Monday, 23 December 2013

One bird, one stone

I brought our turkey home tonight to lie in state in the garage fridge. 

And it's a big bird (think Newcastle city centre on a Saturday night).

So much so that I decided to weigh it on our bathroom scales. 

One stone precisely. 

I'm nothing if not proud. 
But what to name him/her? 
Last year, Tyrone did us proud.  We shall/do remember him.
However, having spent much of the weekend just gone trying to decide what to call this year's table treat, I still could not decide.
Enter Sue the charming cleaner.
At work, we share a kitchen with a local church and sunny Sue and I have a little chat two or three times a week. 
This morning I arrived with our turkey dragging behind me having just come from Asda.  And I mentioned that I intended to park it in the kitchen where it was cool.  That was not good enough for our Sue.  Oh no.
It had to go in the church fridge. The only problem was that the fridge was behind a door to which I wasn't certain I had a key.
To calm my nerves, Sue said she wouldn't lock the door - just in case.  But, unbeknownst to me, she went a step further.  
And when I went collect our turkey at the end of the day, I discovered a note.        
Barry Turkey, I hope you enjoy the next 36 hours with us'll find out...

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Three candles on her cake

In common with another well-known British queen, Charlotte had two birthdays this year; her real one last Thursday, and her public one today.

The highlight of this morning's formal duties (think Trooping the Colour) was attending her party at a local play barn.  (Can you spot her waving at her subjects?)

There was a big turnout from her bezzie mates (and their dedicated parents). 

Even Yoda put in an appearance.

And all seemed to go without a hitch.

Well, I say that.  In truth there was one slight hiccup. 

You see, three is quite old. And three candles on your cake is a heck of a lot to be expected to blow out on your own.

Enter Oliver Clarke, stage left. 

His help was very much appreciated.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Me and my girl

Three years ago today, Charlotte Frances White was thrust into the world by the power of Mum.

It's been something of an adventure ever since.

This morning, alongside big bro, the process of celebrating her big landmark got underway.  (Another event is planned for Saturday).

And what do I think?  Well. She's my girl. 

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Sleigh bells ring and grumpy girls sing

Santa Claus made his traditional pre-Christmas visit to the Silverdale estate tonight, courtesy of Guiseley Lions. 

Jamie enjoyed the moment, as he has done for each of the past three years.

But Charlotte couldn't be arsed.  After all, she has already seen him twice in recent weeks.  And, to be fair, the warning signs were there the last time she was forced to have her picture taken with him.   

Talking of legendary old blokes, last night was the Status Quo concert. 

And a great night was had, albeit a bit surreal at times - mainly due to the crowd.  Honestly, I've never seen anything quite like it.

First, my old Coleraine man brother Paul and I were told off by a fat lass behind for talking during 10cc, the support act.

And then a sour-faced woman told Paul off for dancing - behind her.      
However, experience has taught me to keep the powder dry when these things happen.  And, by the end, the great man had gone to join the fat lass and her friends for a pic.

Rock on.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

He's (not) the daddy

Following the false start of a few weeks ago when Jamie got his dates wrong, today was the day when the baby Jesus showed Himself to the world - in a makeshift stable at Guiseley Infants School. Who'd have thought. (It said on the match programme that He also appeared yesterday afternoon in the first performance of the Sleepy Shepherd but, having not seen Him myself, I refuse to believe).
As previously revealed here, Jamie bagged the key role of Joseph and seemed to revel in it.  In fact, his shouty "thank you" when handed a box of gold by one of the wise men was a sure highlight of the entire production.  
The only downside was him finding out he was not Jesus' real father in front of so many people. 
If you ask me, just because Jamie's a lifelong friend of Jeremy Kyle doesn't mean he should be treated like one of the great man's delinquent guests.
But still.
The boy did good - and even managed a sneaky wave for my sneaky pic.  

 Let's hope Santa Claus was watching too.

Let there be rock

Like most other people with an interest in these things, on Sunday I watched Andy Murray receive this year's BBC Sports Personality of the Year award on TV.

Buy this was only due to the fact that he couldn't be arsed to travel to Leeds to pick up the trophy in person. 

Had he done so, all I would've had to do was look down.

Yes, alongside 11,999 other lucky souls, I managed to get a ticket for one of the most prestigious events in the sporting calendar. 

And the setting - the brand, spanking new First Direct Arena - was as much as if not more impressive than the stars who filled the stage.

Indeed, so excited were my stepdad Derek and I that we did the obvious thing - and took a selfie.

Having had to wait six months to enter the grandest new entertainment venue the country has to offer, I feel a touch spoilt to advise you that I shall be returning there this evening.

In a case of "in with the new and out come the old," tonight is the night that my top mate (and fellow man of Coleraine) Paul and I head to see Status Quo, supported by the equally crumbly 10cc.

And who knows, maybe Cliff Richard will come on at the end (although I do hope not).

Rock on.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Strokes of good fortune

We had an unexpected but welcome visitor to our door on Sunday afternoon.

It was a kindly neighbour, who had previously stood on our doorstep about 10 days earlier clutching a piece of paper featuring a black and white drawing of Father Christmas.

She explained she was promoting a colouring competition to raise funds for Guiseley Senior Citizens.  And, for a mere 50p entry fee, Jamie could win a prize. 

I took her up on her kind offer and, later that night, Jamie completed his masterpiece and I left it aside for submission.

That was the last I heard or thought of the episode until yesterday when our nice neighbour reappeared clutching a mini chocolate Santa.

"You remember when your little boy entered the colouring competition?" she recounted.

"Er, yes," replied Vanessa, who (because I was wearing an apron) I'd dispatched to answer the door.

"Well, he won and here's his prize!" she beamed.

Thanking our neighbour, Vanessa returned to tell Jamie the good news and hand him his reward.  He was thrilled.

A couple of minutes later, a slightly (more than normal) confused Mrs W pulled me to one side with a query.

"Did you hand in Jamie's entry?" she asked.

"No.  Did you?"


We later found it sitting on top of the fridge.

Still, a win is a win.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Happy Charlottemas

It was Charlotte's nursery Christmas show today. 

She was quiet to begin with, but then she piped up.

What an angel.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Flying Furby

You don't have to be the most eagle-eyed Christmas shopper to spot that Furbies are back.

Yes, the love-them-or-hate-them battery-operated creatures have been relaunched once again after a gap of eight years.

When they first appeared in the late 1990s, I was still in the relatively early stages of courting Vanessa.  And I thought I would do something both ingenious and romantic. 

That's right, I would buy Vanessa a Furby for her birthday.

One that looked exactly like this, in fact.    

Isn't he/she/it lovely? Awww. 

Her reaction: "You bought me a Furby?"

Then reaction I had hoped for: "You bought me a Furby!"

(It's all in the grammar). 

As the days and weeks passed, Vanessa and her Furby did not grow close.  Indeed, the poor thing became more of an ornament than a pet (if you can call something shoved on top of a bookcase, surrounded by an assortment of non-decorative items, an ornament.  I'd say you probably couldn't).

As weeks became months, nothing changed. 

That was until Wee John came over to our flat in Clapham Junction - Vanessa and I had shacked up by this stage - to watch the rugby on TV.  And His Weeness got carried away. 

So carried away did he get, that he decided to do his Jonny Wilkinson impersonation.

And drop-kicked the poor, unloved, unwanted Furby against our landing wall.

Finally coming to rest at the bottom of the stairs, he/she/it never did make another sound.

A waste of a life?  You could say that.

A waste of forty quid.  Absolutely, bloody definitely. 

Without wishing to give too much away, I can exclusively reveal here that Mrs W will not be getting another one for Christmas.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Hairy horror

Jamie's Wee Uncle Godfather John came to see him (and goddaughter Charlotte) this weekend, and much fun was had.

So much so, that Jamie felt it incumbent upon himself to draw a portrait of tribute for His Weeness to take back to that London.

And beards aren't easy. But I think he just about nailed it.     

Friday, 6 December 2013

3 in the bed and the little one ain't bothered

Charlotte hasn't been feeling at her best over recent days - she has a "poorly ear."

And when you have a poorly ear, you need company. 

Normally, when she's not happy during the darkened hours, Charlotte's approach is to scream loud enough to be carried into our room and deposited on my pillow.

But tonight the sister (of Jamie) was doing it for herself, and made her own way while V and me were having our tea. (That rhymes).

Yup, that's my pillow. 

This has not happened before and I'm loathe to move her.

Thankfully, the Ashes cricket is about to start on the telly, live from Australia.  And they'll be up for hours yet.   

SATURDAY MORNING UPDATE: When I eventually did try to get in, Charlotte sensed my presence, opened one eye and muttered: "I was here first." Women.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Nelson Mandela and me

This was moment, in the autumn of 2000, when former South African President Nelson Mandela attended the Labour Party Conference in Brighton. 

I was seated many rows back, but very definitely in the direction you can see him waving.

In other words, it is almost certain he was waving at me - although he never said.

News of his death, announced tonight, was one of those "where were you when you heard?" moments that don't come along too often. (For the record, I was sitting on the sofa and I'm still here).

It is a sad and historic occasion.

But I feel comfort in the knowledge that Gabrielle (who warmed us up by singing 'Dreams'), Tony Blair, John Prescott, me and several thousand others had the chance to spend some quality time together when the opportunity was there.

RIP Madiba.

Cheeky porker

This was Jamie a little earlier having some supper in his casual clothes.

The scene is in stark contrast to last night when, with Vanessa out on the razzle dazzle, I committed the cardinal error of presenting him with a bowl of spaghetti bolognese for tea - while he was still wearing his school uniform.

He left home in a fresh one this morning.

More frustrated by my own stupidly than by my son's pig-like qualities, I demanded to know why his clothes were so badly soiled.

"Because, I'm a messy eater," he purred back through a smirk.

As I say, all my fault.   

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

That's chest freezing great

Above you can see the door of our under-the-stairs cupboard thingy. 

The door frame is precisely 50.6cms wide.

Below you can see our brand new chest freezer, delivered yesterday evening.

As it turns out, the width of this hugely exciting purchase at its narrowest point is 52.6cms, meaning it won't fit in. Trust me, I tried.

On the face of it, this looks like something of a domestic disaster. But not quite.

As luck would have it, Arctic weather is due to arrive over our house on Thursday so we'll not then need a freezer any more.

Swings and roundabouts.  

Monday, 2 December 2013

And we're off (to TK Maxx)

It's December and the pre-Christmas excitement is building.  (I don't think I've ever had so much beer stashed away than I have at the moment).

Of course, the season of goodwill is all about sharing joy and happiness, and being generous when you can. 

And it was in this spirit that, yesterday afternoon, I was the recipient of all of the above from a kindly stranger wearing a TK Maxx uniform.

I was doing a bit of shopping in Leeds city centre with various family members in mind.

Father Christmas himself is obviously responsible for Jamie and Charlotte's gifts, so they weren't on my list. 

But that was before I walked into TK Maxx to be met by a treasure trove of sheer toy goodness - at especially keen prices.  I soon decided that Santa wouldn't mind if I acquired one or two extra bits for him to pass on to the kids on the big night. He could even have the credit. 

So picked up a couple of fun-based items. Then a couple more. I got a big trolley basket. I picked up a couple more. Then a couple more. I ended up with 15 items in the end - an overflowing basket and all I could carry under my spare arm. 

I wasn't really keeping a tally of what I was spending - Santa would be getting the bill in any case - but I knew I was well past the £100 mark as I joined the queue for the tills.

It was at this point that I first began to wonder whether I had perhaps gone a little bit too far. And, as I edged up the queue, it is likely that a mild degree of panic was etched across my face.

Cue arrival of nice TK Maxx lady, who was giving out sweets to sweaty customers.  (I chose some fudge, just so you know).

As I thanked her, she surveyed my mountain of gifts.

"Do you know anyone who works for TX Maxx?" she asked.

"No," I replied (thinking that she was bound to).

"That's a shame," she said, "because there's a 20% family and friends staff discount today, but only today."

"Oh," I pondered, before doing what anyone else would do in this situation.  Yes, I put on my "pathetic" face.

"That would have been very handy because I have bought quite a lot," I whimpered.  "They're for my little boy and little girl, you know.  He's five and she's three very soon.  And..."

"You can be my friend," she interjected. 

You can guess the rest - KER-CHING!!!!

It was my first taste of 2013 Christmas spirit, and I liked it.  

Sunday, 1 December 2013

A sh*t of the tongue

I was getting dressed yesterday morning when Charlotte arrived with some startling news.

"I shit on the dining room floor."

Now, this is not something I would expect to hear from my daughter.  I say so for three reasons:
  1. She's a girl and I've always been told that girls don't, you know, poo;
  2. She'd not performed such a foul act (pardon the pun) on the dining room floor in the past; and
  3. I'd not previously heard her swear.
So I asked her to tell me again what had happened. 

"I shit on the dining room floor."

"Tell me again."

"I shit on the dining room floor."

"Say that again."

"I shit on the dining room floor."

"What happened?"

"I shit on the dining room floor."

"Say it slowly.  What did you do?"

"I shit on the dining room floor."


"I shit on the dining room floor."

"OK, one more time.  Tell me what you did."

"I shit on the dining room floor."

I was now officially concerned.  So I took her downstairs with me to see what state the dining room floor was in.

Thankfully, there was nothing to report other than a clean(ish) carpet. 

So I asked Charlotte to tell me again what she'd done.

"I shit on the dining room floor."


"I shit on the dining room floor."

I decided a change of tack was necessary, albeit one with an element of risk.

"Can you show me what you did?"

And with a little nod, she threw herself to the ground.

"Ah!  You slipped on the dining room floor?"


Good news.  (She wasn't hurt).