Wednesday, 31 December 2008

The boy has said it


It's 5.30pm, Uncle John and Auntie Vickie are here and the Top of the Pops New Year's Eve Special is about to start, so I don't have long.

We've got our improvised party hats, lots of drink, our little man and we're intending to party 'til midnight. And then we'll probably go to bed as we're getting quite old now.

If you're reading this before Big Ben strikes 12, I hope you have a great night.

And if you're reading it after the event, I hope you had one.

But in all cases I would like to wish you from the bottom of my Guinness glass (which is about to be quickly filled):

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Celtic moods


I'm back on holiday (and, just as I write that, Holiday by Madonna has come on the radio behind me - how bizarre is that?!)

Yes, after two relatively productive days of working from home, it's after 5pm and I'm free to...look after Jamie.

And, boy, is he taking some looking after at the moment.

My time sitting at my lap top over the last couple of days has been regularly interrupted by dashes to help Vanessa cheer up a particularly grumpy little man.

He's eating fine, he's got a bit of a cold but really not that bad, and he slept almost 13 hours last night broken only by a milk break at 4.30 am. And yet, he's cranky.

Don't get me wrong, he still has his fun moments and even gave me a kiss this morning.

Sadly, it was a Glasgow kiss - i.e. he headbutted me in the mouth - but I'm fairly sure it was accidental.

Hopefully tomorrow's arrival of Uncle John and Auntie Vicky for our New Year's Eve dinner party will cheer him up.

After all, I've been looking forward to 2009.

Monday, 29 December 2008

He's got the look


I'm on my lunch break in the middle of the first of two days "working from home" - and I genuinely am so, please, down with your cynicism!

However, after his breakfast, I had the chance to indulge in one of my favourite games: "Dress Up Jamie." You may have noticed that Vanessa and I like to play this game a lot.

First up was a footballer or, more specifically, Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho. Earlier this year, my mum picked Jamie up his very own baby Barcelona kit complete with Ronaldinho's name and number. Other than Jamie's gut, I think he's a dead ringer for the long-haired, big-toothed Samba King.




Then, just for the laugh like, I thought it might be fun to dress him up as a chav.

Is there no look this young man can't pull off? (Clearly I'm aware that he will get me back one day - and quite right too).

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Finding a gift for the little 'un


I'm about to take my life in my hands by going sales shopping in Leeds.

I only ever go shopping two or three times a year with the post-Christmas sales tending to be one such occasion.

And I generally come back with three or four work shirts, two ties and a jumper - all of which look exactly the same as what I already have, only newer. But, in my book, it has to be done.

However, today I've been given a very special task. Jamie wants me to pick out a present for his Uncle John (pictured above with his sisters ).

Regular readers will know of Uncle John, his small stature balanced up by his huge enthusiasm (and wallet).

He's due to drive up here from Cardiff on New Year's Eve to spend a few days with us - plus a couple more - and you'll be able to read all about it (lucky you).

But that's only if I return from the shops in one piece, which is not guaranteed.

If I don't make it, it's been fun.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

The easy life


One thing I've learnt about being a working father is that, at weekends and on days off, the truth of what it's really like to look after a baby quickly kicks in.

During a normal week, I tend to breeze into the house around 6pm to be greeted by a big smile from my boy. Then, after 10 minutes of playing, I take him for his bath if it's bath night or wipe him down if it's not, get him into his sleepsuit and give him his last feed. Finally, at 7pm, it's time to put him in his cot or - if he's being particularly restless - hand him to Vanessa to do the job for me.

My role is not that difficult at all.

However, on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, my elevated status as joint full-time babyminder is something of a rude awakening - particularly when Vanessa nips out for an hour like she did this morning.

As she left to see what delights she could find in the Marks & Spencer sale, Jamie was showing off his new trick of playing with a toy whilst sitting up unaided. What a talented boy he is.

But, as soon as Mummy had departed the scene, moderate carnage ensued.

Daddy had hoped to get showered and changed. Unfortunately, this didn't particularly suit Jamie who wanted absolute attention. Every time Daddy made to leave the room or even looked away, angel boy made clear that this was way below standard and certainly unacceptable to him.

In the end, I had to make to do with a facewash and a quick change into my gym stuff ready for a visit to Pudsey Leisure Centre later in the day.

Whilst I wasn't entitled to a proper wash, Jamie very much was - courtesy of Daddy - plus massage, new clothes, face moisturiser and hair brush. Young men should expect to look their best.

Then it was downstairs for a play. I produced several toys but none were greeted with much enthusiasm. Indeed, one was greeted with some vomit - all over Daddy.

I then tried him in his walker and this worked. However, the living room was quickly found to be too small so, for the next 20-odd minutes, he raced up and down the hallway instead, loving every minute, before suddenly deciding he'd had enough and wanted out.

The reason was obviously as he had tiredness written all over his face. But, as I say, I've never been very good at getting him to nod off when he's not in the best of form so it was going to be a bit of an effort. Plus, I was ever so slightly terrified

Thankfully, a combination of the dimming of lights, his mobile, whispering and sheer exhaustion on his part saw him finally go to sleep after about 15 minutes - slightly before Vanessa walked back in the door.

But it's still true - daddies like me have it easy.

Friday, 26 December 2008

So that was Christmas

Jamie's now had his first Christmas Day and is already looking forward to the next one.

His special guests - Grandma Judy, Grandad Mike, Auntie Hannah, Uncle Dave and Cousin Oliver - arrived on time, showered him with gifts and didn't leave too much of a mess. What more could a baby ask for?
Although he didn't have any turkey - lovingly prepared by a stressed Daddy who'd never cooked one before - he did have some liquidised sprouts and parsnips whipped up by Mummy. He already thinks he might have preferred the turkey.

The there were only three arguable downsides to the occasion.

The first - although hardly a shock - was that Uncle Dave didn't shut up from start to finish. Although Jamie doesn't yet understand every word of English, his initial take on things was that Uncle Dave never seemed to say anything of either interest or relevance to either babies or adults and that he also talked very loud.

Second, Jamie cried this morning and said he'd had a nightmare that he was trapped in a house with Uncle Dave. Mummy and Daddy quickly clarified that he hadn't been having a nightmare, that Uncle Dave had in fact stayed overnight along with Auntie Hannah and Cousin Oliver but that he would be leaving shortly and certainly wouldn't be offered breakfast.
The final perceived negative from Jamie's point of view was Mummy and Daddy's insistence that he dressed up as a Christmas elf. "Cousin Oliver is wearing very sensible clothing," protested Jamie. "He hasn't been made to look ridiculous in front of all these people. Why am I always the one who has to stick out?" However, after Daddy explained that everyone had to dress up as an elf on their first Christmas Day, Jamie felt reassured and got much more into the party spirit.
Well done him (and thanks to our guests).

Thursday, 25 December 2008

He came!



















Santa Claus has a brand new number one fan.

The big man arrived sometime after 3am this morning and was very kind to little Jamie White.

He left a rocker / trekker thingy which you can see being demonstrated above (look, no hands), a wide selection of rattly items, a car dashboard which will allow Jamie to do a bit of backseat driving and some fab building blocks for him to build his own house when he decides to move out. All very exciting.

And Santa could not have picked a better day to officially confirm Jamie as a good little boy (other than the fact that it is Christmas Day, obviously). Because you'll never guess what...

For the first time ever, ever, ever....he slept through!

We took him to the carol service last night where, given that he knew everyone was looking at him, he behaved like a choir boy (see below) although we did have to keep reminding him that it's very hard to sing with your dummy in. He then took half a bottle of milk at Grandma Judy and Grandad Mike's house before finishing it off at home, albeit about an hour later than normal.

But after Daddy awoke on the sofa with a sore head at 3am to leave space for Santa to leave Jamie's presents, he checked on junior who, although a little on the restless side, was still asleep.

He didn't stir again for another three hours and Mummy and Daddy are rightly very proud.

All the guests - plus Dagenham Dave who was coming whether he received an invitation or not - are due to arrive at the Whites in less than three hours, so it's time to get a move on.

But the good news is - Jamie's is very much enjoying his first Christmas.



Wednesday, 24 December 2008

HO! HO! HO!

I hope all your preparations are going well for the big day.

The Whites are hosting Grandma Judy, Grandad Mike, Auntie Hannah, Uncle Daggers and Cousin Oliver tomorrow but - as only the second most important man in our house - I have absolutely no idea whether our preparations are going well or not.

And I have a whole day's work to get through today before I get anywhere close to finding out.

Christmas for us really begins this evening when we are due to attend a traditional carol service in Horsforth.

Younger worshippers are particularly welcome at the gathering and I'm sure Jamie would be quite happy for me to tell you he's quite looking forward to it.

The idea of all that music, the big crowd and an open invitation to make as much noise as possible is simply too good to miss.

And there's also the matter of his special Christmas Eve outfit.

Auntie Vicky bought him this a few weeks ago and it fits very nicely over his sleepsuit - meaning it can be stripped off and he can go straight to sleep as soon as we get home.

And, as all good little children know, the sooner they go to sleep, the sooner it is that Santa Claus arrives.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Happy Half Birthday, son


Jamie is exactly six months' old today, or "a half" in baby terms.

When he gets a bit older and begins to understand these things a little better, he'll no doubt start to break the year down into quarters. We've all been there.

But then all the quarters begin to add up, we turn 30 or more and we wonder where the time went.

Being a half must surely carry with it increased responsibilities although I can't, for the life of me, think what they are.

Perhaps I'll delay the "father and son coming of age chat" for a little while longer.

Maybe for another 14 years or so.

And a half.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Christmas Party


I've just been to my office Christmas party - and it didn't quite work out.

Okay, so it was - as ever - billed as our Christmas lunch. But, in previous years, we've stayed out all day and I've made it home on the last train - just.

I've then stopped off at the 24-hour Asda, en route from the station, bought a family-sized pie, put it in the oven and - once cooked - dropped it on the floor. It's a tradition I've become quite fond of.

I expected more of the same today but unfortunately it wasn't to be.

First we had a series of cry offs. Then we ended up in a restaurant without a licence. And in said restaurant, we were crammed into a corner and, whilst the food was good, there wasn't a cracker to be pulled never mind a Christmas tune to be hummed along to. And, less the two hours later, we were back at our desks.

It's such a shame we'll be forced to wait another 52 weeks for the next gathering.

To be fair, the picture I paint is more bleak then the reality.

For one, a quick-thinking councillor and I got around the dryness of the restaurant by nipping to the offy up the road.

And the company was good, although there was still the whiff of the air one tends to find after the deceased has been buried; "yes, we'll have a quick sandwich but we'd really need to be off."

Some of us who returned to the office did at least crack open a couple of cans of beer when we got there. But, in truth, the horse had long since died so there was little point in hopping up and down on the poor nag's tail.

Slightly on the up side, tonight is Coronation Street night and there are also two episodes of Gavin and Stacey - which I've only just discovered - on the other side. Plus there's no danger of me being arrested for doing something silly.

But it still seems like a bit of a wasted opportunity.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Guarding the booty


We went on a family trip to the new Tesco in nearby Bramley today (gosh, we Whites know how to live).

Our visit was notable for two reasons:

  1. You could buy three boxes of Guinness for £20 (needless to day it was an option Daddy took up) and

  2. It was probably Jamie's last journey around a supermarket in a trolley equipped with a plastic baby seat

The photograph makes it obvious why - he's simply too enormous these days.

But this afternoon it was worth the effort in squeezing him in; there wasn't a lot of Guinness left and I wanted to make sure my three boxes were safe from other shoppers.

I mean, would you steal a drink from this baby?

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Play nicely - and don't exterminate anything


I went into Leeds this morning to do a bit of Christmas shopping and am quite pleased with what I found.

The job is much easier this year as the Whites aren't going across to Northern Ireland until January and are leaving the gift exchange with my immediate family until then (by which time everything will probably be cheaper to buy anyway - I call that a result).

All the other presents - for Vanessa, her family et al - are now safely in all sorts of bags. All I have left to do is have a quick word with Santa to check he's got Jamie's letter and find out whether he wants whiskey or brandy left out this Christmas Eve and the job is done.

After all the excitement of seeing so many people yesterday, Jamie has had a quiet day thus far with much of it spent in his baby walker - borrowed from cousin Oliver.

Although still a novice, he's already able to cover a fair bit of distance in his new craft.

And, whilst he's certainly been looking around for new things to bash, I'm confident that his potential for destruction will still fall some way short of that generally meted out by his new lookalike, Davros (left), the creator of the Daleks. But one can never be certain.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Mad Friday


It's Mad Friday.

For those of you who don't know, Mad Friday is the last Friday before Christmas and the night when everyone who works in Leeds goes out, gets drunk and - in some cases - wees on the street.

All the bars are packed, it takes an age to get served and it's generally a complete waste of time and money. But it still has to be done.

Like Jamie, I don't work in Leeds so there's no call for either of us to be there. But, although still on maternity leave, Vanessa still does and is therefore present.

Earlier, all three of us were at the Chief Executive's Christmas Drinks in Bradford City Hall - the pic above shows Vanessa and Jamie together with (from left to right), my colleagues Sally and Saima from the Leader's Office, Cllr Adrian Naylor and, at the back, Bradford Council Leader and my boss Cllr Kris Hopkins, prior to the event.

A good time was had by all, including Vanessa who trained it straight to Leeds afterwards for her madness whilst I gathered up Jamie for a slightly later departure to Pudsey.

And, whilst I got a bit wet, Jamie was good as I pushed him home, got him ready for bed and gave him supper. But, just as I tried to put him down, he decided he'd had enough of being Master Nice Guy and spent the next three quarters of an hour screaming the place down.

He's now been asleep for about 20 minutes and hopefully the drama is at an end - but I'm feeling far from complacent.

What I am feeling is hungry, especially as there's a big steak in the fridge. Here's hoping me and it can get it on before the evening is out. By the way, I took the pic below myself (although I concede it is fairly obvious).

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Billy boy


Heritage is a very important aspect of a being an Ulsterman.

As a half a baby Ulsterman, it is therefore vital that Jamie understands a little more about where he almost came from.

And none of his half-pure heritage would arguably have been possible without King William III, Prince of Orange.

For those of you not in the know, here's the story - complete with links - as told by Wikipedia (because I'm just back from an office party and haven't got it in me to write something original):

"King William III won the English, Scottish and Irish crowns following the Glorious Revolution, in which his uncle and father-in-law, James II, was deposed.

"A Protestant, William participated in several wars against the powerful Catholic King Louis XIV of France in coalition with Protestant and Catholic powers in Europe.

"Many Protestants heralded him as a champion of their faith.

"Largely due to that reputation, William was able to take the British crowns where many were fearful of a revival of Catholicism under James.

"William's victory over James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 is commemorated by the Orange Institution in Northern Ireland to this day." Quite right too.

Jamie's new bib - given to him by cousin Katie back in Coleraine - hails King Billy's achievements. And don't argue.

(The lengths to which one has to go to contextualise / justify the use of a cute picture).

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Finding the magic formula


Despite Terry Wogan's best efforts and my eternal pessimism, we had a bit of a result last night - all of the Whites got a proper sleep.

I put Jamie down after his final feed at around 11.45pm, which is just about the norm.

He then tends to stir sometime around 4am when, during the week, Vanessa gets up to feed him.

However, this morning, I woke up at 6.15am and immediately asked Vanessa what time he'd been up. The reply shocked me - he hadn't been up at all.

Needless to say he yelped just a few seconds later, prompting me to get up myself to change his nappy and give him his bottle. But he was asleep again less than an hour later and stayed calm throughout.

The explanation for why he managed to sleep for a whole six and a half hours seems to centre on a hitherto unknown substance in my detached little world: strawberry fromage frais.

Following a breakfast of milk and cereal - the preference of Sir Ian Botham, amongst others - he followed this up with a lunch of more milk mixed in with pureed carrot (bleugh!) and, for the very first time, strawberry fromage frais for afters.

Now, we've had false dawns before BUT - let's be positive. For all we know, strawberry fromage frais is indeed the key to long and restful sleep.

I'm heading up to Sainsbury's shortly for six more gallons, sorry, pots.

If nothing else, at least we'll have something other than chocolate to eat during the night when we've given all hope of sleep and need something to cheer us up.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Old Shep with tinsel


It's incredible how sensitive you can become when a little child comes into your life - especially as Christmas approaches.

And I'll give you an example, no matter how wet it makes me look (no change there then).

I was approaching my workplace in Bradford City Hall this morning with Terry Wogan blaring in my radio headphones (that's not even the wet bit).

Terry's normally quite affable in the morning - which is why I stick him on if I'm feeling upbeat - but today he did something which put a bit of a dampener on the rest of my day.

It was time for a Christmas song. But today, he chose not to play Wizzard's I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day - my personal favourite - or Slade's Merry Christmas Everybody or even A Winter's Tale by David Essex which he seems to stick on every quarter of an hour in December. Oh no.

What did Terry choose? The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot by Nat King Cole.

I clearly remember my mum singing this song to me many years ago - and me bursting into tears. But this morning, when it came on, I only had time to listen to the first half before I reached City Hall and had to turn my radio off.

The bit I heard went as follows:

He's the little boy that Santa Claus forgot
And goodness knows, he didn't want a lot.

He sent a note to Santa
For some soldiers and a drum,
It broke his little heart
When he found Santa hadn't come.

In the street he envies all those lucky boys,
Then wanders home to last year's broken toys.
I'm so sorry for that laddie,
He hasn't got a daddy,
The little boy that Santa Claus forgot.

Have you ever heard a sadder song? It's like Old Shep with tinsel.

Anyway, not remembering how the song ended, I spent all day thinking - there must be a twist, surely someone nice stepped in to save that little boy's Christmas. Probably Santa himself. No problem, all would be well.

However, arriving home tonight, I couldn't help but run up the stairs to turn on my computer, find the full lyrics and calm my fears. And do you know what? Nobody did help that little boy out, as the rest of the words confirm:

Spoken:

(You know, Christmas comes but once a year for every girl and boy,
The laughter and the joy they find in each brand new toy.
I'll tell you of a little boy that lives across the way...
This little fella's Christmas is just another day.
He's the little boy that Santa Claus forgot,
And goodness knows, he didn't want a lot).

In the street he envies all those lucky boys,
Then wanders home to last year's broken toys.
I'm so sorry for that laddie,
He hasn't got a daddy,
The little boy that Santa Claus forgot.

And that is that. I don't think I'll sleep tonight...again.

PS If you feel strong enough to listen to Nat King Cole sing the song, feel free to click onto this link: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=R99MsULZmLo

That poor little boy (who Santa Claus forgot).

Monday, 15 December 2008

Missing his granny


Jamie's been having Granny White withdrawal symptoms.

This is very sweet in many ways. On a more practical level, it has meant that Mummy and Daddy didn't get much sleep last night. And then today, Mummy has hardly had a minute's peace.

After a day out in Otley on Friday with Granny, Grandpa Derek and Mummy whilst Daddy worked (OK, he was at a works Christmas lunch), Jamie then spent all day Saturday with Granny again whilst Grandpa Derek and Daddy went to Manchester to watch City v Everton (what?!)

And yesterday, Granny, Grandpa Derek, Mummy and Daddy (yes, really) took him shopping and then on to the German market in Leeds.

Unfortunately Granny wasn't able to take Jamie on the hobby horses as originally planned as they were a little too big for him. But he did enjoy watching Mummy and Daddy knock seven bells out of each other on the dodgems.

And after being terrified to begin with, he kind of chilled out to the Oompah band in the marquee where Grandpa Derek and Daddy enjoyed a big pint. And also The Yeadon Stoops bar where they had another (and Jamie had some carrot).

But, sadly, his guests soon had to leave and the grumpiness began.

24 hours on and Jamie still isn't really himself - Grannylove is good, after all - but he is already looking forward to seeing Granny White and Grandpa Derek again next month when he goes back across the Irish Sea to see all his relatives who talk funny.

And before then - guess what? Father Christmas is coming - NOW GO TO SLEEP!

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Two mad birds



My mother has a penchant for many things and one of them is comedy Christmas animals.

When Jamie and I were therefore discussing (OK, it was pretty much a one-way conversation) what we might get Granny in return for all the gifts I already knew she was bringing across for him, the answer was obvious.

And, thankfully, Wilkinson's in Bradford were able to provide.

The dancing chick we managed to lay our hands on begins by singing a few bars of We Wish You A Merry Christmas before crowing (or the chick equivalent) and then launching very aptly into The Birdie Song. A top quality act which might impress even Simon Cowell.

Prior to her arrival on Thursday evening, we offered Jamie the chance to "road test" Granny's gift. In hindsight, this was an error: it scared the bejesus out of him.

On the upside, he did recover his composure by Friday evening when he agreed to have his picture taken with the mad bird itself. And her new toy.

We're off to the German market in Leeds shortly where rumour has it there may be some hobby horses. Granny has already made clear that, should the opportunity present itself, it won't be Grandpa Derek, Mummy or Daddy accompanying the junior cowboy on his steed.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

It's amazing what a bit of creative lighting can do



Earlier in the week I promised to put up a couple more pics from Jamie's recent photoshoot, this time featuring Mummy and Daddy in cameo roles. I hope you like them.

Meanwhile, my own mum and her partner Derek are delayed on their hop across the Irish Sea to visit you know who, but should be here in about an hour.

Sadly, this means they're unlikely to see Jamie until the morning although they're certain to hear him long before then - one of the "joys" of spending the night at the Whites these days.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Yes Granny, he IS eating properly!

video

All mums worry about whether their sons are eating properly.

However, over the last six months, I've discovered their concern doesn't end there. Hell no.

It appears they get even more exercised about whether their grandsons are eating properly too - well, my mum does.

The more eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed that our Jamie is quite a big boy for five and a bit months. Or, to put it another way, he doesn't appear to be on the brink of starvation.

But Granny White is still worried.

As it turns out, she has had to cram her worry bouts into shorter periods over the last couple of days as her and Grandpa Derek have been packing prior to flying here tomorrow night for a long weekend visit.

So, to make her journey more relaxing, I thought I would back-up the pictures of Jamie feeding himself (which I put up on this site on Saturday) with some brief video evidence.

And, with this, I rest the case for the defence.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Bed?


Rachel - very kindly - asked for a review of The Pogues concert and I'm very happy to offer it. Fantastic.

As I said the other day, Mrs W and I have seen them many times before and tonight was as good as ever.

But, crucially, Vanessa drove - and I didn't ('cos I still can't). As a result, I feel like Shane MacGowan must feel after a Pogues gig - very pleasant but tomorrow is destined to come too soon.

Shane talentless? Pogue Mahone!


Vanessa and I are off to see The Pogues tonight and, needless to say, I'm very excited about it.

I first saw this gather-up of brilliance more than 18 years ago during my university freshers' week.

They were magnificent and the fun was mighty. However, not long after that gig, the other members decided to throw legendary frontman Shane MacGowan out of the band for drinking too much.

Talk about missing the point - it was like the Church of England sacking the Archbishop of Canterbury for being too Holy.

Shane went on to set up his own group, The Popes (do you see what he did there?) and released two successful albums whilst the remaining members of The Pogues crashed and burned.

Thankfully, the band - with Shane back in harness - reformed for a Christmas tour in 2001 and this has since become an annual event.

Vanessa and I have seen them every year apart from 2007 when we missed their Manchester gig to attend my sister's 40th birthday party (hopefully Shane understood).

Tonight they're playing the new Leeds Academy which guarantees a much shorter stagger home than normal. Can't wait.

By the way, just a little footnote on Shane MacGowan. Many people have labelled him a talentless drunk. I would beg to differ.

Yes, he may drink a few more than the recommended 21 units in an average week, but talentless? Read the words of his song Lullaby of London below and then make your own mind up:

Lullaby Of London by Shane MacGowan (1988)

As I walked down by the riverside
One evening in the spring
Heard a long gone song
From days gone by
Blown in on the great North wind
Though there is no lonesome corncrake's cry
Or sorrow and delight
You can hear the cars
And the shouts from bars
And the laughter and the fights

May the ghosts that howled
Round the house at night
Never keep you from your sleep
May they all sleep tight
Down in hell tonight
Or where ever they may be

As I walked on with a heavy heart
Then a stone danced on the tide
And the song went on
Though the lights were gone
And the North wind gently sighed
And an evening breeze coming from the East
That kissed the riverside
So I pray now child that you sleep tonight
When you hear this lullaby

May the wind that blows from haunted graves
Never bring you misery
May the angels bright
Watch you tonight
And keep you while you sleep

Monday, 8 December 2008

Model baby (tee hee!)

















I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Vanessa and I had taken Jamie to have some proper photos taken.

Later in the week, I'll show you a couple more pics which also featured Mummy and Daddy but, to begin with, I think it's only right to leave the stage clear for the man himself.

Money well spent, I'd say.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

No cold comfort


Jamie's got another cold, bless him.

The poor boy seems to have picked up a new cold pretty much every other week since he was born.

However, he is very brave about it and, in between coughs, sneezes and runny noses, the smile continues to burn through.

As well as these obvious symptoms, he also tends to eat a little less than normal.

But, when he does eat, he regularly insists on throwing half of it back up on me. Good work son.

He did it once late last night and then again this morning - both times followed almost immediately by a big grin.

I've done a little research into why he might be getting so many colds and, to be honest, the answer is obvious - his immune system is still being developed. In fact, it is likely that his current cold run will continue for perhaps another six months yet.

This is not great news for him and even worse news for my wardrobe.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Self-service


One of the hardest parts of being a working dad with a young baby is that you inevitably miss out on some "firsts."

For example, today was the first time I had the chance to see Jamie serve himself lunch.

Vanessa started him on baby rice quite some time ago but, whilst he tended to take a bit, he was never that keen.

However, over the last couple of weeks, he's adopted an altogether more positive attitude towards pureed pear and apple and pear cereal and now has both for lunch.

Such is his enthusiasm that, in recent days, he's taken to grabbing the spoon from Vanessa to feed himself.

And today he did the same to me.

A thoroughly entertaining spectacle it is although, as you might imagine, it's also VERY messy.

Friday, 5 December 2008

I'm not a celebrity - but indulge me


Even my harshest critics would have to concede that, over the past three weeks, I’ve been very disciplined in not mentioning “I’m A Celebrity…” even once since my original posting – and it’s not been easy.

However, tonight is the Final so I hope you’ll allow me the luxury of conveying one or two thoughts on the class of 2008.

The title of least likeable “celebrity” surely has to go to plastic-fronted, empty-headed, poison-filled, bottle-blonde glamour model Nicola McLean who eventually got kicked out just a couple of days ago – I can’t believe anyone would vote for such a thoroughly unpleasant individual to stay in so long. The one type of person I dislike most in this life is a bully, and that’s what she was. I hope she’s cast back to obscurity in double quick time.

Then there was ex-housewives’ favourite turned small-minded bigot Robert Kilroy-Silk who I thought would annoy me much more than he did. He looked quite hurt when he discovered he was first to get the boot which, whilst initially pleasing, did make me think he might be human after all. Here’s hoping.

The weirdest person in camp was undoubtedly ex-policeman turned politician Brian Paddick who had no need to wash with his pants off and, as an ex-law enforcer, no need to tell so many lies (bad policeman!) His ego was the biggest in there and, apparently since coming out, he has demanded a minimum of £10,000 to sell his story – which is why no newspaper wants to buy it.

Esther Rantzen was a pleasant surprise - I thought she’d be Janet Steet Porter mark two (and not just because of her teeth) but she was actually quite fun.

And whilst I grew up liking Timmy Mallett (did you know Chris Evans used to be his tea boy?) his a-hooping and a-hollering did get on my nerves by the end and I was glad to see the back of him (even though it did mean Brain Paddick staying in for an extra night).

Carly Zucker, Dani Behr and Simon from Blue were just too dull to comment on which leaves just four.

First tonight’s three finalists. I didn’t think I’d warm to George Takei because, just prior to the show starting, he’d had a big public scrap with William Shatner (not that I read the gossip pages, you understand) and I always regarded Captain Kirk to be on the right side of any argument. But I think I was wrong – I’d now be proud to have George as my gay grandfather.

And Martina Navratilova displayed almost no ego or attitude, despite winning Wimbledon a record 10,000 times. Good for her and I hope she comes second tonight.

But the man who appears destined to win this year’s jungle crown is former EastEnder Joe Swash who I’d never previously heard of (I haven’t watched EastEnders since Lofty left). He seems genuine, down-to-earth and desperate for a break and I hope that’s what he gets tonight.

However, whilst Joe Swash looks likely to walk away with the spoils, to me the real King of the Jungle 2008 is ex-Dollar frontman David Van Day (pictured). Although it took a while to work out what made him tick, it eventually became clear that his only real motivation was to avoid becoming too bored. Thankfully his antics stopped us loyal viewers suffering the same fate. Bless the man and don’t forget to look out for him performing “Biff, Baff, Boff” in a small venue near you very soon – it’s inevitable.

So that’s what I think of this year’s “I’m a Celebrity” line-up.

And if you “hate that programme” or don’t watch it (and in my experience it tends to be people who don’t watch it who claim to “hate it”) then why have you read this far?!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Let it snow





















If you live in North or West Yorkshire, you'll obviously be well aware that it's snowed a lot in these parts in recent days and been very cold.

And if you don't, now you know.

When the weather is like this, it's clearly a must that all little boys should have a big, warm coat to climb into.

But please don't be worried about Jamie in this regard.

As you can see he's well covered - almost totally covered in fact.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

It's Rhythm Time


Jamie's had a bit of a shock.

After last week, when he was subjected to a bus load of mums and screaming babies raiding his home, today he suffered a potentially even more damaging emotional experience: Vanessa took him to his first music class - Rhythm Time.

So, what is Rhythm Time, I hear you cry?

Well, here's how the organisers describe it on their website -

"Developing confidence, creativity and coordination should start from an early age and the age range for Rhythm Time baby classes is from birth to 15 months.

Music is fundamental to every baby's development and our baby classes are designed specifically to help this process.

Babies and young children really enjoy being part of a group and mixing with others is essential to a baby's growth and development. When mother and baby are together in the class it helps with bonding and the group environment enhances the experience for the parents!

The content of our classes for babies up to 15 months is as follows:
Singing - to help language development. All children sing before they learn to talk
Dancing - to help eye tracking, balance and spatial awareness
Exercise - to help with muscle development and to gain more control over movement
Massage - to help with bonding, relaxation and circulation
Exploration - to help with hand eye coordination, develop small motor skills and to encourage speech development
Social - to help parents and children create new friendships."

So now you know.

With regard to what happened today, I must stress that what I'm about to tell you has been forced out of Vanessa herself and is therefore undoubtedly watered down and much less weird than what actually took place - but here's what I know.

There were nine mums present in all, together with their nine sprogs. And then there was The Leader, resplendent in her bright orange tee shirt.

The group began with a song which included lines such as, "let's say hello to all our friends," and, "hello to Jamie, he is new." Good start.

Then a pink sheet was produced and held by all the mums whilst the babies sat or lay in the middle. The babies were then covered en masse by this piece of material, whilst the mums sang with mocked surprise, "where have all the babies gone?"

Those babies who could crawl out then did so whilst the others lay helpless on their backs like beetles until the mums lifted the sheet and, guess what? They were still there!!! Brilliant.

Next, all babies safely back in their mothers' arms, everyone got into a circle and sang "Let It Snow," whilst The Leader walked around the group blowing bubbles from a plastic container.

Then, as a finale, the babies split into two groups. The first group got into the middle and were given a drum each; the rest were handed a selection of percussion instruments including a tambourine, a triangle and - Jamie's choice - a symbol. Each group was then invited to play their drums or instruments in support of Shakin' Stevens popular hit, "Merry Christmas Everyone," which was blaring in the background. The groups then swapped roles with the drum section becoming the mixed percussion section and vice versa.

Then everyone put their hats and coats on and went home.

Today's session was a free trial so Jamie could decide if he liked it and The Leader could decide if she liked him. I think Jamie was too traumatised afterwards to offer a proper opinion but she was apparently happy with him so, by default, our boy is now booked in to attend 12 more weeks of Rhythm Time starting in January.

And if you think for even a second that I'm going to miss the opportunity to personally accompany him to at least one of these sessions, then you clearly don't know me at all. I genuinely don't think I've looked forward to anything as much in my life. I only hope I can hold myself together for long enough to avoid Jamie getting barred.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Aarrgh, Jim lad!


Jamie went to his cousin Holly's fifth birthday party this afternoon.

And what does every self-respecting little boy need to go a birthday party? Yes, you've guessed it - a party outfit.

Thankfully Auntie Kirsty and Uncle Tom kindly gave Jamie his very own pirate outfit when they came for lunch on Sunday, which was just the job.

After a run of bad PR for pirates in recent weeks, hopefully Jamie's efforts will help to restore their good name.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Larging it


The long-planned Sunday lunchtime get together with our friends (from left to right) Tom, Kirsty and Emily along with her lovely six-month-old son Joshua was very pleasant yesterday, although there was a "large" shock in store for Vanessa and I.

On the menu was salmon chowder to start and chocolate orange mousse to finish (Vanessa's work), with roast beef in the middle (my bit). And all seemed pleased. I was particularly "pleased" by the end as Tom and I finished off the fourth bottle of red wine.

However, back to the "large" shock. To cut to the chase, alongside Joshua, Jamie looked absolutely enormous. Massive, actually.

Yes, Joshua is one of those more dainty of little boys - very fine features and light of build. But the fact remains, he's certainly not underweight and he's also a month older than Master White.

And, to be fair to Jamie, although he's undoubtedly carrying a stray pound or two, I genuinely don't think it's much more than that.

So, only one conclusion can therefore be drawn: we're living with a real life giant.