Volcanic Ash….

April 16, 2010

If the world was a fair place right now I should be sitting on the sun soaked terrace of my Andalucian villa sipping a glass of Rioja as my one year old son totters precariously close to to some mountainous edge while he picks up and eats the most dangerous insects and beasts that particular area of Spain has to offer – but that is not where I am!

Along with another 600 000 or so travellers in the UK I was left stranded at Gatwick Airport on Thursday morning as volcanic dust spread across Europe in some eerily biblical way.

“Meh!”said my partner Becky. “Mum’s not going to Spain because of Iceland!”

“Very funny,” I replied without any real humour.

“Aaaarrrggghhhhhh!!!!!!” Screamed my son, setting off another thirty kids (and at least 10 Mums) across the departure lounge.

And it was then that I realised that the one place worse than being stuck in a plane with a disgruntled child is being stuck in a badly ventilated airport with hundreds of disgruntled children. My son went into melt down mode. The twins of the nice family next to us went berserk. Nearby two young brothers dressed as Power Rangers turned on each other while a beautiful three year old in a summer dress and pigtails let out a scream so blood curdling Janet Leigh would have been proud.

“Home?” I asked Becky.

“May as well, nothing’s happening here,” she replied.

“Nnnnnggggggg,” my son added, going a little purple in the face and doing a nice big present for his Daddy.

These guys ruined my holiday!

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Back in a fortnight…. until then please do read the old blogs, some are even quite good!

Home of the brave….

April 13, 2010

I met a very brave man yesterday, possibly one of the bravest men I have ever met in my life. His name is Matt Brown and he writes the blog Frazzled Daddy.

“Tell us! Tell us! What did he do?” I hear you and the other voices in my head cry. “Did he scale Everest? Has he sailed the Atlantic single handed like Ellen MacArthur? (why is a lovely woman like her not married?) Has he upped and moved his whole family to some far off land of freedom for a new beginning – somewhere like New Zealand, Alaska or Hull?

No. He has done none of these things. His feat of daring was far braver. What Matt Brown has done is post pictures of himself on his blog before having children and after having children! An act so brave even Bear Grylls would shy from it!

In his first picture Matt looks moody and relaxed with not a care in the world – a possible contender for the next James Bond. My partner Becky looked and said, “Oh, he’s a good looking bloke!”

“Alright, alright, love!!” I replied feeling no jealousy at all.

Scroll down and there is Matt after kids. Still handsome but also  reminiscent of that mug shot picture of Robert Downey Junior when he was caught drunk driving and in posession of crack cocaine and an unloaded .357 magnum revolver – the one difference being Matt looks like his magnum may actually be loaded.

So, hats off to Frazzled Daddy Matt Brown… and if you think I am posting a before and after picture of myself I’m afraid you are sorely mistaken. My fear is that you would not be able to tell which was the ‘before’ and which was the ‘after’!

(read Frazzled Daddy here: http://frazzleddaddy.blogspot.com/)

After becoming a father Alec Baldwin's face almost trebled in width!

While enjoying a nice glass of wine with my French friend Frank O’File he announced that his wife was going back to work and that he would be looking after their son full time two days a week.

“A am lookeen forward to eet, Marcoooos,” he said languidly as he sipped from his oversized glass. “Eet weel be nice to ave a break, non?”

And it struck me that this is the opinion of so many fathers I know who see their offspring first thing in the morning when they are sleepy and beautiful and then return in the evening when they are fast asleep. They have no idea that for us full time mothers, er, I mean parents, having children is an up at dawn ball breaking siege on our life… which of course I love and enjoy… most of the time.

“A woz theenking a weel sleep in till about nine, and then maybee take little Jean Luc Picard to the cafe for some coffee. Eee can play and a weel read Le Monde. Thees ees wat the geerls do, non? Thees ees ow you spend your day, non?”

“Mais oui, mais oui, mon ami!” I replied, using all the French I know in the same sentence. “You will love it! It’s a breeze. Some days when I am not just lying on the sofa watching tv I will perhaps go the pub or just take a nap when I feel like it.”

“A fot soo,” he said, relaxing back into the sofa, oblivious that the bomb that was about to drop in his life would make those his countrymen dropped in the South Pacific look like ripples in a pond!

When my son turned one a couple of weeks ago I thought, “to hell with the expense, you’re only one once and this is my firstborn son after all! He shall have lavish gifts showered upon him!”

And so my partner and I pushed the boat out and scoured the mighty Argos catalogue for baubles and trinkets for our boy. “Wow!” Becky gasped at a gray plastic play castle. “Zowee!” I marvelled at a Spider Man tool bench. (Did Spidey do much DIY?)

We settled on a sit on / push along car, a ball swamp (with extra balls) and a swing. Surely the boy would be overwhelmed by this majesty and behave for at least the next twelve years. On the way home we also popped into a card shop and got him a card and a cheap helium filled foil balloon.

The day of his birthday arrived and as a courtesy to us Noah allowed his parents to sleep in till 6am. As Becky put the kettle on I carried him downstairs and presented him with his Aladdin’s Cave of riches.

Would it be the swing that enthralled him, the ball swamp that left him in rapture or the sit on car he was mesmerised by? Er, no. In actual fact it was none of them.

Noah scanned the large gifts and then was immediately hypnotised by the £1.99, cheap as chips foil balloon, which he then continued to play with the whole day while studiously ignoring all the other gifts.

And from this exercise I have learned two things: 1/ It’s not always about how much you spend on a gift. And …2/ If you take a ball swamp and swing out of their boxes Argos won’t bloody take them back!

While changing a rather pungent nappy of my son this morning I noticed that in this strange world in which we live things are not always what they seem.

I reached across to the shelf in the boy’s room, picked up a cannister and pushed the button releasing two short bursts of what smelled to me like the 80’s aftershave Kouros.

I read the label. Marks and Spencer Lavender and Sandalwood Room Mist.

Room Mist? What the hell is Room Mist?

Its an air freshener!

Just an Illusion.

Before my son came along I looked at extended warranties as a complete con. If my washing machine, dvd player, microwave, whatever did not last more than a year then I was not buying the right brand.

My tips for electronic peace of mind are two fold: 1/ Never buy a brand called Yakanoozuu. 2/ Never buy from some bloke off the telly who tries to convince you the flat screen tv he is selling is made in the same factory as Sony.

If ever some 12 year old shop assistant offered me an extended warranty I would laugh in his acne ridden face, tell him no way and if my product broke down on its 366th day after purchase I would be back to get him personally.

However, all this has changed now that we have a one year old mobile wrecking ball. Turn your back for a second and it looks like a rock band has partied hard in my living room – lamps lay crashed on their side, CDs are strewn across the wooden floor, four types of biscuit have been mashed into the rug and the dvd player  has  a toy fire engine rammed into where there was once a space for the disc to go.

So, when I recently bought my wii console, before the assistant had even started to put it in the bag I looked her straight in the eye and said, “and is there an extended warranty available with this?”

“Er, yes… yes there is,” she stammered, not sure if I was being sarcastic.

“Well I’d like to purchase it please. Does it come with a no quibble replacement guarantee should my wii be smashed to the ground by a small boy with jammy hands?”

“Er, um, er, I…. think so… its £17.99 extra. Are you sure you want it?” She asked.

“Oh, yes,” I replied. “Load me up,” I said confidently, feeling rather proud of myself and knowing full well that within six months I would be back in this very spot carrying a plastic back of shattered plastic shards that once resembled a Nintendo Wii.