Sunday, 31 October 2010
Gatting: Well, they've got to perform well as a team, Garry. The bowlers have got to get the wickets. Obviously you've got to take 20 wickets. But we need to get some runs on the board. The most important thing is the fielding. They've got to catch their catches.
I'm so glad they had him on because neither you nor I could possibly have worked any of that out for ourselves.
Saturday, 30 October 2010
But I never thought I'd see the day when a Coleraine player would appear on it. This morning it happened.
His name is Leon Knight, he signed for Coleraine only a few weeks ago - his fourteenth club, despite the fact he's just 28 years old. And he'd been booked to appear on the show before he joined the Bannsiders.
However, appear he did and he was great. More importantly, he did a great PR job for my wee town and my wee club. He was even asked to send in a Coleraine shirt to hang up on the famous studio wall.
He's played only two games for the Bannsiders thus far and didn't appear against Crusaders today as he was in London filming the programme live. He's also very unlikely to stay at the club past the end of this season when his contract runs out.
But I think there's little doubt he's already a Coleraine legend. Marvellous.
But that's what happened to me about 20 minutes ago.
And, being the proud member of the Big Society that I am, I did as he requested whilst he tried vainly to explain to his wench on the phone why he hadn't yet made it home from last night's house party.
On the plus side, I now know that £45 will get us a new car tyre, thereby lessening the chances of other chavs pulling up alongside on future occasions to ask for "a bit of air, mate."
And surely the rest of today will have something nice in store for me as a reward for my kindness.
Friday, 29 October 2010
Just a few minutes ago, I bought tickets to see That That play live in Manchester next summer.
I'm not sure at this point whether or not I'll actually be one of the four individuals going along to see the show, although it is very likely. Vanessa will certainly be there.
But the key point is this.
I've got four tickets that the touts or some other equally greedy b*stards haven't got and, for that fact alone, I'm feeling rather pleased.
(Plus, Take That were quite good when I saw them last year. As was Robbie, for that matter, a few years before that. Ahem).
UPDATE: Frankie Boyle writing in today's Sun: "Gary Barlow said the next Take That tour will have 'something for everyone.' Everyone apart from heterosexual men." Harsh.
Thursday, 28 October 2010
After last night's man-in-black in the form of the brilliant Kevin Bridges (you must go to see him if you get the chance), tonight we had a toddler-in-black in the form of our son.
They're having a Halloween party at Jamie's nursery tomorrow and all inmates have been invited to pitch up in fancy dress. But we only found out about this yesterday, leaving Vanessa and me little time to cobble something together.
So thank goodness for Asda.
At just £4.80 (reduced from £6, don't you know?) his skeleton-themed scary outfit initially won his favour, as the picture above confirms.
By then he had a closer examination...
...followed by an even closer examination...
...and, well, then he wasn't so keen.
But tough, it's either this or a bin liner. And we're clean out of bin liners.
Wednesday, 27 October 2010
I've been having a "less than enjoyable week" thus far, and am really in the mood to sit down with a pint or two and listen to a blunt-speaking Glaswegian telling a room full of strangers exactly how it is.
And, as luck would have it, that's exactly what Vanessa and I are doing tonight when we go to see comedian Kevin Bridges live at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds.
Anyone who has heard of him will need me to say no more.
For those who haven't, he's a blunt-speaking Glaswegian very good at telling a room full of strangers exactly how it is (is there an echo in here?)
He first came to national attention last summer after appearing on Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow on BBC1.
If you didn't see it, give yourself a treat by turning up your speakers and clicking onto this link. And if were fortunate enough to catch it, you might wish to remind yourself of just how good he is.
I'll give you the lowdown tomorrow (but don't expect me to remember any of his gags).
Tuesday, 26 October 2010
Our country is clearly experiencing some difficult economic times at the moment, of that there is no doubt.
But as I witnessed on the train home last night, here in Yorkshire, there is every reason to believe that our vibrant "advanced manufacturing" industry will pull us through. Or, as the locals call it, "knitting."
Sunday, 24 October 2010
I don't have advertising on this site for two reasons:
- I only do this for a bit of fun, and
- Most of my friends who read it are incredibly tight and wouldn't buy anything anyway.
However, I'll kind of break my rule for one day only by inviting you to visit a brand, spanking new blog written by two good friends of mine.
Andy Kerr and I have essentially known each other since we were eggs; we went to Macosquin Primary School together, Coleraine Inst together and we've kept in touch in one way or another ever since.
Meanwhile, his wife Lydia has been my "blokey" mate since the mid-1980s when we used to walk past each other on The Old Bridge in Coleraine en route to our respective "big" schools.
Many years hence, Andy and Lydia "got together" (this is a family blog) whilst living in London. They're now happily married with a beautiful two-year-old daughter and a baby-boy-in-arms - and they've just moved to Melbourne.
Vanessa and I met up with them last month, as the countdown to their departure entered its final days, and they were clearly very excited. Quite right too.
Since then, they've arrived in Oz and started building their nest.
And, best of all, you can follow their progress via their blog, Kerrangaro News (do you see what they did there?) which is now live.
Go on, have a look.
Saturday, 23 October 2010
Above you can see a picture of Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building and favourite to be named "Best Tall Building in the World" in a ceremony organised yesterday by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.
But it didn't win - it lost out to a rusty box in Leeds which, alongside other uses, is home to students flats.
Here is a picture of said winning entry.
And I promise, I'm not making this up.
But it didn't win - it lost out to a rusty box in Leeds which, alongside other uses, is home to students flats.
Here is a picture of said winning entry.
And I promise, I'm not making this up.
Friday, 22 October 2010
I spent the first 10 years of my life in a little village called Macosquin, before moving four miles to the metropolis of Coleraine.
But it was only today, when I met a friend who also grew up in Macosquin, that I realised the name of her particular road could be regarded as amusing.
I speak of Ringrash Road
And why did it take me so long?
Thursday, 21 October 2010
Pictured above left with Jamie earlier this year is the wonderful Emma from his Little People Nursery.
Vanessa and I like Emma a lot, but Jamie likes her "a lot a lot."
A few months ago, he moved upstairs to "Tweenies" having previously been in "Toddler Two" and, hence, with Emma. And he missed her terribly.
He and we were therefore delighted a little while ago when Emma was transferred upstairs to join him.
As a result, he's been enjoying nursery more of late than ever before - and the reason why is plain.
That said, he still tends to have a mini-strop as I carry him up the road on a nursery day so I've taken to using Emma's name as bait to get him there. But when I did this earlier this morning, I got a bit of shock.
"Are you looking forward to seeing Emma?" I asked him as I teetered out the front door, weighed down by his three-stones-plus frame.
"Yes!" he replied. "I've got TWO mummies!"
I shared this remark with Vanessa as I trained it into work, and let's just say she's now planning a couple of extra "love shifts" this coming weekend.
Tuesday, 19 October 2010
Unless you've been hiding under a stone (or have a life), you'll know that England's favourite footballing son Wayne Rooney (what?!) has asked to leave Manchester United.
Should he do so, United's fiercest rivals Manchester City are favourites to sign him for a reported £50 million fee.
But I've done a bit of digging and found that, rather than pay such an exorbitant price, the Sky Blues can pick up an identical looking but considerably more talented purchase from childrenspace.co.uk for a mere £9.90.
It can manage an impressive five individual phrases - several more than Wayne Rooney himself.
Monday, 18 October 2010
I don't know if you watched The X Factor last night (please say no) but this year's series is beginning to send me into a spiral of deep self-loathing and wild irritation - because I can't stop myself from watching it.
I don't know who Cheryl Cole thinks she is these days, Simon Cowell has become one of those dolls on which you pull the string and it comes out with one of four or five stock phrases, and almost every guest act is either a former contestant, contracted to Cowell's record label or a past or present judge on the show itself. It's like incest with glitter. (That's glitter - not Glitter).
And then last night, the 14 remaining contestants on the supposed "live"singing contest mimed their way through the opening group number, closely followed by ex-contestant Diana Vickers who mimed her way through her instantly forgettable new single - prompting Simon and co to bounce up to lead an ecstatic standing ovation.
ARRRGGGHHHH - I HATE IT!!!!! ARRRGGGHHHH!!!
Yet I can guarantee I'll be watching again come the weekend. And the weekend after. And every weekend between now and Christmas.
I'm a disgrace.
Please don't approach me if you see me in the street.
Sunday, 17 October 2010
I had hoped that getting Jamie into his white replica Ulster rugby shirt would bring my men the bit of good fortune they needed to ensure victory over Biarritz in today's Heineken Cup clash in the South of France.
It's just a shame Ulster - for the first time ever - chose to wear blue.
Saturday, 16 October 2010
Is this biscuit, which I picked up at a local bakery this morning, the most unhealthy biscuit ever made?
In case you can't quite make it out, that's an extra large jelly spider sitting atop the chocolate.
No doubt Jamie will love it.
But please don't tell social services (or his mother).
Friday, 15 October 2010
Tonight was the night for Jamie's third ever haircut and, well, it could have gone better for the Pudsey youngster.
Andy, the self-styled "Backroom Barber," came out scissors swinging and, as in previous encounters, showed his experience by doing a professional job on his novice opponent - for a purse of only a fiver.
As the pic above shows, Jamie was none too pleased and finally ended up on Andy's canvas.
However, never underestimate the power of "kiddie smelling salts," otherwise known as chocolate.
I'm delighted to report that the Giant Buttons certainly did the trick, seeing Jamie "Boy" White through to the end of a bruising contest.
But Andy was the clear winner on all judges' cards, particularly one, sitting at ringside, who laughed so much I thought he was going to do himself an injury. (No doubt Andy will have knocked the joy out of his life shortly after he'd slipped into the infamous big black chair).
Thursday, 14 October 2010
This is my pal Carson. And tonight Carson, from Belfast, was a victim of discrimination.
Earlier, I met him and our mutual friend Diane for a catch-up drink in Bradford city centre.
All three of us had had a couple of snifters, and it was my turn to go to the bar.
Diane, who was driving, chose to refrain on my round (good girl). And Carson decided on a vodka and Coke.
"Good evening," said me to the bar woman (I'm not sure they do maids in Bradford). "Can I have a vodka and Coke and a pint of Guinness, please?"
"Certainly, sir," she replied (I'm not convinced they do sirs either, but she had a go). "And who is the vodka and Coke for?"
"Sorry?" said me, a little bemused.
"Who is the vodka and Coke for?" she continued. "The lady or the gentleman?"
"Well, it's somewhere in between," I muttered back. "It's for my friend Carson, who's a gay gentleman."
"Right," responded the bar women. "£5.60."
"And what would it have been if he wasn't a gay gentleman, may I ask?" as one would.
"£3.80," said she. "It's ladies night, you see. If he were a lady, he could have had his drink for £1. But he's not, he's a gay. And we don't have a special rate for them. Perhaps we should."
Especially when I'm paying.
Wednesday, 13 October 2010
Jamie is going through something of a "parrot phase" in which, as the tag suggests, he repeats back a lot of what you say.
This can have certain advantages.
For example, when the Ryder Cup was on TV, I was desperate to find a way for him to let me watch it in peace rather rather than spend every second demanding that I switch over to CBeebies.
So I taught him a few well-known golf phrases to shout when something exciting happened (and even showed him how to punch the air).
That was almost a fortnight ago and the chosen phrases have not been uttered by him since.
Until this morning, that is.
I was getting him ready for nursery, in front of the telly, and flicked over to Sky News to see how the rescue of the Chilean miners was progressing.
Again, in an attempt for him to let me watch my programme rather than his, I explained that these brave men had been stuck in a big hole for weeks and weeks and were now coming out.
The news bulletin then switched to some recorded images of the first miner emerging from his capsule.
"GET IN THE HOLE!" came the cry from Jamie, right on cue.
Sometimes compassion isn't his strong point.
Tuesday, 12 October 2010
If these are the last words I ever write, I hope you will remember me fondly.
To explain, I'm tapping this out during my lunch break after one of the longest working mornings I can remember.
And it's all because of IT.
I was about to make a cuppa for my two work colleagues and myself at around 9.30 when I first caught sight of IT.
IT was huge, IT had about 20 legs (although I'm assured it could only be eight), IT had huge eyes like a frog and I swear I could hear IT breathing.
Brave soldier till the last, I let out a huge shriek when IT first marched into view. Before, a minute or so later, my pal Liz arrived with two pieces of paper and a plastic folder to trap IT, take IT away and save me from certain death. At the claws of IT.
But, just as Liz got to within touching distance, I decided I was best "watching" the drama unfold from behind the safety of my door - which I promptly slammed shut.
What I did not expect next was the sight of IT running under said door and over my foot to join me.
And IT remains in my presence, right here in my room.
Somewhere. Lurking. Seething. And plotting.
Just me - and IT.
My appetite isn't as hearty as normal this lunchtime.
And I can only hope that IT is also off it's food.
I really don't want IT to eat me.
But deep down, I know IT will.
Monday, 11 October 2010
How kind of that nice Simon Cowell to arrange for us to be able to download all 16 songs from Saturday's first X Factor live show of the new season for just 99p each.
And how good of Wee Dermot - clearly under no duress whatsoever from Mogul Man - to remind us so frequently throughout the evening, and again in last night's results show.
They really are doing it for the love of music, you know.
Sunday, 10 October 2010
Parents of toddling boys will know that the screenshot above is of "Naughty" Norman Price from Pontypandy, one of Fireman Sam's most frequent customers.
I tell you this because Master Price was the cause of a particularly embarrassing incident for me in Asda yesterday which could, in theory, have led to my arrest.
I was picking up a few bits and pieces - basket in one hand, Jamie-laden buggy being pushed with the other - when Jamie spotted a stray packet of mussels sitting on a shelf where they shouldn't have been.
"Look! Mussels!" he shouted.
The reason for his recognition of the fishy creatures, and his excitement, was simple; in one episode of Fireman Sam which he's watched to death in recent weeks, Norman tries mussels and likes them. End of story. (Jamie, meanwhile, doesn't because I let him try one a while ago and he handed it back at me, having had a lick).
"Does Norman like mussels?" I asked him (always good to start a junior conversation with an easy one, I find).
"Yes," replied Jamie. (Told you).
"Who always has to rescue Norman?" I asked next, upping the difficulty ever so slightly.
"Fireman Sam!" he announced, before matters took an unseen turn for the worse.
"Norman shouts HELP! HELP! HELP!" bellowed Jamie, as loudly as his lungs would allow him.
"HELP! HELP! HELP! HELP! HELP!"
By now, fellow shoppers in the packed supermarket were turning around in droves and staring at me accusingly.
"Jamie!" I whispered firmly in his ear, whilst attempting to smile at the potential witnesses in my trial. "Come on now, stop it!"
"HELP! HELP! HELP!"
"Jamie! Stop it!"
"HELP! HELP! HELP!"
My shopping almost but not quite completed, I was left with little option but to forget about finding the sugar aisle and, instead, headed straight to the nearest available checkout.
"HELP! HELP! HELP! HELP! HELP!" was all you could hear within 50 feet of me for the next three or four minutes, which felt more like an hour and a half, as I packed my shopping for all I was worth whilst rolling my eyes and grinning manically at the till lady.
Eventually, receipt in hand and bags in buggy, I sped past the security man and out through the main doors - almost colliding with a woman in a self-propelled wheelchair.
And Jamie's shouting immediately came to an end, replaced by a cheesy, evil grin.
I never want to see another mussel again in my life. Or Norman effing Price.
Saturday, 9 October 2010
Sad X Factor followers (like me) may have read (I did, otherwise I obviously wouldn't be telling you) that last year's winner Joe McElderry wants to get his teeth done but can't afford it.
And sadly, neither can our Jamie (unless he gets a Christmas job which, thinking about it, all two-year-olds are probably now entitled to as part of the Big Society. I must look into that).
I say this because the poor (as I say, he's skint) little blighter has somehow managed to chip his front tooth.
Neither Vanessa nor I know when it happened, other than at some point this week. But, if the baby/toddler books are to be believed, he's now going to be stuck with a wonky smile for at least the next five years when his next set of teeth are due to be posted out to him.
There are a couple of questions that have therefore been bothering me.
First, is there such a thing as cosmetic dentistry for toddlers? Given the mad world in which we (and more so the Beckhams, Jordan and other equally authentic "personalities" of our time) now live, I would assume there is.
And second, if Vanessa and I were desperately shallow (that's arguable) and hugely rich (er...no), would we book our son in for some "work?"
I can't make my mind up on that one.
I would like to think we wouldn't.
Perhaps it's just as well that we'll never know.
Friday, 8 October 2010
Do you remember the old Ready Brek adverts of the 1970s and early 1980s in which, after a bowl of cereal, the lucky eater was guaranteed to spend the remainder of the morning with a radioactive glow?
I couldn't help but think of those after seeing a picture of Keighley and Ilkley MP Kris Hopkins, my work colleagues Naz and Liz, and myself on a site visit to Keighley Central Hall earlier today.
Hopefully its future, post-refurbishment, is as bright as we are.
Thursday, 7 October 2010
I was a little tired yesterday - hence no update - after a particularly long final evening at the Conservative Party Conference.
And when I say evening, perhaps I should add that evening became night, became the early hours, became the not-so-early hours.
In fact, I eventually got back to my hotel a little after 7am - leaving me just enough time for a quick nap before pack-up and check-out.
I hadn't seen my suit jacket for a considerable period by this point and, as I shuffled towards Birmingham New Street railway station, I began to reconcile myself with the unfortunate likelihood that it and I would never be together again.
However, as if by magic, in a 15-minute period just prior to stepping on the train, I received two texts and a phone call from three exceedingly kind individuals in relation to said lost jacket.
And above you can see what turned up in this morning's post.
I'll never hear a bad word said about the Daily Mail ever again.
Tuesday, 5 October 2010
Did you do anything interesting for breakfast this morning?
No? Same old, same old? Fair enough.
My experience was a little different to normal. I had breakfast with everyone's favourite terrorist godfather, Martin McGuinness.
That's him above (on the right of centre).
And this is him, pictured on a separate occasion, with some other Muppets.
When I say "I had breakfast with [him]," what I really mean is that I was one of about 60 people who ate breakfast in the same room as him during the traditional Ulster Fry event at Tory Conference.
The ex-IRA Chief of Staff turned Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister had been invited to give his views on all things Ulster and it was certainly interesting, even entertaining. Sadly, I wasn't close enough to his table to answer the question that, no doubt, MI5 has been able to answer for more than 35 years: whether Martin McGuinness has one sausage or two first thing in the morning.
The highlight of last night was the Irish Embassy reception in a plush room with a load of paintings. (None of them appeared to have been the work of Jamie so, not being an expert in these things, that's as much as I know).
However, the most entertaining moments for me came a little earlier at the London 2012 drinks do hosted by Seb Coe, one of my absolute heroes.
However, he wasn't the cause for the hilarity, which was instead provided by a gentleman named Chris Holmes, a hugely successful former British Paralympian and now one of the key individuals tasked with delivering the 2012 Paralympic Games.
Prior to him being called to speak, Seb Coe had explained that there would be a 10-day gap between the end of the Olympics and the start of the Paralymics in order to adapt the various venues for use by disabled athletes.
Then came Chris Holmes' turn which began with him being asked if 10 days were enough for the changes to be made.
With the audience waiting for a fairly predictable, "oh yes, we have great faith in Seb and the London 2012 Organising Committee who are just marvellous etc etc..." we got a bit of a shock.
"No," came his response, before pausing as the room fell deadly silent.
"There is absolutely no chance of that whatsoever and I think it's important we all know that now."
He waited for three or four seconds more.
"I'm only joking," he added with a smile - sending the room into bits.
But he wasn't finished.
Next, he was asked whether he believed the media sometimes failed to take Paralympians as seriously as they should and whether he had any examples of this. Unsurprisingly, he did.
"I remember once being invited to do a radio interview about the Paralympics and having to wait quite a while before going on air," explained Chris, who is blind.
"I was then told by the producer that the interview would have to be cut short and they would only have time to ask me a couple of questions.
"Eventually, the interviewer's voice came through on my headphones. He quickly introduced me before launching into his first question."
And here was how the brief exchange went:
Interviewer: "Chris, as a blind man, what's it like, speeding around corners in a wheelchair?"
Chris: "Very dangerous, particularly for spectators."
I expect Chris Holmes MBE to become something of a household name between now and the summer of 2012.
Monday, 4 October 2010
I'm writing this in a bar, just across the road from the ICC in Birmingham and the Conservative Party Conference.
And the highlight so far?
Prime Minister David Cameron popping in for a pep talk at last night's North of England Reception?
Not even close.
Unquestionably, it was fellow Coleraine Inst Old Boy Graeme McDowell sinking his putt on the 16th green to effectively win the Ryder Cup for Europe, before sealing the deal on the next hole.
I was almost in tears near the end, and I've never met the bloke.
A lifetime of sainthood now lies ahead for someone who achieved mere legendary status earlier this year with his victory at the US Open.
Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.
As for now, it's back to the (crappy) hotel for a clean-up before an evening of receptions, shaking hands and trying to remember people's names.
I've never been to Birmingham before and, thus far, I'm hugely impressed.
But I'm not convinced all the locals are so enamoured by their visitors.
Sunday, 3 October 2010
One of the most fun aspects of fatherhood is introducing your sprog to "firsts."
Down the line, I look forward to taking Jamie to his first football match, his first rugby match and his first cricket match. He might also demonstrate a willingness to go and see a bit of athletics. Meanwhile, Vanessa might wish to take responsibility for, I don't know, his first ballet show (do they call it a show? Probably not).
However, whilst I wait for him to be old enough to sit through an entire sporting event without disrupting his father's enjoyment, yesterday I accompanied him on his inaugural trip to the cinema.
I'd been thinking about this for some weeks but, after doing a bit of research, struggled to find any kiddie movies which, when added to the trailers, lasted less than two hours.
That was until a few days ago when I discovered a local cinema was holding a special preview showing of Thomas The Tank Engine's big screen debut, "Misty Island Rescue." Stretching a total of 80 minutes including trailers, it seemed perfect. Indeed, the only downside appeared to be that Jamie doesn't really like Thomas (possibly because his father spends most episodes slagging off Ringo "Bloody" Starr - how did he get that gig? Seriously. He can only "do" two voices: 1. Ringo "Bloody" Starr talking normally and 2. Ringo "Bloody" Starr talking in a slightly higher pitch? Ringo? It's bloody wrongo).
Anyway, I bought the tickets online, Vanessa dropped us off and, after 15 minutes queuing for popcorn, we got in just as the trailers were finishing (result) to a room full of screaming kids and bored-looking adults.
With the popcorn as a distraction, Jamie handled the first half hour very well. But, whilst I thought he'd be blown away by "the big TV the size of a house" (as I had described the screen for the past week in an attempt to whip up some enthusiasm), he didn't appear to be that arsed.
And as a result, he spent the subsequent half-hour climbing on me, standing on his chair, throwing popcorn at random mothers, chucking his drink container and singing the theme songs to every kids' TV programme in the Western world - other than Thomas the effing Tank Engine.
The house lights came up not a moment too soon, allowing me to ask the telling questions.
"Did you like Thomas?"
"Did you like the big TV?"
We got outside and, bizarrely, found a big, painted, plastic sheep awaiting us - which Jamie promptly mounted.
And, when I finally managed to drag him off it and into the car, there wasn't a single word about Thomas or the big TV. Nope, it was "sheep! sheep! sheep!" all the way.
Perhaps I'll wait until he's a little bit older before taking him back for his next cinema trip. Maybe a nice certificate 18.
Friday, 1 October 2010
This is Dan, my friend, a man of Yorkshire and an employee of YorkshireWater.
We arranged to have a drink last night and he arrived at our front door with a big smile on his face.
"I've brought you a present," he said.
"Oh really?" I replied, excitedly. "That's very kind. What have you bought."
"No, brought - not bought," he clarified. "It's a YorkshireWater Flush Saver!"
"Ooooooo," I, well, ooooooo-ed, before playing back in my head what he'd just uttered. "A what?"
"A YorkshireWater Flush Saver!" repeated Dan, with commendable enthusiasm. "It saves water!"
"Right," I said, with a little less enthusiasm.
"Are you on a meter?" he asked.
"No," I replied.
"That doesn't matter, you'll still be protecting the environment by saving a litre of water every time you flush - half of what you normally use!" boomed Dan.
"OK," said me. "So what happens if I do a big poo?"
"Well," hesitated Dan, "I suppose you flush it twice."
"Thereby using the same amount of water as normal?" I enquired.
"Errmmm...yes," he whimpered back.
"Shall we just go to the pub?" I suggested.
"Yes," said Dan.
So we did.