Murphy’s Law…

August 28, 2009

Murphy’s Law states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. (This is a very similar legal statute to Sod’s Law – perhaps they worked at the same law firm – Murphy and Sod, Attorneys at Law!)

Baby’s Law states that anything that is vital to what you are doing with the baby at that moment will be visible but just out of reach.

Baby’s Law is irrefutably true, as anyone with children will tell you. You will be holding your child and realise that in order to complete the task you are doing you need something else. That thing will always, always, always be within your line of vision but because you will be holding the baby in some awkward position you will not be able to get the thing you need.

Baby’s Law most often occurs in the following situations:

  • When you are changing a diaper, have already removed the diaper and are holding the child’s legs in the air away from the poo as you look around for the wipes. The wipes will be on the shelf in the corner of the room, just two feet out of reach
  • When you are bottle feeding your son after he has been fractious for the previous hour. Now he is drinking contentedly but you know any attempt to remove the bottle or move him and all hell will break out. His mouth needs to be wiped. The cloth to wipe his mouth is clearly visible on the dresser, just nine inches out of your reach.
  • When you have been walking around the nursery with him for fifty minutes at four in the morning. Finally he has stopped grizzling, starting to sleep and you know that giving him his dummy (pacifier) will tip him over into the land of nod. You spot the dummy below you, lying in the cot. Any attempt to bend down to get the dummy will result in immediate wakefulness and ensuing carnage.



Before I had a son I would constantly hear that babies were expensive. ‘It costs over a zillion pounds to raise a child until they are three years of age’, some news article would say. ‘House prices fall a further 3% while the cost of having a child raises by 74 and a bit %,’ another headline would boom.

In my experience I have found that these claims are simply not true. Sure, there is an initial outlay for all the things you need to have a child but once you are past that you will realise that you are actually better off – because you never get to go out again!!!!

My long suffering partner Becky asked me the other day how many times we had been out together since Noah was born. “Er, I don’t know,” I pondered, trying to recall any possible cinema trips, dinners out, theatre outings or just the odd night down the pub with our friends. I couldn’t think of any.

“Once,” she said. “We have been out once together in five months. Remember when my Mum came up from Wales for the night and we went to that restaurant, ate three courses in 45 minutes and then came straight back because you missed the boy?”

“Oh yes, that’s right,” I agreed. “Once eh? We really have turned into a pair of sad sacks, but think of the money we have saved!”

“That’s not the point,” she protested. “We need a social life! We need to go out more! I am still young…ish!”

“You’re right I said,” leaping from my seat. “Let’s do it! Let’s bloody well do it! Let’s go crazy… right now! I will call Steve and ask him to babysit. We can drop Noah off at his house and we can go to the bloody cinema. It will be like we’re young again!”

“Tonight?” said Becky suddenly looking reticent. “You want to go tonight?… It’s been a long day, and anyway House is on in half an hour – the new series!”

“The new series? Excellent, let’s do that instead. I will put the kettle on. After all, we can go out anytime!”

For their own safety kids should sit right up close to the TV!

For their own safety kids should sit right up close to the TV!

It is only in the extremely rare moments of utter silence in my life that I realise since my son was born five months ago there has been next to no silence at all for this time. I don’t mean like a kind of nine to five work noise or a tv in the background drone. I mean 24/7, round the clock, perpetual sound, never ebbing or flowing but always there – like tinnitus, but what tinnitus would sound like if it sounded like a baby… if you know what I mean.

Occasionally, very occasionally, or whatever the word is for less than very occasionally (I just looked up thesaurus .com and that was no help) there will be a moment when the steriliser stops sterilising, the washing machine stops spinning, the small boy will stop gurgling, the mobile above the cot will stop chiming, the phone will stop ringing, the cars outside will disappear, the planes thundering to Heathrow will cease and even next door’s dog will shut the fuck up for once… and then there will be a moment of pure golden silence the likes of which comes around as often as Haley’s Comet (every 76 years, I looked that up too) and in that nano second of time universes will expand and contract, lovers will kiss for the first time, people will die and be born, oceans will turn and I will breathe in and feel my soul calm…. and then the microwave will ping.

Stop The Noise

Babies are sensitive little creatures. Despite being brand new to the world they can still sense an atmosphere in a room, know when those around them are happy or sad and, most importantly, even when appearing to be fast asleep they can tell if you are standing up or sitting down.

To most of us whether we are doing something standing up or sitting down does not make that much difference. In fact, you can probably do most things just as well sitting down as you can standing up. Writing this blog for instance, it really makes no odds whether I am reclined or upright.

However, even though we as rational people know that when it comes to the difference between standing up or sitting down there really is not much in it try telling that to my son! When he gets over tired and cranky he likes to be picked up and held close and while this was okay when he was just a few weeks old now that he appears to be doubling his weight every 48 hours this is becoming an increasingly difficult task. As his weight goes up the amount of time he can be held for while standing goes down.

So, when I have held him closely and walked him around the nursery to the point that the muscles in my arms are burning, my neck has gone into spasm and my back feels like I have been kicked by a horse I will sneakily check that he is asleep, edge over to the comfy seat in the corner and slowly begin to sit down – always retaining a straight back and therefore the perfect illusion of still standing upright.

But no, for as soon as my knees start to reach a 90 degree angle and my buttocks are about to touch the wonderfully soft cushioned seat my son’s internal ‘Betrayal’ alarm goes off.

‘What!!?? How dare you try and sit down!! I need to be carried. And don’t try that old straight back crap, pretending you are still standing… do you think I was born yesterday?” And I will quickly stand back up and he will fall into silence and back to sleep within three seconds.

In my desperation I have even tried to gradually fool him by standing in the middle of the room squatting half up and half down but this did not work at all, proving even more painful than just standing and add to this that I look as if I am holding my baby and defecating in the middle of a room.

Picture of a completely helpless individual with no real thoughts of his own, and a baby

Picture of a completely helpless individual with no real thoughts of his own, and a baby.

All the lonely people….

August 20, 2009

I am beginning to worry that we are creating a generation of children who are terrified to be left alone with their own thoughts.

It is starting to look like the people of my generation can’t be left alone for even a second without whipping out their mobile phone to check email, text or worse still – Twitter! I even find myself doing it. I was in a bar the other week and when my friend went to the toilet I instinctively took out my mobile phone – ah! no messages, nobody loves me… who can I text in the 90 seconds it takes Terry to have a pee? Are we all really so incapable of just sitting still, alone, without some form of digital interaction?

The more I read of people’s Twitters? Tweets? Twats?… the less respect I have for them. I really couldn’t care less that their life is as banal as my own – I have no wish to tell everyone how boring I am!

My big fear is, if this is how bad we are now what the hell is my son going to be like in 20 years from now? Will he even speak? He may just communicate 100% via the medium of text – Mmm, Pls pass the Gr8vee. This st8k is Gr8 🙂

The comedian Frankie Boyle has a great routine about the fact he does not find young women attractive as he worries that were he ever to end up in bed with them they would be texting their friends during sex! How do you spell Oh Oh Oh!

Will my son not come home for Christmas dinner but just have a lap top placed at the table as we enjoy the festive season via Skype? Will I discover he has got engaged by reading it on his Facebook wall?

I don’t think I want a web 5.0, interactive, on demand future. I quite fancy just having a cup of tea and a bit of a chat….

"What? Face to face? You want to see me in person? What kind of crazy talk is that?"

"What? Face to face? You want to see me in person? What kind of crazy talk is that?"

This week I will have lived in London for 11 full years… not bad for someone who said he was staying a maximum of two when I first arrived in Kings Cross train station all those years ago.

Now, in a city of around eight million people – thats twice the population of New Zealand and three million more than Scotland – you have to expect a bit of bustle. Rush hour across the city is not the most pleasant experience I have had, and trying to get anywhere fast in Waterloo station between the hours of 5pm and 7pm really is pointless.

Amidst all this chaos and fervour, this energy and drive I still thought that we Londoners retained a little decorum. I still thought we had manners – after all we are British. Long Live Stephen Fry and all that! Hurrah!

However, today I changed my mind. I went into town to meet my pregnant friend Alice – eight months pregnant and the size of a small house. We had a lovely lunch and made our way back leisurely along the South Bank of the Thames. It was only when we boarded a packed commuter train to go home that I had a real dent put in my day.

Just as we pulled out of Waterloo I leaned forward and asked the smartly dressed city gent if he wouldn’t mind giving up his seat for my pregnant friend. He looked Alice up and down and then snapped, “Bugger off, I didn’t ask her to get pregnant!” before going back to his newspaper.

The rudest commuter in the world? Unless you know better….

Ah! Another good day for Transport for London.

Ah! Another good day for Transport for London.

I have spoken before in this blog about the fact that since the birth of my child I have had to leave my old, slightly anal, obsession with being clean and stain free behind. Baby sick and milk get everywhere and I wore my stains as a badge of honour. However, I would now like to admit just how naive I was. I thought I knew what mess was about. The only thing I now know for sure is that I knew nothing.

As of last week my partner Becky has started to wean the boy off the boob and on to solid food – well when I say solid food it is actually more like mushed food. So far he has enjoyed sweet potato, carrot and banana. He has enjoyed it while the carpet, the sofa, the walls, the TV screen, the high chair and everything else in the house has become spattered with it like some kind of horrific CSI vegetable massacre crime scene. Not even Horatio Kane could work out where the carnage in our house starts and finishes – ‘rest assured ma’am, I will find out who did this to your pumpkin!’ Sunglasses on and exits stage left to the sound of The Who…

I have considered cutting up our furniture and flogging them off as undiscovered Jackson Pollock sculptures – ‘yes, this was Pollock’s little known carrot phase where he took a perfectly good 32 inch Sony Bravia TV and then fucked it up beyond belief by splattering two kilos of mushed vegetable across it. A snip at ten thousand dollars!’

I also thought it was only the baby that was meant to get covered in food. Every time I go near Noah with a spoonful of mush he strikes like a bloody cobra, knocking the pot and spoon flying into the air and covering me in shit – well not literally shit, that’s another story entirely, but more on that later….

While giving a presentation at work this week I asked if anyone had any questions. The head of HR raised her hand and tentatively asked if ‘that was banana or porridge that was stuck in my eyebrow!’

‘Banana,’ I answered confidently. ‘Any other questions?’

I would say it's time for this child to be weaned. She's bloody twelve!

I would say it's time for this child to be weaned. She's bloody twelve!

My friend Will had his car stolen last week, which put him in a bit of a pickle – namely, how to transport his twins to school and his three year old son to day care.

Will lives in a rather affluent part of London. The last time I visited him his suburban street was lined with Audis, Mercedes, BMW X5s and quite a few Range Rovers. Will drives a 2002 Nissan Terrano. Not only is this an old and crappy four by four but it’s not even an old and crappy four by four in good condition. The interior of the car is littered with children’s toys and empty coffee cups. The upholstery is scuffed and torn and the the back of the passenger seat still has the remnants of half a banana that one of the twins mashed into the seat in a fit of pique. Not only this, but Will’s car is a kind of weird metallic mustard gold colour!

It strikes me that the thieves must have been A/ Blind ? B/ Blind Drunk? C/ Had massively bad taste. Why on earth would you choose Will’s car when it was parked next to a 2008 Audi Q8?

Then it struck me, perhaps there is a really messed up car thieving ring run by Nicholas Cage and Angelina Jolie lookalikes prowling the streets of London stealing shit cars for parents in need. ‘I need a 2004 Chrysler Grand Voyager mini van with really fuck awful velour upholstery, can you help me out?’

‘You bet,’ says the Angelina Lookeylikey, ‘that’s what we do! We will even throw in a free booster cushion with some toddler sick on it!’

Sometimes feeding your child can be just a little messy!

Sometimes feeding your child can be just a little messy!

I have long come to accept that everything that you buy for your child is bought from the shop with the big windows – they see you coming for miles!

I am also now at peace with what most manufacturers do who make children’s toys, clothes, crockery, hardware, software, ironmongery, white goods and basically anything else that you can aim at gullible parents… and that is to take some kind of bog standard item, for instance a cup… put a daisy, fire engine, cow print, whatever on it and hike the price 20%!

“But it’s a cup!” I will cry.

“It’s a cow print cup!” Becky will reply.

However, as we now know, most things that you buy for your child will never be used, be grown out of before they are ever worn or are utterly useless. I started to wonder what the most useless item I had in my armoury of useless items I own for my son. And the competition was tough!

My 19 week old son owns a full size football – bought at some expense I may add. This thing is twice the size of his head, he is far too small to hold it and when I lift it towards him all he tries to do is put it in his mouth. He has not quite got the ‘what size fits into what space thing’ yet.

He also own three pairs of combat trousers with deep side pockets on them. Let’s be honest, he really has no need for any pockets at all, let alone deep, practical, extra pockets on the legs of his camouflage pants. What does he have to hide from?

However, in my mind the most useless thing he own are the 12 pairs of baby shoes that sit in the wardrobe. He cannot walk, his main preoccupation at the moment is to put his feet in his mouth and when he does go anywhere he is carried – yet he has two pairs of Adidas and a rather natty pair of desert boots that I would wear in a flash if they were in my size. But to him, these have got to be the number one most useless item he has!

I am wondering if there is a more useless item out there that I can manufacture, sell on and make myself a few bucks. Baby Hair Drier? Business Cards for Babies – never be under prepared at another mother and toddler group! What about tattoos for Babies – decorate your child the Angelina Jolie way.

All suggestions welcome!


My son is a child genius – obviously. At 18 weeks old he can belch like Barney from The Simpsons and has learned to lift his chubby little leg for added resonance when he farts with great gusto. In my mind at least, this elevates him to child genius status.

However, in my partner’s Mother and Baby group the whole thing is far from a bit of fun. In fact, the other week I was quite horrified to see how competitive the Mums get with each other when it comes to just how advanced and all round bloody great their offspring are.

While little Jack was sitting up on his own at 15 weeks little Susie had been doing that since 12 weeks. At the other side of the table baby Thomas and baby Adele were competing to see who was the best sleeper – both were sleeping through the night from three months on the dot! Noel, Sean and Claire had already bean weaned on to baby rice and were doing so wonderfully that they were practically feeding themselves and then doing the washing up! It was like an upwards spiral of ‘Anything you can do I can do better!’ I almost felt like saying my son Noah was joining Angelina Jolie as an international diplomat on a mission to Africa just to see what the rest of the group would come up with – well baby Kyra has been advising Gordon Brown on his economic policy while baby Josh has been working closely with Bill Clinton on his envoy duties of North Korea…?

“How do you deal with it?” I asked my partner Becky. “What do you say when they are all doing the one upmanship thing?”

“I just ignore it…. and then I point the boy’s rear end in their direction and let him do what he does best, what he does at world class level,” she replied. We both nodded sagely and agreed he was indeed a child genius in the bottom department.