Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Best laid plans laid low

Despite the military precision with which I planned Jamie and my Halloween Boys' Day Out, it's fallen to an arse (as they say in the posher parts of Coleraine).

Jamie hasn't been 100% since his school broke up last week and, after a couple of duvet days on Saturday and Sunday, it appeared the worst was behind him.  But, as you can see above, the duvet is back out of the cupboard.

As a result, our cinema trip was binned and, although he did eat half a Happy Meal at our local McDonald's, his appearance at his good mate Euan's Halloween party later today is in the balance.

One person who will not be missing out on the Halloween festivities is Charlotte who flew solo to nursery this morning on her baby broomstick.  

OK, that's not true - but she did look cute before the off dressed as a junior witch.  

Don't get too scared tonight.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

White faces

I went to see my dentist today who confirmed that I had an abscess on my tooth, before adding: "Actually, the pus is so tightly packed it could be classed as a cyst.  There's an enormous amount of infection in there."

Kiss anyone?

After prescribing antibiotics the size of dinner plates, she decreed that the tooth had to go with the execution scheduled for sunrise (well, 9.20am) next Friday. I'm obviously looking forward to that immensely.

More positively, I've booked tomorrow off to look after Jamie who remains on his first-ever half-term break. Last Friday, I took him to the cinema followed by McDonald's.  Tomorrow, the plan is very different  - I'm taking him to the cinema followed by Burger King. It's good to keep him on his toes.  Failing that, it's convenient (for me) to keep him on his bum eating popcorn and chips.

And then it's off to his friend Euan's scary Halloween party.  My swollen face will negate the need for me to make any special dressing-up efforts, but Jamie is going as a vampire. 

Last night he and Charlotte were practising their spooky faces and, as you can see below, I think they're making good progress.  Either that, or my camera phone is pants.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Drugs cheat

I woke up this morning with a sore jaw, which I quickly self-diagnosed as an abscess on the same tooth as a few weeks ago.  I doubt that Mr Tooth will be with me to enjoy the weekend - I'll see what Miss Dentist says in the next day or two.

But, to use probably the most annoying sporting cliche of present times, I've got to take the positives out of this.  And there is one. 

On the way home, I called into the supermarket to pick-up some painkillers and found Nurofen on offer (wait, that's not it).  So I attempted to buy two small boxes (just to have one in) together with a small box of paracetamol.  But I wasn't allowed to because (according to the till man) current legislation forbids grown adults from buying more than two packs of over-the-counter pills in a single visit.

Did you know that?  I certainly didn't, so I've learnt something today. Every cloud folks, every cloud.

(Needless to say, I then walked across the road to Boot's to buy the paracetamol. Your average painkiller junkie would obviously not have thought of that).         

Sunday, 28 October 2012


Charlotte was sent home from nursery the other day with her "Learning Journal," a genuinely priceless written and pictorial record of her development and achievements since day one at Busy Bees.  It's a great credit to the girls and (one) boy (he's called Paul) who have put it together.

But there is one line in there which, with the utmost respect, seems just a tad difficult to believe. 

Whilst she is learning lots of new words (and is therefore able to make her ever-increasing list of demands much easier to understand), she can't yet string them together. 

In fact, "all gone" are the only two words she has ever said consecutively, to either Vanessa or me, in a single burst.  

It was therefore with an element of surprise/scepticism that we read the following entry in her journal.

"Charlotte is playing. She walks to a member of staff and says: 'Where the ball gone?'"

So, according to nursery, not only can she construct an entire sentence in question form, but she apparently delivers it in fluent Jamaican.

Still, I won't worry. About a thing. Because every little thing is going to be all right. 

I'm now off for a morning donut.  Wi' jam in.  

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Family affair

Our good friends Louise and Tim - here in the UK on a two-year loan deal with Australia, but tragically living in Wales - came to stay last night and even risked a taste of our home cooking. 

You'll be thrilled to learn that Louise isn't normally that fat, but is in fact due to give birth to child number two (a boy) in just a few weeks.

Pictured snuggling up to her is child number one Scarlett, who turns three next week.

Jamie also had his chance for a bit of the Scarlett treatment 

And this could not have been better timed.  Because in a brief conversation with yours truly a few hours earlier, he came out with a couple of rather worrying revelations.

"Daddy, I think I know who I'm going to marry," said Jamie.

"Oh really," I replied, before demanding to know the identity of the shameless little hussy.

"Charlotte," he announced.  Oh dear.  Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.  It was time to point something out. 

"You can't marry Charlotte," I said.

"Why not?"

"Because she's your sister, and you're not allowed to marry your sister."

"Who says?"

"The police."


So he thought for a second, before his next thunderbolt.

"I'll marry mummy instead."

"Good idea," I replied.      

Thursday, 25 October 2012

One for the ladies

Tonight, Vanessa is due to attend a "Shopping and Pampering Evening" at Jamie's school. 

For a mere £2 (including a free glass of vino), mummies can access a range of "affordable items not seen on the high street including children's books, toys and clothes, accessories, bath and beauty items, cards, jewellery, items for the home and much more - a great start to your Christmas shopping (or perhaps a treat for yourself!)"

And that is not all.  Hell no. 

Because there will also be an on site "pamper room" (think nails, hair and massage), a cafe and a "food room."  Oh yes.

And lest the daddies feel we have been forgotten, there is some excellent news for us too.

Because next Thursday evening - a mere seven sleeps from now - the school is throwing a "Beer and Strippers Night" featuring the dinner ladies!

OK, I made that last bit up.   

Wednesday, 24 October 2012


Less than eight weeks into his school career, and already Jamie seems to know more about most things than I do.

Take biology as an example. 

Yesterday Master W revealed that, "if you have a big willy, you can poo out of it." 

What a discovery.

My mind has since been doing somersaults wondering what other body parts have hidden talents that I've missed. 

I look forward to being educated further this evening.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Bannsiders on the box

It was quite a night in Coleraine last night when the Sky Sports cameras came to town to capture the Bannsiders' dramatic 3-2 injury time victory over Belfast chip-eaters Linfield. 

It was clearly an event not to be missed - so (from left to right) Paul, Jamie and John joined me in not missing it. 

There were even a couple of local celebrities in the ground.

Cold Feet actor Jimmy Nesbitt was one.

And, resplendent in brown leather, my dad was there too.

He didn't drink soup, tea or coffee before the game, after the game or at half-time.  But I am assured that he didn't go home thirsty. 

Sunday, 21 October 2012

White mugs gallery

Jamie and I got a bit bored tonight, so we found a caricature app for my phone and took some family pictures.

I'm really not (that) fat, I just haven't shaved for a couple of days.  Really.

Balls not required

It's Sunday morning and almost time for Jamie and I to make our weekly trip across the road to Nunroyd Park for micro rugby.

I know someone who really wishes she could go too.

But she'd be far too tough for all the others.

Saturday, 20 October 2012


Premier League football clubs traditionally unveil their new kits long before the players get to wear them, fashionistas preview their seasonal collections long before they're available in the shops.  In fact, wedding dresses now seem to be the only outfits that the masses still have to wait until the big day to marvel over.

It is in keeping with this contemporary approach, and in yet another White Stuff exclusive, that I formally present you with Jamie's 2012 Trick Or Treat costume.

Pretty scary, eh?

Let's hope the good residents of Guiseley offer him sweets rather than blood come Halloween night.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Comfort eater

The bad news is that, today, poor little scratchy Charlotte was diagnosed with eczema.

Above you can see her with a selection of the remedies prescribed by her GP, Dr Brown Bear (who may not actually be called that). 

The good news is that this inconvenient state of affairs has not affected her appetite.  

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Row-bo Charlotte

Earlier this week I posted a picture of Jamie and Charlotte posing in plastic boxes - similar to the shot you can see above. And couple of people contacted me to ask what that was all about.  So let me explain.

Charlotte has started going to baby gymnastics.  As an integral part of this, she has been learning to sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" - complete with actions.      

But, to my mind, you can't properly learn the actions to "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" without a boat  (which neither the baby gym nor I, to be fair, have).  So I improvised with a plastic box - and got Jamie along for company. In another plastic box.

But I also didn't have a lake nor oars.  Making the while exercise a little pointless.

But at least Charlotte raised a smile - and occasionally mumbled "row, row, bo."  Which was good.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

U bender

Despite being occasionally found waving a paintbrush at a wall on weekends, a lack of handyman skills is one of my many personal inadequacies.

I can't put up a curtain rail without the help of someone who can put up a curtain rail, I dare not lay carpet and, as a rule, I tend not to have a go at fixing things.  Because the end result is inevitably much worse than the broken state of whatever it is that's already broken.

But last night - shamed into something of a corner - I had a go at fixing the kitchen sink. 

A blockage had meant that neither the sink itself nor the dishwasher, which is connected to the same pipe, would drain.  On Monday evening, I did what I have done many times before and poured a load of that expensive unblocker fluid stuff down the pan. And nothing happened.  So I poured some more down.  Still nothing happened.

I concluded that the only option was to phone Mark, our local friendly plumber, who knows about these things.  That was until Vanessa gently suggested that I might want to disconnect and clean out the U-bend.  She might as well have been talking Martian, or Scouse, for all the sense it made.

But, after a quick piece of Internet research and heart in mouth, I whipped my big spanner out.  Sadly, it wasn't big enough (leave it).  So I improvised by putting on some gloves and attempting to unscrew the big screwy clamp things by hand.  And, to my huge surprise, I managed it with only quite a lot but not total flooding of the kitchen floor as a side effect.  I then swiftly located a big lump of minging, hardened grease inside, pushed it out with a screwdriver and, bingo, victory was mine. 

What a star.

Tomorrow and clearly on a roll, I'm planning to have a crack at changing a light bulb.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Mr Bean is an Ulsterman

The fact that I speak with an alternative lilt to Jamie was something that was bound to come up eventually.  And yesterday it did.

He was talking to Vanessa whilst I was at work and asked why I always called him “Jimmy” instead of Jamie.

“Because he’s from Northern Ireland,” was Vanessa’s response, quickly adding (accordring to her) that this simply meant I had a different accent to him rather than just being a bit thick.

This morning I raised the matter with him directly, making the point that whilst it might sound like I was calling him Jimmy, I was in fact attempting to call him Jamie.

He stared at me blankly for a couple seconds, and then said this: “Daddy, is Mr Bean also from Northern Ireland because I can’t understand a word he says either?”

I said yes but deep down I was pure gutted, so I was.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Mind the cop

For me, the most telling aspect of Northern Rail's "Meet Your Manager" event at Guiseley station this morning was the required presence of a police officer.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Green with exhaustion

A few months ago, I spent the weekend painting our dining room green. But despite my initial pride in the job, it turned out to be the wrong green.

So I spent this weekend painting it another green.

I hope that weekend and this weekend felt more rewarding for you than they did for me.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Jingle Jangle Jamie

Above you can see the throngs of school mates awaiting the command performance of Red Class at Guiseley Infants School assembly this morning.  Behind the camera is a separate throng of parents displaying varying degrees of enthusiasm/pride.

And up front is Jamie and his crew (he's the tall one - I didn't realise he was tall until today).

And I know - I just KNOW - you will want to see a short clip of them doing their thing.  So here you go (I take no responsibility for Jamie's "moves").

The most bizarre part of this morning was when headteacher Mrs Bell clambered into the middle of her pride to freak the bejesus out of them.  Mrs Bell is the only teacher I've encountered - in fact, the only non-global sporting icon other than Elmo from Sesame Street - who talks about herself in the third person. Mr White, sorry, I was certainly most amused by this.

And in common with Mrs W, I was obviously very proud of my boy.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Packet of Arthur, please

I write this hopeless blog for a number of reasons (none of which are immediately apparent, I grant you). 

One is a poor attempt to leave behind something of a time capsule for my children.  This includes reference to the occasional earth-shattering event which they can look back on in years to come and say: "Nope, I don't remember that.  How boring."  That kind of thing. 

One such moment arrived today when Guinness unveiled their brand new product, soon to be available in a supermarket/pub near you. 


I am genuinely so excited that I can hardly believe it.

Apparently they go very well with...............Guinness! 

And there was me thinking there were still another 75 sleeps to go until Christmas.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The female of the species is as hungry as the male

With the exception of Posh Spice - who I'm not sure is actually a human being at all - I believe there can little argument that females are at least as ravenous in the food department as their male subordinates.

Take our Charlotte, an an example. 

Above you can see her having breakfast this morning - to Jamie's disbelief.  His disbelief is based on the fact that she was about to go to nursery.  To have breakfast.

Now let's rewind to Sunday, when Jamie was at a pirate party...

...(told you so) and I was at home tasked with giving Charlotte her tea.

Which I did (look at that the size of it)...

...and she promptly demolished.

Her plate was clear by the end, trust me.  Then it was time for dessert.

And that seemed to go down well too.

I think my point is made. 

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Left, right, right, left

On the left is the box that holds our electricity meter, on the right is the box that holds our gas meter. 

And why am I (clearly) boring you with this?

Well, a few weeks ago Vanessa said that we'd been asked to do readings of both meters and send the figures to the respective suppliers.  Fair enough, the only problem was that I couldn't open either box.

I tried every tool I had in the garage, most recently on Sunday, and could shift neither triangular screw thingy. 

So yesterday I went to a DIY shore and asked if they had an implement to open a box guarded by a triangular screw thingy.  They said no.  I settled for a new set of pliers - to add to the other three sets I'd already tried out at home. 

Last night I attacked both of our triangular screw thingies with my new set of pliers, but could shift neither. 

I was then almost physically bowled over by a sudden shot of inspiration. 

Why didn't I try turning the triangular screw thingies from right to left rather than the more conventional (in my book) left to right?

So I did - and both doors flew open.

Sometimes my redoubtable genius impresses even me.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Everyone loves a trier

Jamie earned his post-rugby pasta today after scoring his first ever try.  And needless to say Sad Dad me caught it on video. 

Even if you know nothing about rugby, you will probably be aware that you need to actually go forward to score any points. Not sideways.  That reality finally dawned on Jamie this morning, and his ever patient coach could not have been more relieved/amusing.

Have a look if you're bored.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Touched by Pippa

For some reason (probably Ryder Cup-related), I've felt exhausted all week - hence my failure to update this rubbish since Tuesday.

But last night I went to bed and had a dream.

I dreamt - and I'm not making this up - that Pippa Middleton asked me to join her mixed-sex touch rugby team, an offer I accepted.  I even took part in a training session, before Jamie arrived to wake me up.

And somehow, some way, I now feel reinvigorated and ready for whatever life is about to throw at me. 

Funny that.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

What a performance

Northern Ireland folk will be very well aware of the life and times of notorious loyalist terrorist Michael Stone; those of you not fortunate enough to come from there may not.

In you are in the latter category, I can advise you that Michael Stone is a very bad man who in 1988 was jailed for 638 years for a series of offences including three murders.

However, following the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, he was released on licence in July 2000.  A surprising development for many, but this is Northern Ireland we're talking about.

Unsurprisingly, the egotistical/bonkers Mr Stone did a series of bizarre things over the next few years until, on 24 November 2006, he went on a day trip to the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont. 

He didn't arrive empty-handed, bringing with him an imitation pistol, three knives, a garrote, an axe and just the nine bombs. The purpose of his little visit was to murder Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. He immediately had his release licence revoked and was ordered to serve the remainder of his original 638 year sentence. 

But here's the thing. 

In court, Stone's lawyer claimed on his behalf that the Stormont incident was not intended to endanger the life of anyone. "It was, in fact, a piece of performance art replicating a terrorist attack", he said.  Of course it was. Which was why the judge described his defence as "hopelessly unconvincing" - before sending him down for another 16 years. 

And why do I tell you all of this?  Well, because Jamie was naughty this morning by getting up too early and refusing to go back to sleep. 

I grilled him about his poor behaviour on the way to school this morning, to which he replied: "I wasn't being a bad boy, because I'm not a bad boy.  I was just pretending to being a bad boy."

So another of performance art, then.  

I haven't yet decided on Jamie's punishment, but grounding him for 16 years might be a touch harsh.  Perhaps I'll take away his chocolate stash for a day or two.