Sunday, 28 February 2010

Shopping's not for everyone

I took Jamie with me to our local Marks & Spencer yesterday morning whilst I picked up something for tea.

I'm not sure why I say this, but I kind of got the impression he was a little bored.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Something you don't see every day


A couple of years ago, there was a bit of kerfuffle surrounding the local elections in Bradford which ultimately led to the trial of an independent candidate who had stood in the Manningham ward.

The case came to court last spring and its outcome was reported on the front page of the Bradford Telegraph & Argus under the headline:

"A PARANOID, DISTURBED, CRAZED AND VIOLENT OLD MAN."

The story read as follows:

A senior judge has branded an 83-year-old Bradford man who attempted to overturn the election result in Manningham a “persistent minor public irritant” who shouted “anything, however offensive, insulting, threatening, racist, homophobic, sexist, or downright barmy”.

Richard Mawrey QC told Norman Scarth
(pictured above), a candidate in May’s local election for his own Anti-Crime Party, he was a “crazed old man” who subjected voters as well as primary school children and their parents to “manic abuse” on the day of the election in May last year.

Mr Scarth had persisted with an election petition to the High Court in a bid to declare the results void after polling just 66 votes, while the winning candidate, Councillor Mohammad Amin, gained 2,319.

A special court session was held at Bradford’s City Hall and on the morning of the second day, election Judge Mawrey dismissed the petition describing it as “wholly misconceived”.

Mr Scarth left the chamber mid-judgment declaring the judge a “liar”.

The legal costs, which Mr Scarth must now pay, are expected to run into thousands of pounds, and Mr Scarth himself admitted it was likely to bankrupt him.

Judge Mawrey described Mr Scarth as a man convinced he was the victim of a conspiracy, which was tested further upon conviction of wounding in 2001 and served four years in prison, followed by two years in a psychiatric hospital.

He said: “In Mr Scarth’s universe he is the noble fighter for justice and the rule of law who, despite appalling levels of official persecution, has refused to be silenced and continues the struggle, bloody but unbowed.

“In the real world, inhabited by the rest of us, Mr Scarth is a disturbed, clearly paranoid and occasionally violent old man who is a persistent minor public irritant.”

Mr Scarth’s version of events was dismissed by the judge, who chose to believe evidence from a number of witnesses, including three police officers and Green Lane Primary School head teacher Kevin Holland instead.

The police were called to the school after complaints that Mr Scarth was causing a disturbance as he attempted to campaign outside the polling station using a loudhailer. He shouted abuse at Mr Holland when he tried to move Mr Scarth on and more insults were flung at the police as they tried to arrest him for a breach of the peace.

His petition claimed he was unlawfully arrested and that he was again intimidated and threatened with arrest on the day of the count.

Judge Mawrey concluded: “Far from being the victim of a governmental conspiracy to silence him and to prevent his election as a councillor by wrongfully arresting him and detaining him on polling day, he has been shown to be a sordid public nuisance whose disgraceful and demeaning behaviour in the public streets of Bradford on May 1, 2008 inevitably led to his arrest for a short period of detention.

“In my judgement he was very fortunate not to be charged with public order offences which shows that the officers concerned, far from being the sinister Gestapo of Mr Scarth’s imagination acting on the orders of central government, with good Yorkshire common sense and humanity displayed considerable tolerance of Mr Scarth’s disreputable antics and let him go without charge once his potential for disrupting the election had passed.

“In my judgement West Yorkshire police were not, as Mr Scarth believes, attempting to subvert democracy in the interest of a police state but were upholding democracy in trying to ensure that citizens of Bradford exercising their lawful right to vote were not subjected to manic abuse by a crazed old man.”

Clearly, Mr Scarth's day in court could have gone better for him and, as such, you could be forgiven for thinking he might decide to put it behind him.

What you would perhaps not have expected him to do was have a copy of the Telegraph & Argus front page laminated and mounted on his trolley dolly.

But that was exactly what he did, and this was the bizarre sight that awaited me when I went to catch my train home from Bradford Interchange on Thursday evening.

I can't comment on the "violent," but "paranoid, disturbed and crazed?"

Yep, I reckon Judge Mawrey got that one just about right.

Friday, 26 February 2010

A wee pint and a game of darts

At the risk of building up my part, I'm now going to wait until tomorrow before telling you about the bizarre sight I stumbled across last night (not that I obviously expect you to care that much).

The reason is I have to do a little research about my subject first and haven't enough time between now and the kick-off of Wales v France in the Six Nations. And I'm certainly not doing it after the match as I intend to calm my in-game nerves with a few Guinnei (plural of Guinness and, yes, I have just made that up) and might write something I regret.

But before I go - and remaining on the subject of strong drink - I was in stitches watching the darts from Belfast on Sky last night, principally because of some of the signs being held up by the rowdy but happy locals.

Personal favourites included:
  • (Referring to Dutch legend Raymond van Barneveld) "BARNEY LOVES WEE ULSTER"

  • "FINE! YOURSELF?"

  • And the best one (which included an arrow pointing at another man standing beside the sign) "BIG SPENCE IS ON THE DLA."

Norn Iron humour at its unique best and it made me very proud.

I've since read a Belfast Telegraph report of the frivolities which revealed that, "around 35,000 pints of beer were consumed by the crowd during the raucous three-hour tournament."

Given that there were only 7,500 people in the room, that really is some kind of drinking.

And, whilst it might not reflect well on me, I now feel even prouder.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

On hold


Vanessa's out tonight so, after getting Jamie down and before my man steak, monster bottle of wine and Premier League Darts live from Belfast on Sky Sports 1, I was planning to tell you about a particularly bizarre sight I encountered on the way home from work tonight.

But there's been a change of plan.

Its is now 9.28pm and I've just got Jamie off to sleep - after two hours of trying.

Up the upside, it's nice to know he wants to stay up to have fun with me.

On the downside, I hate him.

The upshot of this unexpected turn of events is that my man steak is still in the fridge, my monster bottle of wine is still on the rack and the darts is on live pause.

And as much as I want to tell you about the bizarre sight, I am not prepared to wait any longer for my man pleasures. Indeed, I don't think you'd respect me if I was and, quite frankly, I think I'd lose all respect for myself.

So please come back tomorrow.

PS The sight is really bizarre, trust me.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Another sickly adventure

Another draining but educational 24 hours on the good ship Fatherhood.

When we last "spoke," I mentioned Jamie had been sick on me. However, that little incident has since proven to be a mere hors d'oeuvre.

Because he's barfed on me twice more since then. And I don't just mean little smears on my shoulder, I mean proper BARF!!!(s). Great fun in the wee small hours, I'm sure you appreciate.

He obviously has a bug and, when you have a bug, the advice you're always given is to drink as much as you can get down you. (Coincidentally, I adopt a similar approach myself most weekends, even when I'm well).

But the problem for Jamie is that he's been unable to keep the fluids down - even water.

He was sick a total of five times during the course of last night and, by the time he regurgitated his latest cup of water, Vanessa and I were getting more than a little concerned.

Vanessa contacted NHS Direct just after 7am, phoned the doctor at 8 - she makes all the calls in our house, on account of my "silly" accent - and, by 10.30, Jamie and I were sitting in the waiting room waiting to be seen.

The doctor poked him a bit, he complained a bit, she prescribed some Dioralyte to tackle the dehydration and home we went.

And, having not been able to keep food down since Monday, he suddenly decided he wanted a banana.

The doctor had advised me to keep offering him food and drink, even if they kept reappearing all over my jumper, because he was likely to absorb at least something into his body. So a banana it was.

And, against the odds, he managed to keep it down, together with a few fluid ounces of Dioralyte and two yogurts. Oh, and two chocolate digestives.

The spiral since then has been very definitely upward and hopefully within the next two or three days, he'll be back to his shouty worst... er, best.

Between now and the weekend, I think it might be quite important for Vanessa and I to get some sleep - assuming he decides to have some too.

But can someone please tell me: when does the easy part of being a parent start? It must be sometime soon.

Mustn't it?

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

It’s enough to make you swear

Sorry for getting all serious and political on you last night, but I just don’t like it when people push other people around – even when Jamie does it at nursery.

On a much lighter note, you’ll be delighted to know that, shortly after I wrote that post, Jamie was sick all over on me.

But it gets worse.

Not sure what to do next, I called for urgent assistance from Vanessa, who burst into the spare room to be greeted by the sight of me covered from neck to waist in vomit whilst holding my son out at arms length in front of me.

Jamie took one look at her, another look at me and a little smile broke out across his face.

And then he uttered two words I’ll not forget, ever:

“Oh shit.”

I was absolutely mortified. I mean, how could he say such a thing? Had I taught him nothing?

Because I was covered, not in shit, but in sick. And, whilst the two words might sound similar to the inexperienced ear, they really are two completely different substances.

He really will have to learn.

And I really will have to stop swearing in front of him.

Monday, 22 February 2010

A bit of Brown stuff


I'm a little grumpy tonight.

Jamie hasn't slept beyond 5am for the past three mornings and then today, he's barfed three times and left things in his nappies I never knew existed.

And talking of brown stuff, I see our beloved Prime Minister's heavy squad are up to their old tricks once again.

Having worked in Westminster for six years of the reign of the current Labour Government, I am as aware as anyone else of the stories of Gordon Brown, his temper and his attack dogs.

So I had no problem whatsoever believing the series of articles in yesterday's Observer - which I read from start to finish - detailing what a thoroughly unpleasant man he can be when riled.

And then last night, this Pratt woman from the National Bullying Helpline appeared with her tales of being contacted by Downing Street staff claiming to be victims of bullying in Number 10.

I don't know whether Mrs Pratt is credible or not and I certainly don't think she was right to go public with her claims.

But as soon as she did, it was obvious what Brown's loyal lieutenants would do next - bully the messenger.

The process began almost immediately with malicious briefings against her to political journalists.

And then today, Peter Mandelson - one of the most infamous confirmed liars in British political history - got stuck into her, followed by John "Two Jabs, One Tracey" Prescott.

Goodness knows where Alastair Campbell and Ed Balls were, both of whom normally revel in pouring mud over the heads of those who get in the way of their master. Maybe one or both will pop up on Newsnight tonight.

I have a lot of very good friends in the Labour Party and many of them, I believe, will be appalled by this coordinated firestorm which has rained down both on Andrew Rawnsley, the well-respected author of the original allegations in the Observer, and then Christine Pratt who clearly didn't know what she was letting herself in for when she dared take on the Brown Mafia.

But the efforts of these thugs clearly bring great shame on the individuals involved and, in many ways, do little for the reputation of British politics in general, which could barely sink any lower than at present.

And for this reason (although there are plenty of others), I hope they get their comeuppance when Brown is finally forced to go to the polls a few weeks from now.

Thanks for letting me get that out - I feel better already.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Three up, two down

Despite the weather forecasters getting it wrong yet again, Pudsey woke this morning to a thickening blanket of snow.

And there was only thing to do: get the sledge out for its inaugural run.

The journey to the park was more tiring for some than it was for others.

video

But it was all down hill once we got there.

video

So snow, thanks for the memories. Now please go away.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

No fare

I got chucked out of a taxi last night.

I had been at Headingley watching Leeds Rhinos play Salford City Reds in the rugby Super League.

My mate Daniel (below centre) even managed to sort out corporate hospitality for us (I had to wear proper trousers and everything) where we met Victoria and Ben.

And after the game, we hooked up with my long-time friend Jonathan, a die-hard Rhinos fan who, despite living in London, never fails to make it back to his native Leeds when his heroes are in action. (Amongst Jonathan's many claims to fame is the curious fact that Big Daddy was his babysitter).

So a good night all round. So good, in fact, that I missed the last bus and had to get a taxi home. Or so I thought.

Unfortunately, my driver seemed not to know any streets in Leeds - a definite weakness if you're a Leeds taxi driver, in my view.

So he asked me how I thought he should get to my house. However, as anyone who knows me is very well aware, I have the worst sense of direction in the Western world and couldn't really help.

Mr Taxi Man was therefore reduced to driving around aimlessly, whilst the bill continued to climb.

I suggested to him that if I had wanted to go on a high-priced midnight mystery tour, I would have booked one.

He responded by stopping the car and inviting me to disembark.

I followed-up with what I thought was a constructive suggestion on where he might wish to park his steering wheel for the rest of the evening, before getting out and seeing him off with a cheery wave.

Three miles and three-quarters of an hour later I was home - goodness knows how I managed to do that.

But anyway, that was my Friday night. I hope yours was equally fun.

Friday, 19 February 2010

This might tickle you

I stumbled across an article in this morning's Daily Telegraph which I thought might brighten up your day.

Only in Yorkshire? As a proud Ulsterman, it's not really for me to say.

*****

Tickle Cock Bridge returned to original name after row

A Victorian landmark has been recognised by its traditional risqué name after locals were offended by a council’s politically correct alternative.

The railway underpass
(pictured above) has been known as Tickle Cock bridge to generations of courting couples in Castleford, West Yorkshire.

But it proved a source of embarrassment for civic leaders before a regeneration scheme which was filmed as part of a Channel 4 television series.

In an attempt to spare blushes, a council official suggested it was called Tittle Cott bridge and a plaque bearing the sanitised name was erected.

Castleford Area Voice for the Elderly, an over 50s group in the town, took exception to the re-writing of history and went into battle.

It has now won its fight with Wakefield District Council installing a replacement plaque bearing the words Tickle Cock.

Margaret Shillito, the group’s chairman, said: “The old plaque was wrong, it had the wrong name on and we were offended by it.

“It was important to keep the name rather than having a new one just because someone decided it sounded a bit better.

“Tickle Cock is how the bridge has been known for generations. We love the name, it has got character and history. We don't want a name there for posterity that is wrong.”

The town centre underpass’s name is thought to date back to the late 19th or early 20th century and refer to a “monkey run” where boys and girls do their courting.

Feelings over the re-naming ran so high that a public meeting was organised and a large majority came out in favour of reverting to the original name.

Brian Lewis, a local author, said: “I feel we should never alter names and Tickle Cock has a very clear message behind it.

“I was horrified at another example of the nanny state telling us something we don’t want to do.”

Denise Jeffery, a local councillor, unveiled the replacement plaque to the delight of the campaigners.

She said: “Some people do call it Tickle Cock and some don't but residents have pressured us to put this plaque back top how they felt it should be and we've done that.

“It's not a big deal. I think some people thought Tittle Cott sounded better, a council officer at the time heard that name and wrote it up as such.”

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Pancake Wednesday

We Whites made our pancakes a day late this year - last night, to be precise - because, well, we couldn't be bothered on Tuesday.

Unfortunately, I wasn't totally satisfied with how things went.

I dolloped the £1-from-Asda mix in the frying pan with a very high degree of skill. So definitely a good start.

And then I burnt them.

But, you know, the proof of the pancake is in the eating, as someone somewhere is bound to have said (and if not, I just have).

And Jamie seemed happy enough with his fayre (although he would eat absolutely anything).

Maybe next year they'll be better still - and we might even have them on the right day.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

I'm gonna fight...fight...fight for this love...

I know you should never be competitive with your other half for the love of your son but, bugger that, I am!

I had been proudly/smuggly "ahead" in my mind over recent months after Jamie started to talk and say "Daddy" a lot. Marvellous.

And it certainly irritated Vanessa. Even better.

But, in the last 10 days or so, the reason why he said "Daddy" and basically never said "Mummy" became apparent - he couldn't actually say "Mummy."

However, he's now spectacularly over that hurdle, it's "Mummy" pretty much all the way and I barely get a look in.

There are one or two exceptions, such as at 6.10 this morning when he woke up and wanted collecting. He bellowed "Daddy!" for a handful of minutes until I could be arsed to get out of bed and drag him out of his cot.

But as soon as he was safely in my arms, the record promptly changed to "MUMMY!"

Quite frankly, I felt used.

But the battle goes on - and it might get dirty.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Snot responsible behaviour

I'm so embarrassed.

I dropped Jamie off at nursery about 20 minutes ago and, just a few yards from the front door of our destination, Jamie sneezed.

Without thinking, I did what all parents instinctively do when their kid sneezes - I checked his face for snot. Thankfully, we had an all-clear.

But just as I was physically pushing the door open, he did it again. And this time we were not so lucky.

He looked like he'd been caught in the cross-fire of a slime fight.

I held the door open with my knee whilst trying to pull a tissue out of my trouser pocket.

But there was no tissue.

I had committed the cardinal schoolboy error when your sprog has a cold - I forgot to tissue-up.

So what to do?

Parents and staff were coming in and out and I was going to look like a smeggy parent (plus Jamie wasn't exactly looking at his best either).

I quickly pulled his hood up to cover his face and bolted through the door towards a dark corner near the stairs.

I then wiped his face as best I could with my bare hand, and got rid of most of the snot.

The only problem was, I now had a one white hand and one green one.

I would normally have wiped it on my own clothes (self-sacrifice has become a new aspect of my character over the last year and a half) but I'm off to work in a minute and am wearing a suit. And I couldn't wipe it on my son - that would just be wrong.

And whatever I did decide to do, I had to do it soon because I could hear more parents coming up the drive.

So, in the end, there was only one option open to me.

I wiped it on the carpet - before stripping his coat off, dumping him in "Toddler Two" and making a break for freedom.

Please don't tell anyone.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Bloody lobster doesn’t rock


Red is obviously the colour everyone associates with Valentine’s Day. So it was strangely fitting that, yesterday, I bled all over a lobster.

It was my own fault, really. I was trying to be posh and it just didn’t work.

Like last year (I tend not to be very original), I offered to make Vanessa a flash meal and, for 2010, chose lobster and venison as my weapons of choice.

I actually bought the lobsters from Asda weeks ago when they had an offer on (yes, every expense spared). But it was only yesterday that I realised I had absolutely no idea how to open them to get the meat for my lobster and noodle surprise. And when I downloaded some pictures from t’Internet to show me how to do it, I quickly realised that you’re supposed to use a nutcracker - and we don’t have one.

I therefore had little option but to improvise by way of the butt of a kitchen knife and my hands – and promptly lacerated my right thumb in two places. (You’ll be impressed / relieved to learn that, being an old-fashioned gent, I did wash my blood off the few bits of fish I managed to dig out before feeding them to the wife).

So I’ll not be buying lobster again.

And neither shall I be purchasing any more venison.

Why? Because it just tastes like liver. Maybe it was my untrained palate or, just possibly, it was because I overcooked it. But I wasn’t impressed. So no more deer for me, dear.

I hope your Valentine’s Day activities were more successful than mine.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Speaking truth to a liar

It's Valentine's Day and, ever the romantic, I've just been for a nine-mile run and am currently sitting here dripping in sweat and smelling like an old sack. Sometimes I think Vanessa truly is the luckiest woman in the world.

Before I go for a scrub, some food and another scrub, a quick jogging-related tale from an individual I don't normally have a lot of time for - Tony Blair's former spin-weasel Alastair Campbell. He told it at a conference I worked with him at a few years ago and, to be fair, it made me laugh.

As you'll know, Mr Campbell - who specialises in making situations and people seem something very different from the reality - has a bit of an image problem himself.

Amongst the negative impacts of his unpopularity is that he occasionally finds himself on the receiving end of abuse from (perceptive) members of the great British public. And to illustrate, he relayed a story about one dark night when he was out for a jog on Hampstead Heath and stumbled across a man who was lying injured on the ground, having just been mugged.

Campbell, to his credit, stopped and asked the man if he was alright.

The individual, who was understandably in shock and more than a little dazed, said he was OK.

So Campbell, who lived nearby, offered to take him back to his house to get cleaned up, have some refreshment and call the police.

But suddenly, the man's expression changed.

"Hold on," he said, in a serious tone. "Aren't you that Alastair Campbell?"

"Yes, I am, yes. Look, are you going to come with me?" replied the spin-weasel.

The man sat up, looked Campbell straight in the eye and uttered the killer line:

"But I ****ing hate you!"

I loved that.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Twisted

Several people who read this blog have at times accused me of making my son look silly purely for reasons of self-amusement, to which I tend to reply, "PAH!!!!" (Or, translated into English, "please go and sit over there").

However, last night, Vanessa plunged depths much lower than any I have previously explored.

Because I'm sorry to confirm that the picture above is not deceptive; Vanessa is actually plaiting Jamie's hair.

I think it might just have been because she was a little bored, or perhaps she was still bitter at his brattish behaviour over recent days.

But, whatever the reason, the fact remains - Vanessa is actually plaiting Jamie's hair.

And this, of course, means war in the White household because I will not be outdone.

I must now think of something even worse to do to him.

PS Please be assured that she did take his plaits out before he went to bed. I think.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Torture Tot

You’ve probably read this week about the kerfuffle surrounding yer man Binyam Mohamed, the British terrorist suspect alleged to have been tortured by some nice Americans at Guantanamo Bay.

I’m not going to get into the details of his case here – except for one which is very close to home. Or, more precisely, happens in our home.

Because one of the forms of torture apparently used on this individual was, to quote the official document the British Government wanted to cover up, “continuous sleep deprivation.”

And this, of course, is the principal form of punishment Jamie has been practising on Vanessa and me for getting on to 20 months. (To illustrate, he was up at just after 5am today and refused to go back down).

I’ve done a little research and, in addition to the obvious negative effects such as yawning, headaches and irritability, other impacts of sleep deprivation include aching muscles, dizziness/nausea, hand tremors, increased blood pressure, increased risk for diabetes/fibromyalgia (whatever that is), memory loss, rapid involuntary rhythmic eye movement (my personal favourite) and obesity (i.e. another excuse for fatties to claim it’s not the pies).

Clearly none of these are good news and Vanessa and I would obviously like it if Jamie refrained from practising his evil brand of cruelty on us, particularly as my research has also revealed that it is in breach of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Should he choose not to do so, I fear I may have no option but to inform the United Nations itself with a request that the Security Council meets to pass a resolution threatening to use the traditional “all available means” to make him stop.

Should he choose not to do so, we could begin by cutting his chocolate rations and after that, well, air strikes would not be ruled out.

At least he couldn't claim he hadn't been warned.

PS A quick footnote for those of you who are still awake. Thai Ngoc, a Vietnamese gentleman born in 1942, claims the record for having gone the longest without sleep. In 2006, he said he had been awake for 33 years or a total of 11,700 nights. But I’ll bet he still doesn’t look any rougher than Judy Finnigan first thing in the morning.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

If you want something done…

I went to see my “self-service” doctor yesterday in an attempt to sort out the sinusitis problem which has been giving me headaches for the last few days.

I say “self-service” because she’s not very good – hence why it’s not difficult to get an appointment at short-notice – and, through experience, I’ve found the best way to get anything done is to use self-diagnosis and self-prescription. She certainly never examines you (or me, for that matter) and I genuinely doubt if she even owns a stethoscope.

To illustrate, yesterday’s visit went something like this.

Barry: “Good afternoon doctor, and how are you?”

Doctor: “I’m fine, and how are you?”

Barry: “Well doctor, I’ve got sinusitis. In fact, I’ve been to see you twice about this previously. I think a course of amoxicillin should do the trick – five days, not seven, as things normally begin to improve after about 36 hours. However, given that I have had this problem before, I think it might be sensible for you to refer me. I was actually referred by another GP 10 years ago when I lived in London, and was sent for surgery. But when I went along for the operation – I had my slippers and pyjamas and everything with me in my little bag – the consultant decided against it. I never found it why. So perhaps it’s time for someone else to have a look. Entirely up to you, of course, doctor.”

Doctor: “OK, here’s your prescription for a five-day course of amoxicillin. And, after retrieving the notes from your previous GP, I’ll refer you. You won’t have to come back here – you’ll just get a phone call.”

Barry: “Thank you doctor, much appreciated.”

Doctor: “Next!”

My mum always wanted me to be a doctor.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

I read with interest earlier today that the Ministry of Defence has been criticised by the RSPCA for using more than 100 pigs in explosive tests in Wiltshire.

And for all these years I've believed that pigs can't fly.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Pics in the Parcs

The headache I was banging on about yesterday (OW!) appears not to have been purely as a result of over-Guinnessing after all.

Because, for what feels like the millionth time in my life, I've developed a case/dose/bout (delete where applicable) of sinusitis. Not happy.

And the result is a headache now well into its second day.

But you know me (possibly), not one for complaining (ahem), so we march on - albeit briefly (did I mention I had a headache?)

Now then, where were we? Oh yes, the CenterParcs weekend just gone.

Well, Wee John bored me whilst watching the rugby...

...but later he and Vanessa beat Vicky and me at Question of Sport...

...her and her helped Jamie with his reading...

...Wee John did a wee bit of shopping with his wee shopping trolley...

...Jamie had a couple of early morning visitors...

...before trying out his new wee chair bought for him (predictably enough) by Wee John...

...then Auntie Vicky rightly reminded us it was actually someone else's weekend...

...so, having mistakenly left Vanessa's original cake in my wardrobe in Pudsey (which I was clearly delighted about), I managed to requisition another one...

... before finally, with Wee John's wee back turned, Jamie helped himself to an advance on his Godson pocket money from Wee John's wee wallet.

So, CenterParcs Sherwood Forest was indeed great and I hope it won't be another year before we return.

I also hope my headache will have gone by then.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Something wrong in the head

We've been back from CenterParcs about three hours now and my headache still won't go away.

The past four days have been terrific, so no surprise there.

However, there wasn't as much "sporting activity" involving Wee John and myself as originally envisaged.

In fact, other than me joining Vicky, Vanessa and Jamie on the water slides this morning, watching three rugby matches and three football matches on the Sports Cafe big screen, and playing three games of pool and two games of the Question of Sport board game were as "active" as either of us got.

And each element was accompanied by copious amounts of Guinness - hence the piercing headache.

Despite me leaving her cake in Pudsey, Vanessa's birthday seemed to work out well enough.

But I'll tell you more about that and everything else over the next couple of days, because I really do need to lie down.

"Holidays" - tch!

Friday, 5 February 2010

Off down the Forest

It's time for the Whites' Annual February Break! (not that we're sad creatures of habit or anything, of course not, hell no).

The long and the short of it is that it's Vanessa's birthday on Sunday - she turns 35, making her a whole five years older than Kelly Brook - and so we're making a long weekend of it.

In recent years, we've sat in a big wooden hut in North Yorkshire. But, for 2010, we're doing things a little differently - we're going to sit in a big wooden hut in Nottinghamshire instead.

Actually, it's a bit more exciting than it sounds (not that sitting in a random hut in Nottinghamshire would be in any way dull). Because we're off to CenterParcs in Sherwood Forest.

And yes, I am incredibly excited.

We've been to CentreParcs in the Lake District once previously, in 2004 BJ (Before Jamie). And it was terrific. But because it was in the BJ years and we weren't kidded up, it was an entirely different experience than we're expecting over the next four days.

As well as our son, we're also bringing our pet - Wee John - and Jamie's Auntie Vickie is coming too.

Add the backdrop of the first weekend of Six Nations rugby to the mix and, well, it could be fun. And who knows, Jamie might even enjoy it too.

There or may not be Internet access down there but, to be honest, you probably need a break from reading this guff as much as I need a break from vomiting it up.

So I'll be back online on Monday when we return, by which time I hope to have been crowned the Whites' Annual February Break Adventure Golf Champion.

Have a nice few days.

PS Any burglars out there, don't even think about it. Our large-forearmed neighbour Barrington is watching, he's got a gun and he's not trained to use it - making him even more dangerous, should you choose to cross our threshold. You have been warned....BANG!!!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

It's (almost) enough to put you off drink

Early last year before Jamie could walk, some doom-mongering Ulsterwoman said to me that every step he eventually took would be a step away from Vanessa and me.

My response to this observation was along the lines of:

"What do you know, you crumbly old b******?! F*** off, mind your own business and, actually, f*** off again!"

Thankfully, I said this inwardly rather than out loud so, unless she reads this, she'll never know.

However, the reason for relaying this brief incident is because you may have read that a new shatter-proof pint glass is being launched today in an effort to do something about a reported 87,000 glass attacks in British pubs each year.

We've all obviously heard that glass attacks happen in pubs although I, thankfully, have never witnessed one (and I have been in a few pubs in my time). But I had no idea they were so common. Scary stuff to say the least.

Which brings me back to Jamie and his endless march away from Vanessa and me.

Perhaps that depressing old bint had a point after all. Perhaps it's bad for him that he now walks. And, more to the point, what might happen when he gets older and wants to walk into a pub?

No, on reflection, she was right, the walking must stop - it's not safe.

As soon as he comes back from his Grandma Judy and Grandad Mike's later today, he's grounded. And he's not going out ever, ever again.

I'm sure, given a couple or three decades, he'll get used to the idea.

PS You don't think I'm over-reacting, do you?

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Rocky moments

Parents/guardians amongst you will not need to be reminded that the looks of our children can frequently deceive.

Just have a look at Angel Boy above.

Butter wouldn't melt etc etc.

Ermm....balls!

Yesterday at nursery, Angel Boy became Devil Boy when, twice, he had a swipe at other mini-people who were doing him no harm.

He didn't do it in anger, according to the nice ladies in Toddler Two, and just thought he was playing a game. But, clearly, he'll have to think again on that one - if he doesn't want to sleep on our roof for the next couple of nights.

It was Vanessa who picked him up last night before telling me what he had done.

And I was annoyed.

But he then did something which kids often do when they know you're not too pleased with them; he did something incredibly cute.

For the first time that I, certainly, have seen or heard, he strung three words together.

And what did he say in arguably his first proper sentence, just as he was heading off to bed?

"Night, night, daddy." And then he kissed me.

Forget the butter - I just melted in front of him, although I tried not to let him see since I was still "angry."

It was one of those moments I'll not forget. And it was a perfect illustration of the swings and roundabouts that come with being a parent.

But let's hope the Rocky impressions stop soon (although, strictly speaking, he does look more like Ivan Drago).

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Windy has a stiff one

I've never been described as being "up with the kids," but I would like to think of myself as being "down with the babies."

I base this belief purely and simply on my knowledge of modern day baby telly.

Because there's not a babies' TV show on Cbeebies, Nick Jnr or Channel 5 that I'm not an expert in. And, I have to say, that makes me very proud (although I should again remind you that I don't get out much these days).

But I've had to work at it and, I have to admit, Jamie's arrival has played a small part in my knowledge development.

To illustrate, in the early days, I used to make him watch shows like Scooby Doo, Top Cat and Hong Kong Phooey. But he didn't like them very much and either cried or tried to crawl off somewhere. So I did some research, discovered that they now make lots of new shows which cater for little scraps like he then was, and both of us set about becoming connoisseurs.

Thomas The Tank Engine, Roary The Racing Car and Peppa Pig are all shining examples of "modern greats." But they're also incredibly "responsible"/politically correct - which brings me to my point.

Last night, Vanessa and I were wrecked and decided to head off to bed early (don't be mucky). And I did what I always do when I walk into our room - I turned the telly on (ever the romantic).

It was still tuned into Nick Jnr 2, which Jamie had been watching before he went to bed, and they were showing an episode of Camberwick Green as part of their "Nickelodeon Classics" feature for sad parents who don't want to grow up. Like me.

So, as you would, I sat down to find out what was going on. And, essentially, Windy Miller had a mate over. I couldn't quite work out who he was or the nature of his relationship with Windy, but they were clearly very close.

However, at the end of their long day together, Windy did something which almost short-circuited my 2010 modern daddy brain (shut up).

He produced a huge barrel of cider and a glass each for himself and his pal.

And they began to drink heavily.

It was possibly the highlight of my year so far.

And it's true, they really don't make them like they use to - tragically.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Brief reflections on Mo

Last night's Channel 4 "drama-documentary" on the latter life and times of former Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam was, unquestionably, a fine piece of television.

And the details of the story were largely accurate (unlike Braveheart and all those American war films that forget that Britain played a part too).

However, a couple of quick observations.

As someone who worked for the Ulster Unionists throughout Mo's tenure as Secretary of State, I was irritated, but not in the least bit surprised, at the portrayal of my former boss David Trimble as something akin to a big bad wolf.

There seems to be an unwritten rule that any Unionist politician appearing in any drama of any kind must come across as cold, humourless and angry. It's unfair and it's untrue but I suppose it excuses both writers and viewers from the task of having to think for themselves.

Some of the castings also were a little on the lax side, a couple hilariously so.

For example, Peter Kilfoyle, whilst a Scouser, is neither tall nor dark. And Adam Ingram isn't a bald geriatric.

On the upside, whoever decided to cast Mini Me as loyalist godfather Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair and a short-arsed bulimic as Gerry Adams deserves some kind of reward. I almost wet myself.

As for Mo, clearly Julie Walters was an inspired choice - have you ever seen her in anything bad?

And I thought she got very close to the real Mo, who I had the privilege of meeting on several occasions.

People can argue about how pivotal Mo was in delivering so-called "peace" in Northern Ireland.

But her love for the place and its people was certainly beyond reproach. And for this, she should not and will not be forgotten.