half an hour plus on t'Interweb trying to see if I could buy a replacement. The good news was that I could. The bad news was that it would take four to six weeks to arrive from America. Even worse was the fact that I'd have to fit it myself. As if.

So there was nothing else for it, we'd have to get a new pram.

The two of us began by checking out eBay for a good deal but none jumped out.

So on Tuesday, just before Vanessa's visit to Next and mine to the photo shop, we headed into Mothercare. This time, one or two prams did jump out but we couldn't agree. Plus, at the end of the day, it seemed both a shame and a waste to chuck out an otherwise perfectly good pram just because of a wonky wheel with hammer damage.

I was lamenting this fact to the nice store assistant when she mentioned the existence of her "best friend" Alan.

As well as being her best friend, we quickly discovered that Alan was also the in-house "pram technician." No, I'd never heard of a pram technician either but basically he fixes prams which obviously worked for us.

Alan was summoned and both he and store woman spent the next 15 minutes checking on the computer to see if they could order in a new wheel direct from the makers. Unfortunately the answer was no as our pram was an old model. I was gutted.

"Hold on, I'll go and see what I have in my workshop," Alan announced, as I bent over to scoop my guts back in - we were back in the game.

"He'll find something," said store woman with a smile. "He's great Alan, he's got everything in there." (I felt compelled to silently order all grubby thoughts to leave my mind).

The tension was building, even for Jamie who let out a dull blast on his bum trumpet.

A few more minutes passed before our hero - who reminded me a bit of Mr Hooper from Sesame Street - emerged with two sets of front wheels under his arm.

"I'm not sure," said Alan. "They haven't got any logos on them."

"Doesn't matter to us," I pleaded. "Really, we're not Posh and Becks."

"But loads of people treat their prams like their cars," said store woman.

"Not us," said I. "Plus I can't drive so I wouldn't know."

And off Alan went to his workshop. And not only did he bring the pram back with the wonky wheel changed, but he had replaced both front sets - and even went to the trouble of taking the logos off our old ones and transferring them on to the replacements to ensure they matched the back wheels.

According to what I saw online last Saturday, a single wheel would have put us back at least £30. This fine gentleman replaced all four wheels and charged us a total of £15 for the privilege.

It's little happenings like this which restore my faith.

So both thanks and sincere good wishes to store woman and her best friend Alan, two very fine human beings. And don't forget to shop in Mothercare.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Jamie Four Pictures

Vanessa and I took Jamie to be weighed earlier today and he's up to an even 12 pounds, so everyone's happy. Just for the fun of it, we also got the tape measure out and, from top to toe, he's now exactly two feet tall. (Should I buy him some basketball shoes now or should I wait?)

A side effect of his sheer largeness is he can fight back when needs be and this is not always desirable from a mummy and daddy point of view.

For example, whilst in Bradford on Friday afternoon, we took him to a photo booth in the station to get his passport picture taken.

Showing how naive the two of us can still be at this parenting game, we thought it would be a piece of cake. It wasn't.

The problem centred on the fact that the hands of the person holding the baby - mine in this case - cannot be in shot if the photo is to be deemed valid. But it's obviously very hard not to show your hands when the little gentleman you're holding clearly doesn't want to keep still never mind gurgle "cheese."

We paid our £4 for three goes but, each time, a rather self-satisfied message came up on screen to tell us we hadn't done it right. How polite, thought Mummy and Daddy (not really, we swore). Jamie didn't really have a view.

And then, after the third and final try, the machine simply printed out our first effort (presumably for posterity) and kept our cash. Great service, I'm sure you'll agree.

Thankfully, the story ends happily (other than the loss of our £4) for yesterday, as we drove into a retail park in Leeds, I spotted a specialist photo outlet. Leaving Vanessa in Next (where she's always happy) I took Jamie across to enquire if they by any chance offered a baby passport photo service. And, to my great delight, they did.

Two minutes later, I had Jamie pinned by the arms to a small white mattress on the shop floor while two young girls took it in turns to get his best side. You can judge how successful they were above.

All we have to do now is find someone "of standing" to verify his character by signing one of the pics.

Rather them than me.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Every cloud has one

In case you don't know (which wouldn't shock me), the gentleman on the left is Gerry Sutcliffe MP, Her Majesty's Minister for Sport.

Gerry's not been the most high profile holder of this position since Labour came to office. Indeed, previous incumbents have included Dick Caborn, Kate Hoey and the late Tony Banks who were all well known and well liked during their time in the job.

Mr Sutcliffe has also had the added difficulty of being just the third most important Minister in his own Department with regard to sport; not only does he have to play second fiddle to Culture Secretary Andy Burnham who's many years his junior, but also to Tessa Jowell who carries the somewhat grandiose title of Olympics Minister.

As a result, poor Gerry has had to rely on some of the other areas of his bits and pieces job description - which includes responsibility for pubs and lap-dancing clubs - to get any sort of recognition. And this hasn't always gone according to plan for the Bradford South MP.

For example, you may remember his infamous post-Budget gaffe when he broke with convention to criticise Chancellor Alistair Darling's decision to raise tax on beer. After initially refusing to back track, he was forced to issue a statement which read: "My comments do not accurately reflect my views. I fully support the tax measures in the Budget, and the Chancellor’s decisions on tax." It doesn't get more cringe worthy than that.

And it now appears Mr Sutcliffe has mucked up again.

After being teased by Australian Sports Minister Kate Ellis who predicted British athletes would "choke" under pressure at the ongoing Olympic Games, our Gerry promised to wear an Australian kit at a future British sporting clash against the old enemy should Aussie come above us in the final medals table.

It may not have escaped your notice that Team GB is not doing as well as we would wish in Beijing. Indeed, I've personally lost count of the number of "brave eighth places" we've achieved in finals thus far. (Unfortunately, there tends only to be eight competitors in the finals).

Thanks to a wonderfully brave performance from Scottish canoeist David Florence earlier today, Britain's medal total has now gone up to four. Australia, meanwhile, has scooped nine.

One of the conditions of Gerry's bet was the kit he would don would be an actual replica of that being worn by the Australian team in the event he was attending.

For his sake and ours, I hope Ms Ellis doesn't take him to watch the gymnastics.

Monday, 11 August 2008

I told you he could smile!

I said on Friday that Jamie had begun to show flashes of his smile but I couldn't quite catch them on camera.

Well, last night, he finally decided to let the world see.

The picture above was taken before his bath, the one below afterwards.

Unfortunately he hasn't smiled a great deal more since then but hopefully the next happy session isn't far away.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Woman problems

I went for an eight-mile run today as part of my training for the Leeds Half-Marathon in four weeks' time.

I haven't done a lot of training, if the truth be told. A combination of a new knee injury (in addition to my old knee injury), general lethargy and the arrival of a certain young man has ensured that my only goal is to finish.

But a problem has just arisen which threatens even this.

I've entered the race as a woman.

Filling in the online form a few months ago, I clearly remember putting a large "X" in the box marked "Male." Well, I think I did. Well, I must've done. Mustn't I? However, when I got the confirmation e-mail a few minutes after completing the registration process and paying my money, the "Male" had miraculously become "Female."

I didn't see this as a huge problem at the time. I mean, so long as I didn't actually win the woman's race (which clearly I wouldn't - I couldn't win the kids' fun run) then no-one would ever need to know. Surely.

But when I received my race pack earlier this weekend, it quickly became clear that things were not going to be that simple.

"Your running number is unique to you and cannot be passed to another entrant," said the cover letter. Yeah, yeah, yeah. "These are numbered 1-3500 for men and 4001 onwards for women." Okay, fair enough, but no-one will notice, thought I.

Then, in amongst the other bits and pieces, I found my actual number.

Yup, it's pink.

And you can be fairly sure the other male competitors won't have pink numbers. Bugger.

I've since fired off an e-mail to the race organisers, begging for mercy. But I read somewhere that the race is now full so the odds aren't on my side.

And there was I was hoping to make Jamie proud as I glided across the line like a haggered Sebastian Coe.

But there again, I suppose now's as good a time as any for him to discover his father's an idiot.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Jamie meets a nice South African

A nice treat for Jamie this morning when he received his first visit from a South African.

Vanessa and I first met Jan and her husband Matt (who unfortunately wasn't able to make it today) some years ago when they ran The Springbok bar in Leeds.

They've since moved to Egham, near Ali G's home in Staines, where they now run another hostelry. We haven't seen them for ages but, in the intervening period, they've produced two lovely kids, Lauren and Tommy, who also came along today, together with Auntie Vicky who you've met before and is playing host in Bradford. The picture shows them all together, with Jan on the right.

Earlier, I was up with the lark to see Coleraine Inst Old Boy, Great Britain rowing star and absolute class act Alan Campbell (right) win his Olympic single sculls heat in Beijing.

My sister is very friendly with Alan's formidable mum Jenny and dad William, both of whom I've had the great pleasure of meeting.

Everything's crossed for him between now and next Saturday's final.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Bring your Jamie to work day

Just back home and now on holiday for two and a bit weeks. Luxury.

Given it was my last day for a while, I thought it might be a nice for Vanessa to bring Jamie into work to meet the ladies who have to put up with me of a daytime.

Pictured from right to left are Marie, Saima, Sally and Kim who have all been terrificly supportive from the moment I told them I (sorry, Vanessa) was pregnant.

Always ready with advice and abuse in equal measure, they've kept me right throughout and I love them for it.

Jamie arrived in a bit of a hungry grump so was quickly handed to Saima to be fed. And as soon as he was done, Sally held him for ages and even made him smile although, despite several attempts, I couldn't quite get it on camera.

Jamie seemed to like everyone he met, confirming him as a fine judge of character.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Big Rod,London Town

The door bell rang at about 7.20 this morning and I bounded down the stairs to find our friendly postman waiting for me, parcel in hand.

I signed where indicated before turning the item over to see if the sender's name was written on the back. It was: "Big Rod, London Town."

"Big Rod" is so known only to himself.

To the rest of us, he's simply "Rodney." Rather like Prince, Madonna, Kylie or Godzilla, one word is suffice to put his large head to his moniker.

We worked together when I also lived in London Town and have remained friends ever since. He was Groomsman/Master of Ceremonies at our wedding three years ago and did OK. (Some people said he was good but there were a lot of drunks at our wedding).

One reason he got away with it was he's a barrister who specialises in keeping people out of jail. As you might therefore expect, he can talk. But don't be fooled into thinking he talks any sense. He doesn't. He talks absolute rubbish but he's skilled at making it sound good, which is why he's so sought after in his chosen profession.

He's also a man with political ambitions and stood against Ian Paisley at the 2005 General Election, picking up 6,637 votes with only a four-week campaign. This was a surprise as I previously wasn't aware there were 6,637 people in North Antrim who could spell "X."

I haven't seen Rodney since April when he very generously bought Vanessa and I dinner the night after I ran the London Marathon. And I'm not due to see him again until October when I go down to watch the mighty Ulster rugby team play Harlequins in the Heineken Cup. I'll probably buy him a packet of Bacon Fries at the game to make sure we're even.

He lives near Waterloo Station with the lovely Firuza (pictured) who clearly could do better. Thankfully Firuza's positive influence and taste was clearly demonstrated by the two lovely little outfits for Jamie contained in this morning's parcel.

However, the need for her to have an even greater role in his life was evident in the rude card that accompanied them, together with the message:

"Congratulations on two children now Vanessa. Best wishes, Rodney & Firuza."

So that my friends is Rodney - Barrister-at Law, likely future Member of Parliament and modern day village idiot.

Jamie can't wait to meet him.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Jamie the Sea Dog

We've just booked a week in September to take Jamie across to Northern Ireland for the first time and I'm rather excited about it, not least because we're going on the Liverpool-Belfast ferry.

It's twenty years since I last made that trip. It takes eight and a half hours and the onboard facilities were, in those days, very good. Hopefully they'll be even better now.

The original plan was to travel overnight but it's extortionately expensive so we're now sailing at 10.30 in the morning.

On the plus side, although cabins are stupidly priced at night, they're really cheap during the day so we've bagged ourselves a four-birth en-suite room both there and back.

I'm praying we'll have a porthole and I'm already on the lookout for a baby Captain's hat.

Did I mention how excited I am about this?! (Oh yes, sorry, I did).

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Odd one out

You might remember that Sesame Street song which goes: "One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn't belong..." (etc etc).

Well, look at the mugs gallery above. All four are colourful characters. All four also have extremely square jaws. But only one of them is my son, making him not like the others (can you see what I did there?)

I've noticed this about Jamie recently; he's got a long, slender body but also a really square jaw.

I see this as a definite advantage, particularly should he ever get in a fight in later life (and I very much hope not). But anyway, there you are.

Can you guess which one is him? You're only allowed four goes.

Monday, 4 August 2008


You may have read in the newspapers over the last few days that footballing chav Wayne Rooney is alleged to have spat on a member of the paparazzi.

If it goes to court and Monkey Boy is found guilty, he'll be done for common assault. Let's hope so.

Whilst I would not expect the victim in the case I'm about to mention to actually press charges, it would appear he would have every right to do so - and expect to secure a conviction.

Yes, Jamie has pooed all over Grandad Geoff.

Without giving you too much unnecessary detail, our son's been a bit constipated over the last couple of days and we've been getting worried.

However, not long before I came home from work, his system suddenly decided to unclog itself. Spectacularly so.

And this, coupled with what Janet Jackson might describe as a "wardrobe malfunction," conspired to ensure that the devoted new grandfather and former Yorkshire TV Political Editor Mr Druett (who, for the record, interviewed every serving British Prime Minister from Harold Wilson right through to Tony Blair) was forced to suffer the indignity of a baby mud shower all over his jeans.

As one would expect of such a media pro, Geoff took it with his customary good humour and moved on to the next item - a chocolate biscuit, I understand.

However, it's days like today when I'm most glad I write this drivel. Because in a few years' time, I'll be able to dig this story out and ask Jamie to apologise to the great man. Marvellous.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Telling my side of the story

A tiring but productive day thus far.

Jamie was up just after 6am as usual and, following his feed, sprawled right across my bit of the bed - now becoming the usual too.

Normally he'll wriggle and writhe and not sleep much but, this morning, he sparked out within seconds. This caused a problem.

They say never go to sleep in the same bed as your baby so I don't. But I also didn't want to move him. The result? No more sleep for Daddy.

The bonus of this little turn of events was that it enabled me to make an early start on another little task.

As frequent readers of this rubbish will have gathered, I quite like to write. I also want to do a bit more of it in the time ahead.

I've therefore taken an opportunity to write a piece on - get this - "Fatherhood" for The Suburb, a monthly lifestyle magazine which goes out across West Yorkshire.

Thanks to the help and advice of my trusty assistant (pictured), the copy is now written and ready to go across to the editor.

I'll put a link to the magazine up on this site if and when the article appears later in August. Hopefully you'll like it.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Getting Cold Feet

Given the arrival of Mini White and the prospect of Mummy and Daddy not being able to leave the house until their late forties at the earliest, I've got into the habit of buying DVD box sets to pass all this extra "quality time" we're going to be having.

One such purchase was Cold Feet: The Complete Collection which we've just started to watch.

I hadn't even met Vanessa when the pilot episode was premiered. Then, when the first series went on air, the two of us were only really getting to know each other.

I remember, at that time, thinking the characters were all so much older than us and doing things that were really rather grown up.

As well as the pilot, we've now watched the first two episodes where Pete and Jen have their baby. And instead of concentrating on the laughs, I've been finding myself subconsciously watching to see how often Baby Adam wakes up in the night, whether he's being bottle or breastfed and how bad his nappies are.

I've even started to look forward to future episodes simply to find out when he starts to smile, to walk and to talk rather than what funny one liners Coleraine's very own Jimmy Nesbitt - who plays "big" Adam - is about to fire off.

It's all very disturbing and I hope I snap out of it rather sharpish!

Friday, 1 August 2008

Jamie goes to the osteopath

Yup, Jamie's now got himself a therapist. Well, an osteopath to be precise. I'd better explain.

We've noticed over the past couple of weeks that our little man has at times seemed a little more uncomfortable and carried himself a little more oddly than perhaps the norm.

After asking around, our sharp sister-in-law Helen suggested we take him to see an osteopath - and what a good idea it appears to have been.

For those of you who don't know - and I would've classed myself as one of them only this morning - "osteopathy is a way of detecting and treating damaged parts of the body such as muscles, ligaments, nerves and joints." (I'm copying this off a leaflet, can you tell?)

"Using many of the diagnostic procedures used in conventional medical assessment and diagnosis, osteopaths seek to restore the optimal functioning of the body and aid its ability to heal without the use of drugs or surgery."

Just one sentence left - stick with me.

"Treatment includes a variety of stretching, releasing, mobilizing and manipulative techniques, reinforced by guidance on posture and exercise."

So now you know (unless you already did, in which case I've probably confused you).

Jamie's osteopath was called Dr Wendy and she was very nice. After an initial examination and a few choice prods, she was able to tell us that he'd overstretched his neck either in the womb or on the way out and this was causing him pain.

One of the direct side effects was discomfort in his tummy which, again, hasn't been much fun for him.

It really was ingenious stuff and Wendy reckons a couple of treatments should sort him out, starting next Friday.

She also very kindly showed us a couple of things we could do to help him along in the meantime and even let Vanessa play the role of trusty assistant for a short while. I was very jealous.

The only downside of our visit was Jamie's insistence on playing party music in his pants for almost the entire session. Still, I know someone who once listened to The Eagles on his Walkman whilst having a heart operation so, if it took his mind off what was going on, I suppose I shouldn't complain.