Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Self-praise - is still praise

Around a year ago, I bought the tee shirt you can see above for Jamie.

He couldn't string big sentences together back then, but it was clear that he loved it. 

At just five months old, Charlotte obviously can't talk at all.

But I'm certain she'll adore her very own present from me. 

Because like her brother, she's a very good judge. 

Monday, 30 May 2011

One for the ladies

Rightly or wrongly - who am I to judge? - females do have a reputation for being bad at parking.  

But I think I have uncovered an exception to this "rule."

As you can see, yesterday Charlotte managed to skillfully and effortlessly manoeuvre her walker into the tight confines of her baby gym.  

We're considering rallying lessons for her birthday.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Jamie the Unclean

Day five of Jamie's Great Chickenpox Adventure and, after some deliberation, Vanessa and I decided it might be time to re-introduce him to the outside world.

But there was a slight problem; being semi-responsible parents, we had to find somewhere he was unlikely to come into contact with other kids.  

We chose a lake a few miles away with ducks - we were fairly confident ducks don't get chicken pox. 

However, we forgot that there was a little playground adjacent to the lake, which Jamie quickly spotted and demanded to enter.  

Thankfully, fate was kind. 

Because this playground was the first I have encountered with what appears to be a special swing for children with contagious diseases.

Leeds City Council, I salute you.    

Saturday, 28 May 2011

I didn't have grey hair in 2005

Vanessa and I were married six years ago today - so only 12 more months until she gets the itch. 

Ever the traditionalist, I did a bit of research the other day to discover that sixth wedding anniversary gifts should be themed around sugar and/or metal.

However, being a little busy this week, it was only yesterday lunchtime that I got around to searching for appropriate items.

The sugar bit was easy: a full-size chocolate bottle from Thornton's?

"I'll have one!" said me to the bored assistant.

The metal element proved a touch more problematic.

A new iron?  She'd kill me.

Photo frames?  She has loads.

Jewellery?  Nothing jumped out.

A new car?  I'd never get it home on the train.

And then it came to me.

A king-size bottle of Bombay Sapphire - complete with metal cap.

Sometimes my genius amazes even me.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Trust me and go see this

I'm finally over my North West 200 disappointment, and the antidote arrived via the silver screen - or the 3D screen, to be strictly accurate.

TT3D: Closer To The Edge is the recently released tale of the incredible men (and one woman) who ride the Isle of Man TT.

Filmed in the run-up to and through last year's event, it is essentially a fly-on-the-wall documentary which offers a very special insight into what makes these fearless individuals tick.

Without wishing to sound too much like a one-man cliche machine, it's exhilarating, it's heart-breaking and it's enormous fun.

And bizarre as it sounds, you don't have to be a bike fan to enjoy it (although my stepdad-in-law Mike, a self-confessed motorbike nut who was sitting alongside me, simply adored it).

Also, whilst the 3D element is impressive, it's the story which knocks you sideways.  So, if you don't have a chance to see it in the cinema, do yourself a favour and grab a copy of the DVD when it appears or order it on Sky Box Office or whatever. 

I promise that you'll want to stay on-board right to the finishing line. (Do you see what I did there?)

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Pass the calamine lotion

"Be careful what you wish for," so the saying goes.

And I can understand the sentiment.

Because Vanessa picked Jamie up from nursery as normal tonight - only to discover that he has chicken pox.   

As someone who reached the ripe old age of 14 before catching this most horrible of plagues, I can fully understand why so many parents want their kids to get it out of the way early.  And they're clearly right.

But, in the short-term, our son is now effectively banned from nursery and likely to spend at least the next five days being grumpy.  

And just as he's getting better, you can guess who's bound to start showing the first signs of a rash.

That's right - her.

Am I being negative? Hell yes.  But I know I'm right - you know I'm right. AAARRGGHH!!!!!

By the way, were you aware that chimpanzees and gorillas can get chicken pox?  No?  Well they can.  But at least they enjoy a good scratch.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

A drink with the Whites

Back to the weekend, and we ended our trip on Saturday evening with something of a family and friends dinner. 

I say "we" but, to be honest, Jamie isn't yet up to downing six pints of Guinness and a bottle of wine at a single sitting, so I left him with my mum. 

Closest to the camera are my sisters Gwen (left) and Jacquie, both of whom, I'm proud to say, did drink reasonably heavily.

My niece Katie and nephew Sebastian obviously weren't allowed (Gwen is their all-powerful mother). 

But I most certainly did partake...

...as did MC Dad.

All in all, a very classy evening.

Monday, 23 May 2011

They win again

Us Whites are due to move house next Friday; we now live in Pudsey, and our new abode is approximately five miles away in Guiseley.

To get to work in Keighley, I currently get the train from New Pudsey via Leeds.

From the week after next, I'll be travelling on an entirely different line from Guiseley via Shipley.

So why, this morning, did I buy a brand new monthly season ticket from New Pudsey via Leeds costing £99.50?

Because I'm a total f***ing idiot, that's why.   

Seriously, none of you would ever want to be me.  Not even for a minute.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Are we downhearted? Er, yes, very much so

Nightmare, nightmare, nightmare.

That's all I can say about this year's North West 200.

OK, I'll try a bit harder.

Nightmare 1: It chucked it down all day.  But it got worse.

Nightmare 2: There was a hoax bomb scare, halting proceedings for around an hour whilst the security forces did their thing. But it got worse.

Nightmare 3: A two-mile long, three metre-wide oil spillage, which couldn't be cleared, meant that only one (shortened) race could be completed all day.

I felt incredibly sorry for the many volunteers who spent a year preparing for this - all for pretty much nothing.     

And I was gutted for my dad who, like me, was looking forward to being in the grandstand for the first time.

All very disappointing. 

The one particularly heartening note in an otherwise devastating day was that I got to spend some time with my old school mates Jonny and Richard times two, initially at the event...

...and then in the pub.

But, other than one Richard (above right) who is due to return to his adopted home in New Zealand very soon, I am certain that we'll all give it another go again next year.

NB I thought this bloke had the right idea.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Biker boys

Jamie and I fly off tomorrow teatime for our second annual Relentless International North West 200 boys' weekend.

If you haven't heard of the North West before, then I'm very disappointed.

And if you have, you'll already know it's the world's fastest motorcycle road race which just so happens to take place around the hallowed tarmac of Coleraine, Portstewart and Portrush on the beautiful North Coast of Northern Ireland.

The second and final practice session starts at 10am on Thursday, with the races themselves running throughout Saturday - and you can watch all the action online via the BBC website (there's even red button coverage on race day).

I'm no bike expert but I simply adore this event, now officially the biggest outdoor sporting spectacle in Ireland with an estimated 160,000 spectators expected to line the nine-mile circuit on Saturday should the sun choose to shine.

We're back on Sunday - probably with heavy colds.  

Monday, 16 May 2011

I'll take that

Today was to be the day when I hoped to receive some good news and some bad news.

On the plus side - according to the dreamy side of my brain - I was to become the proud owner of some prime tickets for next year's Olympics.  More negatively, I was going to end up heavily in debt as a result. 

But, in common with everyone else I know who applied, it's been one huge anti-climax - for now, at least. 

I've just done some online digging and found a comment from London 2012 organisers confirming that the month-long process of taking money out of people's accounts had begun, but that current numbers were "a trickle, not a flood." So we'll see what tomorrow brings (or takes away from my battered bank balance).

However, as luck would have it, some real tickets did arrive today - you can see one above.

Is it wrong to feel just a tinge of excitement?

Yes, you're right; it's very wrong indeed. 

But I'm still going to go.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Nightie night

This evening, Charlotte went to bed for the first time in a girlie nightie (thanks Auntie Dot). 

And yes, those really are her feet coming out the end.

I trust you will sleep as well as Vanessa and I REALLY hope she does.

Spot the former Deputy Prime Minister

It's not every day you meet a rabbit that looks like John Prescott.

But this morning I did.

Fat b*stards.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Emerging from Jamie's shadow

The kids are back on their respective wheels today after a week when all four Whites were coughing, sniffling - and worse.

Five months old, Charlotte is now beginning to pick up all sorts of new tricks from her big brother.

And the ability to sneeze, wet and poo herself simultaneously is certainly very special.

She now has it off to a pee, sorry, tee.


Contrary to what I said yesterday, I'm afraid I can no longer give you any more information about the lovely ladies with whom Wee John has been sharing breakfast in recent weeks. 

It appears they've all got super-injunctions. 

Friday, 13 May 2011

Wee John comes out of the closet (as not gay)

Something very surprisingly has happened in relation to this blog; somewhat incredibly, I’ve had complaints for not updating it since Monday. Gripes like that are very warmly received.

The truth is that not very much has happened in my world over the last few days, at least not stuff that I imagine you would have the slightest interest in hearing about. (And, before you say it, yes I know this has not stopped me before).

The exception was Tuesday night’s discovery – during a brief sojourn to our nation’s capital city – that Wee John has been playing at home. In his Wee Bed. With fully grown ladies.

The revelations – which His Weeness/Smugness made no effort to deny – were made by his admirably patient flatmate Shane, who you’ve met before.

More details will be released her over the coming days.

But there will be no pictures - principally because I don't have any. But I'm working on it.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Hard not to smile

A combination of watching too much late night election coverage and, more particularly, the constant presence of two rowdy infants have left me exhausted over the past couple of days - hence no blog updates.

It was therefore with a feeling of sheer horror that I was hauled from my slumber shortly after 5.30am today with a bark from Jamie next door enquiring if it was yet "morning time."

I crawled in, lay down beside him and begged for just a few more minutes kip. Or an hour, if it was on offer. But, needless to say, he was having none of it.

He didn't stop rambling for a good 20 minutes, by which time I was reaching my wits end.

And then he burst into song.

It was a number I had heard before, although only the first line.

But Jamie insisted on singing it in full.

To the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, this, dear friends, is Twinkle Twinkle Chocolate Bar:

Twinkle twinkle chocolate bar
My dad drives a rusty car
Pull the starter push the choke
Off we go in a cloud of smoke
Twinkle twinkle chocolate bar
My dad drives a rusty car

It made me laugh out loud - not a regular occurrence for me at 5.53am on a Monday morning - and all was kind of forgiven.

But I'm still wrecked.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Another year, another cliche

It's stupid o'clock and I'm sitting up to watch the overnight coverage of the election results in England, Scotland and Wales - they don't count in Northern Ireland until the morning. 

There's nothing actually happening at the moment (I can tell you're surprised) so I thought I might take the opportunity to briefly advise that my visit to the polling station went as it has always gone since I moved to Pudsey in 2004, although this year with an added twist.    

And I quote.

Polling clerk: "Name?"

Me: "Barry White."

Polling clerk: "Are you the Barry White?"

Me: "No."

Polling clerk [pointing at her large, black, female colleague several desks along]: "Would you like to sing to her?

Me: "No."

Her friend didn't look too disappointed, to be fair.   But perhaps a little shocked. 

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Jamie’s secret arms

There’s nothing worse than a pushy or over-proud parent, as I was starkly reminded first thing this morning.

I set off for work a little earlier than normal and arrived at the front door of Jamie’s nursery bang on 7.30am.

There was already a growing queue of other parents looking to off-load their sprogs at the earliest possible opportunity.

Within a few seconds, the front door had swung open and Jamie and I were heading towards his personal peg to hang up his coat and bag.

That done, it was time to sign him in at the Pre-School Room.

I say sign him in, but that’s not really what happens – it’s much more exciting than that.

Because each morning, after locating the laminated bumble bee with his name on, he has to answer a question written on a notepad and then place his bumble bee next to what he believes is the correct answer.

Normally, when we arrive a little later than we did today, it’s just me and him in the signing in area. But this morning there was a sudden crowd of mum, dads and inmates waiting to answer the exact same question.

So I boldly decided that my boy should do it for us all.

“OK Jamie,” I announced, “here’s today’s question!” I could feel the excitement behind me building.

“How many arms do you have? TWOOOOO.........or four?”

Jamie pondered briefly, before taking a deep breath and bellowing at the top of his voice:


I was devastated – as the now massed ranks of children around us shouted out in unison that the answer (for them at least) was actually two.

I swear I could feel the grins of the other mums and dads burning through my back.

Perhaps White Jnr will be more of a wordsmith than a mathematician.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Death of a coward

I write this blog for a number of reasons - none of which are immediately apparent, granted - but one is to leave something of a time capsule behind for my children.

That being so, it would be remiss of me not to mention today's happy ending for Osama bin Laden, for ten years the world's most wanted man.

I've got a bit rattled as the day has gone on as (predictably enough) a procession of individuals have lined up to tut-tut at what happened in Sheikh bin Laden's Pakistani holiday home.

But, you see, I'm not a fan of terrorists.  Because they kill people.

And if you kill people, it's very possible that you'll get killed yourself.

I hope it hurt.

Norfolk 'n' fun

Just back from our weekend escape to a caravan park in north Norfolk, after which I can dutifully report that William and Kate must have gone somewhere else.

Whilst there, Jamie enjoyed the biggest ice cream in the world. 

Later, determined to ensure Charlotte broke into a smile, Jamie forced one on her.

And later still, he hugged his little sister so enthusiastically that he almost broke her.

A reminder that the next Bank holiday weekend (for most) is only four weeks away.