Thursday, 26 September 2013

A blast from the past

One of the realities of being a parent I often forget is that others have been before you.  And it's the same for kids - like you and me.

To explain, last night I arrived home to find Jamie curled up on the sofa clutching his tummy. Various examinations conducted by Nurse Mummy and me led us to the conclusion that our son had.......trapped wind.  Lovely.

So what to do?

The truth?  We had absolutely no idea, so I walked to Boot's to find out what they thought. 

I quickly discovered that the work experience boy didn't have any thoughts either, so I had a rummage through the shelves myself.   I emerged with a plastic container of Milk of Magnesia.   

A-HA!  Suddenly, I was transported back to the sofa and my mum assuring me that I would poo soon.  (Come on, we've all been there).

Whilst I was away, Vanessa had been on t'Wunderweb seeking tips on relieving trapped wind.  She came up with two:
  1. Rub the patient's back, or 
  2. Get him/her on all fours. 
Rubbing Jamie's back didn't work, and he didn't feel able to get on all fours.

So Charlotte came up with a compromise.

He didn't go for that either.  But, about an hour after I arrived back with my magic potion, he did "go" (if you know what I'm saying) and the job(bie) was done.

Moving on, and this morning it soon became clear that Jamie was back on form as he announced that he wanted to have a baby.

"Oh really?" either Vanessa or I answered back, I can't remember which (it was early).


"And what sort of baby would you like?" (me).

"I'd like one with a brown face."

"Right. And if you had another one, what type of baby would that be?" (still me).

"I'd like a ginger one."

As I say, we're back to normal.     

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Andy Farrell and me

Before I close my British and Irish Lions diary, I have a last awkward tale to share.

Above you can see former Great Britain rugby league captain Andy Farrell who was at last week's Downing Street reception in his capacity as Lions defence coach. 

I spotted him early on amongst all the other famous faces but, as the two hours ticked by, didn't get to meet him.

With about 15 minutes to go, I decided the time had come for a visit to the little boys' room before saying goodbye to my new "pals."

The trip was deemed necessary on the grounds that I'd had about three beers and two glasses of wine by this stage, and didn't want to stain the Prime Minister's nice rug. 

The toilet I was directed to was a single unit operation, meaning I had to wait for whoever was in front of me to come out before I could go in. 

This resulted in a sense of excited anticipation as I paused to discover which Lions legend would emerge. 

A couple of minutes later, the cubicle door swung open was some middle-aged bald bloke who was probably in charge of the kit. Frankly, I was disappointed. 

Anyway, I said a cheery hello, had my wee and was washing my hands when Andy Farrell appeared, shuffled past me towards the cubicle and locked the door. What a pro. 

My sense of child-like giddiness suddenly returned. Andy Farrell was in that toilet doing whatever it was Andy Farrell was doing - in THAT toilet!  Wow. 

As I was about to come out to return to the reception, I narrowly avoided walking straight into a different member of the Lions backroom team who also required use of the Number 10 single unit facility. 

I said another cheery hello, to which he responded with a half smile.

Pointing at the cubicle, he enquired: "Is anyone in there?"

"Yes!" I replied. "IT'S ANDY FARRELL!!!!" (all of two yards away). 

I didn't say a cheery hello to Andy Farrell in the end.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Sh*te Stuff

My name is Barry White and this blog is called White Stuff.  It's called White Stuff because my name is Barry White.

Precisely seven days ago on this blog - which I remind you is called White Stuff on the grounds that my name is Barry White - I wrote about my somewhat surreal trip to Downing Street to drink Beck's with the British and Irish Lions.

This was picked up by my local and generally wonderful newspaper back home, the Coleraine Chronicle, who asked if they could do a story.  Although a touch embarrassed, I said yes and provided some words and pics which appeared in tonight's paper.

Just one slight problem.  Despite them getting the story from White Stuff - my blog which is called after me, Barry White - the Chronicle have referred to me variously as "Barry Whyte," "Whyte" and "Barry Whiye." 

Still, could be worse.  They could've gone the full hog and called me "Barry Shite."      

Monday, 23 September 2013

Premier porker

Following our Great North Run visit to the North East, no more hotel trips are planned from our house until we attend our first gay wedding in November.  (I might get exclusive blog rights to the him and him pics, but don't get your hopes up).

So let me tell you my favourite hotel story from the summer of 2013. 

I was having breakfast in the pub attached to the Premier Inn near Ormskirk on the morning of Mags' funeral in July.  And for obvious reasons, wasn't at my most chirpy.

I also wasn't feeling particularly hungry, despite having gone for a run, but thought it best to fill my face as it might be a while before I'd scoff again.

The thing about a Premier Inn breakfast is that, whilst it is all-you-can-eat, it's not a buffet job and you have to place an order.

When the waiter appeared, I excused myself before asking if it might be acceptable for me to have three sausages.

"I wouldn't normally have three, I feel like a bit of a pig - not that pigs eat sausages.  Is that OK?" I bumbled, pathetically.

"Three sausages is nothing sir," came the polite reply.

"Really?" I bumbled on.

"Oh yes, sir.  Not long ago, a gentleman ordered 35 rashers of bacon." 

"Seriously?! You're joking?" I replied, now much more animated. 

"No sir, it's true.  I took the order myself."

"And what did you do?"

"We served them to him, on one big plate."

"My word.  And did he eat them all?"

"I have no idea, sir.  I couldn't bring myself to watch."

Had the bar been open, I would definitely have bought my new waiter friend a pint.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

DIY Wilko style

Given that we no longer have a social life, a normal Saturday night in our house is for me to burn something from scratch in the kitchen and for Vanessa to pretend it's not as bad as it looks/tastes.

But last night I couldn't be arsed, and plumped for frozen pizzas. 

That didn't work out either.

But I digress. 

It's a week today since the Great North Run and my body is yet to recover.  Friends, family and strangers were wonderful and, if everyone pays up, we'll have raised a total of £1,230 for Candlelighters.  All good, with one exception - Wilkinson.

People in Britain will recognise Wilkinson as one of the country's largest retailers which makes tens of millions of pounds in profits each year.  Good for them.

In the final days leading up to race day, I tweeted that I couldn't find my trusty tub of Vaseline (stop it) and was planning to put Bonjela on my feet to guard against chafing. Candlelighters tweeted back to say that Wilkinson was the place to buy my supply.

I tweeted Wilkinson to ask if I did buy some from them, would they sponsor me?  They tweeted back to say that this seemed "reasonable" and management would be consulted.  But no cash was swiftly forthcoming and time was running out.

So, finding myself passing Wilkinson in Leeds, I popped in, bought some Vaseline and took this photo.

I then tweeted the pic accompanied by these words:

"I buy my Vaseline @LoveWilko - for all your last minute #GreatNorthRun needs."

Wilkinson responded with: "Good luck with the run :)"

No money was donated.  I didn't ask again.

Just thought you'd like to know.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Tour de Trance

With Jamie away on his first ever sleepover at best mate Euan's house, Vanessa and I attempted to be responsible parents this afternoon by extracting Charlotte from her fairy outfit and taking her out for a bike ride. 

As the plan was to pedal for more than 10 yards, we put her on a seat on the back of my wheels of steel.

And the journey started well.  Indeed, it must've been a mile and a half before the first signs of tiredness/boredom appeared.

But despite my attempts to be hugely entertaining and keep her awake - I failed.


Next time I'm going on the back.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Where's Wally, er, Barry?

A small handful of people told me after last Sunday's Great North Run that they tried to spot me on TV but couldn't.

So, last night, kids in bed  - Vanessa was out on the drink - and very, very bored, I decided to have a little peak myself. 

Now, I am not the type who gets a kick from looking at myself.  Indeed, it is one of several reasons why I hate shaving in the morning.  But, you know, I was curious.

And after spending a few brief moments on Sky+, I must respectfully ask those kindly folk who did try to find me, are you f****** blind?! 

For example, there I am above.

What do you mean you still can't see me?!

Hold on.......does this help?

Yes it IS me!  Hold on THAT better?!

In fact, there I go again! 
I think I'll leave it there in case Mo Farah gets jealous. 

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Illusions of grandeur flushed away

After the glamour and excitement of the past few days, today I was brought swiftly back to earth with a bump. Well, dump. Actually, two dumps.

Yes, Jamie managed to leave little morning messages in both of our toilets - and neglected to flush. 

Thankfully, as a fully-trained ceramic technician from those heady days of active service with Coleraine Borough Council's elite Bog Squad, I was able to deal with each crime scene efficiently and professionally.

But harsh smell of reality has now returned to my world.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

My name's Barry and I'm a sad man

This is the picture you may well have seen on last night's news or in this morning's newspapers, as Manu Tuilagi joined his fellow British and Irish Lions at a Downing Street reception in their honour, hosted by the Prime Minister.

But there are some other pictures I'd like to share with you from inside Number 10 itself.

For example, here is David Cameron addressing my heroes...

...watched by BIL the Lion.

Oh, and here's me with the great Rory Best, Ireland hooker and a proud man of Ulster.

Here's me with the also great Tommy Bowe, Ireland winger and another proud man of Ulster.

Here's me with my two newest Welsh friends - the great Jamie Roberts and the great Leigh Halfpenny, the Lions' Man of the Series.

Oh, almost forgot, here's me with the spectacularly great Brian O'Driscoll - the best player Ireland has ever produced.

Sorry, one more, here's me after they'd kicked me out holding the Tom Richards Trophy - the Lions' prize for their awe-inspiring 2-1 series victory in Australia.

Thinking back, I can't remember another Monday like it.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Mission accomplished

Well, the task is complete as I flopped over the Great North Run finish line earlier today in a time of one hour 47 minutes and 52 seconds.  I didn't win, but neither did my chief rival Mo Farah - so I call that even. 

I've only had one beer so far, but intend to be completely irresponsible as soon as I finish this little ramble. 

More than £1,200 is now with or pledged to Candlelighters as a result of your efforts over the past few weeks.  And I think Mags would have been pleased with that.

Thank you to everybody who gave cash or supported what we were trying to do in other ways.  You're all great.

Now it's time for that beer...

Friday, 13 September 2013

You've done your bit - it's over to me

A few weeks ago, I was on my train home from work.  I was due to go for a run, but didn't really fancy it. 

It was wet, I had a niggling leg injury, there was very little money in my fundraising pot and I quite liked the idea of spending some time with my kids.  Maybe I wouldn't bother going running that night.

Then my train stopped on the line and the conductor said we could be a while, so I got my phone out. Now, I'm not a techy and, whilst an iPhone owner, have no idea why. 

Totally by accident, I brought up a list of old voicemails.  I couldn't do this on any of any previous phones (I think), and didn't realise I could do it on my current one. So I scrolled down.  And I found two old voicemails from Mags. 

When we got to Guiseley, I sat down on the platform and listened to them.  They weren't important messages, but that didn't matter. It was Mags on the phone. And it was one of the most surreal experiences of my life.  After a little moment to myself, I shot off home and went for my run.

Since then (at the time of writing), you very nice people have raised £1,075 for a wonderful children's cancer charity.  And, with her family's strong support, it's all been done in Mags' name.

I'm immensely proud of that, and I'll take equal pride in wearing it on my back on Sunday.  

PS My running vest is being modelled by Mags' goddaughter Charlotte
PPS Donations continue to be welcome, if you'd like to click HERE and follow the instructions. 

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Let's talk Candlelighters

My train was a little late this morning. This is not uncommon and often leads to a sense of "mild frustration" from passengers, me included. But not today.

The reason for the delay was that a group of local kids, each dragging heavy luggage, were clambering excitedly onboard at Shipley station to begin their school trip.  The platform was lined with doting parents waving at their smiling sproglets. 

As all of this was going on, I was leafing through the latest Candlelighters newsletter, which dropped through my letter box earlier in the week.

Each of the children who shot past me to find their seats looked wonderfully healthy, and their parents looked like they hadn't a care in the world (probably because they were about to get a few days off). 

But in my newsletter, the parents, kids and staff - whilst equally smiley - had more obvious challenges to deal with.

Formed more than 40 years ago, Candlelighters is run by parents of children who have - or have had - cancer, and the medical staff who treat them here in Yorkshire.  Every penny the charity receives goes towards enhancing the specialist ward in the Leeds General Infirmary, equipment, play therapies, clinic areas and funding research into childhood cancers. 

This year, spare monies have been spent on trips for parents and families to Center Parcs, seaside trips to the coast, extra bedside tables, chemo ducks for every child, a remembrance event and birthday presents.  Cash is also being set aside for a family Christmas party.  £10 will pay for a gift.

This is where all the cash so many kind people have donated to my Great North Run fund will go. 

As I write, it totals £848.  My target is £1,000 - simply because it has an extra nought in it. 

I'd love it if we could get there before the starting gun fires at 10.40 on Sunday morning.

Once again, here's the LINK.    

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Learning the lingo, man

One of the most poignant aspects, for me, of Sunday's Great North Run is that it was Newcastle where Mags and I first met and became pals as students back in 1990.

I've only returned twice since graduation, most recently two years ago when Wee John and I teamed up for the original Running For Mags.

The plan this weekend is for the Whites to travel up en masse (i.e. all four of us) on Saturday for some playtime in Newcastle and an overnight stay in nearby Durham before the race to South Shields on Sunday morning.

As with any trip to a foreign land (in this case Geordieland) it's always useful to be able to speak the native tongue.

Therefore, with Vanessa in London, at 6am this morning I had a go at teaching Jamie and Charlotte how to speak Geordie.

Words and phrases covered included "why aye, man" (yes), "ha'way" (come on), "bairn" (child), "I'll punch yer fookin' lights oot!" (would you like to have a fight?) and "shite" (poo poo).

Given the early hour - yet impressed with the progress my "bairns" were making - I had a quick shifty on YouTube to see if any English-Geordie tutorial videos existed. (Jamie had a "shite" whilst I did so).

And I found this, which I certainly found to be educational.

Needless to say I remain desperate for donations as we inch ever closer to the magic £1,000 target (set by me, not the charity). You can help us get there by clicking HERE.

Monday, 9 September 2013

A hairy moment looms

As we enter Great North Run race week, I have two principal problems.

The first is the pain in my lower abdomen which, according to Google, may or may not be a "sports hernia."  Or I could be pregnant.  Either way, it can be diagnosed afterwards because I'm running on Sunday.

The second is made up of two identical concerns; namely, left armpit hair and right armpit hair.

Yes, my armpits have bizarrely taken on the appearance of Manchester United's recent panic signing Marouane Fellaini.  This is not a good look when I'm committed to wearing a gaping vest in the big event. I already had the embarrassment of my Ulsterman tee shirt tan to contend with.  Plus, I'm built like a bottle.

I see little option but to chop my pit foliage back a foot or two, but the whole idea of doing so makes me queasy. And what implement do I use for the task?  Kitchen scissors or garden shears? 

Alternatively, I could ask my lady barber to shave them when I get my head hair chopped later in the week.  But she's Eastern European so the concept might be foreign to her.

Whilst I ponder the best way forward and if you haven't already done so, perhaps you'd be kind enough to make a small donation to the all-important cause.  Or even just read about it.

You can get to my fundraising page by clicking HERE.    Thank you if you do.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Bear and the woods

Following yesterday's preview, my night in wooded Cheshire (I'm still not entirely sure where I was) could not have been more pleasant.
In terms of what was discussed, well, if you were in the Coleraine Inst Class of '83 and your name wasn't mentioned, you probably didn't exist. 

We'll do it all again soon.

Back in Guiseley, Barnaby the Bear was being shown the sights by the reigning Yellow Class Star of the Week (and his sister).

On Saturday afternoon they went biking.

This morning B the B called into rugby training.

And at some point in between, he didn't have his furry face painted.

Thankfully he gets handed back tomorrow.  Two demanding little sh*ts are more than enough. 

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Meet Pete

Ladies, gentlemen, boys and girls - boys and girls, don't be scared - this is Pete "Happy" Wilson. He shall be my host for this evening.

It has been said many times before that my old school friend Pete has the perfect face for radio. Which is ironic, because that's exactly where he takes it - BBC Radio 5 Live in Salford to be precise - each work day.

Yes, if ever a face should be kept behind glass, it's Pete's - because other than when he reads the news, he's a producer by trade. And they sit behind glass, you see. Often staring, sometimes waving and always doing what they can to put the presenters off by talking rubbish to them through their headphones. It really is a very specialised job.

Pete, his top wife Michaela and Dylan, their charming little boy, live in deepest Cheshire and that's where I'm now headed (thanks to this train). Meanwhile, currently en route from Liverpool, is one of my very oldest chums, Tommy Millen.

Tom and I first met at Macosquin Primary School almost 37 years to the day. Then we met Pete at Coleraine Inst almost 30 years to the day. So yes, we all go back a long way.

And tonight is set to be very complex. Because we're planning to spend the entire evening in Pete's local pub talking utter shite until someone chooses to throw us out.

Then, tomorrow morning, quite early, we'll all get up and go our separate ways. 

If a better format for a night out has been invented, well, I've not heard of it.

I shall relay a version of events to you tomorrow.

Friday, 6 September 2013

They can be heroes - just for one day

Look, dear friends, it's Barnaby the Bear's book! 

"Very interesting, Barry," I hear you demand in sync. "But what the **** is Barnaby the Bear's book, and why should we care?"

Very fair question.  And here is the answer.

Barnaby the Bear's book is given to Guiseley Infant School's Yellow Class "Star of the Week" to take home for the weekend "to share adventures with."  So it is. 

And how do I know that, I hear you bellow? (I do wish you'd keep it down a bit, have you seen the time?)     

Here's a clue.

Yup, our Jamie picked up the prize (bear) in his very first week, which was a surprise to say the least.

And how did he manage that, Barry? (You really are very inquisitive tonight, but I'll answer). 

Two reasons (officially):
  1. "Honesty"  (a load of classmates made a mess of the classroom, but only our Jamie said it was him); 
  2. "Sitting nicely in his chair" (a talent you're either born with or never possess).
Well done him. 

And what do prizes make?  That's right - more prizes. 

As it happens, Carnivorous Charlotte ate up all her melon at nursery and thereby also qualified to share in the spoils.

So it was new dinosaur place mats all round.

I'm not sure how our family is going to cope with this sudden whiff of success.  We're not really used to it.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

A fluid conversation

Bath time tonight. The bath is full of rubber ducks.
Jamie: "Mummy, isn't it funny that ducks swim in what they drink?"
Vanessa: "Yes."
Jamie: "It's like you swimming in a bath of wine."
I think I'm allowed another Guinness

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Phantom photo

I was travelling home on the train this evening, and passing the time by revisiting photos taken in Northern Ireland two weeks ago.

One of the highlights was the Snow Patrol concert in Belfast... which no shortage of drink was taken.

Vanessa and I met some "interesting" people that night, including a bloke dressed as an all-in wrestler and his pal.

But here's the thing.  Until I found the next photo in my camera a couple of hours ago, I had no recollection of it actually being taken.

In fact, I still don't.

I have absolutely no idea why that might be.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

All little boys at heart (apart from her)

It was back to school for him on the right today.

But frustratingly and to her piercing disappointment, the one on the left still has two years to wait before she can climb into a pinafore.  I'd make the best of it if I were her. 

Meanwhile, last night was a good one to be in our house if you were a boy and it wasn't past your bedtime.

Because Coleraine were playing football live on Sky Sports.

And I had pies, chips and beers in.

There they are - from the bottom left in a clockwise direction  - Coleraine Paul (aka Merv), Dublin Daniel, Coach Kris and Other John. 

What's more, the mighty Bannsiders beat Irish League Champions Cliftonville by three goals to one, and we all cheered.
That's my kind of Monday.   

Sunday, 1 September 2013

A brand new pride

Here they are, the Aireborough Lions combined micros/under 7s class of 2013-14 (thus far).
Yes, the end of summer can be a bit of a downer for some.  But for me, it means the start of a brand new rugby season - a situation I can easily cope with. 
And, of course, a brand new season means brand new kit and boots. 

Which impressed some more than others.
Some new coaches also took to the stage.

Most importantly Kris, the new micros head coach - the word "COACH" emblazoned on his back is the giveaway

He did great.

And this is Dublin Daniel.

If ever a man needed new kit, it's Dublin Daniel.  We'll see what we can do. 

As for me, well, tonight Jamie described my role as that of a "helper coach."  Which, whilst absolutely accurate, was ever so slightly wounding.

Let the games begin.