Saturday, 31 January 2009

Let's fly the flag together!

I was on Facebook a little while ago and received a message from my good friend and possible future Prime Minister Rodney McCune.

In addition to all his other pursuits such as being a hard-nosed barrister and a hairy-backed swimmer, Rodney is the driving force behind the Westminster Unionist Association (WUA) which now has its own Facebook group of the same name (feel free to join!)

He contacted me today to ask if I wished to comment on any of the discussion topics currently being debated on Facebook by WUA members and the following one jumped out at me: "No GB Football Team for the Olympics - good or bad?"

For those who don't know the background to this, the Football Associations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are against their players being part of a Great Britain team at the London 2012 Olympics because of a fear that FIFA - football's world governing body - will then force them to play as a single GB team thereafter rather than as four individual home nations, England obviously being the other one.

Personally, I think the three Celtic associations are being joyless and ridiculously narrow-minded in their approach. And so, to answer Rodney's request, here is what I put (and I hope you share my sentiment):

"Bad. The Irish, Scottish and Welsh FAs should stop being so paranoid and embrace the flag.

"It's a one-off and FIFA have said there's no threat to their independence so where's the problem?

"The Olympics are about the athletes, not the administrators or politicians. Let the players play!

"I'm certainly available to go into goal should the call come (as long as it's not from "Sir" Clive Woodward who can go f*** himself)."

NB: Former England rugby union head coach and all-round big-head Sir Clive Woodward was recently appointed as the Great Britain Olympic Team's "performance supremo" and is likely to have a big hand in the preparation of the football squad for 2012. I'm not a huge fan of Sir Clive Woodward.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Keep your pennies - but I'll have the pound

I've just arrived home from work on the train.

Like I'm sure almost everyone - unless you work on a Saturday or perhaps don't work at all - the Friday evening journey home is always the best because, well, it's the weekend. Pretty obvious, that one.

However, on today's Friday evening journey home, I had an extra special bonus: I found a pound, just sitting there on the seat beside me. And I did what I'm sure everyone else would do - I trousered it.

But my decision to actually pick up the coin and put it in my pocket was a much more significant moment than you probably realise since it was the first coin that I'd found and picked up in more than 10 years. I'll quickly explain.

In September 1998, Vanessa and I travelled to the United States on our first proper overseas holiday together. The plan was to fly to New York, spend a night, then train it up to Boston, then down to Washington, then across to Atlanta, then down to New Orleans (I think there's a song about that), then over to Daytona Beach and finally on to Philadelphia before ending up back in New York for our last night. And all started well - New York was great and so was Boston.

We were then due to board the service to Washington but, shortly before we got on, I found a US penny on the ground. Again, doing what people do, I picked it up and put it in my pocket - it brings you luck apparently. But sadly not in our case.

Somewhere in New Jersey, whilst both Vanessa and I were sleeping, some nice person decided to nick my bum bag (or "fanny pack," as they call it Stateside - tee hee) which - naively on my part - was filled with everything of value we had on the trip.

I speak of cash, travellers' cheques, our passports, credit and cash cards, train tickets, flight tickets and our camera. Well done Mr (or Ms) Thief.

To cut a very long story short, what happened next could have been much worse. First, when we got to the police point in Washington train station, Officer Brenda F Reveira (I'll never forget her) and her team organised a whip round to fund our $15 taxi ride to the British Embassy. It was one of the most generous and decent acts I have experienced. I then had a personal contact at the embassy who was able to lend me $500 whilst we sorted everything out. And the Ulster Unionist Party, my employers at the time and who had an office in the city, took us out for a slap up meal. So, as I say, we were very lucky.

But since that day more than a decade ago until this very evening, I refused to pick up another lost coin, whether it was lying on a road or even a train seat. Counting it up, I reckon I'm at least £2.37 down by now.

Hopefully my decision to claim that pound tonight will herald the beginning of a nice weekend and the start of a new, positive run of luck.

UPDATE - 1839: Vanessa has just announced that, earlier today, the bus driver overcharged her by £1 - so she's claimed mine. My new run of luck didn't last long.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

So that was that

I've just finished watching Piers Morgan on Dubai on ITV1 - how does he get these jobs?! Smug ****.

Anyhow, enough bitterness and jealously and instead a few final reflections on the Norn Iron trip before I move on to something else tomorrow - such as Guinness (I've been on the wagon since coming back).

As I write this, almost 200 passengers and crew remain stranded on an Irish Sea ferry more than 24 hours after they boarded it.

Thankfully the Whites - who travelled to Belfast from Liverpool rather than from Stranraer - had no such dramas. Indeed, we had a great time, as the above photographic evidence confirms. We went on the overnight sailing both ways and, for £250 return including our car, we had excellent three-course dinners, decent breakfasts and a more than acceptable cabin thrown in. Only the wine was chargeable and, at £4 a carafe, it was cheap (and strong) at the price.

Two more quick ones. On Monday I described my mum's faux pas - offering to babysit Jamie whilst the rest of us were at his own christening several miles away - as the line of the weekend.

Well, there was a runner-up and this time it was intentional.

My sister Gwen - Sebastian and Katie's mum - babysat Jamie on Saturday evening whilst Vanessa and I went out for some food with my own mother and her partner Derek. Gwen only lives a two minute walk away from my dad's where we were staying and the plan was to pick Jamie up - literally - on our return, carry him across the road and put him into his travel cot. Easy enough.

We were discussing this with her before we set off and Gwen asked if we intended to give him a bottle when we got back. However, we've done well recently in getting him out his habit of taking an 11 o'clock bottle so I said that we didn't plan to. But Gwen, a mother of some renown, looked horrified - which worried me.

"Do you think we should?" I enquired in an alarmed tone. Gwen's face had "YES!" written all over it. "Really? Why?" I said, feeling like I was about to learn something.

"Let me put it this way," said my sister calmly. "If someone lifted me from my sleep in the middle of the night, carried me down the road and the tried to put me into a strange bed without as much as a cup of tea...well...I'd be pretty p***ed off." So, yes, Jamie did get his (small) bottle.

And finally, I wrote on Tuesday about going to visit Anne Crory. My mum's crazy cousin Jinard - I've never quite worked out what she is to me other than mad - lives in the same block of apartments as Anne and on the way out we went to see if Jinard was also in. When we got to her front door, we were greeted by the sight below. I like it when these things are explained properly.

But all good trips must come to an end and, on Monday, it did - having clearly taken its toll on some of our number.


Wednesday, 28 January 2009

And it was all going swimmingly

Another one of the high points of our trip back to Northern Ireland last week was that we all got to go swimming in Coleraine Leisure Centre with Jamie's cousins Sebastian and Katie.

For Jamie, it was only actually the second time he'd ever been in a pool.

The first time, in Donegal last September, was a bit of a disaster. It was in an adult pool, it was cold and he really didn't have a lot of fun.

But on Saturday morning, it was an altogether more positive experience. We all went into the children's pool, it was warm and, most impressively, Jamie made a real effort to get into the spirit of the occasion.

The rest of us simply took it turns to put our hands under his chest whilst he let his arms and legs go at 16 to the dozen. After this success, Vanessa and I certainly don't intend to make him wait so long for his next dip.

Although Jamie was obviously too small to use them, Daddy was most excited at the prospect of trying out the two big water slides on offer.

I'm a bit of a sucker for a big water slide and have even been known, whilst on holiday, to elbow the odd child out of the way to get to the front of the line quicker.

Sebastian and I had several goes, taking it in turns to go on the "Black Hole" which was a lot faster than slide number two.

But after a while and although it was his turn to go on the "Black Hole," I thought it would be incredibly amusing to race Sebastian to the top of the stairs and try to get there before him.

That was until a particularly grumpy (and obese - sorry, I'm bitter) lifeguard shouted at me for running. Yes, in front of all the kids and the public gallery. Having no other option, I was forced to slow down to a walking pace, whimper an apology for my misdemeanour and quietly make my way up the steps with my head bowed.

Despite it being one of the most undignified and personally humiliating moments I can remember, Sebastian loved it and will no doubt wish to talk about the incident many times in the future. But surely that's what silly uncles - and daddies -are for.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

An audience with St Anne

Other than Bono and Gordon Brown - both self-proclaimed and who therefore don't count - there aren't too many living saints walking our planet at the present time. But there is one.

The person I speak of is Anne Crory who, now in her 80s, was my mum's health visitor for the first two years of my life.

I wasn't a very well baby. Indeed, I spent the first couple of months cooped up in a special unit in the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children and wasn't expected to make it out at all. And, when I did, I wasn't expected to last too long.

But thanks to a nice English professor who flew over to test out his new wonder drugs on me, several highly skilled doctors, my mother's perseverance and a wonderful lady called Nurse Crory, I made it through.

She was regular visitor to our house for those first two years, even whilst I was in hospital. And the support she gave to my mother and I was priceless. Indeed, such was her level of inspiration that, shortly after I got better, my mum decided to follow her into the nursing profession herself and spent a career there.

The two of them have kept in touch throughout the last almost 37 years. And when my mum mentioned last week that it might be a nice idea to call in to see the great lady once again, there was no question of me not doing it.

And not only did I get to see her again, but I got to introduce her to my son.

I have to say, it was an incredibly proud moment for me, in particular when, after giving Jamie the once over, she felt the need to offer her professional verdict: "That is definitely a happy baby!" Wonderful.

My mum has rightly never let me forget what Nurse Crory did for the two of us. And, after last Friday morning, I can now look forward to telling Jamie that he too was fortunate to receive her saintly blessing.

Monday, 26 January 2009

A special date in the diary

You always need something to look forward to and, after this weekend, Jamie can look forward to a big day in his honour almost exactly four months from now.

For, at 10.30am on Sunday 24 May in St Mary's Church (pictured left), Macosquin, Northern Ireland, James Richard White will be christened.

It was Vanessa's idea to go back across the Irish Sea for the ceremony - to balance up the fact that we were married in Leeds -and I jumped at the suggestion.

However, I was a little fearful that the village church which I attended until I was 10 - before moving into the metropolis they call Coleraine - might not agree to the request. But, after our meeting with the very impressive minister there yesterday, he was only too willing to accommodate us and I think we'll now have an excellent day. In fact, I know we will.

It will be organised into three distinct stages. The first will be the actual christening itself (fairly obvious that one).

Stage two will be when hopefully all our guests will join us at The Loft - the newly-opened extension to The Railway Arms, my local bar in Coleraine - where sandwiches, christening cake and strong liquor will be served (by Seamus).

This will take us through until late afternoon when everyone is then invited to the home of our friends Sean and Melanie (pictured below) for a barbecue, disco and karaoke - it isn't expected to be a civilised affair.

So, should be good.

As for the weekend we've just returned from this morning, it was terrific fun although extremely hectic. Most importantly, Jamie seemed to love every second of the attention he received and his hosts seemed to enjoy every second of him being there.

None more so that his cousins Sebastian and Katie (who he's pictured with at the top and bottom of this posting). Sebastian has already accepted Jamie's invitation to become one of his two Godfathers at the ceremony which should guarantee some memorable scenes on the day.

As for the line of the weekend just gone, the title must surely go to my mother who, during a conversation about the christening, kindly offered to babysit Jamie whilst we were all at the church.

She then paused before adding: "Actually, maybe not - he'll probably be needed." Indeed.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

All at sea

Weather permitting - and gale force winds are predicted a few hours from now - Vanessa, Jamie and I will shortly be climbing on to a boat to make the overnight journey to Belfast.

We're due to return on Monday when I look forward to reporting back on what happened.

Oh, and we might have some news.

Be good until then.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

One small dribble for Jamie...

I've always been envious of my big sister Jacquie.

There are many reasons for this. But one is that, back in 1969, my mum bounced Jacquie on her knee on front of the telly as Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the Moon.

I had to work today but, before leaving this morning, I got Vanessa to agree to bounce Jamie on her knee in front of our telly as Barack Obama took the oath to become the 44th President of the United States.

I made it home shortly before 7.30pm. Jamie was still up to play with Auntie Vicky who had come over for tea.

And for the next hour - along with Vanessa - we watched the end of the Inauguration Luncheon and the beginnings of the Inauguration Parade.

Later, whilst Vanessa was driving Vicky home and Jamie had gone to bed, I kept watching (I'm a little sad that way).

Goodness know what the next four or eight years, under President Obama, will bring for America and the world.

But, even if the Obama years prove to be a massive anti-climax, today is guaranteed to remain as one of those days in history where you'll always remember where you were and what you were doing.

Jamie was on his mummy's knee.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Shattered dreams

We really are getting quite old, you know.

Not much more than five years ago, Vanessa and I were living carefree lives in London. And then we decided to move North.

Within weeks, we'd bought a car. A year later, we bought a house. And, twelve months after that, we got married.

You may also be aware that, seven months ago, we became parents - I'm sure I've mentioned it here somewhere.

But tonight, we took the ultimate step. And, whilst we haven't signed up to anything yet, I fear the moment may only be days away.

You get sucked in, you see. You say to yourself, over and over, "no, we're not ready...we're too young...we really don't need to do's much too would confirm that we're now officially, no, we can't!"

But sadly folks, tonight, this very night, at our own instigation, without any pressure from anyone, with nobody else to blame - we got measured up for double glazing. And I think we might just go for it.

I don't remember feeling so depressed.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Celebrating diversity

Last night Jamie met his first lesbian couple (not pictured).

Our former neighbours Jo (above left) and Mark were having a party to which the Whites were invited. Unfortunately it was due to begin at 7pm which, as it happens, is also Jamie's bedtime.

So, in a compromise arrangement, we arrived after six to have a drink with the two of them and also their friends Helen (above right) and Clive from Donegal who we've met several times before .

We ended up staying a little longer than planned as, unlike most parties I've been to, most guests arrived either early or on time and, crucially, because Jamie had a chance to hold court.

And how he enjoyed himself. He smiled at everyone who took an interest, laughed from time to time and, for his main performance, blew raspberries at the lesbians - who loved it (almost as much as they no doubt love each other).

Perhaps next week, as we continue Jamie's crash course to modern Britain, we'll introduce him to someone from Wales.

Friday, 16 January 2009

There's no welcome on the mat

"Be careful what you wish for," is a phrase you sometimes hear. And I was reminded of it this evening when I came home from work.

Above you can see our street with the light on the left coming from our front door. And in the middle you can see our drainpipe.

About five or maybe six weeks ago, some nice local person let their family pet do a series of wotsits on the pavement at the foot of our drainpipe.

My first urge was simply to get a brush and sweep it up. But then I thought, if I leave it, I wonder how long it will take Leeds City Council to clear it away?

As a proud former road sweeper myself - six summers, man and boy - I thought it would be a week at most, that being in my experience the normal frequency for sweeping a main thoroughfare.

But a week came and went, then two, then three and so on. And, as of this morning, the shite remained on the floor (sorry if that shocked you but I call it as I see it).

I know this because I remember walking to my train after and thinking, I've had enough of this, I'm going to contact my councillor to see how often they sweep our street.

However, tonight, I came home and, not only had the Council removed the doggy do - but they had taken away our entire pavement.

Indeed, they even left us a new "doormat" - which you can see - in yellow plastic.

No doubt there will be a wonderful reason for doing all of this but, at the moment, I don't know what it is. Still, at least it looks a bit cleaner.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

And we regress

Look at him, out like a light. If only.

Following his achievement in sleeping through the night on Christmas Eve, we thought Jamie had cracked this old sleeping lark (naive, I know).

But, during and since his illness, his sleeping pattern has gone out of the window.

His morning and afternoon naps are hit and miss. And at night, he tends to stir between 1 and 2am, then perhaps at 4 and finally at around 5.30 when we generally feed him and drag him into our bed 'cos we're knackered.

He's not in great distress and there are no tears. He just doesn't want to go down.

Anyway, today Vanessa discovered that this phenomenon has a name. Jamie is suffering from sleep regression.

Apparently it tends to strike at around four months but is also common at six months and normally indicates a growth spurt - as if he wasn't big enough already - mixed up with a bit more teething.

This particular "stage" shouldn't last any more than another couple of weeks which is just as well for, the way things are going, I don't think either Vanessa or I will last much longer than that either.

Still, at least we know he's alright......zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz......

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Famous Jamies

Picking the name of your baby isn't easy - particularly if a boy pops out.

From our point of view, we didn't want to choose anything that might lead to him having a hard time at school (so speaks Barry White, by the way, so talk to me). Equally we didn't want it to be too dull.

And, six and a bit months in, we are still very happy with our choice. Yes, there is no shortage of little Jamies running around but I still think we found something of a gap in the market.

Or to put it another way, I don't think there are that many famous Jamies knocking about. Yes, we all know about Jamie Oliver. And any man who has seen the film Trading Places will be well aware of the existence of Jamie Lee Curtis (yes, a girl). But how many others can you name?

As it's late and I'm nice, I thought I'd save you the trouble of having to think to hard by providing a list of "famous Jamies" I found on'tinternet. And, as you'll see, there really aren't a lot, there are loads I certainly have never heard of and, crucially, there is no-one called Jamie White

So, if we do nothing else for the boy, at least Vanessa and I have given him a chance to make a name for himself.

* Jamie Bell, English pianist, singer, and songwriter, BAFTA-winning English actor
* Jamie Cook, guitarist for British indie band Arctic Monkeys
* Jamie Cope, English snooker player
* Jamie Carragher, English footballer for Liverpool Football Club
* Jamie Cullum, English pianist, singer, and songwriter
* Jamie Lee Curtis, American actress
* Jamie DeWolf, American slam poet
* Jamie Dornan, Northern Irish model, actor and musician
* Jamie Durie, Australian landscaper and television personality
* Jamie Farr, American actor
* Jamie Foxx, American actor
* Jamie Gold, American television producer and poker player
* Jamie Guzman, Dominican blogger and architect
* Jamie Harris, professional footballer
* Jamie Hewlett, comic book artist and co-creator of the band Gorillaz
* Jamie Hyneman, host of the show MythBusters
* Jamie Kane, a fictional UK pop star of an alternate reality game of the same name
* Jamie Kennedy, American comedian and actor
* Jamie Kennedy, Canadian chef
* Jamie King, British television actor
* Jamie Langenbrunner, American ice hockey player and captain of New Jersey Devils
* Jamie Lidell, English musician and soul singer
* Jamie Korab, Canadian curler
* Jamie McCrimmon, fictional character in Doctor Who played by Frazer Hines
* Jamie Johnston, Canadian actor
* Jamie McGonnigal, American voice actor
* Jamie Madrox, a fictional Marvel superhero, also known as Multiple Man
* Jamie Moyer, MLB starting pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies
* Jamie Murray,Scottish tennis player,Wimbledon Doubles 2007 Champion
* Jamie O'Brien, American surfer
* Jamie O'Neal, Australian country singer
* Jamie O'Neill, Irish novelist
* Jamie Oliver, TV chef
* Jamie Redknapp, English footballer for the Liverpool football club
* Jamie Reid, American backstroke swimmer
* Jamie Rose, American actress
* Jamie Salé, Canadian figure skater
* Jamie-Lynn Sigler, American actress
* Jamie Smith, cartoonist
* Jamie Lynn Spears, American Actress
* Jamie Spencer, Irish Jockey
* Jamie Stevens, German pop singer and songwriter
* Jamie Theakston, English television and radio presenter
* Jamie Thomas, skateboarder
* Jamie T, English musician
* Jamie Walker, MLB relief pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles

Tuesday, 13 January 2009


I learnt three new things today.

The first was after I told a couple of work colleagues about how hard it often was to get Jamie off to sleep, particularly after he'd woken up in the night.

"I used to put my daughter in the car and drive her around until she nodded off," said one of them. "I remember taking her out once at 2am."

"My sister does that with one of her kids," said my other friend. A common approach then and most bizarre.

But not as bizarre as the next discovery I made. I was talking to a local businessman who, for an entire lifetime, has presided over a very successful paint firm.

We were discussing the Prince Charles "Sooty" controversy which broke today, off the back of the Prince Harry row which was in the Sunday papers.

"We used to sell a paint called 'nigger brown,'" said the man who, I can assure you, doesn't have a racist bone in his body. "It seems almost unbelievable these days, and understandably so, but a lot has changed since then."

And as an aside, a little research this evening unearthed the following related passage on Wikipedia:

"Historically, British people would often describe a dark shade of brown as 'nigger brown,' but this and all other uses of the word 'nigger' have long since been considered offensive in Britain."

The things you learn.

The final little piece of knowledge gleaned today was that it's not a good idea to feed Jamie bananas immediately before he is due to go to bed.

Coming back to the catalyst for my first discovery, he has been waking up a lot in the last couple of nights and it's been driving us barmy. So tonight, as well as his milk, we gave him some mashed banana.

And now, at shortly after 9pm - more than two hours past his bedtime - Vanessa is still trying to get him down. The above picture, taken only minutes ago, shows just how "sleepy" he is.

I wonder what I'll find out tomorrow.

Monday, 12 January 2009

What a W

Tonight, Jamie and I watched George W Bush give his final news conference as President.

I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that I was pleased when Bush first made it to the White House. As a bit of a political anorak, I had watched his progress in the four years prior to his election and thought he might be OK.

However, Bush Jnr will always be remembered for his responses to what happened on 11 September 2001.

That day, Vanessa and I were walking down a street in Pattaya, Thailand looking for somewhere to eat. We stumbled across an Irish theme bar called O'Shaughnessy's which caught my attention simply because I could hear The Sash blaring from the jukebox inside - not a tune you normally expect to hear coming from an Irish bar.

We ordered a drink and sat down to look at the menu when, without warning, the music was turned off, a big screen was pulled down and the BBC World channel was projected on to it; a plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers in New York.

Also in the bar was a large group of US Marines who, like us, were stunned to silence when the second plane hit the other tower. The rest, as they say, is history - as will the presidency of George W. Bush in just eight days' time.

Thankfully Jamie will remember nothing of the man, although the world our little boy grows up in is sadly a lot more dangerous as a result of Dubya's actions in the years which followed that terrible day.

Sunday, 11 January 2009


I've been fairly industrious today once again with accomplishments to this point including going for a run, making breakfast, booking a family trip back to Northern Ireland and setting the ball rolling to sort out accommodation for Wee John and myself for our rugby weekend in Edinburgh in March.

The Whites have also been to the supermarket which was notable for one thing - Jamie had his first go at riding in one of the sit-up trolleys as opposed to those with the baby seat. He looked much happier and I would love to show you proof but I forgot my camera (it was bound to happen some time).

But back to Wee John, it was almost exactly a week ago that he headed off back to Wales after a few difficult days helping me look after the patients.

Most of our plans had to be abandoned but one did survive, albeit only very briefly: we had a game of darts.

John and I share a lot of interests, many of them both trivial and silly (it comes with being a boy) and one of these is watching darts on TV. Like most people of our age, we well remember "The Craft Cockney" Eric Bristow, Jocky Wilson, John Lowe and the other darts legends gracing our screens in the 1980s and early 1990s. Like snooker, darts was a big deal - evidenced, for example, by the success of Bullseye every Sunday teatime on ITV.

The sport then appeared to die away. That was until Sky Sports got their hands on it. The breakaway Professional Darts Corporation was formed to include most of the top players, lots of new televised tournaments were scheduled and the hype machine was put into overdrive.

Player nicknames are now mandatory as are personalised theme tunes as they walk to the stage, the matches are now held in huge indoor arenas and shouting and cheering are encouraged rather than frowned upon. In short, it's all got very silly and a whole lot of fun - making it very attractive to John and I.

I'm sorry to report that John "Quick Flight" Fulton defeated Barry "He's Sh*te" White by three legs to two. The picture above shows Quick Flight admiring my double 12 to win leg four.

I intend to do a lot of practicing before his next visit when I confidently predict he will take a hell of a beating - I'm planning to put the dart board up even higher.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Back in the new routine

I made a small number of mental New Year's resolutions last week - shortly after the above pic was taken (by me) - and then had to quickly park one or two of them whilst the White family illnesses ran their course. But this morning I had the chance to get one underway.

It's quite simple really, I want to make better use of my spare time. I'm a bit of a faffer, see. Rather than get on with doing the things I need to do and get them out of the way, I often p*ss about and either not do what I intended to do or take a whole day to do something which should have taken half an hour.

Anyway, after a sensible night last night, Jamie kicked off at around 2.30 this morning and again at 6.30. I managed to get a fair bit of sleep in between the tantrums but Vanessa got very little.

So, after he stirred the second time, I offered to take him downstairs for his breakfast and a bit of playing whilst Mrs W had some down time.

Following a quick change of nappy, I served him a feast of porridge, pear puree and milk topped off with some anti-biotics (let's call that a "special"). Then we mixed some telly - including cricket, Fantasy Island and The Green Green Grass (which was surprisingly good) - with time in his walker before we headed into the kitchen so I could make breakfast for Vanessa and me.

Vanessa arrived down bang on 9.30 and, just as we finished eating, Jamie decided to have a sleep - giving me about an hour and a half to work on my sitcom.

With Vanessa back in charge, I headed off to the gym for a much-needed workout before returning in time for lunch.

All of this detail might seem a bit dull but the key point is that I can't remember cramming so much into a single Saturday morning in my adult life.

The three of us were then supposed to go to the birthday party I mentioned last night but instead we decided to take a well-wrapped up Jamie out for a push instead. Hopefully no offence will be taken by the party host.

As for now, Jamie's bathtime isn't far away and, should we get him down without too much difficulty, we have a whole night ahead of us. Marvellous.

I'm now determined to be equally industrious tomorrow. And I probably will be. No, no - I will be!

Friday, 9 January 2009


The first week back after the Christmas holidays is always long and tiring, but none more so than this one.

I’m a total physical wreck after seven solid nights of even less sleep than normal, coupled with the obvious stress of watching a sick wife and child.

But, as I’ve said over the last couple of days, both are now much more like themselves and, given that I quite like them both, that can only be a good thing.

Tonight should hopefully be the calmest for a while – last night wasn’t calm by any means, but let’s not dwell – and tomorrow we’ll try and have some fun.

And, with the three of us due to attend one of Vanessa’s friend’s child’s first birthday party (that’s all I know), it should certainly be that (although possibly not deliberately).

Needless to say I’ll be reporting back.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Are we there yet?

After undoubtedly our most difficult week since those distant days when Jamie was born, it appears our little boy is finally coming back to us.

As predicted, it was another very long and troublesome night just gone. As such, first thing this morning we thought it best to get him back to the doctor who this time did what she should probably have done originally and prescribed some anti-biotics.

These plus a bucket load of Calpol. Plus his eye drops. Plus Bonjela. And his Snuffle Babe (aw!) and his Karvol to help him breathe. Oh, and the salt water for his eyes. And the baby wipes to clean them up during the night. And the Sudocrem to help heal the sore bits around them. And not forgetting his new teething ring. And his new teething beads. Well, they all appear to have done their collective thing. (Sadly, we haven't yet had a chance to try out the teething granules - which were only recommended to me at lunchtime today - but no doubt that chance will come).

As for now, I'm off to sort his bottles out before hitting the hay; needless to say Vanessa is already there and probably already asleep. Bring on the weekend.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Facts of life

The news on the patients is that Mummy is now fully anti-bioticked and on the way back to form.

Baby, meanwhile, still has a very sore eye, a sore mouth but his cough is getting better. I call that progress. Another long night is most likely, however.

Two new parenting facts learnt today.

FACT ONE: putting drops into the eyes of a six-month old baby (albeit, one built like an outhouse) is extremely difficult. The trick seems to be to wait until he is sleeping, pull down the bottom eyelid and squeeze the stuff in. However, he must be sleeping because if he's not, you might as well squeeze it into his nappy - or even your own pants - because you almost certainly won't get his eyes.

FACT TWO: Calpol is not as good as it used to be. Until a few months ago, I'd never heard of this legendary potion which soothes all of baby's ills. But almost every parent I've since mentioned it to has sworn by it, often literally,"it's ****ing great!" being a common response. But, it doesn't makes kids sleep as easily it once did.

And why is this, I hear you cry?

Answer: because, some years ago (according to my pharmacist friend), the manufacturers were forced to stop putting alcohol in it. I bet you didn't know that!

Stick with me and you'll learn stuff - FACT.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

And it gets worse

After thinking yesterday that Vanessa's health was picking up, this morning she began to cough up blood and by early this afternoon she'd been diagnosed with tonsilitis - on top of her flu.

Meanwhile, Jamie's list of ailments is no shorter and the little guy is wrecked with it all.

Thanks to a very understanding Council Leader in Bradford, I was allowed to work from home this afternoon.

But whilst being closer to the "action" at least allows me to see the patients and do my bit with regard to patient care, I still feel something less than useless and often very stressed.

Perhaps tomorrow will bring better news for all although, given the way things have been going for us on recent days, I daren't risk holding my breath.

Monday, 5 January 2009

The eyes have it

Our house looked like a sick bay when I left (late) for work this morning.

Sadly, Jamie had another bad night although obviously we hope he is now one step closer to recovery. Meanwhile, Vanessa has improved much more although is probably still a few days away from getting back to normal.

The star of the show today was Grandma Judy.

We finally got Jamie down around midnight last night - the American football on Sky Sports did the trick - but he only lasted a couple of hours before we had to pump him full of milk and Calpol once again.

He was back up before six and quickly became quite distressed. With Vanessa advised to avoid physical contact with him, I brought him into bed with me and, after finally getting him to sleep, spent the next two and a half hours cuddling him and keeping him calm.

Judy then arrived after 9am at take over duties from me whilst I went to work. And she was a star a couple of hours later when she wheeled across to the local doctor for a proper diagnosis.

In short, he has a very heavy cold and cough - which was fairly obvious - and he is also experiencing teething pain.

However, the new development was that his sore eyes are as a result of conjunctivitis and he was given some drops to hopefully clear it up in the coming days.

Despite all his little problems - and he is an unhappy chappy at the moment - he is continuing to eat like a small pony. And he is even able to manage the odd half smile.

Hopefully by the weekend he'll be back to his best and - alongside a revitalised Mummy - the Whites will be able to have some fun again.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

So far so sick

It's been a difficult few days - and apologies for not updating the site as a result.

Our New Year's Eve soiree went very well. Indeed, so well did it go that I simply couldn't summon up the energy to write about it on New Year's Day. But, anyway, much fun was had.

However, whilst John, Vicky and I had normal hangovers (Jamie wisely stayed off the hard stuff) which disappeared in time, Vanessa was still suffering by the time darkness arrived and continued to suffer into the next day. She's now about six times worse.

I phoned NHS Direct this morning and, after a 10-minute consultation with a nurse, a viral infection was diagnosed - one that could last up to ten days.

Meanwhile, Jamie is into his own third day of sickness. He's coughing very sorely, he's sneezing and his little eyes are streaming constantly. And, as (bad) luck would have it, he's also begun to have teething pains.

We're dosing him up with Calpol but I fear that at least another couple of difficult nights lie ahead. Very hard to watch.

As you might imagine, these happenings put something of a dampener on our New Year plans.

With my mate John up, we had intended to go into Leeds on Friday, watch rugby on Saturday afternoon and then go out for a big dinner with other friends on Saturday night. All of this had to be cancelled, leaving poor John to make do with a couple of swift visits with me to a local bar as his first excursions into the outside world in 2009.

He only left a little while ago and has been complete trooper, particularly yesterday when he and I looked after Jamie all day.

Hopefully the next 51 and a half weeks will bring us all better fortune.