Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Ben 10 Barry 3

Yes, from the distance you're viewing Jamie's new Ben 10 wall sticker - and I know some of you are several thousand miles away - it might appear quite impressive. But I assure you it's not.

Compare the Ben above to how he looked before Jamie's Daddy got at him...

...and you'll notice that half his left shoulder is now missing. 

And if you did see him up close, you'd quickly notice all the folds and air bubbles and, well - the whole thing is something of a disappointment.  And it's entirely because I made a balls of it.

At least I'll not feel so bad when, three weeks on Thursday, Jamie no doubt decides he wants his room repainted blue.

But he won't be getting a Batman wall sticker, I'll tell you that.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

(Closed) eyes right

The Whites are very tired at the moment.

So much so, that I have no idea how Vanessa mustered the energy to take this picture at 6.45 this morning.

Monday, 27 February 2012

I'll name that monster in one

Jamie's inner Ulsterman is beginning to show himself more and more. 

And why do I say this?  Simple - because he's really starting to take the p*ss out of me.  I like that.

Rather than read him a bedtime story this evening, he said he wanted me to make one up. 

"And who would you like to be in it?" I enquired.

"Jamie The Knight," he began...awwwwwww!

"And Daddy Big Legs." Yes, very funny - Mr Smart Ar*e.

Earlier, in an attempt to help him to remain fascinated by Ben 10 long enough for his Ben 10 novelty item to arrive in the post and complete his new room, I bought him a handful of miniature monsters from the series.  These included Jet Ray, who you can see above.

"What's he called?" I asked White Junior as the figure was taken out of its packet.

"Shit Breeze," said Jamie.

I really wish I hadn't laughed as loudly as I did.  It only encourages him. 

Sunday, 26 February 2012

A Barry's work is never done

This was Jamie's reaction a little earlier when I took him up to see his newly decorated and almost complete Ben 10/Toy Story-themed bedroom.

The centre-piece - which will fill the bare wall you can see behind him - is still in the post.  But don't worry, I'll bore with that when it arrives next week.   

Two weekends it's taken me to do the necessary - that's TWO WEEKENDS.  I even had to make do with listening to yesterday's Ireland v Italy Six Nations Rugby match on the radio, such was my dedication to the task in hand/willingness to get the bloody thing over with. 

The good news is that it's done.

The less good news is that, next week, I'm due to start on the dining room.  

Oh joy. 

Friday, 24 February 2012

And there was light

We've moved house twice since setting up camp in Yorkshire in 2003 and, both times, problems with our new abode quickly emerged.

It took a whole five minutes for the bathroom pipes in our last house to leak through the roof onto our kitchen floor. So that was good. 

However, the problems in our new house have been more of the slow burner variety and have emerged over the course of time.  Ill-fitted windows, damp, wonky radiators and a knackered garage door have all eventually come to light. 

However, the electric wiring has caused greatest concern. Some mains sockets are temperamental, as are one or two light fittings.  And we will have to sort them out.

But the only terminal issue seemed to be the kitchen spotlights. I blew the first bulb in the middle of last summer, bought a replacement, screwed it in and, hey presto - it didn't work.

"Ah," said me to she, "it's knackered.  We'll have to get a man in."

That was seven months ago.  But then, on Monday night, another of the three lights went, reducing us to one.  So, I got another replacement bulb out, screwed it in and - nothing.

It was at this point that I had an idea, and went to Morrisons.

Did you know you that spotlights come in different sizes?  I didn't.

On an entirely different and sadly more serious matter, a quick mention for my local MP, friend and Guiseley neighbour Stuart Andrew who, as you may have heard/read, was the victim of an horrendous assault in Parliament's Strangers' Bar on Wednesday evening.

There are some not very nice people in politics, but Stuart is most definitely one of the good guys.  Let's hope he's back to his best soon, and that he gets the sort of justice that he and his fellow victims of this appalling incident deserve.   

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

A wee day at the movies (and some Doctor Who)

An odd day dominated by mental flashes of Doctor Who, Ghost (the film with Demi Moore as opposed to Casper) and The Terminator.

I've never changed mobile phone networks before so today was my first experience of "porting."

For the uninitiated, "porting" is the process by which your mobile number is physically transferred from your old network to your new one.

In preparation for this, I had two conversations with O2 yesterday to tell me what would happen followed by a text shortly before bedtime.

And, first thing this morning, I had another text saying that the process would begin within hours.

At this stage both phones were fully operational, but my old companion of the last two years was clearly about to depart - a bit like Patrick Swayze in Ghost.

All morning I kept an eye on it, waiting for the inevitable to happen.  A daylight vigil, if you will.

But ironically, when the end did come, it was unexpected.  In fact, I was standing at a urinal having a wee with a phone in each pocket.

First, my right pocket, containing my new phone, began to vibrate (somewhat disconcerting when you're a boy in active wee mode). Then it beeped a couple of times.

All I could think of was Doctor Who regenerating - from David Tennant into Matt Smith, to be entirely accurate (again, a new experience for me when having a wee).

Two minutes later, all delicate parts of me safely tucked away, my old phone made a dull sound - and a message appeared on its battered screen to advise that its SIM card had been deactivated.  Almost reminiscent of that moment at the end of Terminator 2 when Arnie lowered himself into a tank of molten metal.  I could have sworn it tried to give me a thumbs up, but obviously couldn't because mobile phones don't have thumbs.   

So anyway, that was my day.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012


I took my first tentative step into the 21st century earlier today (a bit late, granted) when I became the owner of an iPhone.

So far I've successfully charged it up and typed in all my contacts.  And having done that, I now genuinely have no idea what I do next or, more specifically, what it does.

Save for one "app" (get me).

I speak of iPoo. 

And what is iPoo, I hear you cry?

Well I'll tell you, and I quote:

"Always find yourself with nothing to do while you're sitting on the can?"  (It's American). 

"Introducing iPoo - a new iPhone application that gives you something to do - while you poo! iPoo is a social community that brings together pooers from around the world. Write messages, draw graffiti, earn points and badges, see what others are posting."

Right.  So there we are.

Only a few hours in and what many of friends said was true; the iPhone has already had a significant impact on my life. Because I now feel ill. 

Monday, 20 February 2012

Once a Muppet (fan), always a Muppet (fan)

I am wrecked (again).

Charlotte's been unwell for the past few days.  Meanwhile, her brother Jamie's been a wee sh*t for approaching four years.

However, that did not stop me from devoting chunks of my weekend to the task of redecorating his bedroom.  This process is now on hold until next weekend when - subject to my commitment to watching every second  of the Six Nations Championship - I intend to finish the painting bits.

At least he seems prepared to do his bit to help.

To be fair, I kind of owed him one as yesterday morning he took me to see The Muppets.

If you're a thirty or fortysomething, trust me, you've really got to go.

I was instantly transported back to Sunday nights in the late 70s although, given I was in a public place, I was relieved not still to be wearing my Paddington pyjamas.

Such was the film's impact on me that, arriving home, I felt compelled to listen to Sounds of The 70s on Radio 2.  And, at night, I insisted on watching Quadrophenia  - which I'd never actually seen before.

An episode of The Dukes of Hazzard would have made my day complete. 

I'm due to turn 40 next month.  How the f*** did that happen?!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

A bread and butter argument

It was a conversation that had to happen given the Anglo-Ulster nature of Jamie's parentage, and today it did.

Scone or scone?

Coming from God's Own Country (i.e. Northern Ireland, not Yorkshire which is not a country), I KNOW that this traditional and wholly enjoyable bread-based snack (best made on my side of the Irish Sea) is pronounced "skawn."

But Vanessa, emanating from the land of HM The Queen, Selina Scott and Barbara Woodhouse, (wrongly) believes this joyous bite to be a "skooooooone."

It's not.

Mummy v Daddy skawn-skooooooone ping-pong resulted in a confused and troubled Jamie, unsure where his loyalties should lie.  And the battle continues, because neither his mother not I are prepared to give in.

But I shall be victorious, be sure of that.  Because I am right.

Friday, 17 February 2012

If only it was all a dream

Look at Charlotte.  All lovely and girlie and sweet and innocent and harmless.  Yes? 


This picture was taken shortly after 7.30 this morning, just before I crawled out of our house to get on with my day.  In the previous 12 hours, our "angelic" little daughter had allowed Vanessa and me around three hours of sleep each (not that we went to bed at 7.30pm - the darts were on for a start - but that's when we put her down). 

There were drugs being shoved into her from all directions, extra milk, you name it.  (Actually,  it was only drugs and milk - I'm getting carried away). 

But the little b**** was not for sleeping and, if she wasn't for sleeping, then neither were we. 

Until it was time for us to get up, that is.  Obviously.  And then you couldn't raise her from her gentle slumber.  

And people often wonder why we're not - that's NOT - having a third addition to the family. 

Honestly, I'd rather have a dog.  At least you can kick it.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

I might write a letter

Walking through Guiseley this morning, I genuinely had no idea there was such a thing as a mobile Post Office. 

But of all the places to set one up, outside our (open) local permanent Post Office would not have been the obvious choice.


Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Parents' breakfast morning

A much-anticipated occasion for me today when I attended the "Parents' Breakfast Morning" with Charlotte and all her little pals in the Foxgloves Room at nursery. 

The idea was for each child to bring either their mummy or daddy along to dine with them. Each parent was asked to choose in advance from a menu including bacon sandwiches, eggs on toast and cereal.  I ticked the bacon sandwich box earlier in the week and turned up at 8am sharp ready to party.

Sadly, by 8.30, I was still partying alone (other than the six toddlers staring at me and the four bored-looking members of staff coming and going and probably wondering why I was still there).

You've got to picture the scene (which I was too embarrassed to ask someone to capture for me). My six mini-pals and I were seated around a table no more than a foot in height; the kiddies on little wooden chairs with big arms, and me on a slightly larger plastic chair meant for a four-year-old.  And whilst I munched on my bacon sandwich, the junior guys and gals took it in turns to throw their toast on the floor, at each other or at me.

I felt like a special guest on The Muppet Show.

Thankfully, just before 8.35am, a mummy turned up and another kindergarten chair was found for her.  She didn't say much, but she seemed to enjoy her eggs on toast.  A couple of minutes later, and mummy number two shuffled through the door.  She too went for the eggs on toast, which arrived as mummy number one was making her exit. 

Just as she was putting the first forkful in her mouth, Charlotte pooed her pants.  And it was a bad one.

I didn't know what to do. 

Should I inform a member of staff?  No, I decided, on the grounds that whoever I told would probably have felt obliged to change her, making me feel bad. Should I subtly apologise to mummy number two for my daughter's number two?  Too humiliating, I concluded.

No, I had to go for the third /cowardly option; it was time to get out of there.  And three minutes later I was haring up the road.

I had a look on the nursery's website tonight and found the following genuine statement, dated today, in the news section:  

"The parents enjoyed having breakfast with their child and stated it was a lovely experience." 

An experience, it certainly was.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Mussel man

Happy Valentine's Day and all that.

In common with many other "modern men" (WHAT?!), tonight I shall be putting the pan on. And possibly even an apron.

I'll not bore you with the entirety of my chosen menu, which isn't desperately exciting in truth.  But it's the mussels starter which has me ill at ease. Let me explain.

As I write this, the little creatures in question are chilling happily in their bag on the fish counter at Morrisons in Guiseley, unaware of their fate.  And they'll remain unaware until around teatime when I pick them up and put them in another bag. 

Another 90 minutes later, and they'll suddenly lose the ability to be aware of anything ever again - as I boil them to death in water, white wine, some butter and a few sprigs of parsley.

Aside from their actual execution, the bit that makes me most queasy it is the "debearding."  For the uninitiated, this is the process by which you have to pull the bits of seaweed (which the mussel is presumably munching on - or maybe they use it as a comfort blanket) out of the shell, sometimes ripping the little fishy to pieces in the process.   Before you lay each one gently in the pan / death chamber.

Anyway, bon appetit to you and yours.

Monday, 13 February 2012

A tenuous attempt at sharing a tale

I was travelling to work this morning whilst listening to Chris Evans on't radio (as they say in Yorkshire).  

Regular listeners will know he has a feature called "Top Tenuous" in which people text in their associations with a celebrity in the news that day; the looser the connection, the more chance the listener has of getting a mention on air. 

Today's (albeit dead) celeb was Benny Hill on account of him being name-checked by a silent Frenchman at last night's BAFTAs.

I tell you all of this because it reminded me of the best random personal fact I've ever heard. 

It was 12 years ago and I was on one of those team building days that never achieve anything unless there's free drink at the end (and you get to achieve the feeling of being pissed).  As an "ice breaker," each of us was asked to reveal a simple piece of information about ourselves that no-one else present would be likely to know.

One by one, we went round the room and rhymed off the normal old rubbish people come out with on these pointless occasions.

"I can do the splits," was one I recall (in truth, this was hardly a surprise given the reputation of the girl in question).  

"I'm a twin," was another (prompting a collective silent response of, "gosh, there's really someone out there who's just as dull as you?")

"I've failed my driving test three times," was yet another (ironically not from me as I didn't manage to fail my driving test three times until 2006).  

I genuinely can't remember what guff I came out with, although I really hope I made it up.

Anyway, the seemingly endless journey finally came to an end with my line manager who, whilst a decent sort, was very strait-laced and not expected (certainly by me) to come out with something of this quality.

"My grandfather was the little bald bloke who used to have his head slapped every week on the Benny Hill Show."  

An absolute show stopper in my book.  It's magnificent, it's wonderful, it's hilarious. 

Indeed, for me, it's unbeatable.  

I do hope you agree.  If not, I apologise for stealing a whole minute of your life whilst you read this far. You'll never get that back, you know.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

A new generation of evil

After his initial underwhelming response to the phenomenon that is Star Wars, I decided to adopt a new approach to persuade Jamie that it is, in fact, great. 

I told him he could join the Dark Side.

Unsurprisingly, this was a career opportunity he liked the sound of. 

But it may have been suggestion that I - and perhaps the entire Universe - might live to regret.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

He didn't feel The Force

One of my earliest memories is of being carried in tears from the Palladium cinema in Coleraine after falling asleep during Star Wars.

The year was 1977 and I had looked forward to it for weeks. I even had a Star Wars ruler - exactly like the one on the left (now worth £19 on eBay).   

But it was past my bedtime and I nodded off early in proceedings.  I'm not even sure I made it through the support programme. 

In those days, as I seem to recall, there was some sort of rule which meant that big screen productions could not be shown on British television for five years after their release.  I might be wrong, but that's what someone told me.  I think.

However, I didn't see Star Wars in 1982, or even 1983.  No, I saw it in 2010. I was just busy. 

Determined that Jamie would not have such a huge Star Wars-sized hole in his life for as long as I had to endure, I made him watch it this morning. 

He wasn't that arsed.

Thursday, 9 February 2012


I've been witness to some very strange sights since moving to Yorkshire almost nine years ago, but few more bizarre than on our street first thing this morning.

What you must understand is that almost all of the snow - which was a few inches deep earlier in the week - had gone.  And it wasn't even particularly cold.

Which was why I was a little taken aback to see a (probably 50-year-old) woman stumble out of her house across the road from us wearing a woolly hat, ear muffs, a huge scarf, a massive coat, leg warmers, big gloves - and begin helping herself down her garden path with the aid of ski poles. 

That's right, ski poles. 

I stopped dead in my tracks. 

The lady looked up and could see I was a little taken aback.

"Go on, say it!" she shouted with a smile.

"Say what?" I replied.

"Ask me where my skis are!" the lady shouted back, as she inched her way down her snow free path.

I stood, fixed to the spot, feeling I could go nowhere until she at least completed the full journey of approximately six whole metres.

But then, just as she reached the end and was thinking about making a left turn - on to the snow free footpath - a car pulled up and the driver rolled down down her window to speak to her.

I held my position.

A few seconds later, the driver got out, took the ski poles off the lady and put them in the boot - whilst the lady herself began the process of squeezing herself and her estimated 27 layers of clothes into the passenger seat. 

And when she finally managed it, they drove off together into the distance.

Where they were going, goodness only knows.   But I hope it was warm, I hope it was close - and I really hope it wasn't slippy.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Cake Watch

His mother's birthday cake wasn't the first cake Jamie has sampled in recent days. Hell no.

Above you can see him at his cousin Jack's birthday tea last Sunday. 

Just look at the concentration.

Even the arrival of Jack's flaming proper cake didn't manage to divert Jamie's gaze from his original cakey prey.

And, as ever, he got what he wanted in the end.

At least the wait appeared not to be a source of regret.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

She'll be 50 before she knows it

Another birthday isn't hugely welcome when you get to Vanessa's time of  life.

But it's here yet again (can it really be 12 months since the last one?)

The kids, selfless to the end, clubbed together to get her a chocolate fountain.

Sometimes I marvel at where they get their ideas from.

Kill Wee John - Part II

Having failed to eradicate his Uncle Wee John by giving him a heart attack in the snow, Jamie then tried a more direct approach.

Yup, he hit him with a spoon - even managing to draw blood.

Needless to say I was very proud of my boy.

But not as proud as he was of himself.   

Monday, 6 February 2012

Snow funny

Norn Iron folk might be aware that many of us on this side of the Irish Sea were doused in thick snow yesterday.

Charlotte (above) had never seen snow before - and seemed to like it. 

Meanwhile, Jamie saw it as an opportunity to try to kill his Uncle Wee John, who was up for the weekend. 

Thankfully in some ways, he didn't quite manage it.  

But worse than that, he almost killed me.  

Turn your speakers up and click on play button below.    


Thursday, 2 February 2012

The last White standing (although I'm sitting down now)

I came home tonight to find carnage all around me; Charlotte was sniffling, Vanessa was waning and Jamie was fast asleep.

This bug I've mentioned in recent days has retaken hold of Vanessa and Jamie and refuses to go away, despite indications that it was preparing to do so. 

Meanwhile Charlotte is teething once again.

Jamie and Charlotte both made it through nursery - Jamie seemed fine when he went this morning - but their mum had to come home early from work. 

I managed to get both kids off to bed and attempted to persuade Vanessa to follow suit; sadly she refused and I didn't get to watch as much sport on telly as I would've wanted.  Thankfully the Premier League Darts doesn't start until next week.

But hopefully the morning will herald an upturn in everyone's well being. 

Are we downhearted?  Absolutely.

Even worse - Wee John is due to arrive tomorrow afternoon.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The three-year-old teenager

Jamie's bug continues to infiltrate the White family; today my mum reported that her special boy had left her a goodbye gift. 

Meanwhile, Master Contagion himself gained a decade in age.

After three and a half years of keeping his mother and me up, this morning Jamie decided he needed a lie in.  This is not something that's happened before, and at the weekend it would be a very welcome development. 

However, on a Wednesday, Vanessa has to be out the door by 7am.  And I have to be less than an hour behind her, dragging a cleaned and clothed Jamie and pushing a wiped and wrapped Charlotte to nursery.   

"I don't want to get up!" whined yer man.

"Tough," replied his not-in-any-way-sympathetic father.

"Five more minutes!" he pleaded.

"Five more seconds.........and that's time up," I responded.

"But I'm tired," he persevered.

"But I don't care," said me, and on it went. 

Eventually I did get him to rise, but who knows what to expect next?  A girlfriend?  A fag behind his ear?  Depression? 

Time will only tell.