Tuesday, 30 April 2013

See you Jamie

I've never been good at mastering accents.  Indeed, I've often struggled to get my tongue around my own. 

But it seems Jamie may be different.  Have a listen.

Next time, Mandarin Chinese. 

Monday, 29 April 2013

Stars on her eyes

Charlotte's bizarre transformation into Sir Elton John moved a step closer to completion last night, when she tried on some new specs.


Nessie Dorma

A sad moment yesterday, as Coach Anthony delivered his final team talk to the 2012-13 Aireborough Lions Under 6s.  Boo hoo!

End-of-season presentations will follow next Sunday, whilst the rugby dads get drunk. 

But thankfully I have more uplifting news on the rugby front.

I recently declared in our kitchen that, in two years' time, I wanted to go to Rome to watch Ireland play Italy in the Six Nations.  Vanessa mumbled something along the lines of "very interesting dear" in response.

And there has been a development after the fixtures for the 2015 Six Nations tournament were announced. 

It turns out that the date of the Italy v Ireland game is Saturday 7 February, with a 2.30pm kick-off. 

And what a stroke of fortune that is.  Because 7 February 2015 is the precise date when Mrs White reaches the somewhat alarming age of 40.

So, for her 40th birthday, I shall be taking her to the rugby and then around the pubs afterwards.  I might even buy her some novelty head gear.  A leprechaun hat, perhaps.

What a lucky (old) Mrs White she is. 

Thursday, 25 April 2013

She could be the new Tracey Emin

This is how Vanessa and I would like to think others see us.  OK, so Brad's hair is a bit shorter than mine, and Jen's is a bit longer than Vanessa's.  But otherwise, it's uncanny.

It was therefore with an no little excitement that we greeted the news that Charlotte had drawn a picture of us both at nursery.

And here it is.

There can be little doubt that she has captured me with a degree of brilliance.  But I can't help but feel that her mother has been a tad short-changed.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

There's them Whites

No-one I know has ever described us Whites as a model family.  I have no idea why that might be. 

But suddenly that has changed.  Because this morning I walked into Charlotte's nursery and found this on the wall.
Yes, get us.
Jamie mentioned it to me last week, but I forgot until he pointed it out today.  I assume Vanessa provided the pictures (unless one of the nursery staff broke into our house, which I wouldn't rule out) .
Although trying to appear "cool" (a look I have never managed to pull off), I was especially thrilled that we appeared to be one of only three families on display.  (I didn't have time to subtly confirm the identity of the others, but would guess at the Waltons and perhaps the Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie). 
Now that we're clearly on the road to collective stardom, the obvious next steps for me are to  negotiate a contract for Jamie to model chav clothes, buy Vanessa a big pair of sunglasses and insist she carries Charlotte everywhere she goes.  Meanwhile, I will rethink my hair, have a load of trashy tattoos plastered all over my body and sign-up for a basketful of highly paid and meaningless "ambassadorial" roles. 
I knew our time would come.  

Monday, 22 April 2013

Brown Monday

"Daddy, I've got a piece of turd on my finger."

Those were the words which shook me from my slumber at 5.30 this morning, as Jamie dangled the offending digit half an inch from my face.

I hope your Monday got off to a better start.

POLITE NOTICE: To whoever taught my son the "t word," can you please present yourself at the Headteacher's office, Guiseley Infant School at your earliest opportunity? I understand scary Mrs Bell would welcome a conversation.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

He is heavy and her brother

While Charlotte's getting bigger, Jamie is now getting really big - which causes some problems and, at times, frustrations for the boy.

For example, whilst he's still not always too big to rock...

...he is often forced into a supporting role.
Or worse.

A trip to the supermarket is also no longer the attraction it once was...

...at all.

But at least he can stay up for longer than his little sister.

One assault deserves another

Football fans will already be well aware that, this afternoon, Liverpool striker Luis Suarez did a very manly thing by biting the arm of a Chelsea player during the big game at Anfield.  (If you didn't know, trust me, you'll soon be bored hearing about it).

It reminded me of an incident some years ago at Stormont, when I was playing rugby for the Northern Ireland Civil Service against the Royal Ulster Constabulary. And a fine, upstanding, heroic police officer attempted to gnaw my thumb off.

I responded by punching him as hard in the face as my disappointing frame could muster. (Hopefully he noticed, although I can't be sure). 

I would imagine most true sports fans would like the opportunity to do the same to Luiz Suarez this evening.   

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Smiley cakehole

Only me.

To the four people who claimed to notice, I apologise for not updating this rubbish for a whole week.  But, quite frankly, I couldn't be arsed. 

Actually, I'm being a touch simplistic. 

You will probably have spotted that there's been little or no good news around for the past seven days and, at times, a paucity of basic human decency.  The joyous parties held to celebrate the death of an 87-year-old mother and widow with dementia particularly wound me up, even though I was no great fan of the woman.

On top of this, a succession of my friends have had various pieces of personal misfortune thrust upon them, which haven't helped me in my quest to get all happy. 

But we are where we are and, by continuing to churn out this guff, perhaps I can add an occasional smile to their faces.

And a smile was certainly writ large across my face last Sunday when our pals Fran and Matt brought Baby Freddie over to taste my meat. 

I'll rephrase that, "to sample one of my famous roast dinners."  Better?  Good.

But it wasn't the smell of my pork (sorry) that made me smile so much.  Hell no.  It was Fran's contribution to proceedings. 

She only went and baked a Guinness cake!

Now there's a fine example of human decency if ever I saw one. 

Unfortunately the Guinness cake itself can no longer be seen.  Because we ate it.  


Saturday, 13 April 2013

Pride of Lions (and Lionesses)

Aside from Ulster losing, the other downside of last weekend's trip to Twickenham was that I wasn't there to see the Aireborough Lions Under 6s have their team photo taken.

But thankfully my pal John was. 

Obviously they will be facing the camera in the official version, which we'll have shortly.

But, with Lydia and Lucy adding a welcome touch of feminine glamour, I think the lads are looking mean.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Bugger rugger

Right, I can delay it no longer.  Let's talk about last weekend, when there were many high points - and one very deep low as Ulster lost 27-16 to Saracens at Twickenham.

But swiftly back to the highs.

Some pints were drunk before the game (once we found the correct hostelry - more on that another time).  That's Wee John's and my old schoolmate Ritchie Hunter on the right, now agent to a growing number of rugby stars.

Another old school friend, accompanied by new family, was encountered immediately afterwards - Pete "Happy" Wilson in the blue, with wife Michaela and son Dylan.  (Pete's a producer on BBC Radio 5 Live, don't you know).

Curry and beer were the last items on Saturday's agenda, as proposed by Daniel from Yorkshire.  He had no idea what was going on for most of the day.

After Saturday's excesses, it was time for some rehab on Sunday as we booked ourselves into The Priory - Dan's place taken by Wee John's brother Wee Charlie.

And alongside more beer and cocktails out of jam jars, darts were played.

Chess was played (yes, really).

And even some rude Scrabble.

Before the inevitable happened.

As for the parting mug-centred insult, it's not big and it's not clever.  Just like Wee John.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Say what you "c" Richard

At this precise moment 15 years ago, I was deep inside Castle Buildings at Stormont waiting for the finishing touches to be put on the Good Friday Agreement. 

Anyone who was there that day - or outside with Ian Paisley shouting abuse - will never forget it.  And despite the often bumpy ride that Northern Ireland has had since then, it's been a very good thing for the place I will always call home. 

One of the most challenging issues was decommissioning or, for the uninitiated, paramilitary groups giving up their weapons. 

Yesterday I mentioned the late, great Richard Whiteley whom I was fortunate to meet several times before his death in 2005.  I even got him to phone my mum once. 

I remember at a particular family gathering in 2000, he asked me how the Northern Ireland peace process was progressing post-Agreement.  I explained that IRA decommissioning, at that time, was the major stumbling block.

"So everything is being held up by these terrorists?" he asked.

"Yes," I replied.

Richard thought about this for a second before coming out with a line which, for me, makes him immortal: "What a bunch of c***s!"


Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Turning back the Calendar

Vanessa and I try to keep Jamie and Charlotte informed whenever anything of major historical importance may be happening.   And yesterday was one such occasion.
That's right, Grandad Geoff was back on the telly.

Yorkshire folk of a certain vintage will well remember Geoff's 25-year stint as anchor man of the region's ITV nightly news programme, Calendar
A regular part of the job was to interview the prime minister of the day, including Margaret Thatcher.  And following the death of the Iron Lady yesterday morning, Geoff was invited back onto the sofa to reminisce about his encounters with her.
Such as this one.    

For those not from these parts, yes that is Richard "Twice Nightly" Whiteley on the left.

Jamie and Charlotte were most impressed at the sight of their grandad, who had taken them out to play only hours before.

He's still got (most of) the hair but, the question is, has he still got that jacket?

Friday, 5 April 2013

Black and white magic

Dear reader, I owe you an apology for I have told a lie.

In my last post, I stated that I had never been cheered by a big crowd.  But a coincidental flick through an old scrap book has since proven me wrong (not that I'm desperate or anything).

Let me quote from an article that appeared in the Coleraine Times on 28 February 1990:

"Right-wing Barry White also gave the large home crowd something to cheer about with some crunching tackling."

And here it is black and white (Jamie thinks all things were in black and white in 1990).

Of course, what you can also see is that we were hammered.  And my Coleraine Inst teammates and I were reduced to running around trying to catch the opposition because we rarely had the ball.

Indeed, here is proof of that too - that's Malcolm Beck (wearing the headband), me and Matthew Dobson trying to grab hold of Methody and Irish Schools' international scrum-half Alan Martin. Without success.

And whilst I have your partial attention, here is a picture of our 21-man match day squad taken shortly before kick-off.

Didn't we look mean?  Or maybe just terrified.

In the middle row, second from the left, is Jonny "Dinger" Bell who I mentioned in my April Fool post earlier in the week.  Dinger went on to be capped by Ireland before being appointed Assistant Coach for the Ulster senior side. 

And, tomorrow, he will be in the coaching box at Twickenham as Ulster take on Saracens in the Heineken Cup Quarter Final.  Many of the others featured in the pic will undoubtedly be in the stands with me, getting hammered once again - albeit in a very different way from 23 years ago.  

Ah, what might've been...

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Happy birthday to me

First things first - sadly, I won't be making my Ulster rugby debut at Twickenham on Saturday evening. 

I know of three people who fell for what I thought was a pretty lame attempt at an April Fool, one of them being my mum.  I felt ever so slightly crushed when I had to advise her that I remained a washed-up 41-year-old with no prospect of ever being cheered by a big crowd.  Still, I will be at the game, and much more on that in the coming days.

So, back to my birthday on Easter Sunday when many people were very good to me.   

I received the first of two great cakes on Saturday evening, thanks to Vanessa.  Her mum Judy made the other for presentation on my birthday itself, which was incredibly kind. 

I woke up to a sea of presents.

And after doing the Guiseley Gallop 10k trail run (I wanted to feel like I had earned the right to make a mouth of myself later), look who turned up. 

That's right, it's the Coleraine Chuckle Brothers, Wee John and Wee Charlie Fulton who were actually due up on the Saturday - before John got hammered and couldn't drive.  (In truth, he's not much of a driver when he's sober).

Fellow Ulsterman John McIlroy then joined us to sample my overcooked beef and lamb.

And the night ended in the pub with the rugby dads.

Actually, technically the next morning also began with the rugby dads as we were just starting our final pint when the clock struck 12.

Before you say it, yes I am getting too old for this - and just about everything else.  But it doesn't stop it being fun.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Ready to stand up with the Ulstermen

This is my ticket for Ulster's Heineken Cup Quarter Final tie with Saracens at Twickenham this coming Saturday.  Or rather was.

Because in a bizarre twist of fate, last night I received a phone call from my old school first fifteen teammate Jonathan "Dinger" Bell, now Ulster's defence coach.  And, on Saturday, I won't now be sitting in the stands.  I'll be playing.

A series of injuries suffered by Ulster's wingers has left them desperately short.  British and Irish Lions legend Tommy Bowe is already out and, two days ago, he was joined on the sidelines by Ireland international Andrew Trimble.

Trimble, like Dinger and me, is a Coleraine Inst Old Boy.  And when he called last night, Dinger said he believed I was the obvious like for like replacement.  Quite a compliment, I have to say.

I explained that I had been out of the game for quite a while now, and suggested that perhaps one of Ulster's young turks should be given a chance instead.  But he was having none of it.  Class is permanent, he said, and I could not help but agree.

So tonight, I fly from Leeds Bradford to Belfast to join the squad. After three days of intensive preparations at Ulster's New Forge training base, we will travel across to London.  And on Saturday at shortly before 6.30pm, I will run out at Twickenham to do battle with Chris Ashton, Owen Farrell and Saracens' other big name stars.

I can only do my best. But I cannot and will not let my Province down.