Friday, 31 July 2009

Everything I didn't know about Premium Bonds

I've learnt something new today - I've learnt what Premium Bonds are.

Until now, the only thing I knew about Premium Bonds was that Jimmy Hill used to give them away as the prize for winning the Goal of the Month competition on Match of the Day. That was about 30 years and I've never taken the trouble to find out more.

However, last month as part of his birthday present, Jamie's Grandad Derek very kindly gave him money to buy some Premium Bonds and this morning I finally got round to sorting them out.

One of the many nuggets of information I've picked up today is that apparently more than one third of the UK population own Premium Bonds (yes, surprised me too).

Other headlines include:
  • Premium Bonds were introduced by Harold Macmillan in his 1956 Budget

  • A draw is made each month with a top prize of £1 million

  • There were two £1 million prizes each month before Gordon Brown took one away

  • The odds of winning a prize for each bond number held is 36,000 to 1

  • The machine that generates the random numbers for the draw is called ERNIE, which stands for Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment (see what they did there?)

And I've saved the best till last - in the legendary sitcom Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, Frank Spencer's mother used to send ERNIE a Christmas card each year in the hope that she would be favoured in the draw. I love that.

It takes 30 days before Jamie's numbers become active so it'll be September before he has his first chance to become a baby millionaire.

But given that he won the only raffle he's ever entered, surely it's only a matter of time.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Holding his own

A couple more developments of note in Jamie World.

First, as you can see above, he can now give himself his bottle. This is clearly very good news, especially at 5am-ish when he still tends to wake for his early morning feed.

The next step will be to teach him to pop downstairs and make Mummy and Daddy a cuppa - perhaps with a nice bit of toast. We'll probably have a go at that over the weekend.

The second piece of news is a bit more significant. Indeed, a pivotal moment in any young man's life.

Yes, Jamie has discovered his willy. And he thinks it's hilarious.

Vanessa alerted me to this fact last week after she'd given him a bath. But last night was the first time I'd personally seen him play with his new toy - and then again this morning.

Mrs W cringed and ran away both times it happened, but Jamie and I tittered together.

It's a boy's thing after all.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Blue Cameron shows he's no Twit

A quick follow-up to last night's post on Twitter.

Conservative Leader David Cameron was asked on a radio show this morning if he liked to Tweet. And his response was as laugh-out-loud funny as it was unexpected.

Have a listen by clicking on to the link below:

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Tweet talk

The more eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed that, in recent days, I've signed up to Twitter - check out the top-right hand corner of this blog if you don't believe me.

Yes folks, from now on, you can follow my each and every move. But the thing is, why would anyone in their right mind want to do such a thing? Indeed, for that matter, I don't think I have a particular wish to follow the movements of anyone else.

So why did I sign up?

The truth is that I was a little bit curious (and - at the time - very, very bored).

Curious because Twitter is what all the trendy media and showbiz types seem to be signing up to at the moment, so I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. Although now I'm fully registered, I still don't believe I have the answer.

Unlike Facebook which allows you to do all sorts of things and has put me back in touch with all kinds of friends and associates from my dim and distant past, Twitter seems to be rather one-dimensional.

To be fair, it doesn't pretend to be anything else. To illustrate, the answer to it's self-posed question, "What Is Twitter?" (which you can find on its home page), is as follows:

"Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?"

And it does exactly what it says on the tin. But this returns me to my own original question - why would anyone want to know, at least in my case?

I only have six followers thus far so I think the answer is fairly obvious i.e. they don't. However, time might well prove me wrong.

Yes, in a matter of days or perhaps weeks from now, I could be a cult.

And that would be a subtle but significant improvement on how I've been regarded for most of my adult life.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Scary goings on in the village

Our weekend campsite was located near a small North Yorkshire village called Hinderwell which, as part of its annual summer gala, hosts a particularly strange - no, surreal - event: The Hinderwell Scarecrow Festival.

Started in 2002, it basically involves the local villagers taking a lot of time and trouble to make a scarecrow before sticking it out the front of their house. They stay out there for a week and there are prizes for the best efforts.

But the majority of these creations aren't just "ordinary" scarecrows (if there is such a thing). They're, well, weird scarecrows. And some are really, really weird.

I have four examples and, don't worry, I'll break you in gently.

First, there's PC Scarecrow.

More off-putting than weird this one, particularly if you're doing over 30mph through the village. Or running off with someone's telly.

Right, number two - slightly more weird but unquestionably creative and fun. Doctor Who Scarecrow and Dalek Scarecrow.

Fine efforts both.

OK, time to get weird. We've had PC Scarecrow - how's about non-PC Scarecrow? Yes, it's President Obama Scarecrow.

I don't know about you, but I think there's something just a little bit wrong about this one and it hard to say anything without getting into dodgy territory. But let me put it this way; President Obama is of mixed race and the maker of this particular scarecrow appears to have recreated one of The Drifters. I'm sure no offence was intended.

But I've left the best - and certainly the weirdest - until last.

Ladies and gentlemen...the late Michael Jackson Scarecrow.

One can be fairly certain that some offence was probably intended when this one was being conceived and, sure, why not.

It's maybe plain wrong but it's also plain brilliant. I'd love to know if it won -and I will try to find out.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

I've lived to tell the tale

Sometimes you just have to hold your hand up and concede that you might have approached an event with slightly less enthusiasm than was both realistic and fair.

I therefore cut to the chase - the camping weekend wasn't anywhere near as unpleasant as expected. In fact, I'll go further; I enjoyed it. And so did everyone else - including Jamie. Indeed, as it stands, I have no real problem with the concept of going next year either. Vanessa is even talking about just the three of us heading away for a couple of nights in a field next month. (Note to wife: never going to happen).

The weekend got off to a very positive start when we arrived to find our spanking new tent had already been erected by Mike, Judy and others including Dagenham Dave (what's he after?!)

We walked to the beach yesterday morning, straight into a typical British summer scene i.e. it was freezing.

But the sun eventually came out and the mood improved.

Jamie had a go in Dave's "Austin Powers" dingy - maybe next time we'll actually put it in the water.

The journey back to camp was a challenge to say the least (that's me pushing our boy).

And then the sand had to be washed off...

...before the barbecue began.

But seriously, it was great. Thanks to everyone involved, especially Mike who essentially organised the whole thing. (And just to stress that, despite the undoubted success of the past couple of days, I'm still not lying in a random field in August. No way, Pedro).

Friday, 24 July 2009

A poem about camping

Following on from yesterday's posting and as a means of underlining just how much I'm looking forward to the camping weekend about to begin, I've quickly scribbled a short poem.

It's called I Hate Camping and I hope it strikes a chord with those of a like mind.



by Barry Richard White (Aged 37 1/4)

I hate camping
I really do
It’s always raining
When you need the loo

It’s sometimes windy
And it’s often cold
Which is not much fun
When you’re getting old

I hate camping
Even the thought
Despite the flash tent
That Vanessa bought

Jamie’s coming
Which should make me bright
But so is Dave
And he talks shite

I hate camping
But it must be done
‘Cos Vanessa said so
And her mum

So I’ve packed my clothes
And I’ve packed my beer
For come 5 o’clock
I’ll not be here

I’ll be in my tent
With my wife and son
Soaking wet
And changing his bum

Yes, I hate camping
But it’s once a year
And come Sunday teatime
I’ll be full of cheer

So between now and then
I’ll do my best
To be a happy camper
And have a rest

But I still hate camping

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Preparing to camp it up

The Whites are due to set off for North Yorkshire tomorrow on our first annual family camping weekend since becoming a three-piece. And Daddy is a little bit apprehensive.

Don't get me wrong, it's no reflection on anyone else who will be there (except Dagenham Dave, but that goes without saying. Others expected include Vanessa's mum Judy, stepdad Mike, sister Hannah and her boys Oliver and Alexander, brother Jonathan, his wife Helen and their two kids Jack and Holly).

But, despite some of my personal mannerisms, I am not what could be described as a natural camper.

I have tried - tried very hard, in fact. But I just can't see the point.

I mean, where is the logic in working hard to scrape together enough money to put down a deposit on a house and then continue to graft to pay the mortgage if you suddenly decide to live in a tent in a field in the back of beyond? (albeit, only for two nights a year - but still).

It's like going out for a long walk. Why would anyone want to do that? We've got cars and trains and bicycles and buses - so why waste your shoe leather and your free time by ambling to a fixed point at 2mph before turning back? I simply don't understand.

Vanessa and I got off to something of a poor start with our joint camping career some years ago when we turned up in what became known - extremely disrespectfully - as "Moonbase Alpha." Given that tag by Big John of Chesterfield, a family friend, it was a £10 tent from Asda that Vanessa and I could just about squeeze into. It wasn't easy to put up and it was even more difficult to keep up but, despite the jibes, we called it home for that one weekend every 12 months.

In 2007, we changed our approach and shared a bigger tent with Dave, Hannah and Oliver and, yes, it was certainly more comfortable than Moonbase Alpha. But, as sure as night follows day, Dave barely shut up during both night and day. And even when he did stop for a breath, I still knew he was there - which was just as off-putting.

After missing last year's trip in the wake of Jamie's arrival, we are due to unveil the new White family tent tomorrow. Vanessa bought it second hand off a friend of Big John for £100 (you read that right) and I'm yet to see it - it's still in Judy and Mike's garage. But, unless it comes with an inflatable fridge and butler, I fear we're in for something of a disappointment.

Given I haven't yet had sight of this colossus, I therefore also haven't had a chance to practice putting it up - which means people will laugh at me. And it's bound to be raining too. Really, really hard. On my head.

However, despite my obvious misgivings, I have taken the brave and selfless decision to try - between now and tomorrow - to be positive and open-minded about what lies ahead. Really. I'll then give you my verdict here on Sunday once we've managed to swim home (the forecast is for heavy rain).

Did I mention Dagenham Dave was coming along?!

Sorry - I'm thinking positive, POSITIVE..!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Super Soaraway Son

I mentioned that yesterday was a bizarre day and it was. Or, to be more precise, it got off to a very bizarre start.

I dropped Jamie off at nursery as normal on a Tuesday and went to work. But, an hour later, I was home. I had only been at my desk for about 10 minutes when Vanessa rang; the nursery had just been on to her to report that Jamie had a very high temperature and they couldn't rule out the possibility of it being related to Swine Flu.

I told the girls in my office who quickly ushered me out of the door with the instruction that I worked from home for the next couple of days at least - which is what I've done.

But the important news is that Jamie's temperature dropped over the course of yesterday morning and, other than being a bit more tetchy than normal, he's been fine and showing no further signs of the piggy plague since then.

It may well be that his little moment was triggered by the seemingly imminent arrival of four - yes, four - new teeth. Gary, Mark, Howard and Jason have been making their way through his top gum for several weeks and hopefully they'll take their bow very soon.

Meanwhile, I have been productive during my two days of exile from Bradford but, well, it's only natural that I've wavered a little bit every now and then.

During one particularly weak moment yesterday afternoon, I decided to enter Jamie for The Sun's bonny baby competition, imaginatively entitled "Sunbeams" (I hope you can see what they did there).

The competition winner gets a child modelling contract with a top agency in that London, together with £1,000 of Matalan vouchers.

The picture above is Jamie's entry and you can even see how it looks on The Sun website by clicking onto and entering Jamie White.

Voting hasn't opened yet but, when it does, Sun readers will be asked to choose the top 100 babies online, the field will then be whittled down to 30 by a group of "independent judges" including a "model scout" and "The Sun's Royal photographer Arthur Edwards." And then Sun readers will get the chance to pick their overall winner in a (no doubt extortionately priced) phone vote.

Clearly, we are not getting our hopes up for Jamie's ultimate success at this stage, although he has already won a raffle in his own right and how many other one-year-olds you know can say that? (In fact, not even he can say that yet - just "quack.") But, come on, what a laugh!

Needless to say you will be advised (more than once) on when you can start to "Click For Jamie" - I think it's towards the end of August.

But before I go, I have to say there is one aspect of this competition which baffles me.

How is anyone meant to spend £1,000 - that's £100 x 10 - in Matalan?!

I reckon even David Blaine would have trouble pulling off that particular trick.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009


It's been a very bizarre day thus far and I've absolutely no idea how it's going to end - I'll know more when I collect Jamie from nursery shortly. Full details tomorrow.

In the meantime, we've had another of those baby landmark moments: Jamie can now stand up on his own.

The picture above is not the sharpest I've ever taken as he's currently only able to stay upright for a couple or three seconds at a time. Indeed, I've felt a bit like one of Sir David Attenborough's cameramen over the last few days trying to capture this great moment of natural history. But at least you can be assured I'm not telling fibs.

Now that he is literally up on his own two feet, a huge range of exciting new possibilities suddenly present themselves. These include him getting a summer job to help to pay his way.

All offers will be considered so please feel free to send them through.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Living on the edge

I like to consider myself a particularly modern dad - and with very good reason, in my book.

I wear jeans and trainers a lot. I have a Playstation. And an iPod. I drink beer and fall over sometimes. And I've even been known to stay up past 11.30 at night.

However, today I did something really, really modern: I bought a pair of work shoes on the Interweb.

Last week, I managed to split the upper on the left shoe of one pair, and the sole fell off the right shoe of another. So, clearly, I needed at least one new pair.

However, such is the pace of my hectic, modern dad lifestyle, I simply don't have time at the moment to visit the shops myself so I turned on my PC and went shopping on t'net.

And I'm very pleased with my purchase: a shiny new pair of black Hush Puppies for just £37.50 - that's 25% off!

I mean, how much more modern can a dad get?

Maybe next time I'll really splash out and buy myself one of those brown corduroy jackets with patches on the elbows.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Pudsey Porky

We've all seen countess recreations of that famous American Beauty poster - some good, some awful and some quite amusing.

Yesterday, whilst watching the Ashes on TV and trying to keep Jamie amused, I had an idea.

Yer man was playing in his ball pool and, in a moment of inspiration, I got my camera out and encouraged my subject to get into the part.

Sexy, the result is not.

But maybe just a little bit cute (for such a tubster).

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Sport Jamie?

One of several nicknames I had at school (few of them complimentary) was "Sport Barry," given to me by a very nice chap named Ian Dalzell (pictured below) who, ironically, is now a successful golf professional based in the United States. And I continue to be as obsessed with sport now as I was back then.

To illustrate, I didn't manage to update the site yesterday as I had to rush straight from a day's work in Bradford to The Sports Cafe in Leeds to watch the Ashes and then on to Headingley to witness the Leeds Rhinos in action.

Needless to say I had my little personal radio with me so I could keep my ear on the cricket whilst bussing it from Pudsey to Leeds.

And then, this morning, I was up early to see the All Blacks pip Australia in the rugby union Tri-Nations, before a quick dash to Asda with Jamie and back in time for the first ball of the day at Lord's.

I'm only writing this now because the players are having lunch, but I'll be back downstairs by 1.40pm when England are due to continue piling misery on the convicts for another couple of hours. Tea is scheduled from 3.40-4pm so I might stick my head out of the window then to get some air.

And, of course, today is also day three of The Open Golf Championship at Turnberry - another of the great spectacles of the British sporting summer. I haven't watched much of it so far but I know what's going on and will certainly be following the final holes very closely tomorrow afternoon.

Have I ever feared that Jamie might not like sport when he gets a bit older?

Yes I have.

And does it worry me?

Yes, very much so.

But it couldn't really happen, could it? Could it?!


Thursday, 16 July 2009


Our son has developed a rather endearing little habit over the last week or so - he says "quack" a lot. Indeed, one could argue that "quack" is his first real word. (Alternatively, one might consider making a case that "quack" is a sound rather than a word, but I've decided against being pedantic with myself on a Thursday evening.)

Jamie's quack habit (I thank you) has not happened by accident and is actually the result of a lot of hard work by his mother - who has been singing the kids' song "Five Little Ducks" to him for months now - and his bath toys which basically comprise a load of ducks.

The first time his new trick really came to my attention was early last Saturday morning in Cardiff when I got up with him, switched on John's telly and that bloke with the large forehead from CBeebies was singing "Five Little Ducks" with some schoolkids. Jamie suddenly became unstoppable and every time Big Head sang the line, "Mother Duck said quack, quack, quack, quack," not only did Jamie quack himself but his little hands opened and closed too - like Mother Duck's mouth. A very proud moment.

All went swimmingly (are you having that one?) until I took him to nursery yesterday morning and, before dropping him off, was asked by one of the girls what he was "into" at the moment. It was not an easy question to answer, given that he's only just turned one. I mean, what can you say? "24" was out of the question, as it's on too late and he's never seen it. He's too young to drink fine wines. And he's not walking yet, never mind running, so football was also not a option.

"Ducks," I therefore announced. "He likes ducks. He can say quack and make his hands move like Mother Duck's mouth. Ducks." And then I left.

I returned some nine hours later to pick him and asked how things had gone.

"You're right about the ducks," said the nursery girl.

"We got a duck book out and he quacked the whole way through it."

Excellent, thought I. Our boy truly has talent.

"Then we got a dinosaur book out - and he quacked the whole way through that too."


In the wake of this, I had a little bit of extra time to kill with Jamie tonight before his bath time so I decided to conduct a quick experiment with a handful of little animal finger puppets which our friends Fran and Matt bought him for his birthday.

I put a lion on my index finger first, made a loud roaring sound and waited for his reaction..."QUACK!"

Then a frog, accompanied by a big Daddy "gribbet"..."QUACK!" went Jamie.

I know, thought I, an elephant - he's seen loads of elephants on TV. He must know what sound they make. But whilst my elephant impression may have sounded a touch lionesque in quality, I think it made little difference..."QUACK!" bellowed Jamie. And on it went.

After seven successive failures, I stuck on the end of "In The Night Garden" so we could hopefully finish the evening on a different note (so to speak). But, at the first sign of Iggle Piggle? "QUACK!"

Jamie's already been through many quirky little phases in his short life thus far, but this one really has the potential to drive me......NUTS. (Come on! Who do you think I am? Cliche Man?!)

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Wales - Part III: And finally...

Bit of an odd one this - but I'll proceed nonetheless.

Right, Vanessa, Jamie and I were sitting with John in his smart "single professional man pad slap bang in the centre of Cardiff" (as I described it last week) on Saturday evening waiting for a taxi to take she and me to Cardiff Bay for dinner - John was being a nice Godfather by agreeing to babysit.

One of the many mod cons John has in his aforementioned "single professional man pad etc etc," is live CCTV pictures of the main door to his apartment block beamed straight to his telly. (Nope, I've never seen that before either - channel 7 is what you're after if you ever pop in).

We still had a few minutes to kill before the arrival of our chariot when I suddenly thought it would be "absolutely hilarious" to ask John to take Jamie downstairs to the front door where the two of them could wave at the CCTV camera. Meanwhile, Vanessa and I would put on channel 7 and enjoy surely the single funniest moment of our collective lives. (NB - we had been in the pub for part of the afternoon when, incidentally, the nice picture above was taken).

Whilst John and Jamie were in the lift en route to the front door, I decided to ready the camera to take some pics of the two of them doing their stuff.

I mean, could my little idea get any more amusing?!

Well, at first, it was funny - what do you think?

And here's another one - not bad?

However - and here's the thing - the four or five other shots I took were different to these two photos but very similar to each other (if you follow). And what they showed was basically some grainy images of a man, whose features you could not make out, carrying our baby out of a building and into the night.

Let's just say, when the penny dropped at what I was looking at, I sobered up and felt quite sick - at precisely the same moment. By the time John and Jamie arrived back, both with huge smiles on their faces, I was as white as a sheet.

Still, you live and learn - and I've learnt, for the good of my health, not to try that one again. Bloody hell.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Wales - Part II: Barry goes to Barry

I'm a huge sitcom fan and, with my friend Ben, still hold out hopes of getting my own efforts on screen some day. (We're currently one "memorable scene" away from finishing the draft of our first pilot which we then intend to submit for consideration. Sadly, it's been that way for about three months - but soon, very soon... almost certainly).

One of my favourite sitcoms of recent times is Gavin & Stacey. As fans of the show will know, it has a split setting of Billericay in Essex and Barry Island in Wales - the latter just a short drive away from Cardiff. So obviously, on Saturday, we had to go along for a look.

And what we found was perhaps a little on the "expected" side i.e. it's a bit shit.

Don't get me wrong, I love the seaside ("I do" - as the locals might add) but that's because I was brought up on the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland which, if it had the weather, would be an even more attractive proposition than the already very attractive proposition it already is. It has the beaches, it has the rugged scenery and, in Portrush, it has some fairly decent rides (or "amusements," as we Ulster folk still like to call them).

In contrast, Barry undoubtedly does have a coastline and it also has views - but sadly not of the standard that made me feel compelled to take photographs of either (which is saying something if you've seen some of the rubbish I often display on this site).

But I did take a shot of Vanessa and John standing beside a "prize every time" stall thingy (Jamie's having a kip behind the umbrella).

I then asked John to take a picture of Vanessa and me on the rather pedestrian Waltzer...
...(not a natural photographer, our John).

I then took a snap of a typical Barry Island menu which seemed to based around something of a theme.

And then we left - having pretty much "done" Barry Island in the space of 40 minutes.

Needless to say I was a little disappointed not to have bumped into Smithy or Nessa or Uncle Bryn or, indeed, anyone from the cast of Gavin & Stacey which is currently filming its third and final series - although clearly not on Barry Island on this particular day.

That said, the journey did give me something of a necessary kick up the whatever to get back together with Ben and see our own little project through to completion, for better or for worse.

So now, in cyberspace, I hereby declare that we will have our script completed before the calendar shows September. It might be awful -but it will be finished.

Monday, 13 July 2009

The Whites go to Wales - Part I

Those kind (and lost) souls amongst you who check this site every day will be aware that I failed to update it yesterday as promised. Sorry about that.

We arrived back just after 4pm and, around half an hour later, I was in bed with what originally appeared to be the early stages of flu. It has since transpired they were probably the middle stages of mild alcohol poisoning.

So, yes, we did have a very pleasant long weekend in that Wales (thanks for asking).

We saw the sights - that's Jamie above outside the Millennium Stadium.

John and I were spectators at the third day of the Ashes cricket...

...together with 15,998 other lucky souls.

We did a bit of collective socialising...

...and Vanessa and I even had a meal out on our own for what seemed like the first night in living memory. (Being in Cardiff where the show is filmed, she even wore her Doctor Who-style cardigan - always thinking).

We also took a couple of hours out on Saturday to go on something of a pilgrimage. Sadly, Jamie slept through the whole trip so he, like you, will have to wait until tomorrow to find out where we went.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Taking our boyo down to Wales

The Whites are off to Wales for The Ashes!

I'm the only one of our number who's actually going to day three of the First Test tomorrow, but Vanessa and Jamie are making the journey too for what will hopefully be a fun weekend of adventure in the Principality.

Jamie's Godfather and my teeniest, tiniest friend John - also coming to the cricket - will be our host in his plush "single professional man" pad slap bang in the centre of Cardiff. He's also been responsible for getting his hands of my ticket but, despite his kindess, I'm still making him buy the first round.

Although John's up here far more often than any of us would wish, I haven't been down to see him since October 2007 and the very weekend Vanessa found out Jamie the Foetus was on his way. A lot has changed since then.

However, one thing I'm assured that hasn't changed is the Welsh nation's continued admiration for the sheep - so Jamie has his packed (I'm sure the locals will laugh and laugh and laugh).

We're due back in Pudsey on Sunday and I'll tell you what happens then.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009


I've genuinely just had something of a shock, now feel like a bad or - at the very least - dangerous daddy and have quickly concluded that the best thing for me to do is simply fess up.

To explain, Vanessa and I took Jamie to Harewood House last Sunday where, as per usual, he had a go on the swings.

He loves the swings and, in particular, likes to be pushed hard. I also, from time to time, like to take pictures of him on there and, in the case of Sunday, you can see examples above and below.

However, the shock I've just received is that I didn't realise Vanessa also took a couple of snaps of me pushing our beloved on Sunday and I've just stumbled across them.

The first one is fairly dull.

But the second could get me arrested.

I'm now off for a stiff brandy and a lie down.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Ginger Jamie

Like, no doubt, zillions of other freak show fans across the planet, I dipped in and out of the "Michael Jackson Memorial Concert" on TV tonight. A pretty classy affair, I'm sure you'll agree (ahem).

What cannot escape my mind is the fact that they held his "funeral service" this morning - at an actual cemetery - then piled him back into a car to drive him to his own do. I cannot help but wonder if he's now in McDonald's, accompanied by the rest of the Jackson clan, with a milkshake parked on his lid. Sorry, I hate to be disrespectful but - come on. Still, each to their own (16 carat gold coffin) I suppose. (Although, how long do you think it'll be before some "smooth criminal" nicks that? I hope you see what I did there).

Meanwhile, I appear to have a ginger son. (Seriously - of all the things that can happen. I've just never been lucky).

We're not really sure how and, certainly, why this has happened. Jamie looks blond both up close and at a distance, but the passport pictures we've just had taken tell a very different - not to mention extremely worrying - story.

We first had shots done last year when he was much smaller (and balder) but we never got round to sending them off with the form. However, we've just made some holiday plans and have suddenly had to get a move on, which meant arranging for some new photos to be taken.

I was there and saw nothing amiss. So you can therefore only imagine my shock (and maybe just a smidgen of horror) when the pictures you see above were handed to me by the smiling assistant.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the Ginger People. But, well, there is no earthly nor biological reason why Jamie should be ginger and, quite frankly, it would be best if he wasn't.

I fear the explanation for the photos might be some sort of technical fault with the equipment at Jessops in Bradford or, at least, I hope it is. And if there is some other way of explaining it (i.e. one which suggests that he really is ginger) than perhaps it's best I don't hear it.

So, on today of all days, perhaps I can best put it like this. If Michael Jackson was black, then Jamie White is not ****ing ginger!

Monday, 6 July 2009

Him off the telly

I've been privileged to have met a few characters down the years who I'd only previously encountered on TV. And it's normally - although not always - a thrill when it happens. (One such exception was Sue Johnson from Brookside and The Royle Family who was a sectarian cow - but perhaps more of that another time).

However, generally, being on the telly does add a touch of glamour and mystique to an individual, making them much more exciting to be around than someone like, well, me.

I tried to turn this philosophy to my advantage the other day as I continued my mission to make Jamie fall in love with his birthday present from Vanessa and me: Elmo Live.

I wrote here on his big day that the gift was very much my idea with Vanessa being impressed by neither the product nor the price tag. Indeed, as I said, she argued that the talking, singing, dancing, sneezing, burping puppet was really for me. It really was and is a scandalous and, yes, extremely hurtful allegation - not to mention almost entirely false.

I have showcased Elmo to Jamie on numerous occasions over the last two weeks and I think a bond is undoubtedly beginning to develop. But I thought I would give the process just a little bit of a hurry-up last weekend when I taped an episode of Elmo's World on channel whatever it was, placed Jamie's Elmo next to the telly and pressed the play button.

I then pointed at TV Elmo and shouted as if in shock, "look Jamie, Elmo!" before re-aiming my finger at Jamie's Elmo and hollering the same line. (And repeat). At one point his neck was moving so rapidly from side to side - like one of those posh people who had tickets near the net at yesterday's Wimbledon men's final - that I feared it might roll off.

The things you do to get your kids to love you - and your, sorry, their presents.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Yorkshire Ripper

For the first time I can genuinely think of, our son has been a very naughty Jamie - very naughty indeed.

It's only really been in recent weeks that he's begun to show signs of knowing the genuine difference between right and wrong.

Take our DVD player, for example. He has now learnt how to turn it on which is not helpful as it overrides our Sky and so we have to get straight up and turn it back off again.

For this reason, Vanessa and I have taken to yelling "NO!" at him whenever he goes anywhere near it, leading him to immediately stop in his tracks...before continuing his journey to turn it on anyway. Still, it's very much a work in progress.

However, this morning's misdemeanour was much more serious: as you can see above, he ripped a chunk of the border off his bedroom wall.

I'm not a natural decorator and it took me ages to do that last year so I wasn't too pleased, and Vanessa was even less so.

I've since covered up the damage with a big mirror and a pillow - I like to improvise when I can - and I think it can be patched up (badly, if I'm doing it). But that will only be good enough until he tries it again.

Crucially, he clearly knew he had done wrong and was rather sheepish for a good hour afterwards (as his mother and I sought to ignore him) but I hope it's not the beginning of a new wicked streak in his character.

But you cannot leave these things to chance so I've already made clear to him that, next time he steps out of line, I will definitely be getting the police involved.