Saturday, 28 June 2014

Bent but not broken

Until last night I wasn't fully aware that I had a pelvic floor.  I just thought it was something ladies had swept before giving birth.  But no longer.

No, as part of my incessant climb towards the summit of modern manhood, yesterday I attended my first ever male group Pilates class.  That's me in action above.  And this morning I hurt like billio.  

I normally head off for a little run when I wake up - sorry, when Jamie and/or Charlotte wake me up - on a Saturday.  But my back, legs and core - get me - are just too painful.  And I can't even begin to describe the state my coccyx has been left in.  (Plus it's a bit grey outside and I might get wet).

However, no pain, no point in paying is what I say.  And my new Pilates pals and I certainly had that from teacher extraordinaire Jill who possesses that rare ability to achieve the perfect blend of lady sympathy and female cruelty in order to get results.

We'll all be back in our little shorts again next Friday at 6pm for more suffering, but only after we've done our homework.  

Yes, if you're passing by the Whites' front window over the coming week, you might spot me doing my twice-daily mash-up of sways, clams, pelvic tilts and something else, the name of which I've forgotten because I can't read my own scribble.  I will then crawl off either to work or to bed, almost certainly in tears.  And I've got to do them otherwise Jill will find out and most likely hit me with her "Pilates pole" (broom handle).  

The other challenge between now and then will be to try to explain to Jamie and Charlotte that I'm not really going to pirates class without them.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Rice for lunch

Another year has gone by and today it was time for the annual 364 Club cricket lunch at Headingley.  Above you can see me with my main men, Colin Slater, the voice of BBC Radio Nottingham, and John Kettley (Is A Weatherman).

As in previous years, John was given a hero's welcome...

...which he acknowledged... his usual...

...low key...


But John would acknowledge that an even bigger name was in the room.

Yup, that's Sir Tim Rice that is.  He's done stuff. And the great man even gave me his autograph afterwards although, if truth be old, I suspect I was more excited at meeting him than he was at attempting to understand what I was spouting at him.  I know that look.

Anyway, best go.  Charlotte needs her bum wiped.  

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

A good birthday party? Cosmic

This was the calm before the storm of Jamie's sixth birthday party last Sunday (despite him not actually reaching the milestone until the following day).

Hosted by none other than Cosmo the Cosmic Magician (yes, the very one)...

...the show seemed to be enjoyed by everyone involved. Especially Cosmo (aka Darren from Leeds). Just look at his little face.  (Still talking about Cosmo).

My personal highlight was when the great man whipped his big one out....

...before turning it into a rabbit.

Or at least that's what he said.

And then the kids ate.

And ate.

Whilst their parents, well, you know.


Happy birthday son.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Yeah baby they've (still) got it

No, dear friends, your eyes do not deceive you. That is indeed Bananarama you see before you, although there's only two of them now after one left.  A Banana split, if you will.

And they were great, despite Keren - on the left and my personal favourite for more than 30 years - coming across as a touch snooty.  Perhaps her and hubby Andrew Ridgeley had a pre-show fallout.

The show I refer to was yesterday's Let's Rock Leeds one-day 80s festival.   What a laugh.

In between appearances by a string of household names such as The Real Thing and Then Jerico (what?!) there were little stunts such as mass participation karaoke.

And little *unts such as Chris Moyles prancing on and using swear words in front of children.

This little girl must've been forewarned.

And not all the most memorable sights and sounds were on the stage.  These ladies seemed to have a fun time on the blanket next to us.

And I met this gentleman in the toilet.

For me, though, one act stood head and shoulders above the rest.  I'm talking about Howard Jones.

I've wanted to see the Prince of Syth play live for as long as I can remember, and he didn't disappoint.

That said, whether he should be wearing a suit like that at his age is possibly an issue for debate.   I would say yes Howard, you go for it.  (It even matches his guitar keyboard thingy, which I suggest is not an accident).

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Just desserts

Well "that" wasn't embarrassing.  Actually, it was incredibly embarrassing and I think I'd better share the incident with you as I feel the need for emotional support.  

In the wake of yesterday's "launch" of my Great North Run fundraising effort (thank you to Anne Gault and my old school chum Darren Shaw for being the first very kind people to put their hands in their pockets), I went for a little training jaunt this morning dressed in smaller shorts than is usually my wont.  The reason for my non-normal attire was because they have a little money pocket and I was planning to finish up at Morrisons to pick up a couple of bits. Fascinating stuff.

Anyway, lap of honour around the Kingdom of Guiseley complete, I popped into said supermarket.  But then I got a bit carried away.  Lemon chicken on offer?!  I'll have some of that!  Orange juice bumper family pack for £2.50?  Wow - yes please!  Ooooo, coffee cake!   I haven't had coffee cake in years.  Into the basket with you, sir!

After chucking a copy of the Wharfedale Observer and a loaf (all I went for in the first place) in with everything else, I was about to make my way to the self-service tills.  Then I spotted three Dairy Milk Chunks desserts in the "Was-Now" section.  I mean, it would be rude not no.  One for Jamie, one for Charlotte and one for me.  Mummy could lick my spoon (STOP IT!)  So in they went and off I went to pay.

Beep, beep, beep.  All was going well.  Until, that is, I reached the desserts.  With all three yet to go through the scanner, my bill total stood at £8.94.  However, with each dessert priced at 39p, a quick bit of mental maths told me that the final amount required would be £10.11.  The problem was, I had only stuffed a tenner into my little shorts pocket.  I could therefore only afford two desserts.  Charlotte would have to go without.

I put the first one through...beep!  £9.33.

Then the second....beep!  £10.11.  Bugger.

It had charged me full price.  So I called the nice lady over.  

"Excuse me," I said.  "It's charged me the wrong amount.  Would you mind doing your thang?"

"No problem love," she replied, as I stood in my little shorts sweating like a pig and smelling like a horse.

She then spotted my third dessert which was still in my basket.  My cunning plan had been to hide it behind the till since it was beyond my budget.

"Tell you what, give me that one and I'll put it through too," she instructed.

"Er, you can't," I whimpered, my pink face now turning a much deeper colour.


"Because I haven't got enough money.  I only have this tenner, you see.  I do have another 11p at home but, er, it just wouldn't fit in my shorts."  By this time a crowd was building up.

"Don't worry love, just you stay there."  I could begin to sense smirks.

The lady returned with a bag of coppers.

"This is the change the kids leave behind when they come in to buy their school lunches.  I'm sure they wouldn't mind.  How much do you need?"


She put 11p into the little slot.

"There you go love.  Don't forget to drop it back in next time you're passing." And with a wink and a smile, she was off.

I don't expect to be passing for a considerable period of time.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Running on Empty: Great North Run 2014

It's exactly one year today since I received the call to tell me that my much-loved friend Mags Maciver - Charlotte's godmother - had died. 

She'd beaten breast cancer once, she'd beaten leukaemia once but beating leukaemia twice was just beyond her.  And I say without hesitation that her passing has changed my entire outlook on life.

Although I hadn't seen Mags for quite a while, we'd kept in touch by phone. And when she told me in May last year that the leukaemia had returned, there wasn't a cell in my body which didn't believe she would see it off once again. As far as I was concerned, it was merely a set-back which she could clearly do without. Sadly it wasn't to be.

Over the past 12 months, I've thought about her a lot. Indeed, she regularly and miraculously pops into my mind when I'm on the verge of becoming more irritated than I should be about something that really doesn't matter.

That's her role now; walloping me over the head with her angel wand when I well and truly need it - which is quite often, I can assure you.

And then we move on to Good Friday this year when I heard the news that another longtime friend, David McClarty, had been taken from us by lymphoma. Again, David had been Ill for some time but, when I last saw him in February, his recovery was gaining pace and the prospects were good.

David was one of a very rare breed - a selfless politician. He loved the Borough of Coleraine and the Borough of Coleraine loved him. I thought of him only on Monday when it was confirmed that Royal Portrush Golf Club would host the 2019 Open Championship. That would have delighted David, and he would have been to the fore to make sure the North Coast looked its best for what will be the biggest week for the area in recent memory.

The day after David lost his battle, I contacted his son Alan to float an idea. Earlier this year I chucked my name into the ballot for the 2014 Great North Run.  It wasn't a challenge I was planning to take on again. Having already done it three times, bits are now either hanging off me or have already left the building. But, on a whim, I decided to complete the form and let fate dictate the outcome. It chose to take £50 out of my bank account and send me an email to tell me I was in. Oh goody.

When I was in touch with Alan, I told him about Mags and suggested that I nominate Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research as the beneficiary of my Great North hobble in memory of her and David. He was very quick to offer his full support, as has Mags' lovely mum Moira. So that's what's going to happen.

The event will take place on Sunday 7 September, my fundraising page has been set up and you can access it by clicking HERE. Any support you choose to offer will be greatly appreciated. 

Now then, has anyone seen my trainers?

Monday, 16 June 2014

Who's that girl?

It was Jamie's school sports day this afternoon and our boy is nothing if not consistent.

Yes, for the second year in a row, the Zebras came fourth - that's last to you and me.  Although, as in 2013, Jamie still hasn't worked that bit out and remains blissfully happy with the result.  Good.

And to be fair, he did give everything he had and made me very proud.  

That said, I was less thrilled about his attire.  As you can see below, Jamie (tee shirt pulled up) was dressed in a particularly tight pair of shorts.  I think they're what's known in the sporting trade as "girl's shorts." And that's exactly what they were after a wardrobe mix-up with a female classmate.  

This led to inevitable undercarriage issues which subsequently attracted the attentions of most of Yellow Class.

However, this was as nothing when compared to headteacher Mrs Bell's efforts to hold the attention of the large crowd.

And this year the Big Bong made sure she was properly equipped for the task at hand.

Separated at birth I'd say.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

The Sky Ride's the limit

This was the scene outside Guiseley railway station this morning as a gaggle of us prepared to board the train to take part in Sky Ride Leeds. (No, Charlotte's not floating in mid-air but is instead perched on a chair on the back of my bike.  Just lazy).

Sky Ride is a clever new venture aimed at encouraging people of all ages to get on their bikes, by allowing them to ride around city centres on closed public roads.  The UK cycling bug is particularly strong in Yorkshire given the imminent arrival of this year's Tour de France, which spends its first two days here at the beginning of July.      

To quote the Sky Ride Leeds pre-event bumpf: "We’ll be going Tour de France crazy on the day in anticipation of the Grand D├ępart. There will be loads of free things to do and try out, including the brand new ‘Tricks & Tunes’ area, the chance to check out the bikes used by Team Sky and the Great Britain Cycling Team, plus our friendly Bike Cafe, and the opportunity to find out about loads of other free cycling activities in Leeds, we’re rolling out a real festival atmosphere."

Excellent.  Lots of goodwill, good people and good ideas.

Enter "good" old Northern Rail.

Unfortunately none of those pictured above actually made it to Sky Ride Leeds.  No, this was because we weren't allowed on the train.  For reasons of health and safety, it turns out the nice folk at Northern Rail allow a maximum of two bicycles on their big, long trains, Sky Ride or no Sky Ride.  And by the time any of them finally reached Guiseley - the last stop before Leeds - that quota had obviously been used up.  So it was off to the park for the lot of us.        

Methinks Northern Rail's "can't do" attitude will face further challenge when the cycling world descends en masse at the beginning of July. I do hope so.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Charlotte Green (and White)

The World Cup Finals begin later today - you may have heard - as the excitement at the ongoing supermarket lager wars reaches almost fever pitch levels, at least in our house.

After she crawled into our bed this morning complaining that her knees were cold, I tried to explain to Charlotte what it was all about.  She didn't really get it.

So I enquired as to the identity of the team she would be supporting.  She didn't really know.

"What about England?" I suggested.

"Er, no," she replied.  "I want the green ones to win."

Ladies and gents, it may be 28 years since Northern Ireland last qualified for the World Cup Finals.

But it's great to know that the younger generation's passion for them to do so again remains undiminished.


Sunday, 8 June 2014

Making my mark

I had hoped to spend a bit of time this afternoon watching some sporting pursuits on the telly.  Unfortunately Jamie beat me to it and is now enjoying The Empire Strikes Back from the comfort of his wigwam.   I never win a round these days.

Meanwhile, we have a slight issue with Charlotte who this morning made two unexpected announcements:

  1. She is getting a tattoo of a (as yet unidentified) fairy; and
  2. She is getting a tattoo of Princess Rapunzel.

I have to say, this is very disappointing not to mention inconvenient news.

The thing is, to my knowledge Guiseley doesn't have a tattoo parlour.  We had one almost next door when we lived in Pudsey, and I could just have taken her straight there - especially as the big telly is engaged.

Also, there is the cost issue.  I have checked and she does have a few coins rattling around in her money bank, but I suspect there won't be quite enough.  So, inevitably, I'll have to pay.

And, of course, what happens if Charlotte goes off fairies and, perish the thought, Rapunzel between now and her very old age?  I mean, it could just be a fairy fad.  And some nasty fate might befall Rapunzel in part three of the Tangled trilogy.  All of a sudden, the current Disney darling could be yesterday's princess, leaving Miss White stuck with an unwanted 18 inch four-colour portrait on her back with the potential to become a source of mild embarrassment at swimming club.

Right, I've made my mind up.

It's no tattoos for Charley Farley until she's at least four, and possibly even five.

You might think I'm being harsh - and, deep down, I know myself that I am - but the decision is made.

It's time to wipe the smile off her face.        

Thursday, 5 June 2014

John Major and me

Last night I dreamt that John Major had invited me to 10 Downing Street to interview him for a book I'm writing.

This was a surprising turn of events for a number of reasons.

These include:

  1. John Major hasn't been Prime Minister for 17 years so no longer lives at 10 Downing Street
  2. How did John Major know I'm writing a book?
  3. I'm not writing a book

I can't wait for tonight's instalment.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

I may not be from this planet

I have an occasional tendency to get a teeny weeny bit carried away. It is, I hope, normally with the best of intentions. But the outcomes of my character flaw tend not always to be for the better.

By way of illustration, let me share with you a brief example which appears to have come back to kick me in the dangly bits.

Above you can see our shed - ably guarded by Gary, Robbie, Mark, Howard and Jason who have recently relocated from front to back garden to stop dogs peeing on them.

In a deep mid-winter moment of madness, I was looking out of the back window in the company of Jamie, a committed Doctor Who fan. (When I say "committed" I mean he watches it with me from behind the living room sofa, where I moved to after Billie Piper left).  And I had an idea.

That's right, I would paint our garden shed to look exactly like the TARDIS!

I mean, it couldn't be that hard. Could it?

Surely all I required was a big pot of navy paint, some white paint and two brushes. Job done.

However, as the days passed, I began to consider potential complications. For instance, I would probably have to use waterproof paint. Can you get navy waterproof paint? What would happen if Jamie suddenly went off the last of the Timelords and we were stuck with a life-size TARDIS in our garden?  And what if he didn't and we were still stuck with a life-size TARDIS in our garden?

So I went quiet on the plan, batted off Jamie's questions on timing when the issue was raised and hoped the problem would go away.  And as the weeks ticked by, the questions became less frequent and I seemed to be almost in the clear.

That was until last Monday afternoon when we were walking through Scarborough.  And guess what we came across?

Yes, this.

Does anyone know where I can get a big pot of navy blue waterproof paint?

Monday, 2 June 2014

Jamie does an athlon

A new experience for the White family this afternoon as Jamie took part in his first ever mini-duathlon.

Above you can see the crack field of competitors receiving their last minute instructions from a bloke in shorts.

And here is our man just before the off watched, in order of seniority, by an anxious grandfather, mother and sister.

For the uninitiated, a mini-duathlon is basically a mini-triathlon without the need to get wet (although, ironically, Jamie has since gone off for his swimming lesson).

You could smell the tension at the start (trust me, you really could).

And then it was go.

 Before the running bit.

And the medal bit, following a very respectable top-half finish.

Indeed, Charlotte enjoyed the whole thing so much that we then had to organise a special presentation in her honour for being the best supporter.

Which meant they both got a nice pudding.

So a successful outcome for everyone involved.  Although, between you and me, I suspect the Brownlee brothers will have little to worry about for some time yet.