Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Dieselgate - The Inquest

£300 is the figure you're after. Unless you've already asked me, and many people have.

Yes, "a carpet" (in Cockney rhyming slang - apparently) was what it cost to fix our car after the little diesel mishap.

And yet I feel quite relieved. I did a little anxious research on Monday afternoon, just after we received the diagnosis from the garage, and discovered that 400 people a day in this country mistakenly put diesel in a petrol car or vice versa.

I also found out that the problem can cost up to £6,000 to fix if you've driven it any distance - as we had. Our gleaming vehicle isn't worth anything like that much, but I was warned by more knowledgeable people than me that a bill close to £1,000 could still be expected if the car wasn't to be written off.

So, you know, things could have been worse.

The matter of the cost being settled, two further questions remained:
  1. When was the deed done?
  2. Who filled the car?

And, believe it or not, it appears we will never know the answer to either.

The reason is that the garage said there were apparently only "traces" of diesel in the tank and, even more bizarrely, that it could have been put in there anything up to 18 months ago.

Personally, I think the bill was only £50 and Vanessa bunged the mechanic the rest just to concoct a made-up story- because it couldn't possibly have been my mistake. Could it?!

I asked our now departed visitors Cleve and Graham on Monday night how intelligent they thought the Whites were following our error and their expressions above tell you the answer.

Meanwhile Jamie was oblivious to all that was going on. Whilst waiting for the tow truck man to appear, I briefly left Vanessa on "clamper watch" - it could have cost us another £120 if one of those nice people had encountered our illegally parked vehicle - and took Jamie on a very swift trip around the second floor of the Royal Armouries.

He seemed to like the piece of baby armour on show so we'll have to take him back some other time. But perhaps it's best we get the bus.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

A kick in the pumps

Yesterday's trip to the Royal Armouries was certainly memorable but, sadly, not for the reason we would have wished.

Actually, it was an effing disaster.

The picture above of our visitors from Oz, Graham (left) and his little boy Cleve, gives you a subtle hint about what happened.

On the positive side, at least our car broke down very close to Yorkshire's renowned exhibition of the instruments of death and mutilation, meaning our guests could continue with their visit.

Also, it only took about an hour for the breakdown truck to arrive.

And when it did, our driver man Nick was both helpful and entertaining.

Despite an in-cab warning that no CD player was available for use...

...this was not in fact the case, cheering up all passengers on-board.

But if there was a lesson to be learnt it was this.

Never put diesel in your petrol car.

Monday, 28 September 2009

The truth hurts

"Daddy. I don't know what Jamie's daddy is talking about. I can't understand what he's saying."

The words of Yorkshire-born but Australian bred Cleve Readfearn (above left) yesterday afternoon after just a few hours in my company.

His dad, Graham, went on to explain that I talked differently to everyone else in Leeds because they all came from here and I didn't.

But Cleve's point was very well made. And I'm gutted.

By the way, the gathering pictured above and below was in honour of Graham and Cleve's visit which continues today with a visit to Leeds Armouries.

Which means I'd better hurry on and get into that shower.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

The boys are back in town

Bit of a frustrating old day yesterday.

Against all the odds, I did get off my wotsit to visit the local cycle shop in search of a child seat. Unfortunately, the bloke gave me a quote of well over £100 to which I responded that it was a child seat I was after and not a leather armchair. He didn't see the funny side so I said I would go elsewhere - Internet here I come.

As predicted, there was a puncture when I tried to blow up our bike tyres although on Vanessa's bike rather than mine. So, whilst in the shop, I bought a new tube and guess what? It also had a hole in it. Great.

And do you remember the stair gates I had to buy extensions for about a month ago. Well, given that I was on a "roll" yesterday (ahem), I thought I would finally turn my attention to fitting the extensions and putting up the gates. And, again, guess what? That's right - the extensions don't fit.

Is it any wonder I ****ing hate doing DIY? Grrrrr!!!!!

Much more happily, Vanessa, Jamie and I are preparing to greet some extremely special guests at lunchtime today. My very good friend Graham, his wife Hayley and their little boy Cleve emigrated to Australia four years ago - much to my displeasure. They haven't been back to the UK since, during which time their number has increased with the arrival of a lovely little girl named Nell.

However, today Graham and Cleve are visiting Yorkshire and will stay with us until Tuesday.

Graham, pictured beside me above, was an usher at our wedding in 2005 and even sang a couple of "contemporary" numbers in the church - attracting well-deserved claps, cheers and even whistles in response (our wedding was quite lively). I am also one of Cleve's four proud lifelong mentors following his civil naming ceremony in Bradford the same year.

Needless to say we can't wait to see them. And then we're taking them to the pub.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Facts of the day

I made two earth-shattering discoveries this morning whilst watching Postman Pat (who, in case you haven't heard, has recently been promoted to Head of the Special Delivery Service - well done him).

The first was his surname - yep, pretty exciting stuff.

Bob the Builder doesn't have a surname to my knowledge. Neither do Noddy and Big Ears. Indeed, very few children's telly characters seem to have a surname (something for you to think about there).

But Pat most definitely does and, just for you, I can now reveal that his full name is Pat Clifton. Wow.

My second wondrous discovery is just as fascinating - hard to believe, I know.

Because just when you thought Jamie Oliver couldn't possibly be on our TV screens any more than he already is, he's now got himself another gig.

For the original Naked Chef is also moonlighting as boss of the Pencaster Sorting Office where Mr Clifton and his faithful moggy Jess pick up their special deliveries.

And here's the proof.

The things you can learn so early in the day when you're a dad.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Planning an uphill task

I'm a great one for making big plans - and not quite getting round to fulfilling any of them.

To be fair, I have got better as I've got older. But, like most men, I'm not perfect and am happy to admit it. (You'll note I have made no reference to women in this regard).

Friday afternoon is, of course, the time to make your weekend plans and so today I've come up with a biggie. For tomorrow, my friends, I "plan" to get a child seat fitted onto my bike.

This idea has come about for two reasons:
  1. Vanessa told me I have to
  2. See reason one
OK, I half jest. Yes, Vanessa did tell me I have to. However, the real reason 2 is that we went cycling whilst on holiday on Monday and Jamie rode on a child seat behind me (Vanessa said she certainly wasn't having him and instead chose a bike with a basket).

Most importantly, I think he enjoyed himself.

One of the potential flies in tomorrow's plan-shaped bottle of ointment is that I haven't been out on my bike for more than a year and the tyres are currently as flat as two really flat things. Hopefully they will reinflate but, if my past experience of being a White is anything to go by, there's bound to be holes at least one of them.

The next challenge will then be to find a child seat at a reasonable price. The original thought was to ride my bike about four miles to Halford's in Leeds because Vanessa said they fitted child seats for free. But I've now checked and they don't plus they don't seem any cheaper than other outlets anyway.

I therefore intend to pedal the somewhat lesser distance of about a mile to a bike shop in neighbouring Bramley which will hopefully be able to sort me out. But will they fit it for me? Because if they don't, I'm going to have to have a go myself and there's as much chance of me doing that properly as there is of me single-handedly building NASA's replacement for the Space Shuttle.

Still, we'll see how we go.

By the way, when I said I thought Jamie seemed to enjoy his first taste of cycling, I didn't necessarily mean that he hadn't found the whole experience just a little bit tiring.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Happy Arthur's Day!

Today is the day when we all get to celebrate 250 years since the birth of the world's most famous stout - Guinness.

Arthur Guinness signed his first lease on the Dublin brewery exactly two and a half centuries ago and, never one to miss out on an opportunity, the company is promoting a host of festivities across the planet beginning at exactly 1759 BST this evening.

The highlight is set to be the beaming of a live concert from Guinness HQ into tens of thousands of pubs across a hundred-plus countries. My friend Ben and I will be in O'Neill's in Leeds - and I've even managed to secure vouchers to cover our first two rounds (always thinking, me).

Yes, it's a commercial stunt but, hey, how much encouragement do you think I need to go out, put on a silly hat and drink pints of Guinness for several hours on a Thursday night? Right first time - not much at all.

I trust you too have a very pleasurable Arthur's Day and I hope you also intend to raise a glass to a great man (not that I know anything about him other than what I've just told you, but he invented Guinness and that makes him extremely special in my alcohol-stained book).


Wednesday, 23 September 2009

The holiday adventures of a trainee gigolo

If there was one thing the female infant visitors to Murcia were not short of during our visit, it was attention from Jamie. And he really does have some work to do on his act - not that he was wholly unsuccessful.

The scene captured above, when he fell to his knees in front of a random passing dolly bird, did not bode well for him after she simply walked past.

But then he spotted the fair Emily and waddled up for a closer look.

After a swift and, one might say, cold rejection, he tried the old "fall to the knees and look sad/desperate" trick again.

And then he completely threw in the self-respect towel and had to be rescued by his Mummy.

But a little later, he decided to show some maturity by seeking Emily's advice on how he might win over someone else.

At first he didn't like what he heard.

So Emily decided to get tough and tell him to act like the young man he is.

Sensing no other option, he listened some more. And Emily was so impressed by whatever it was he gurgled next that she decided to point Jamie in the direction of her fellow baby Geordie lass, named Eva.

Thankfully Eva proved to be a much more willing proposition and soon wanted to take him to meet her Mam.

A suggestion Jamie was very open to - even excited about.

This all happened on Friday night. And, after dinner on Saturday, he sealed the deal.

Sadly Eva was due to leave just a few hours later and Jamie was forced into a tearful goodbye.

However, as his experiences with Emily had taught him, the only way to deal with heartache is to get back on that horse.

So, on Sunday evening, he ran into Jenna...

...who left on Monday.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Back in that Yorkshire

Yes, after seven very memorable days, we've just arrived back in a grey and windy Pudsey - but with smiles upon our faces.

It is obviously never easy to come back from holiday but the task is not as daunting when you've had a good time.

Jamie certainly seemed to have a ball and, like any parents, if your son is happy (and not breaking things) then mum and dad feel good about matters too.

I've got work in the morning so, between now and then, the plan is to pick up a Chinese (our first since the food poisoning incident but I'm going somewhere else) and try to avoid unpacking (until at least October on my part). And I might go to bed at some point too.

Then tomorrow night I'll tell and show you what happened when Jamie found love.

But before I dash, I'll leave you with a photo of undoubtedly the most surreal moment of the trip.

Suggested captions are welcome.

Monday, 21 September 2009

There´s one everywhere you go

Just over a day to go now on the Whites´first foreign holiday - just as we were getting settled into it.

And I have to say, Jamie has been something of a revelation. He´s only been walking a relatively short while and still hasn´t quite perfected the art. But we´ve let him off the leash a lot on this trip and his response has at times been absolutely hilarious.

To cut to the quick, he´s essentially become a social prostitute - I can´t think of a better way to put it.

He´s run up to almost everybody he sees - generally falling over en route - to say "hiya," to smile, to shout, to show them his toy car or, in the case of a little Geordie girl called Eva, for a kiss. Because, yes, he´s has had his first holiday romance. I´ll say no more about that now as you really need to see the pictures and I can´t upload them from here but, trust me, they are worth waiting a couple of days for.

However, my absolute favourite moment of the jaunt thus far was on Saturday evening when he met what I can only describe as "Spanish Jamie."

A little boy was being carried down the main street past all the restaurants where everyone was having dinner. Jamie had finished his and, as has been his wont, was running around entertaining himself and as many others as he could manage (the people here have been very good).

He spotted this aforementioned mini-amigo looking over his mum´s shoulder and began to shout at him. Jamie wasn´t coming out with words of any particular description, just sounds. And then the little Spanish boy reacted, shouting loudly back at him in his own tongue.

So Jamie took off down the street, arms in the air, bellowing at his new foreign chum - who bellowed back just as loudly at our boy. The whole thing went on for about a minute, the Spanish boy continuing to be on the move and Jamie continuing to run after him like Freddie Flintoff appealing for a catch. Diners from both sides of the street stopped what they were doing to watch the show unfold. And I had tears in my eyes because I was laughing so much.

In the end Vanessa had to go after him as I couldn´t physically move.

It reminded me of an episode of Rab C Nesbitt when Rab went to Spain and stumbled across his Spanish counterpart. If you haven´t seen it or even if you have and want to see it again, click on to this link and start watching at two minutes 30 seconds: It still cracks me up.

We´ve spent this morning out and about on bikes - Jamie riding on a seat on the back of my two-wheeled version of a jalopy. There will be more of that this afternoon, a last supper tonight and the packing for home starts in the morning.

Delays permitting I´ll try to put some pics up on our arrival home tomorrow night.

But as for now, we´re off to make the best of what´s left (including two bottles of wine and five beers).

Saturday, 19 September 2009

He wuz McRobbed

Well, I can´t say I´m not disappointed.

Sadly and despite the support of many loyal readers of this rubbish and more than 30 votes from his father who cheated, Jamie failed to make the top 100 in The Sun´s bonny baby competition.

The finalists have just been posted online and, after scrolling through the pictures twice (just in case), I´m sorry to confirm that our little man´s mug is absent.

I must admit I was preparing for the worst - I am a White after all. But you really should see some of the mingdogs who made it through. I´m naming no names but one male contestant has a head like a Weetabix. Another is even fatter than Jamie himself - imagine that.

Rather less surprising is the high proportion of Scottish children in the final. This is the country which, through sheer blinkered prejudice and the lack of anything better to do, secured victory for Leon Jackson on The X Factor and Michelle McManus on Pop Idol. I´m afraid both those jokes turned out to be on you, my Jocko friends! (Sorry, I´ve got plenty of Scottish mates so no offence intended - unless you voted for Baby Hamish McSporran from Inverness, or whatever his ****ing name was!)

Anyway, there we are.

I´ll bring you up to date on our holiday next time. But first, I´d better go and give Jamie the bad news.

NB: Q - Why was Jesus not born in Scotland?
A - Because God couldn´t find three wise man and a virgin.

Not that I´m bitter.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Fun, rain and pain in Spain

Vanessa and I are going to need a holiday after

The two of us are fortunate to have been on several beach-type holidays over the years. And we´ve often wondered how hard it would be with a young child in tow. Well, a young child is one thing but a young Jamie is quite another - and it´s very, very hard.

For example, I brought two books with me to last the seven days. And how far have I got? I´ve read precisely half a page (and not much even happened in those three paragraphs, which was particularly disappointing).

Don´t get me wrong, our boy´s been good - when he´s not been teething, that is. For, yes, more little pearlers are on their way and this time they include some of the big jobs at the back. We didn´t get him down until past midnight last night, more than five hours after his bedtime. Thankfully, he´s a lot brighter today so we - and he - have got to be happy about that.

He was well-behaved on the flight too, largely thanks to the two big Northern blokes behind us who were only too happy to give him high fives whenever he chose. But, save for 40 minutes of sleep, he didn´t stay motionless for more than three seconds at a time (as Vanessa and I took it in turns to have him on our knees).

At the beach and in the cafes, he´s spent all his "free time" (i.e. when he´s not tied to his pram or a high chair) running around and flirting with what appears to be the cast of Cocoon (there are a lot of very "mature" people staying/preparing to die here).

On other matters, we landed in the middle of a lightning storm which was accompanied by the first rain Murcia has had since March (the Whites are in town so it was kind off inevitable) and, boy, did it chuck it down.

We had a lot of wind on Wednesday and Thursday too and the beach pretty much cleared en masse yesterday afternoon when the sand began to whip up.

Our "baby-equipped" apartment is excellent, but for the fact that, on arrival, it wasn´t baby-equipped - I would´ve thought a travel cot and a highchair would be key to the description (especially since we ordered both in advance) and we had neither. However, the cot arrived on day two and the highchair appeared about an hour ago. Better very late than not at all though.

Oh, and I fell off a swing this morning. At least I can now say from personal experience that that foam stuff they put down these days to prevent injuries works, even when you´re a daddy. (Jamie cried rather than laughed whenever it happened, which I was quite touched about. There again, I was holding him at the time).

They have an Irish bar here (there´s a shock), its two Euros a pint, the weather´s looking good now and I don´t have work on Monday (or Tuesday), so things are looking up (a bit like me as I lay on the ground, staring at the sky after falling off my swing).

PS A prize to anyone who spotted the "deliberate" mistake in my last post i.e. Spain is only one hour ahead of UK time and not two as I said. I blame Vanessa as it was her fault).

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

The rain in Spain will land mainly on the Whites

The passports are packed, so is the baby (I think) and we're almost ready for our flight into the unknown. (Well, Murcia, but you know what I mean).

A week on sun loungers is exactly what Vanessa and I need at this moment in time. But there are two problems of significance. First, the forecast for where we're going is poor, at least initially. And second, I'm not sure Jamie is really up for lying on his back for seven days.

However, on the plus side, there is the huge bonus of the two-hour time difference. For example, our man's 7.15-ish bedtime suddenly becomes 9.15-ish - giving us some scope to go out for leisurely dinners. And his normal 5 o'clock in the morning waking up time here translates into 7 o'clock in Spain, which is almost civil. (There's a bound to be a line in there about the Spanish Civil War, but I'll refrain). Still, I'm sure it will not work out quite like that.

We're due back next Tuesday evening. But if the weather is half as bad as we're led to believe, I may try to track down an Internet cafe to let you know how we're getting on.

Now then, one more time: "Dos cervezas, por favor." And there was me thinking my GCSE Spanish was a complete waste of time.

PS Jamie has asked me to remind you that online voting in The Sun's bonny baby competition closes at midday tomorrow (Wednesday). Click on to follow the instructions if you want to give him your support. He'll find out if you don't.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Barnaby set to be bumped

Meet Barnaby Bear.

Barnaby is the resident bear at the Little People Nursery in Stanningley which Jamie attends. He is also a very privileged bear in that he gets to go on holiday with all of Jamie's nursery friends - and Jamie - according to the house rules.

But I fear Barnaby Bear is in for something of a disappointment tomorrow lunchtime. Vanessa and I are taking our boy on his first foreign holiday when we go for a cheapie week in Spain. It'll also be Jamie's first time on a plane so, obviously, we're all very excited (if also a little apprehensive about how White Junior will cope with being cooped up for two-plus hours, but anyway). And Barnaby Bear is, apparently, very excited too.

He came home with Jamie from nursery tonight all set for his latest trip. And then I arrived in from work.

Now, perhaps I'm being a little harsh and maybe even a touch snooty but, in my lowly view, Barnaby Bear is a bit shit (and he may even have some stuck to his fur).

Have a look. He's got paint stains on both cheeks. He's not as sky blue as he once was. And, crucially, he's almost certainly carrying every germ every child has ever brought into the Little People Nursery. Indeed, I'm sure I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of kids in there who haven't sneezed on him - or worse.

I've promised to sleep on the matter and we can talk about it again in the morning. But, as it stands, I think Barnaby Bear will be spending a quiet seven days in sunny...Pudsey. Probably in our garden.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Weekend winds down

Coldplay were typically excellent in Manchester last night although, to be a little harsh, neither Vanessa nor I enjoyed it quite as much as when we saw them back in December at the Sheffield Arena.

But this wasn't so surprising. The first gig was at the start of their "Viva La Vida" world tour and, after 150-odd dates since, they could be excused for being a little less vibrant. Also, last night was an outdoor gig in front of 55,000 people as opposed to I think 12,500 nine months ago, so clearly it wasn't as intimate.

  1. We were standing up and are quite middle-aged now
  2. We were stone cold sober (did I mention Friday night?)
  3. They didn't play Speed of Sound
  4. U2 were unbelievable a few weeks ago

Still, we were very lucky to be there at all and remain huge fans.

The kindness of Wee John and Karen, in coming up from Cardiff to babysit, was the only reason we were able to go at all and we're obviously extremely grateful to them for that.

Jamie was, according to them, as good as gold last night which was a relief (not to mention a surprise). We all had lunch together today before John and Karen departed (late, thanks to some very well thought out roadworks in Leeds).

White Junior particularly enjoyed his kiddie meal - his second lunch of the day - having had his "normal" lunch before leaving the house. And he had lots of fussy women around him too.

Almost the perfect experience for our boy, although also very tiring.

Most importantly of all, neither Karen nor Wee John mentioned "the toilet incident" at any point today. I reckon they've already forgotten about what happened and I'll never hear of it again. And if you believe that, you'll believe absolutely anything. Anything at all.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Babysitters? Check!

Miraculously, everyone arrived on time last night (Wee John and Karen were actually early) and all went swimmingly. Too swimmingly. Indeed, you could have managed a decent backstroke in the amount of alcohol we drunk.

But we soldier on and, in a few hours from now, Vanessa and I will head to Manchester to see Coldplay in concert. Can't wait.

Meanwhile, Jamie is having a whale of a time. John and Karen have already showered him with gifts and attention - although the food on their plates is, as always, of greatest interest to him - and tonight they will undoubtedly have their hands full on the babysitting front. Still, they did volunteer (ho! ho!)

UPDATE 1602: Oh dear. Prior to last night, I'd only met Karen once - whilst we were in Cardiff for the cricket. It was therefore something of an embarrassment when, over lunch today, she let slip - well, John announced gleefully - that she'd seen me at around 3 o'clock this morning during an aborted visit to the loo.

I was asleep. On the loo. With my trousers around my ankles.

Are second impressions more important than first impressions? (assuming her first impression of me was reasonably positive). I can only hope not. Equally, I can also only hope that, one day, I will live this down. But, as it stands, that seems unlikely.

Friday, 11 September 2009

The weekend starts here(ish)

Crowns, according to my dentist, are supposed to last a minimum of 10 years. It was therefore with some regret that my new left front crown, “installed” less than two weeks ago, began to come loose on the train journey home from that appointment. I’m heading into Leeds again shortly to get a lick more cement on it. Hopefully it will last at least a few hours rather than minutes this time.

After that particular job is done, I am due to meet Wee John and his new lady Karen – we like Karen – at Leeds train station to begin a weekend of varied entertainments. A visit to the pub is first on the agenda.

Vanessa and I booked tickets some time ago for a little outdoor event in Manchester tomorrow night and believed we were well covered on the babysitting front. Sadly, we weren’t and John and Karen have very kindly agreed to come up from Cardiff (yes, the Welsh one, more than 200 miles away) to help us out.

Meanwhile, later tonight, John’s fellow Godparent Vicky is equally kindly popping in with her friend to look after Jamie for a couple of hours whilst Vanessa, John, Karen and me nip round the corner for some food.

The ultimate success of this evening depends largely on:

1 John and Karen’s train being on time and
2 Vicky’s friend’s train being on time

So it’s bound to be a disaster.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

VOTE FOR ME!!! (please)

After many weeks of growing tension, excitement and anticipation, online voting for this year's Sunbeams bonny baby competition has finally opened.

Promoted by everyone's favourite family newspaper The Sun (what?!), more than 30,000 eager kiddies have submitted their pics (kids are very good with cameras and stuff these days) and that number now has to be whittled down to a mere 100 by the great British public.

I've spent considerable time deciding where my vote will go and, after much soul-searching, have chosen to support the claims of a young man from Pudsey, West Yorkshire by the name of Jamie White.

Should you wish to join me in recognising the fact that big babies are people too, then you can by following these instructions:
  • Click on to

  • Type Jamie White into the box and press search

  • Click on to the picture of the large, smiley child that appears in the top left hand corner

  • Scroll down to the red box which reads VOTE FOR JAMIE WHITE

  • Click on to it

  • Pat yourself on the back

  • Get back to work
Voting closes at midday next Wednesday (16 September), so you haven't got long.

Between now and then, Jamie and I would encourage you - to use that famous Ulster phrase - to "vote early and vote often" (particularly if you know how to delete cookies on your PC).

Needless to say I will remind you about this again before next week. And then I'll let you know how he gets on.

I reckon, with a bit of luck and some help from Simon Cowell, he could become the new SuBo.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Guess who's back

I've been snarling and gnashing my teeth a little over the past few mornings after pretty much all the major children's telly channels decided to rejig their schedules to coincide with the kids' return to school. A terrible business.

Although this morning proved to be a welcome exception, Jamie still tends to wake at around 5.30 and neither his mother nor I generally feel like rising at that time. The well-rehearsed drill then normally involves one of us giving him his milk, trying to persuade him to go back down before surrendering on the stroke of 6 and sticking him in his playpen in front of the TV.

First up is - or was - Tikkabilla, followed by Teletubbies at 6.30, Peppa Pig at 7, Bert and Ernie at 7.15, Roary The Racing Car at 7.30 and Numberjacks at 7.45. It's then time for him to have breakfast or go to nursery or whatever. Sadly, most of the shows are now on at new times (thankfully Roary is unmoved) although the Teletubbies appear to have been pensioned off with immediate effect (even Terry Wogan was given three months to clear his desk and prepare for obscurity).

However, in the midst of the upheaval, there has been one very positive change - Postman Pat has been given a new 7.45 slot on CBeebies. This is an excellent development on a number of levels. First, I like Postman Pat and could easily sit down and watch an entire series on my own with a pot of coffee and a box of Jaffa cakes. Second, rather helpfully, is that Jamie also seems to like it (although the presence of a duck in this morning's show may have given him something of a false impression). And third and perhaps most importantly of all, I know all the words to the theme tune.

Other than the National Anthem, I can only remember all the words to two songs, The Wild Rover and The Sash, neither of which are really appropriate for either polite company or young 'uns. But Postman Pat clearly is.

So, whilst I continue my personal crusade to discover if Abba were right and it really is possible for a baby to sing before he or she can talk, I can now belt out the Postman Pat theme song at least once each and every morning in the hope that Jamie eventually joins is.

There really are so many ways to put your time in when you're a parent .

Tuesday, 8 September 2009


Tonight that (genuinely) nice man Alistair Darling ignored pressure from that much less nice pair Gordon Brown and Ed Balls by conceding that money does not grow on trees - even under a Labour Government - and admitting that public spending will have to be cut significantly if our country is to pay back its colossal national debt this side of the next millennium.

Meanwhile, there has been an equally dramatic cut in the White household. Yes, the moment finally arrived. Jamie has had his first haircut.

With Vanessa in charge of the scissors, he was caught unawares during a pre-bedtime episode of Peppa Pig. She only got about an inch off the back, but it is a smart job and he now looks like a boy from all angles rather than just most angles.

It is merely the first effort and there are a number of other parts of his head - the front and both sides immediately spring to mind - which still need to be attacked.

But, unlike Brown and Balls, at least we were prepared to acknowledge there was a problem, before having the courage to begin doing something about it. So there.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Talking to Terry

I began writing this blog for a number of reasons, most of which are not immediately apparent (given that it is rubbish).

However, one clear intention was to chart Jamie's first little period on Earth including, where appropriate, occasional references to events of the day.

We do live in interesting times, as the saying goes. But, despite goings on in Afghanistan and Libya and all sorts of other places at the moment, there can only be one story on this particular date. I speak, of course, of Sir Terry Wogan's decision to give up his Radio 2 breakfast show (it's big news for me, alright?!)

He began in 1972, the year I was born. And, save for an 11-year gap to present his TV chat show, has been there ever since.

I spent my infant years believing that Terry lived in our radiogram (which looked very much like the one on the right). And when he told me to shut up and eat my "Wheetiebangs," I always obeyed.

I had the great pleasure of spending almost half an hour in his company about 10 years ago whilst attending a BBC reception in Westminster. Celebrities, of course, fall into several categories when you meet them, including a rather large one entitled "big disappointment" (that's as polite as I can put it). But thankfully, he was everything you would want him to be: charming, funny and kindly. However, there was one brief moment when his demeanour - and choice of language - went downhill, and it will always remain my personal memory of him.

I had brought a piece of white card with me in the hope that I'd get to meet him and he'd give me an autograph for my mother. So, towards the end of our conversation, I decided to pounce. "No problem," he said, and signed with a minimum of fuss.

But then I pushed my luck. Prior to the reception, I asked my mum if she had any message for him - and she did. Well, it was more of a question. And here was how I put it to the great man.

"Terry," I began, "my mother sent you a letter with a request for a song for my sister's sixth birthday. That was 27 years ago but, as of this morning, you still hadn't played it. What will I tell my mum?"

Mr W (as he still was) suddenly looked a little agitated and, after about a second, shot back with this immortal line.

"Tell her to f*** off!"

He then explained a little heatedly that he didn't do requests and, even if he did, he couldn't play them all anyway - which was why he didn't do them. Fair point. And then, quite frankly, he seemed bored with me (goodness knows why it took him so long) and started talking to someone more interesting.

But, you know, I'm not one for bearing grudges.

Terry Wogan is a legend and will always be a legend.

I look forward to telling Jamie all about him in the years ahead.