Monday, 31 October 2011

I think he looks ridiculous. U2?

No doubt you, like me, will have seen some very scary sights over the Halloween period.

Jamie and Charlotte's skeleton and witch costumes are certainly up there in terror-inducing terms.  

But Wee John, dressed as a Joshua Tree era Bono last Saturday night, wins my prize.

In case you're wondering, I have absolutely no idea of the identity of those two characters holding him up.  And neither does he.    

Don't laugh at him 'cos he's a fool

It's the evening after the evening after the three previous evenings, or Wee John's fortieth birthday weekend to be more specific.

Over the next 2-3 days, I'll try to give you a flavour of what went on - or what I remember of what went on, which sadly limits things significantly.  

But for some reason I'm still rather tired.  No idea why. 

Perhaps it was all that rest we had. Because, as you can see above, we were in bed early every single night.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

I hope he's bringing ID

It's Wee John's 40th birthday today and I've got to dash off to Belfast shortly to begin a three-night tour of Northern Ireland hostelries whilst telling everyone that he's my friend.

He's not, though. He's more of a responsibility.

However, like other great men and women who have graced this planet down the centuries, I've taken the decision to do what is right and to help the little person.  Well, one little person.

And if that means putting up with what is bound to be a very long weekend of pointless banter interspersed with periods of awkward silence, then so be it.    

And...errr...well...Happy Birthday, Wee John.  I suppose.

PS You're buying.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Let's hope it Will not be necessary (for a while)

Vanessa went into the solicitor's today to agree the finer points of our Will, should either or both of us die horribly anytime soon.

She's due to return, with me in tow, in the next couple of weeks to sign on the dotted line.

That's cheery!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

I've seen the future

I was on my way to work this morning when I noticed the above sign in the window of a local pub.

Much cheaper than childcare, and so much more fun (I would guess).

Sunday, 23 October 2011

BREAKING NEWS: Charlotte can crawl!

And here's the evidence.

OK, maybe not as dramatic as Colonel Gaddafi being lynched, but exciting nonetheless.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Any old iron?

Contrary to London-centric media opinion, I'm not of the view that the North of England is trailing behind the Southerners, hell no. 

To illustrate, I was walking through Keighley, West Yorkshire at lunchtime today and what did I see but a rag and bone man.

BBC2/Whatever UK Gold Is Called These Days would have you believe that chirpy, cheeky cockneys Albert and Harold Steptoe had this particular market all to themsleves.

But it's not true.

Because Steptoe and Son aren't even real.

In fact, they're not even alive.

Onwards and upwards, that's what I say.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Farmer Jamie

Vanessa received a text at 4.30pm yesterday advising that today was "Harvest Day" in Jamie's nursery and he should arrive dressed as a farmer. 

Given the short notice, her options were a little limited but, thanks largely to Jamie's kindly cousin Jack, I think the objective was achieved. 

What impact his new persona will have on him clearly remains to be seen. 

Will he return this evening with a confrontational attitude, wool in his teeth and a belief that the world owes him a living? 

Let's hope not.

By the way, I don't mind admitting that the observation made by one of the nursery ladies - who claimed "he looks like Oliver Twist" - was treated with the disdain it deserved. 

"All he's missing is his wellies, which you have," I said. "Put them on him and he'll be transformed." 

Cheeky bitch.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Are you looking at them?

Northern Ireland doesn't have a reputation for spawning violent individuals...OK, maybe we'll put that comment in the box marked "debatable."

However, we've moved on a bit in recent years which makes violence and violent people all the more shocking wherever and whenever they appear.

Above you can see my mate Andy, the former Mayor of Larne.  Beside him is Fiona, sister of my mate Big Sean.

They look perfectly respectable, don't they?  

But both of them are in fact savages.

In the name of charity, the pair have recently surrendered to the new phenomenon of "White Collar Boxing" in which two seemingly balanced and well-bred individuals climb into a public ring and fight each other until one starts to cry.

Andy was first between the ropes last month when, in aid of a gorgeous little girl requiring specialist medical treatment, he somehow managed to overpower a big bloke from Tesco in Newtownabbey . 

Here's the evidence.

And next month Fiona is taking on some other mad woman in support of Mencap.

Her training is now going so well that she's even taking on male bouncers in the gym.

But there's still no room for complacency.

Fiona is very much open to sponsorship - here's a link to her JustGiving site.

And after her fight, I suggest both she and Andy might wish to make themselves open to some form of counselling.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Meet the Cottons

We Whites were very privileged to be invited over to Manchester at the weekend to stay with our long-time friends Jane and Ed.

And not just them, but also their beautiful children (from left) Mimi, Charlie...

...and, the most recent addition to the clan, Rosie.

The highlight? For Jamie, it was undoubtedly Jane's bedtime story.

It is a treat, after all, to have a bedtime story read to you by someone who doesn't talk funny.

Like what I do, hi.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

One up, one down

Jamie might only be three-and-a-quarter years old and Charlotte less than ten months, but their differing personalities are already very well established. 

I therefore see it as less than coincidental that this photo, taken earlier today, shows Charlotte with her feet on the ground and Jamie with his head in the clouds. 

I predict little change in the decades to come.

Friday, 14 October 2011

It's not a bird and it's not a plane

I had just left Jamie off at nursery yesterday morning and was standing at a junction waiting to cross the road to catch my train to work. 

And what did I see travelling along Guiseley main street?

A bus?

Well, yes.  But not just any bus.

No, it was an Ulsterbus. Probably made in Ballymena.

I've never seen an alien spacecraft, but the feeling would not have been any more surreal had one performed a fly past at that very same moment.

If only I could persuade my friend Clare to bring the Railway Arms, Northern Ireland's - nay, the world's  - greatest pub over to Yorkshire once in a while too.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

A Wise choice

Jamie arrived home from nursery yesterday with the following note in his Fireman Sam backpack:

"Dear Parent/Guardian of Jamie

"Role in the Nativity - Wise Man

"As our Christmas play is fast approaching, we would like to ask for your outfits by 25th of November. This is so we can start dress rehearsals and also the local paper will be visiting to take photos to be published.

"If you need any help sourcing an outfit, please ask a member of staff or the office for some ideas."

Neither Vanessa nor I had any idea our son had even auditioned for such a high profile role. 

But we are obviously thrilled at his success and have already got our in-house costume department on with the task in hand.

We now look forward to walking down the red carpet to see him perform following the 10 weeks of intensive rehearsals that now lie ahead.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

A Pleasant truth

Last night Vanessa and I watched the first episode of Sky One's new comedy drama series Mount Pleasant. 

It was my idea to give it a go - we still have six left to watch - because I like this sort of brainless drivel.

And because Bobby Ball is in it.

For almost 30 years I have been constantly amused by how much my pal Wee John looks like Bobby Ball.

And I challenge anyone to argue with me.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

She even likes having her tummy tickled

We don't have a real pussy cat in our house.

What we do have is a nine-month-old little girl who does an increasingly good impression of one.

Monday, 10 October 2011

A captive audience

Today Vanessa had her first day back at work since beginning maternity leave in late November last year.

But having been left literally holding the children, I'm now glad she doesn't go back for real until January. 

Because whilst I have sometimes considered becoming a househusband, I now know for sure that it's not for me.

The secret of success?  I have absolutely no idea.  

My tactic revolved around captivity but, judging by the looks on their faces, I'm not sure it worked for either Jamie or Charlotte.

Still, at least I didn't lose them. 

Sunday, 9 October 2011

What a circus

I took Jamie for his first visit to the circus earlier today. 

And here's a summary of what happened.

The lights went down, that circus music we all know came on and a horse came out, dressed as a ringmaster.  She then introduced some other horses, this time actual real horses.

Jamie got some popcorn.

We then had a clown, a magician, a tightrope walker, two camels, some more horses and what appeared to be a pole dancer on a rope.

Jamie got a flashing sword.

We had some more horses, a couple of zebras, the pole dancer on a trapeze and the magician again.

Then the horse dressed as a ringmaster (or should it be ringmistress?) came out and told us they'd all be back next year.

So might Jamie and possibly Charlotte.  Accompanied by their mother.        

Friday, 7 October 2011

The exceptions that prove the rule

I like to choose for myself which charities I support.

But one way to stop me giving to any particular cause is to be ambushed in the street by one of those soap-dodging "charity muggers" or "chuggers" who asks me how my day is going.

"Sh*te - f*** off!" is the special response I usually reserve for those smiley b*****ds, who I detest.

But, since moving to our new abode a few months ago, I've encountered a new problem in the form of charity cold callers who phone me up to ask me how my day is going.

As it happens, "sh*te - f*** off!" is the reply they tend to get from me too.     

But today I feel I owe chuggers and charity cold callers something of an apology.

Because this afternoon I was ambushed in the street by a hairy chugger. And, since arriving home, have been cold called by a patronising woman who asked if I was also a woman.

Sticking to the script, I told them both to "f*** off!" and, as a result, my day is no longer "sh*te."  In fact, I've never felt better.

So it's a sorry from me then.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

To the child psychiatrist and beyond!

I've often been accused - harshly in my view - of making my children look silly in the name of a cheap laugh.

But the photo of Jamie you can see above is not of my doing, it's the work of his mother. 

She should be ashamed of herself. 

And in the name of responsible parenting, I ask you to look away now. 

Or after you've had a cheap laugh.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Nuns on the rum

There were many bizarre sights at this year's Conservative Party Conference - as there are every year.

But this one, in a bar close to the main venue, wins my first prize.

May God go with them all

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Ulster Fry?

Waking up to the age-old tradition of an Ulster Fry - or a "heart attack on a plate" - is something that remains special to many of my diaspora.
And when the opportunity arises, it's nice to share the experience (if not your sausage) with others.

So, this morning, I sat down with more than 100 Ulstermen and women, British and Irish dignitaries, do-gooders, former do-badders and a smattering of plastic paddies for the annual Conservative Party Conference Ulster Fry.

Unlike last year, Martin McGuinness wasn't present, making it easier for me to swallow.

But his Sinn Fein colleague Conor Murphy did make it along, giving me an incredible urge to want to spit.

For the record and because the media were present, it was a temptation I bravely managed to resist.

Monday, 3 October 2011

The Comedians

Night one of the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester where the highlight was the North of England reception featuring a Chubby Brown-inspired routine from David "It's The Way I Tell 'em" Cameron...

...and a selection of re-heated William Hague one-liners about John "It's The Way I Shag 'em" Prescott.

Sadly, Peter Kay isn't a Tory so he wasn't there.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Sometimes you just have to "spoil" yourself

I crawled across the Bradford Half Marathon finish line in a time of 1 hour 56 minutes and 12 seconds shortly before 11 o'clock this morning. 

And at times I felt like an uphill skier.  Without skies.  Or snow.  But with lots of big hills in front of me.  Come on, you get the idea. 

Ever the glutton for punishment, I'm now about to leave for Manchester where I'm due to spend the next four days at the Conservative Party Conference. 

Perhaps, on my return, I'll chop a leg off.  And maybe an arm.  And then burn all my clothes.

Self-loathing can be such a debilitating disease.