Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Steady on

Ladies and gentlemen, meet my very good friend Drew Hutchinson - better known in showbiz circles as DJ Steady. He is an extremely kind and generous man. He is also a more than bit mad.

You may have noticed that Steady is pictured holding a large Angry Bird (it's the one on the left). But why is this Barry, I hear you cry? Well, funnily enough, there is a story behind it.

Jamie has recently developed a bit of an obsession with Angry Birds (I think it's got something to do with the amount of time he's been spending with Vanessa and Charlotte). So, when I was walking through a popular arcade during last week's trip to Northern Ireland, I made the fatal error of passing one of those machines with the big hooks that grab the cuddly toys (in this case Angry Birds) before dropping them just as you think you're about to win one.  Jamie was uncompromising in his demand that I had a go.  Sadly, £7 later, we remained an Angry Bird-less family. And Jamie was in floods of tears when I said I was giving up.  (It was like of those scenes in Holby City when the consultant decides it's time to hand the heart patient over to the morgue). 

A soft touch in such situations and desperate to make him stop, I announced that I would buy him an Angry Bird instead.  And could we please leave the effing arcade as I was broke.  

But that was where my problems were only beginning because, after two subsequent days of trying  - in Belfast, Coleraine, Portush and Portstewart - an Angry Bird could not be found.   It was just as my last desperate possibility fell away (Tesco, since you're asking) that I walked into the Bull's Eye in Coleraine to meet Steady for a drink.  And, magically, my fortunes transformed.  

He asked how my day had gone, I told him it had gone very definitely downwards and explained why.  He asked where I had seen the Angry Birds in the machine.  I told him.  He said he knew the man who serviced the machine and would get me an Angry Bird.  I said that was incredibly kind, but he really didn't have to go to such efforts.  He insisted.  I told him he was mad.  He told me to shut up.  I told him he was mad again.  He told me to shut up again (although this time he didn't use the word "shut").  I agreed to do so.

And, almost exactly 24 hours later, Steady turned up at my dad's house clutching a you-know-what.

Jamie was far from angry when he saw it the next day.       

What a good man, what a wonderful friend - and what a DJ.  Steady is currently available for all your entertainment needs on Tel: 07598 566938.  Rock on.     

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

(Sur)Real Ulster

I've now recovered from my week in Northern Ireland just about enough to remember I'm supposed to update this stupid blog.

And what sights were seen over the course of seven days.

For example, this sign.  Why?

Was this a protest against late-running Ulsterbuses?

Have you ever seen a toilet like this, gents?


And then there was this.

More tomorrow.

Thursday, 21 February 2013


Greetings dear reader, I'm sorry it's been a while since my last update which also wasn't very good.

I'm writing this on board a Northern Ireland Railways service which has (thankfully) just left Ballymoney on its way to Belfast. Stops at Cullybackey and Ballymena are also scheduled, during which I'll close my eyes until they've gone away.

Since I last bored you, the Whites have been basking in the glorious North Coast sunshine. I'll show you some pictures when I get back to Yorkshire. They are anything but boring, I promise you.

It's half-term and, with Jamie now at school, we now have to plan his doses of Granny Love - shared with Charlotte, naturally - around his time off. And both have again had a terrific holiday.

Vanessa and I have also eaten and drank like those princes and princesses who regularly pop up on TV and never pay for anything. (We did pay, and were very happy to do so).

The original plan was for all four of us to fly back to Leeds Bradford this afternoon. But then something came up which requires me to be here until Sunday. More on that after it's happened.

This, of course, presents an opportunity - and it's one I intend to grab. So, this afternoon I'm meeting a friend before, this evening, meeting some friends. Then, tomorrow morning, I'm meeting a friend, another couple of friends in the afternoon and, in the evening, I'm meeting some friends. Saturday morning means rugby with some friends, it's football with friends in the afternoon, rugby with friends on TV at teatime and, in the evening, it's the big do I'm staying on for. With lots of friends. Then I'll travel back to Guiseley to dry out.

It's very good to be home, amongst friends.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Jim'll sign it

My good friend John McIlroy and I are off to the City Varieties in Leeds tonight to see brilliant Portstewart funnyman/eyebrow professor Jimeoin do his thing.

Whilst there (and possibly even before), I will drink more than I should. Then after the show, I will ask Jimeoin to sign a DVD and, whilst smiling inanely, I'll tell him that I'm from Coleraine and will actually be in Portstewart tomorrow evening myself. And isn't that incredibly fascinating.

He will then smile politely back and nod, before indicating that there is someone else behind me in the queue, so could I please **** off.

Happens every time.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Big pouffe

I'm not saying Charlotte is starting to take her brother for granted.

But others may disagree.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Runny hell

I (obviously) don't know what your eating plans are for later.

I might cook, or her and me may order in a takeaway laced with horsemeat.

But even horsemeat sounds more appetising than the dish currently on the shelves of Marks & Spencer in Guiseley as part of its special Valentine's Night dine-in-for-£20 offer.

That's right, Runny Poached Scotch Eggs.  On what is supposedly the most romantic evening of the year.

Have I missed something?  And if I have, does it smell bad?

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Techno Tyke

I'm normally proud to witness Jamie demonstrate his awareness of the World Wide Web.

But tonight I felt a little different.

Shortly after coming in from work, I asked him what is normally a stock (if admittedly dull) question, namely: "What did you have for lunch today?"

This evening's response?

"Look on the school website."

That's just rude.

UPDATE 2310: Curiosity ultimately got the better of me and I can now reveal that, today, our Jamie was presented with chicken and vegetable hot pot followed by rice pudding. Whether he ate any of it is an entirely different matter.

Busy Charlotte

Charlotte's experiences at her Busy Bees nursery have been up and down in recent months - perhaps more on that another time.

But as their new wall display shows, at least they are living up to their name.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

God's Own Chickens

I would not for a moment suggest that the good folk of Yorkshire could ever be anything other than outward-looking, open-minded and deeply appreciative of the attributes of non-Yorkshire folk/produce.

But this Guiseley butcher's sign, which Jamie spotted first thing this morning, did amuse me.

Monday, 11 February 2013

We lost

This was the scene at a packed Aireborough Lions rugby club yesterday.   On the big screen is Ireland versus England.  And I remain devastated at the result - England deservedly won 12-6.

Despite the huge lengths I went to in an attempt to, yes, make Jamie care about what was going on, at no stage did it look like he actually did.

But at least he and some of the other younger patrons in the bar made an effort to look semi-forlorn at my broken state of mind.

Many of the older ones did not.  Quite right too.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Scratch that

So, Vanessa's nigh on millionth birthday is almost at an end.

Tonight began with a family birthday cake (i.e. baked by the Morrison family).
And ended with an intimate meal (we were stuck in a corner and didn't have a lot of room).

Tomorrow my personal scratching routine can resume.

Time flies when you're a mum

This was Jamie, first thing this morning, primed to hand his mummy her birthday flowers and champagne on behalf of his sister and himself. (I still can't believe they served him at the offy).

Yes, Vanessa is 83 today. (Well, there's certainly an 8 and a 3 in it).

And hasn't she aged well?

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Too cavalier?

In the wake of Parliament's historic vote on same sex marriage, last night I began to think about what Jamie might wear should he choose to slip up the gay aisle one day.

What do you think?

I will draw the line at allowing his husband to hold Jamie's sword as they process.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

What a gay day

With apologies for going slightly off piste, I've got to get something off my chest.

As I write, the debate on same sex marriage is underway in the House of Commons.  And the media is crammed with hard-faced supposedly Christian folk doing and saying some particularly ungodly things.

For example, the man above (not the one in Heaven) wasn't invited to gatecrash a BBC interview outside Parliament a few minutes ago, but he felt he had the right to do so anyway.

Earlier today, I read some comments from Conor Burns, an openly gay Tory MP, who was yet to make up his mind on whether or not to support the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill to change the law in England and Wales.

He said: "The whole thing is deeply unpleasant and people are saying things that you wouldn’t say to people you despised or hated...I don’t know what kind of God some of those people who have contacted me from religious groups believe in – but he’s certainly not compassionate or loving.” 

Well said him - and thank you, dear reader, for your indulgence. 

Monday, 4 February 2013

Pleasant Valley Saturday

Wales was the only place to be on Saturday afternoon as the Six Nations rugby finally got underway.  And if I couldn't be in Cardiff to see Ireland stuff the Welshies (which I couldn't), then a pub in Coedpoeth near Wrexham was the obvious next best place.

We Whites went to stay with our friends Tim and Louise - that's Tim in the foreground below - who are living in Louise's native Wales for two years, before returning to Australia in September.   

Our pub had it all.  We had a strange couple who were the only patrons to insist on standing to sing the Welsh national anthem.  (After the game and wearing a Wales scarf, the male half of the relationship told me in a thick Welsh accent that he'd supported Ireland last year - the same year Wales won the Grand Slam.  Very odd).

We had a very nice elderly gent who had a habit of laughing at his own jokes just before he'd delivered the punchline, before forgetting to then do so.  We had his mate, the pub fat bloke with just one facial expression.

We even had the opportunity to purchase souvenirs.

Afterwards, Tim and I back to see the new addition to the family, Osian (it's Welsh, like him. He's the small one).  

The pressure is already on for this weekend when Ireland play England in Dublin.  But there is a plan.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Billy No-Tries (hopefully)

A quick bit of amusing trivia before I head home to pack for a Six Nations weekend in Wales.

The man you can see above is the magnificently-named Billy Twelvetrees who tomorrow will win his second England rugby cap against Scotland.

And what does his dad do, I hear you cry?  (or maybe it's just one of the many voices I hear in my head).

Yes, you (or the mystery voice) got it first time - Mr Twelvetrees Snr is a tree surgeon.

Hearing that has made my weekend, and it hasn't even started.

PS If you're looking out for Billy during the game, he will of course be wearing the England number 12 jersey.