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.

My son Noah turned one year old this week and took it upon himself to make some pretty big decisions in his life.

“Enough is enough father,” he said to me as we shared a brandy and a monte cristo at our favourite club, “I’m one now, and some things around here have to change!” And with that he took his socks off and has pointedly refused to put them back on ever since.

It does not seem to matter that even though we are officially in British Summer Time and temperatures are barely above freezing – the socks are still off!

In the morning I will dress the boy, carefully choosing socks that match the rest of his outfit for fear of invoking the wrath of his mother for crimes of fashion. However, by the time I leave the house, place him in his car seat and get into the drivers seat I will turn around and the socks will be off. Not only will they be off but they will be nowhere in sight. There is a possibility that he is eating them! I half expect to turn around one day and see a single sock lolling out the mouth of my child like a labrador’s tongue.

So… solutions? Sock suspenders – too weird. Gaffer tape around the ankles – too cruel. All in one baby gros until he is six years of age – bound to mentally scar him for life.

The answer must be out there. The sooner someone gets on Dragons Den and invents the “Never Come Off Sock” the better! Until then, we will struggle on with bare feet and hope the weather gets better.

Mr Miyagi says, "keep your bloody socks on!"

Throw Baby From The Train….

February 25, 2010

There is a great scene in the Billy Crystal, Danny Devito film Throw Momma From The Train when Crystal’s character finally cracks and he announces that he is off to kill Devito’s mother.

Strangely enough I was reminded of that very scene last night, or more precisely this morning, just after four am when my partner Becky leapt from our bed and stormed towards the bedroom door announcing, “That’s it…!”

“Where are you going?” I asked with trepidation over the noise of our son, who at this point was doing a great impression of being murdered by a Mad Max type gang in his nursery.

“I’m… going… to…,” pause, deep inhale of breath, “get him some milk!”

“Phew, I thought you were about to say you were going to kill him!” And she looked at me the way mothers do – as if this had never occurred to her and it was only me that had these terrible thoughts.

Danger, Will Robinson!

February 2, 2010

My ten month old son has just entered that phase where he now has the ability to kill himself in a hundred different ways every single day.

The parental amazement that your little bundle of joy can get around under their own steam lasts for just as long as it takes your beautiful baby to reach the nearest plug socket and start to lick it.

In the middle of a nappy change my son likes to flip round on to his belly and then scamper to the edge of the changing table where he will rock back and forth precariously, laughing in the face of complete disaster. He is fearless… or maybe just an idiot!

Some would say that their behaviour is based on a total lack of understanding for consequence and this may be true. However, I like to believe it’s something more mysterious. I think we are all born with a little bit of Evel Knievel in us and it’s only time and society that beats this daredevil mentality out of us (unless of course you’re Evel Knievel!).

If you gave any baby the choice of climbing a mountain of pillows or climbing an electricity pylon they would choose the pylon every time. What does that tell you? Probably best not to try to prove this theory at home!

So, what I’m saying is that we all need to be a little more carefree, a little more adventurous in our life. As Gahndi once said, “learn as if you were going to live forever. Live as if you were going to die tomorrow.” It’s a sentiment that makes a lot of sense, you know. With that in mind I’m off to jump 40 motorcycles in a double decker bus.