Tuesday, 23 June 2015

7 UP

At this time on this day seven years ago, I was getting bored.

Vanessa and I were in a delivery suite in Leeds General Infirmary and, quite frankly, Vanessa wasn't delivering.

Having seen the scans and felt the occasional tummy kick over previous months, I knew there was a theory that I was about to become a father.  But I didn't really believe it.

I mean, "did you see the shape of me?" (as they say in Coleraine).  I wasn't ready to be a dad and I'd certainly never met a child who I could imagine would wish to be my son or daughter.

In fact, it was only when a smiley nurse handed me a little fat man at around 8.50pm that night that I finally realised the whole episode hadn't been an elaborate hoax.

By day four, Baby James Richard had become a bit more bonny.

Thank, er, heavens for that.

Since then, I can barely remember having had a full night's (non-alcohol induced) sleep.  Don't get me wrong, it's not always been his (or Charlotte's) fault.  Mostly, but not always.  It's just what parenting does to you - or certainly has done to me.

I didn't even have any grey hair in 2008.  Now, when she sits on my shoulders, Charlotte says she can see my "real head."

But it's been an adventure.

And over that time, Jamie has grown up a touch and now even has a baby of his own.

Yup, Granny Elizabeth in Portstewart bought him a Furby for his birthday.

She's always been a particularly cruel woman.    

Tonight we'll have a party tea for him including cake, and something else is planned for Saturday.

Seven years.  Bloody hell.

Good fun though.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Who's the daddy?

Above you can see one of the two home made cards I received from Charlotte this morning, Jamie handed over two more.  Most kind although, in Charlotte's case, I fear her admiration for me will inevitably decrease as she becomes less short.

Jamie designed one of his cards at his Beavers' "Lads and Dads Night" on Wednesday.

As part of the packed programme, we also had a mixed teams tug of war battle.

Followed by the dads being forced to run the wet sponge gauntlet.

Then, back in the hut, we took part in a quiz with our respective sprogs.

I did swimmingly well in answering my "Know Your Lad?" posers, only getting Jamie's favourite colour wrong.  (It had been blue until Wednesday morning, on Wednesday afternoon it became green. He didn't say).

Then it was his turn to answer questions about me in "Know Your Dad?"

Here's how it went:

Q1 What is his full name?
A. Barry Richard White (Correct)

Q2 What date is his birthday?
A. ??? (Gutted)  

Q3 What colour are his eyes?
A. Blue (I wish)

Q4 What's his job?
A. Paper man (Because he said I shuffled paper a lot.  In protest, I chose not to give him a point)

Q5 Who are his favourite football team?
A. Ireland (Northern - he could have that one)

Q6 Where was he born?
A. Ireland (As above)

Q7 What size shoes does he take?
A. Size 4 (Maybe he's seen me in the shower.  No point)

Q8 What is his favourite food?
A. Meat (That's my boy)

Q9 Does he like dogs or cats?
A. Cats (On a roll)

Q10 What sport does he play?
A. Rugby (Forced to retired because of injury in 1996, but close enough)  

Q11 What is his best friend's name?
A. John (Wee)

Q12 Is he romantic?
A. Sort of (For explanation see answers 5 and 6)

Eight points then. Expect to see us on Family Fortunes sometime soon.  

Meanwhile, the cafe's now open.  It's time for my special Fathers' Day lunch.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Moving pictures

Last week I promised to put up the link to the Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards, which was broadcast last night on Ulster Television.

And HERE it is.

If you don't have time to watch it all - and try if you can - go to 23 minutes and 40 seconds and there's a wee face I expect you'll recognise.


Sunday, 14 June 2015

Blood relatives unknown

Minus Mummy, last night I made the kids a homemade chicken and ham pie (first attempt, nobody died) and sought to indulge in proper cross-table conversation.

Predictably given Friday evening's never-to-be-forgotten goings on, Oliver Dickey came up.

"He won his prize," I announced, still feeling a tad emotional about the whole thing.

"Great!" shouted Jamie.

"Great!" shouted Charlotte.

Correct X2.

I then showed them some pictures from the awards ceremony.

And, as dedicated Britain's Got Talent fans, this one proved to be particularly impressive.

Yes, Oliver with "The Sword Girl" as Charlotte likes to call Jesse Jane McParland. (HI-YAH!)

Indeed, so impressed was Ms White that she insisted we interrupt our tea to take a picture to send on to Oliver and his little brother Max.

Back at the table, both were curious as to why Oliver had had to endure his ordeal in the first place.  Why was he not able to be born, get bigger and learn to walk "like everyone else"?

I explained that not all of us were so fortunate and, quite often, babies were born with little problems.

They couldn't really get their heads around this so I decided to offer an illustration.

"I had a problem with my blood when I was a little baby," I explained, "and had to have it changed a few times."

"What do you mean?" Jamie asked.

"A very kind person gave me some of their good blood to replace my bad blood," I battered on.

"Oh," said Jamie.  "Who was it?"

"I don't know."

"Andy Warhol?" ventured Jamie.  (No idea where that came from).

"Or a dog," said Charlotte.

"Shut up and eat your dinner."

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Once a winner, forever a winner

Three months ago, I issued a little call to arms: Help Wee Oliver WIN.

If you don't know the remarkable story about Oliver Dickey by now, you must've been been living under something hard and stoney.  In short, the once wheelchair-bound little man is now positively scooting around the place (Meep! Meep!)

In the year and a half since the Help Wee Oliver Walk campaign got under way, Master Dickey's tale has moved many, many people far beyond the streets of Coleraine.  It has also served as a source of inspiration for countless more, not least other children in need of SDR surgery and their parents.

"Nothing is impossible," somebody we probably all heard of once said.  They might even have said it more than once.  But whoever it was, Oliver Dickey has proven that they were spot on.

Given the impact he has had, it seemed obvious that Oliver should be nominated for a Spirit of Northern Ireland Award.

And, as a result of so many of you answering the plea, he was short-listed in the Overcoming Adversity category.

The ceremony took place last night and, if you don't already know, you can probably guess the rest: OF COURSE he won!

The event was recorded by Ulster Television and an edited version goes out in Northern Ireland next Friday (I think).  I'll put a link up when available for those of us living elsewhere.

But I understand his little video was very good.

I mean, look.

No doubt you, like me, are thrilled for Oliver, his mum Charlene, dad Neil and brother Max - all of whom I know had a night they'll never forget (apart from the bits shandy-drinking Neil probably can't remember).

Rewinding back to January 2014, the Help Wee Oliver Walk appeal began with a drive to recruit some household names to give it a bit of profile.  And for their help, everyone involved will be forever grateful to a long list of public figures including Barry McGuigan, Joan Collins, Lord Sugar, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Zoe Ball and Peter Andre (to name a mere few).

In the intervening period, Oliver has become famous in his own right with fellow celebs falling over themselves to get their photo taken with him.    

Last night, for example, deposed X Factor judge Louis Walsh was first in the queue for a career-boosting shot.

He was closely followed by Britain's Got Talent ninja Jesse Jane McParland, who also demanded a date - a "request" best not refused.

Sadly Oliver's Granny Florrie has to make do with Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody.

And Coronation Street bad boy Jim McDonald.

So she did.

That was all last night.  But this morning, the sun rose again and it was time for breakfast.

So why wouldn't Wee Oliver have his cornflakes with the Northern Ireland football team?

No reason whatsoever.

Good luck to the boys tonight in their crunch Euro 2016 qualifier against Romania.   

And well played Oliver

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Terry triumphs in the thrill of The Chase

Last night I posed a question: would Terry from Portstewart be the man with all the answers?

And on tonight's episode of The Chase, he proved his credentials when the pressure was truly on.

Ignoring distractions such as host Bradley Walsh's famously innuendo-obsessed mind, plus team-mate Dave who loved to think he knew it all, Terry answered the crucial final "push-back" question to beat the Chaser and carry his team over the line to glory.

And his reward?  A third share of £45,000.

Not a bad night's work, and a fine hour of televisual entertainment into the bargain.

Top man, top job, thrilled for the boy.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Terry Knox: The man with all the answers?

I'm not a huge teatime quiz show watcher, but tomorrow I intend to break my non-habit.

This is because my mate Terry Knox is due to be on that ITV one that Bradley Walsh is also on - commonly known as The Chase - and it will certainly be worth a watch.

Here's Terry, flanked (from left to right) by Her Majesty the Queen and His Holiness the Pope.

I've seen The Chase a few times and, in truth, never fully understood what is going on.  In fact, my only consistent recollection is that the fat bloke who sits high up tends to do better than the confused member of the public perched several feet below.

But tomorrow I suspect Fat Bloke may meet his match.

I say this for two reasons.

First, having gone to school with Terry - who lives in Portstewart - I know how clever he is.

And second, I had a few drinks with him before Christmas and, towards the end of the night, the indications were that he'd done rather well. (The show was recorded months ago. Plus, Terry's a modest fellow).

So, dear friends, 5pm tomorrow, ITV, The Chase.

Tune in or set whatever recording device you have available.  Otherwise you'll not know how Terry got on, which would be a loss - especially if he did well and you meet him in a pub.  

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Total victory for the Wee Country

Despite the best efforts of presidents and prime ministers all over the world, as of Sunday morning, Sepp Blatter was steadfastly refusing to go as FIFA boss.

And then these guys got on his case on Sunday afternoon.

Oh, and these guys too.

In Crewe for the Northern Ireland football team's friendly with Qatar, the fearless band of boys and girls chose to make a stand.

"BOO!" they shouted.

"HISS!" they, er, hissed.

"SEPP BLATTER, **** *** YOU *** ****!" they murmured  (some of their number being lawyers but not yet rich enough lawyers to be able to fork out substantial damages for defamation of character).

And then today, the *** **** did indeed **** ***.

Quite remarkable, and proving once again that wee countries are countries too.

For the record, Sunday's game finished Northern Ireland 1 Qatar 1 in front of a crowd of 3,022.