Thursday, 30 September 2010

Posh Buckfast

As someone who proudly grew up in Coleraine, I am not unfamiliar with the concept of a £1.98 bottle of wine.

And last night I managed to bag myself another one - and it didn't even come in a brown bag.

To cut a not particularly lengthy story even shorter, I stopped in Asda on the way home to pick up a few unnecessary bits and pieces.

Whilst browsing, I stumbled across a bottle of Chianti which has been reduced from £7.98 to £3.98 - so, naturally enough, I bagged it.

However, after paying for everything, I checked my receipt and, horror of horrors, found I'd been charged £7.98 for the wine.

You can take a man out of Coleraine etc etc but a man from Coleraine NEVER pays £7.98 for a bottle of supermarket wine.

I therefore raised the issue with a nice lady who "helpfully" palmed me off to a genuinely helpful nice lady who not only refunded me my £4, but also gave my a £2 card to spend how I chose - leaving the final price for my Chianti at a princely £1.98.

Sadly, my request to use my £2 to purchase another bottle of Chianti and two penny chews was turned down.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

It lives

I remember one occasion, not that long before Jamie was born, when Vanessa and I were watching TV.

All was calm, the mood was light and the programme in question was no doubt less than taxing on the mind.

Casually, Vanessa pulled up the front of her thick, knitted pullover (it was May and obviously still freezing cold in these parts) to reveal her tummy, before uttering in an off-hand kind of, "oh, look."

So I did.

And I could see the shape of a hand. A baby's hand. Inside her stomach. An actual hand. A real hand. Of a person. A baby. A baby's hand.

It was one of the most appalling sights I'd ever witnessed.

Yes, I was aware she was pregnant. But it hadn't occurred to me that there was actually someone in there. A human being, with hands and so on.

I don't think I ate for days.

I tell you all of this because last night, just before "lights-out," a similar episode played out.

"Oh, look," said Vanessa, hoisting up her sensible Yorkshire night attire.

And there it was; the outline of a baby's, well, something.

It was shaped a bit like a lunchbox (although not like Linford Christie's) and it was moving.

And it moved me too. Not in an emotional way, but in a stomach-churning way. Honestly. I felt about as comfortable as I imagine I would if someone had put a living fish down my pants.

People often say that there's nothing more beautiful in this world than the sight of an expectant woman.

They're lying.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Every expense spared

With the nights getting longer and the days colder, yesterday seemed like the perfect time for Jamie to unveil his 2010/11 Winter Collection.

And I can exclusively reveal that this year he will mostly be wearing a navy puffa jacket from the Next sale, complimented by a pair of matching navy leather "light-up" shoes from the Clarks sale.

Perfect attire for feeding bird life.

Saturday, 25 September 2010


Unlike my mate Ben who is an expert on such matters (and could probably help your business make piles of cash should you choose to pay him some of yours first), I don't know much about the world of social media or even the Internet itself.

I write this blog, I fiddle on Facebook and I Google stuff. I am also aware that you can pay Google money for sponsored links and to bring references to your own site or "key messages" higher up the list of search results.

But what I didn't know is that individuals or companies who do pay Google appear to have the ability to shove your blog posts out of sight.

I say this because, in a moment of boredom earlier in the week, I entered "Butlins" into Google Blogs and found a link to my first "on location" post right at the top. This has now disappeared, alongside a link to the following day's ramble.

Only a link to yesterday's post now remains - on page three of the results - and I wouldn't expect it to be around for too much longer.

I tell you all of this because, prior to our holiday, Vanessa pointed out an article in a Butlins brochure which said how keenly they follow references to themselves in social media (and, it seems, censor them when they're less than complimentary).

So, Mr Butlins Internet Man, here's something else for you to try to erase:

Your Skegness resort smells of sewage!

I bid you good day.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Farewell to Fat Camp

"Daddy?" said Jamie, shortly after arriving back at our Butlins accommodation last night. "Can we go home now?"

I gently explained that we had one more sleep to go before our departure, which he accepted without dissent, but the message was clear.

That said, I'm sure he had a very enjoyable four days in Skegness - like all other camp mates (including myself), he certainly ate particularly well. And the kids' entertainment was top drawer too.

However, having been to Butlins twice in my early years (albeit the now defunct resort in Ayr), the place is just not what it was.

British society has obviously moved on, which is sad in some ways but also inevitable. And Butlins has rightly tried to move with it.

But back in the late 1970s, I looked at the world through innocent eyes and my recollections are clearly coloured by this. And whilst we did have a good time this week, I cannot help but feel a tinge of selfish regret that I didn't leave my memories of Butlins right where they were.

On a much lighter note, last weekend I wrote here that Barnaby Bear was coming on tow. One of the requests the nursery makes when an inmate takes him away with them is that they get a photo of Barnaby at their holiday destination.

As you might imagine, Jamie took this responsibility extremely seriously. When the moment came, White Jnr insisted on driving Barnaby down to the chosen spot himself - even lending him his very own sun hat and shades for the journey...

...before personally supervising the taking of the money-shot.

That to Big Bob The Builder for agreeing to appear in the photo (and for not charging Jamie £5.99 for the privilege, as a smaller version of himself attempted to do elsewhere on the site).

Thursday, 23 September 2010

"And now, the end is near..."

If you can't beat 'em join 'em, so the saying goes.

Hence, today we let Jamie and Barnaby have their lunch at Burger King.

And after their midday sleeps, they'll be joining other junior Butlins camp mates at "Smoking for Beginners" followed by "Baby Ear-Piercing" and "Tattoos for Tots."

That should leave us just enough time to quickly nip into Skegness town centre to pick up a couple of mini-shellsuits for them to wear out tonight.


Earlier, we took the boy and the bear to see Thomas The Tank Engine LIVE on stage.

And, being a train, he was inevitably late. Very late.

First, we had The Fat Controller (who must feel really at home here) endlessly wandering about the crowd asking if anyone had seen him.

Before he was joined by Lusty and Busty (or something like that) who spent another 15 minutes beckoning the increasingly bored gathering to call out for him.

In fact, it was only after Vanessa uttered under her breath - and I kid you not - "get Thomas The Tank Engine out, for f*** sake!" that he decided to chug into view.

We're due for release tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Butlins Skegness 2010: The story so far

Well, we're here and what can I say?

Quite a lot in truth, but it's much easier just to show you.

That's the Redcoats up above and, I have to say, credit where credit's due; it's certainly a job I couldn't do (and not just because none of the guests would understand what I'm on about). They work their bits off - apparently for little reward - and never, EVER stop smiling. I really would love to get one of them drunk one night to find out what they really think.

Especially about the fat people because, alongside fun and Redcoats, Butlins is really big on fat people if you pardon the bun, sorry, pun (they all love a big bun, preferably filled with lots of cream).

To illustrate, here's a couple of before and afters.

The Bob The Builder Show before the fat bird arrives...

...and afterwards.

And here's another. Now you can see the Circus Mayhem Show...

...and now you can't.

Thankfully the fine young filly Jamie pulled last night wasn't morbidly obese.

She initially came up to me to advise that she'd like to kiss my son and I suggested it might be best for them to have a chat first...

...before she went for it.

They then shared a Slushy moment...

...before, well, I think his face tells you everything you need to know.

And through it all, Vanessa barely registered as a Take That tribute act were on stage.

As I tap out this rubbish, Jamie is asleep having had a towel down and an emergency change of clothes. But he's learnt something new today: never wander blindly into an outdoor fountain display.

Two more days to go.

Monday, 20 September 2010

We're all off to Billy Butlin's

Yes, we Whites really do know how to live.

For, in just a couple of hours from now, we hit the road, bound for Butlin's in Skegness.

And for the next five days, it's water slides, junior discos and Redcoats all the way - and tomorrow night there's even a Take That tribute act for the mummies.

Am I looking forward to it? Absolutely.

Am I just a teeny weeny bit scared about what the next five days might bring? Totally.

But I suspect it will be holiday that will live long in the memory. Let's hope it's for all the right reasons.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Keeping his eye on the ball

Other John (above left), Dagenham Dave (right) and I went to see Leeds Carnegie play Saracens today (Leeds were awful and deservedly lost) and John, as one would expect of someone of his all-round cleverness, noticed something which few else would have spotted (I certainly didn't).

Look at a blown-up version of the picture.

Yep, the CCTV man is not watching the crowd but the game itself.

Such a shame it was a stinker.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Five's a crowd

Meet Barnaby - the bear who takes the p*ss.

Those of you unfortunate enough to have been reading this guff twelve months ago may remember him. For he's the bear from Jamie's Little People Nursery who takes it upon himself to go on holiday with as many baby inmates and their families as he can.

Despite what I said this time last year, Barnaby did manage to make it onto our flight to Spain before drinking one bar dry, starting two fights and spending three nights in a police cell.

And despite his antics, he has now pitched up again expecting to join Vanessa, Jamie and me on a rather intriguing four-night break for which we are due to leave on Monday. (More to follow on this but the fact that Barnaby's turned up in a jumper should indicate that the destination is not as exotic as last year).

But here's the thing - this time he's brought a friend!

Because when we opened his suitcase on Thursday night, we discovered that - in addition to his towel, shampoo, toothbrush, comb and light holiday reading - he'd packed his own teddy bear too!

Cheeky **** (and I don't mean bear).

As last year, I would imagine that us Whites will have to hold some serious internal discussions before deciding just who gets in the car come Monday morning.

But if we do let him come along once again, Barnaby Bear is most certainly NOT choosing the music.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

In the name of God

As I write, the Pope is celebrating an open-air Mass in Glasgow.

It is a city well-known for the Roman Catholic-Protestant religious divide, most graphically illustrated by the contrasting fan bases of the Old Firm football clubs.

And today I heard a new one, courtesy of Wee John.

According to him, shortly after the white smoke rose rose above the Vatican and the current Holy Father clambered onto the Papal Throne - Eggs Benedict were removed from the menu at Rangers' Ibrox Stadium.

For simple comedy value, I really do hope that story is true.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

I'm Yer Man

I now know what it feels like to be George Michael.

Because I'm spending the evening in solitary confinement.

Yes, it's Vanessa's turn to host the monthly Pudsey mothers' book club when a load of dizzy women get together to drink wine, eat chocolate and talk about willies, whilst the man of the chosen house has to stay in his room.

Well, OK, I don't know for sure exactly what goes on, but Vanessa has previously admitted that the "book of the month" rarely gets a mention (some club members aren't really readers, apparently) and, when I was down in the kitchen earlier to snatch a cup of tea, there were wine bottles and chocolate wrappers everywhere. And when women get together, they always talk about willies. So, case proven methinks.

Whilst I'm on my ownsome, I might as well show you some sporting photos from the weekend just gone.

This is my dad and Wee John watching the Manchester City players warm up on Saturday...

...and here they are in action against Blackburn Rovers (Man City, not my dad and Wee John).

Then this is (from right to left) my dad, Other John, Wee John, Mike and Dagenham Dave at Sunday's England v Pakistan one-day international at Headingley...

...and here's a shot of England batsman Jonathan Trott a split second away from getting out.

And that's about it.

I'm now off to listen through the floorboards. I wonder if George Michael is doing the same.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Keep out!

Apologies for not updating this dross for a few days, although I would imagine you've coped.

I'll tell and show you more of our "weekend of sporting occasions" tomorrow. But I can already tell you the highlight - not that my dad, Wee John or I were even there. And therein lies the key.

Because this year, for the first time ever, my dad bought a Coleraine FC season ticket - aware that he may put a jinx on the club, but obviously hoping he wouldn't.

Sadly he did.

Prior to Saturday, the Bannsiders' record in the 2010-11 Carling Irish Premiership was nothing if not consistent: played six, lost six, goals for none, goals against 11.

And with my dad safely locked into the City of Manchester Stadium at 3pm on Saturday, they played Donegal Celtic. And won four-nil.

I understand the order banning him from entering the Coleraine Showgrounds for the rest of the current campaign is in the post.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Er...come on City

No, your eyes don't deceive you - what you can see above is indeed my Manchester City FC membership card (despite me being an Arsenal fan).

Indeed, I'm also an officially registered fan at Middlesbrough, Everton and Fulham (although, ironically, not Arsenal) and receive regular e-mails from said clubs, such are the lengths you have to go to these days to get Premier League tickets.

The reason for me getting my membership card out this particular fair morn is because my dad, Wee John and I are about to leave for Manchester in advance of City v Blackburn Rovers this afternoon, kick-off 3pm.

Which reminds me, anyone out there who knows my "Chelsea-loving" father or "Manchester United worshipping" best mate, clock a look at these.

In fact, feel free to print the pic out and show it to everyone else who knows them.

Friday, 10 September 2010

The truth is writ large

Having spent a couple of hours with his visiting Granda White before reluctantly shuffling off to bed, Jamie decided it was appropriate to rise from his scratcher at around midnight last night to welcome his Uncle Wee John who had not long completed the five-hour drive up from Cardiff.

But I believe I've taught my son well when it comes to the unceasing need to disrespect The Little Irritant.

Because above you can see Wee John with the present bought for him by Jamie.

And if you come from Northern Ireland, you'll know that the slogan across its front is not intended as a compliment.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Three men and a toddler

My dad and Wee John arrive tonight for a long weekend of "sporting occasions." More on those in the days ahead.

However, tomorrow we haven't really got anything planned. In fact, all I do know at this stage is that Vanessa has no intention of joining us and every intention of making sure we have sole charge of Jamie. (The picture above was taken in July 2008 when we last had a go).

So what to do?

My first thought was for the three of us to take White Junior to a soft play centre in nearby Horsforth; the idea being that Jamie could jump up and down on mats and other children whilst us "men" drank tea, ate cake and looked on.

But then, on reflection, I thought it might not be such a good idea after all.

Because we'd look like paedophiles.

Maybe we'll just go for a walk instead (avoiding the swings).

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Bad Dad

Sometimes - quite a lot of the time, in fact - I am an absolutely useless father.

And last night was but the latest example.

Vanessa was on an overnight trip to London (she calls it "work") so I was in charge of "the boy." And with the football on, I had a plan which essentially would result in Jamie going to sleep slightly earlier than normal and me sitting in front of the telly by 7.45 (i.e. kick-off time).

All was going well to begin when I got him off at around 7.25, before shooting off in the direction of the fridge (me not him). But within a couple of minutes, I heard a shriek from his room: "DADDY!!""

I went back, settled him down once again, got him off to sleep, left the room and: "DADDY!!"

This went on and on - maybe six, seven times - with me getting more and more irritated, and Jamie getting more and more upset.

Eventually, at around 8.25 (so almost half-time then ) I shouted at him very loudly and ordered him back to his pit.

The strain of the previous hour had exhausted me, but him too and, as he stretched himself out - finally, finally - he looked as if he would be down for the night.

A couple more minutes passed and I made to leave, hopefully to catch the start of the second half, when I heard Jamie whisper something in my direction, eyes half-closed.

I went over to him.

"What was that, son?" I enquired sympathetically.

"Sorry, Daddy," whimpered White Junior. "Sorry, Daddy. Sorry, Daddy."

You could have knocked me down with a feather and, without delay, my anger disappeared and my immense pride in my boy soared through the roof.

And what was my response, given that I had spent the previous hour and a bit trying desperately to get him to do what he has about to do - i.e. go to sleep?

I put my mouth down to his ear and whispered with a smile: "Do you want to come downstairs to watched the football?"

He hauled himself up straight, rubbed his eyes and cried out: "YEAH!" and we were off.

I eventually got him down for the night at around 10.15 after we'd watched the tail end of the Scotland game.

But I am a disgrace.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Just when you thought you'd seen it all

Normally the sight of men in fancy dress carrying bugles is a sure sign that someone important is about to arrive.

Someone with the stature and the strength to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders or, failing that, a big loaf.

Yes, my mate Rodney and his lovely lady Firuza did the deed a few days ago (don't be mucky!) and got married.

And whilst it might look like a typical Saturday night scene in a random Ballymena hostelry, the wedding actually took place in Firuza's native Uzbekistan (although, judging by some other pictures I've seen, half of Ballymena did still appear to be present).

Huge congratulations to them both.