Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Coleraine misses out - again

In the wake of the devastating news a few months ago that the Northern Ireland Milk Cup Finals Night had been moved from its spiritual home of Coleraine to Ballymena, tonight I learnt of another sickening development for those who like to watch their football by the banks of the Bann.

As you'll no doubt be aware, the football World Cup is to be held in Northern Ireland for the very first time eight years from now and, late this afternoon, a press statement was issued by the local Organising Committee:

"To help diffuse media speculation and after consultation with representatives from the Province's various league committees, the following cities, towns and villages have been chosen as host venues for the 2018 Finals.

"Belfast, Ballymena, Ballyclare, Drumahoe, Ballinamallard, Coagh, Drumaness, Portglenone, Cullybackey, Banbridge, Portavogie, Aughnacloy, Donemana, Castlederg and Dunaghy.

"This list is subject to change as apparently some of the local councils take down the posts (at council-owned facilities) to 'rest' the pitches in the summer, so we will know better nearer the time."

I don't know what my wee town has done wrong but it's obviously rubbed somebody up the wrong way.

But we must not be bitter and I would still encourage you to follow the build-up to Northern Ireland 2018 right here.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Some facts are best out in the open

I bought Jamie a new tee shirt today, a photo of which you can see above.

You don't think it's in any way self-indulgent, do you?

Monday, 28 June 2010

What's that on t'roof?

In advance of yesterday's World Cup football debacle (you'll know the one I'm on about), Wee John and I went to Headingley to watch Yorkshire lose heroically to Leicestershire in the ongoing Friends Provident Twenty20 cricket tourney. My mate Mike was there too (right of shot), one of the greatest men God ever invented.

Cricket being cricket, you tend to look around and, at the modern day Headingley, it's not surprising to have your eyes drawn to the spanking new Carnegie Pavilion which wouldn't look out of place in Doctor Who.

But, space age though it is, the structure remains Yorkshire born and bred.

Which was why I wasn't that astounded when I spotted the 1970s television aerial perched upon its top.

You can put a building into Yorkshire...

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Lock up your...um...Wee Johns

Here's a sight you don't see very often; no, not Wee John smoking (because that's a very common occurrence), but someone smoking in a pub.

His Smallness is up for the weekend and, last night, we went for a quick bite to eat before stopping for last orders in a local bar on the way home.

However, just as we were about to leave, a woman came up and demanded to know if he smoked.

When he said yes, he was handed an ashtray before she moved on to the next customer - just as the front door was being locked.

We eventually left sometime around 2am.

Needless to say, I will be handing him over to the police later today.

Friday, 25 June 2010

The age of consent

I found an opened letter lying on our kitchen table last night which I thought you might want to hear about.

It was from our dentist and it read as follows:

"I am writing to remind you that it is now twelve months since your last dental check-up. Please contact the practice to arrange a suitable appointment.

"Our practice emphasises preventive dentistry and an important part of this is to attend on a regular basis so that problems can be detected at an early stage and therefore be prevented from progressing into difficult treatments.

"If you already have an appointment booked, please disregard this letter.

"Yours sincerely

"Dr B Stafford

"PS We wish to remind you that charges are payable in advance and in full on the day. A fee may be charged if appointments are broken or cancelled without 24 hours notice. Please keep us informed of any change of address."

But here's the thing.

The letter wasn't addressed to either Vanessa or myself.

It was addressed to "Mast Jamie White."

And whilst he did attend an initial appointment last year, he didn't receive any treatment owing to the fact that he only had four teeth.

Still, as a responsible father, I will bring the correspondence to his attention with a suggestion that he gets in touch with the practice as a matter of urgency.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Hat a boy

As regular readers may have spotted, our Jamie is cute, blond-haired and blue-eyed (and clearly not mine).

And whilst his aesthetics may be pleasing to many (particularly him), these attributes - added to his pale skin - make him particularly susceptible to damage from the always strong Yorkshire sun (what?!)

One of the obvious ways to guard against the ever present White Rose Rays is for him to wear a hat - which he has always hated. Until today, that is.

Because Vanessa - who's off this week and currently out on a J2O-fuelled pregnant lady binge in Leeds city centre - reported earlier that he'd worn his sunhat all day.

Then, after I arrived home, he kept it on whilst the two of us did our now signature lawn mowing double act in the back garden.

Eventually I got him in the bath, but only after several minutes trying to persuade him to take his hat off before getting in the water.

But, as soon as he was out and the poncho towel was draped on his person, on went his hat once again.

If only we could persuade him that the hat does the exact same job as his dummy.

Because getting him to part with that is the next major challenge facing the Whites.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

A classic truth

I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted after that England game.

But I've got to tell you this.

As you're more than likely aware and following the fiasco over the ridiculous claims made by some "honourable" Members in the last Parliament, the House of Commons authorities have introduced a new system for MPs and their staff to claim expenses. And, in short, it is draconian and involves them and us having to lie down, do a forward roll, a short dance and a three card trick in order to claim back as much as the price of a bus ticket bought in pursuit of official duties.

This morning I went along for my mandatory training on the new online scheme.

As one of our "practical exercises," we had to pretend to register our respective MP's car details on the system. So, alongside two ladies on my particular grouping of tables, I got on with the task in hand.

However, when the trainer came over to check how we were getting on, one of my colleagues raised a query. And here was how the conversation went.

Trainer: "How are we all getting on?"

Lady #1 and Barry: "OK."

Lady #2: "OK, although I doubt registering my Member's car is something I'll ever have to do."

Trainer: "Well, you never know."

Lady #2: "No, really. I honestly don't think it's something I'll ever have to do."

Trainer: "Why do you say that?"

Lady #2: "I work for David Blunkett."

Enjoy the rest of your night.

His eyes are blue and today he's two

It's Jamie's second birthday and, as the time approaches 6.25am, he's already been up for ages.

Whilst I'm due to spend today at a no doubt exhilarating training session on MPs' expenses, he's off to nursery where he will be spoilt. And then, tonight, he will open the bulk of his presents before we throw a bit of a birthday do for him on Saturday.

We've allowed him one parcel this morning - from his Auntie Gwen and cousins Nathan, Sebastian and Katie - which, amongst other very kind and generous gifts, included a Mr Potato Head.

Maybe it's just me, but doesn't Jamie's new best friend bear an uncanny resemblance to my mate Detective Inspector Fitzpatrick who put Wee John and I through such hell on spin bikes last weekend?



You know, I don't think it is just me.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

If you're going to do something...

My mate Detective Inspector Sean Fitzpatrick (the big baldy pictured centre) got in touch a little while ago to let me know that he was planning a series of fundraising events in aid of the Ulster Cancer Foundation, including running his very own spin class.

He wasn't certain at that point exactly who would be doing it but, given it would be taking place on the Saturday of our school reunion weekend, the one fact he was sure of was that Wee John and I would be amongst the number.

And, in case you're under any illusions, he didn't mean this in a "I know I can depend on you two" kind of way.

No, it was more of a "I'll torture and mutilate you both if you don't do it" scenario.

It therefore took Wee John and I about three seconds to agree.

However, if you're going to put yourself through that kind of pain, thought us, sure you might as well push the boat out.

So we dusted off our Batman and Robin costumes in order to do it "proper."

The result was 45 minutes of hell with added sweat.

But more importantly, thanks to Sean's efforts coupled with those of several close family members who marched through Coleraine town centre rattling buckets, £435 was raised for an excellent cause.

You see, there is such a thing as a nice policeman.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Talkin' 'bout our generation

24 hours on from yesterday's mildly p*ssed off rant about the fact that some of my former school brethren talked a good game in advance of Saturday's reunion before (predictably in a number of cases) failing to turn up, and I've never been more glad we did it.

Unashamedly for me, the main reason was having the chance to see two of the original three members of The Fix play once again.

The picture above - which I have put up before - was taken around 1989 when we were all at school and the boys were entertaining us most Saturday evenings in Kelly's, Portrush. That's Paul on the left, Jonny on the right and Shaun in the middle.

We then fast forward to 2010 and the "Reunion At The Reunion" (I quite like that). Sadly Shaun wasn't able to make it (but he does live in America so I call that a real excuse) but you'll recognise Paul and Jonny who, sickeningly, have both weathered extremely well.

And the crowd of classmates...

...loved every second of it.

Indeed Sean and Melanie (who, for the record, didn't attend our all-boys school) even had a smooch. (More on evil Sean tomorrow, by the way).

But, most importantly of all, both Jonny and Paul, the men with the guts to actually get up there and do what they did after not having really picked up an instrument in the last 20 years, had fun too.

Needless to say, I will be begging them to do it all again one day. And, between you and me, I even have a very clear idea of when.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Well, we had a good night


It's the day after the reunion the night before and I'm a mixture of emotions.

First and foremost, I'm exhausted; partly due to the excesses of a good night out, partly because of the physical trauma of what I did at lunchtime yesterday (more of that anon) and partly because of the stress associated with wanting last night to "work."

And it did, in the main.

In case you haven't been keeping up (and if not, why not?) last night was the Coleraine Inst Class of 1983 School Reunion, held this year because the majority of us left in 1990 - exactly two decades ago.

There about a dozen of us there and it was a genuine joy to be able to share time with them all, including some individuals I hadn't seen for quite a while.

The undoubted highlight of the evening was a short set by two members of The Fix, a band who hadn't played since shortly after we all left school but who proved they still have "it" after all these years. Again, I will expand on this in the coming days, once my camera lead and I have been reunited (I was sure I'd packed it).

But I would be lying if I didn't admit to be being a little disappointed at the failure of some of my former classmates to climb out of their own behinds and put an appearance in.

Some of the blame for this lies at my door. I could and should have done more to persuade people to come along. That said, how much effort do you need to make?

As was said several times last night, everyone who was there wanted to be there. Why should any of us try to force people to come against their will? And why should they relent in any case? We're all grown up now and everyone is obviously entitled to go where they want - or not, as the case may be.

But wherever some of them were and whatever it was they were doing, I hope it was rubbish.

Friday, 18 June 2010

A big night before a big night (and day)

Unless I'm very much mistaken, you - like me - will be preparing to watch England's second World Cup match, tonight against some blokes from Algeria. I predict a 3-0 win for Capello's men, a goal for each lion.

I am writing this in Portstewart (pictured above) where an area has been booked for Big Tony, Wee John, Derek, Vanessa and I to have some food and watch the game on our very own big screen. Vanessa will be the only English native amongst us but we will all be supporting the same team (and no, it's not Algeria)

However, tonight is but a mere warm-up for tomorrow night and the Coleraine Inst Class of '83 School Reunion, the real reason we're all over here.

And before that, at 12.30pm tomorrow, another challenge awaits; a challenge which only a super-hero could possibly pull-off.

Thankfully, Wee John and I have a plan.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

What Peter did next

I was wandering home from work yesterday and decided to nip in to Asda for a chocolate fix.

But, when I go to the front door, I was met by the scene above.

So I followed the line.

And look who was at the end of it (I've put a circle around his head to make it easier).

No idea? Actually, I had to ask too.

It was Peter Andre, signing his latest tome, "My World In Pictures and Words." (Methinks many more pictures than words - and very short words at that).

Funnily enough, I resisted the temptation to join the queue and meet the great man, even after reading the following synopsis of his new bestseller:

"Peter Andre is a national icon. Without doubt the sexiest man in pop, there are few red-blooded females who wouldn't welcome the chance to get close to Peter Andre. Since his breakup with Katie Price, his profile has exploded, making him one of the biggest male celebrities in the UK. His easy charm, his self-deprecating humour, his legendary torso and his obvious passion for his children and for his role as father have won him millions of fans. And Peter Andre is here to stay. His Revelation tour, his upcoming TV projects and now this gorgeous and insightful book will further catapult him to stardom. 2010 will cement his reputation as the sexy and extremely lovable heart-throb the nation has taken under its wing."

Retailing at £16.99, you can now buy his book at Asda for just £9.

Or you could just wait another few weeks at get two for a quid at your local pound shop.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Did she feel a prick? Never got close


In the midst of the excitement of Friday's 12-week scan which confirmed that Vanessa and I are to get another go at trying to be proper parents, I forgot to tell you about a separate little incident earlier that day which also brought me to the verge of tears. Of laughter.

As well as the scan itself which was booked for 2.45pm in Leeds, Vanessa also had to go to our local doctor's surgery for a blood test first thing that morning. And she wasn't looking forward to it.

Vanessa has what can best be described as a "history" with needles. She's just not a big fan and, as a result, she tends to faint at even the thought of one being in the room. In the time I've known her, this has happened several times. Although, on one occasion and having got through a particular blood test, she then found herself waking up in the reception area where she'd taken herself to book a follow-up appointment.

I had thought that the "challenges" of child birth had toughened her up somewhat. I mean, seriously, by the end of the process, she had things sticking into her from all angles - and that was long before anything (i.e. Jamie) decided to pop out which, in itself, I imagine wasn't a breeze.

But back to Friday morning. She went over for her blood test with a definite air of apprehension but nothing more than that. I was still here at home because I had a physio appointment a little while afterwards at the same location so started a bit of work. And, indeed, when the front door opened about half an hour later, I had genuinely forgotten about her moment of destiny. However, the sheepish look on her face quickly served as a reminder.

"Oh dear," I said, trying to be sympathetic, but trying even harder not to laugh. "How did it go?"

"Hmmm," she replied. "It began well enough. The nurse asked me to lie down on the bed and roll my sleeve up whilst she went to get a form."

"Good, good," I replied keenly. "And then what happened."

"And then I woke up on the floor."

She's due to go back on the Friday after next.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

The White Arrows

video

Jamie and I had our first go at formation lawn mowing a couple of weeks ago, but no-one was around to capture our magnificent moving shapes.

Last night we had our second run-out and, well, make your own mind up.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

A heavy World Cup weight to bear

I wore the English quarter of my heart on my sleeve last night by joining Jamie and Vanessa in cheering on the mother country against the best soccerballers the US could offer.

There's no need to go into what happened, because you'll already know.

But, for me, it was certainly the first time I'd watched a World Cup Finals game whilst a not-yet-two-year-old boy perched on my knee and pointed out pictures in a book.

At least, given what happened in the second half in South Africa, I still had some reason to smile by the end.

However, my smile didn't stay in place for much longer after I made the grave error of staying on ITV1 to watch the much-hyped James Corden's World Cup Live. What a pile of **** that turned out to be.

It was obvious from about three seconds in that TV's man of the moment wanted this new show to be something akin to TFI Friday with balls. But sadly, all we had was the balls - and Simon Cowell.

Because there's obviously no passing bandwagon that old Cue Tip Head isn't prepared to board and then claim to be an expert on its cargo.

So, last night, we had Mogul Man winking and nodding and patronising his way through all things World Cup, whilst Mr Corden did all he could to climb up the Cowell innards in search of yet more TV exposure, assisted by his "sidekick" Abbey Clancy (how did she get that job?) doing much the same (only with much-shorter words).

Tonight's programme starts at 9.30pm with Peter Shilton, Boris Becker and Dizzee Rascal as the guests. If you fancy a quick Sunday evening personal confidence boost, I suggest you take a look.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

JESUS!

My head's sore.

Two reasons for that. First, I had my Bradford Council leaving do after work last night - although I don't actually finish until Thursday - and a few drinks were taken to mark my passing.

And second, well, Vanessa and I are to become "two time parents," as Americans might say (but probably wouldn't).

All seems well with Number Two, pictured above at yesterday's 12-week scan, who we've been told to expect amongst us around 19 December.

But it won't be 19 December - I'm certain of it. It's going to be 25 December. Just mark may words.

Still, a change is as good as a rest.

I don't know of any other Jesus Whites, do you?

Friday, 11 June 2010

It takes a man to make a man

After Jamie's first "haircut" of a couple of weeks ago, during which no hair appeared to have been removed by the female hairdresser in question, first thing this morning I took him to see my mate Andy, the "Backroom Barber."

Jamie wasn't too happy to begin with.

However, his confidence curiously began to grow as the hair started to drop off his head in (carefully coiffured) lumps.

And then the razor came out, which kind of set us back a bit.

But, by the end, he had the look of a happy and proud young man, ready to get back to his book full of ladies in their bras.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Yorkshire dryness in the wet

I was supposed to be at Headingley cricket ground at this precise moment in time, rather than telling you (who probably aren't even in the least bit interested) that I'm not.

The reason for my trip was to watch Yorkshire take on the Durham Dynamos at Twenty20.

But, quite frankly, it's freezing, I don't own enough coats to keep me warm enough for three hours, I don't know where our flask is and it also looks like it might rain. Hard.

Hopefully I'll have better luck on Sunday afternoon when the White Rose are due to take on...some other team.

However, whilst the "climate" is clearly not one of Yorkshire's greatest assets, its humour - or, rather, the humour of its residents - towards the "changeable" weather is considerably more uplifting.

For example, last night I went to pick Jamie up from nursery and it was chucking it down in buckets (to use my most polite Ulster phraseology).

I was standing just inside the door trying to wrap him up as best I could against the elements when this, huge, tough-looking, bald, Yorkshire bloke took a peak over my shoulder to check the latest situation outside.

He then winked at me, looked at his little boy who he had come to collect, and uttered a line which I will long remember:

"Look son, it's persistingly it down."

I loved that.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Meet Ewen

This is Ewen.

And Ewen is my new hero.

Ewen is one of those individuals who you don't meet often in life. In fact, he is unique in my own experience.

Because Ewen is a computer whizz who doubles up as a real person.

And when I say "real," I mean he's interesting, he's funny, he's kind, he's generous, he's very well-rounded - and he's most definitely not a geek.

Last night Ewen came round to our house to install a new hard drive and some extra memory in this former claptrack of a PC on which I'm now working.

And, thanks to his efforts, this ex-tower of frustration now feels like something akin to a thoroughbred racehorse.

It's sleek, it's fast as lightning and it's a dead cert to make me happy (I had to rummage around for a third reason and that was the best I could do. Sorry. In fact, it doesn't smell like a horse, making it even better than a thoroughbred in my view. But let's move on).

Ewen, who first offered some weeks ago to have a look at my shrivelled piece of equipment (and yes, I am still taking about the PC), said at the time that the work should take him about half an hour. In the end, he was here for around four and a half (powered, in the main, by Jaffa Cakes).

Much of the reason for his extended shift was because he very charitably performed a lot more hi-tech tricks than I could reasonably have expected. But the remaining time was because the PC was just so ridiculously slow.

In fact, when he sought to carry out one particular piece of magic to quicken up the speed of the original hard drive, the first estimate displayed on-screen for how long the job would take was "27 days." Thankfully it took a lot less than that.

But to summarise: all hail Ewen.

This made me cry

FROM THIS MORNING'S METRO:

Five-year-old gets her dying wish to sing to Simon Cowell

A girl aged five has died just three days after achieving her ambition of singing to Simon Cowell.

Bethany Fenton, who had an inoperable brain tumour, was granted her wish to visit his TV studios on Saturday.

She sang Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to the judge in his dressing room after afternoon rehearsals.

But she became poorly on Monday and, in the early hours of yesterday, she was taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford where she died.

Cowell’s spokesman, Max Clifford, said: "He was happy that he was able to do a special something on Saturday night to give her a few precious moments.

"But it is so sad and his heart goes out to Bethany’s mum and dad and he is thinking of them. He is really upset, he said what a beautiful little girl she was."

Bethany’s father, Sean, 42, of Cirencester, Gloucestershire, who served in Afghanistan, said: "The highlight of the day was meeting Simon, who was a true gentleman, joking with Bethany and listening intently as she sang to him."

Family friend and spokesman Robin Thompson said: "Amanda Holden completed a great day by giving the family a cake each and telling jokes to Bethany. She was such a nice lady. The acts made a fuss of her and Saturday night at Britain’s Got Talent was the highlight of her short life."

Monday, 7 June 2010

Postman Jamie

It's never too early to start thinking about career options and, at almost two years old and only six and a half decades from retirement (as things stand in our glorious nation), we reckon Jamie should really get on with it.

Being a postman is clearly an honourable profession, particularly when Postman Pat is one of your personal heroes. So, I did the obvious thing and picked mini-White up his very own Postman Pat pyjamas.

And, well, he appeared to like what he saw in the mirror.

The only problem was that he refused to wear his hat, instead choosing to bequeath it to Uncle Wee John.

But no doubt he can get his union involved on the dress code issue should he eventually decide to take postmanning up for real.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Balls to the lot of you

Just back from one of those long Leeds leisurely lunches that we all dream about (I hope you admire my typing).

The waiter (above) in Bibi's was very popular with Jamie, if only for the fact that, every time he walked past, White Jnr cried "OWL!"

And, on the way home, Vanessa's stepdad Mike called us in to incredibly generously give Wee John and I our own versions of the new England and Wales Cricket Board slipper 2010.

And, finally, Wee John carried Jamie over our threshold.

Night.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

No justice

I mentioned recently that the cast of Coronation Street had spent two weeks roaming freely around Bradford City Hall, where I work, whilst they filmed the trial of Gail "Guilty" McIntyre in the building's old courtroom.

So, yesterday afternoon, I thought it might be fun to take Wee John, Vanessa and Jamie in for a quick look at the room itself after they called in to City Hall to say hello.

Whilst there, I also believed it made sense to take advantage of the facilities on offer - in particular, the dock - to seek to call Jamie to account for some of his recent misdemeanours, such as throwing toast at Daddy.

In the end, he was acquitted of all charges.

But, for me, the outcome was not unconnected to his quite blatant (and clearly successful) attempts at nobbling the jury.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Only 29 weeks to go

It's sometimes said that a pound doesn't get you much these days - but not in Yorkshire.

Because you - yes, YOU - can now purchase FOUR Yorkshire County Cricket Club Christmas cards, similar to the above, for only 20 bob.

And last night my friend Mike did just that at Headingley where we went to see Yorkshire lose their first Twenty20 cricket match of the summer.

Just look how proud he is. Bless.

Also there was Wee John who, afterwards, came along with Other John and Mike wife's Annabel for a drink in a bar with the tallest tables in Leeds.

Mike didn't join us, instead choosing to slope off to see an all-girl punk band called The Slits. Let's just leave it there.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Strike three

There are a lot of very wonderful people out there amongst us. But there are also a significant proportion of scummy little ****s who do things like steal your identity and your money.

And one nice such individual has just managed to gain access to my account and nick a pile of cash for the third time in three months. Thanks for that.

My bank, NatWest, and the police are literally on the case once again. But they've had no success in tracing the perpetrator when it's happened before, so I'm not holding out much hope this time either.

Whoever you are, wherever you live - I ****ing hate you.

On the upside, Yorkshire play their first Twenty20 cricket match at Headingley this evening and I can't wait.

Swings and roundabouts, eh?!