Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday is caption day - 31/03/12

My first go at Mammasaurus' SatCap linky:

You can find other photos awaiting your witty annotations by visiting Mammasaurus, click on the button below:

Memeology - The Ten Things I Tell Myself Every Day

This meme's not been around for very long, it comes from @angoewright78's lovely blog mumofthreeboys and I was tagged by @mummyglitzer who you can find over at Mummyglitzer.  

I suppose I'm coming at this from a bit of a different angle to the other examples I've read, firstly because I'm a man, and secondly because I don't have my baby yet!  Hopefully that will make it interesting in a different way to others I've seen, I'm sure some of you will remember feeling some of these before your littl'uns made their debut.

Here we go then:

1.  That no matter how early 6:45am feels now, I must cherish it; soon it will be a lie-in.
2.  That one day I will find the job that I want to keep doing, and doing well.
3.  That I can and will cope with whatever fatherhood throws at me.
4.  That my continuing addiction to RIDICULOUS and TIME CONSUMING games on Facebook must come to an end.
5.  That, although I'm about to gain a massive amount of responsibility, I'll still going to find a way to do some of the things I like doing.
6.  That I will do everything I can to help Mrs L do the same.
7.  That the risk of the Terminator films coming true really is rather minimal (but we SHOULD still be wary...)
8.  That I could lose loads of weight if I really had to, but that cheese isn't going to eat itself.
9.  That I will be a good dad.
10.  That I WILL be a good dad.

I probably could have put that last point for every one of these, but that wouldn't have been very good would it?

Now, with the usual disclaimer (no obligation, I know it's a hassle, etc etc.) I now tag a few other dads whose own tellings I would like to read:

@TomBriggs79 (though I appreciate this may be far from his list of priorities just now, congrats on the new arrival!)

If anyone else has done it already, and wants to point me in the direction of their answers, I'll pop along and read them!

Thursday, March 29, 2012


I’m feeling a bit smug today.  It’s rare I get to feel that way, I’m far from spectacular in general.  But today… today is different.

Because today, while (seemingly) everyone else in the whole of Britain is sitting, sweltering, swearing, suffering in a looooooong queue of traffic waiting to put £5 worth of petrol in their cars, I have a full tank.

It’s pure fluke; I run my car to empty every time, and then squeeze every last dribble in when I fill it up.  I had none left on Saturday, so off I popped to a quiet forecourt.  I find it easier to drive economically if I have a firm hold on how many miles I’m getting from each gallon of car juice.  Yes, I’m that exciting.

I won’t be “topping up” on a daily basis from now either; as long as I’ve got enough to drive to and from the hospital for the birth I’m happy. 

I’ll admit I hadn’t been considering that.  It wasn’t until driving somewhere with Mrs L, her looking over at the fuel gauge nervously, me getting ready for a round of petrol pump chicken, that I realised (she told me) I should probably not let it run down to fumes.

So, where in the world is everyone else going that demands they have a full tank on a permanent basis?  Nowhere, I assume; but we do love a good panic buy, don’t we?  Especially when we’re advised to do it by our government.  Makes it all seem a bit more real.  Helps the economy too, which the cynic in me suspects is no coincidence.

The downside of the smugness is that I feel left out of the furore.  The camaraderie of the queue is missing from my life.  So I’ve been thinking about some other things that I can panic buy instead, to be part of the crowd.  These are the things I couldn’t live without, things which I’d be a gibbering mess if I couldn’t get hold of:

  1. Bread (and bread based products) – I’m a complete carb fiend.  Bagels, Brioche, Crumpets, Muffins, Pitta, Naan, Granary, White, Wholemeal.  I need it.  I need sandwiches, I need toast, I need toasted sandwiches.  I got all snappy and angry when I made a sandwich last weekend without checking that the bread was fresh.  As it fell apart in my hands it took all my strength not to collapse to the floor, Platoon style, and cry “Noooooooooo!”  So, yeah, bread.
  2. An internet connection – not entirely clear on how I’ll panic buy this one.  I could, I suppose, phone each of the many ISPs and open an account with them all, sounding fraught as I did so.  This one might not work out.  But really, HOW did we manage before the internet?
  3. Shoes – Mrs L is always telling me off for having my shoes on in the house.  It makes the carpet grubby.  I know this, but I can’t change the habit of a lifetime.  Rare are the moments that I don’t have shoes on.  I’ve sort of been panic buying these already, or at least it must look that way to any visitor to my house.  I have sixteen pairs at the last count, that’s probably unnecessary.
  4. Dr Pepper – addiction is an ugly word, but an addiction to this filthy fizzy beverage is what I have.

Soon, I imagine, I’ll be adding nappies and earplugs to that list.

Sometimes I wonder what will happen when the inevitable happens and the oil actually runs out.  I find myself thinking it’s unfair to bring a child into a world which could go all Mad Max on us at a moment’s notice (imagine the scenes if it wasn’t a strike we were worrying about, but actually not being able to get petrol because there wasn’t any.  Carnage.  Immediately.  It actually worries me, and not because the concept leads to terrible films.)  It could happen in my lifetime, let alone that of my child.  Somewhere, I hope, there are some people thinking about an alternative, instead of sitting in a queue waiting for what we’ve got at the moment.

In the meantime, seeing as you’re probably reading this on your phone, as you wait for a vacant pump, why not tell me what you couldn’t live without?  Except petrol, obviously, I know that.

Memeology - Versatile Liebster

One of the rather fun things about this blogging game is all the nice meme-y things that are floating around.  I'm always dead pleased when I get tagged in one, because it means at least one person has noticed I'm writing stuff.  When there's a whole internet of stuff to read, I'm regularly astounded that there are people reading my bit of it.
Massive thanks are therefore in order, to the lovely and photographically talented @HPMcQ - If you like pretty photographs and nicely crafted words I suggest you pay her blog a visit, it's ace - she has tagged me with not one, but TWO of the aforementioned memes.  Generosity, thy name is @HPMcQ!
First up; the Versatile Blogger Award.
Versatile blogger rules:
1. Thank the blogger who has awarded you and link back to them – done!
2. Share seven things about yourself – should be easy, thankfully it doesn't stipulate that they should be interesting.
3. Pass the award along to 15 other newly discovered blogs - erm, yeah, I'm grateful and everything, but FIFTEEN?  Come on now.  I'll think of some and add them at the bottom. 
1.  I have seven bikes in my garage.  Five of them are mine.  I love them all.
2.  I am a basketball player, despite not being freakishly tall, particularly fit, or being American.
3. I am a ridiculous perfectionist when it comes to making sandwiches.  Almost everything else I do is slapdash.
4.  I once beat someone at Streetfighter 2 using my feet to control the game.  Also I was very drunk.
5.  I still live in the town I was born in, and in which my family can be traced back over three hundred years.
6.  I am finding this harder than it ought to be, because it's late and I should be in bed.
7.  I have an uncle who is a catwalk make-up artist.  That's not really about me is it?  Well, it'll have to do.
The Liebster Award, which looks like this: 
The liebster award rules:
1. Thank your liebster blog award presenter on your blog – Yep. 
2. Link back to the blogger who awarded you - Yep.
3. Copy & paste the award onto your blog - Yep.
4. Nominate 5 blogs to receive the award – That's more reasonable.  Five I can do.
5. Inform them of their nomination – never fear, I shall.
Okay then, just the nice bit now, wherein I big up some other bloggers:
@mummyglitzer - she's applying for jobs, which is boring, so now she can have a break.
@alwaysamummy - she's not even twenty-one yet.  Makes me sick.  Youth, honestly.
@_firsttimedaddy - because he is always telling me I'm funny, and the ASW in me laps that shit up.
@bishopstonmum - she's a new blogger, like me.  New bloggers need love.
@mcmurphycuckoo - she's even newer, a couple of days of blogging under her belt.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I was just watching an episode of Pramface on TV.  I quite like it, it's reasonably entertaining, and has the definite advantage of NOT being Hollyoaks or another repeat of Top Gear.

In this episode the boy who has got a (slightly older) girl pregnant is with her at an antenatal class and is doing a roleplay with the woman running it.  She's pretending to be in labour, he's actually shitting himself.

I laughed when the woman screamed at him: "I never want you to fucking touch me again", among other things.  Then I felt stupid for laughing.  It's probably actually going to be like that, isn't it?  

I've seen plenty of One Born Every Minute too, and most of the women featured clearly aren't in the mood to moderate their vocal output during labour.  I don't blame them.  There's no male equivalent of course, but I don't much fancy the idea of trying to pass a golf ball via my penis.  No.  The thought has made me feel a bit sick.

My wife's a gentle sort though; doesn't get angry with me often, lets me get away with my many indiscretions and is generally understanding of the fact that I'm a bit crap at a lot of stuff.  

So I wonder what my labouring wife want to tell me that has been kept inside through all the time we've been together, will the floodgates open and cover me in a tsunami of criticism, justified or otherwise?  Probably.  

But perhaps not.  I'm sure I'll let you all know once it's happened.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Unwanted Attention

The weather's been a bit on the lovely side this weekend in my neck of the woods.  So nice in fact that it spurred me into doing something I've been putting off for over a year.

Sorting out our back garden.  Ugh.  I know there are plenty of people out there who consider a day pottering about the garden as a lovely way to unwind.  I am not one of those people, and ours is not one of those gardens.

It's hard to describe it; such is the unique and dazzling combination of surfaces, textures, materials and plant life that I'm at a loss of suitable descriptors.  I could summarise, I suppose, by saying it looks like an industrial wasteland.  But with much more cat poo.

I don't like cats anyway, I don't trust them, but now they've started using my garden as an impromptu litter tray I like them even less.  They even look me in the eyes as they're doing it sometimes, mocking my inability to get from the kitchen to the garden in time to chase them off.  But I digress, this isn't a post about cats.

It's not really a post about gardening either, despite the fact I spent a lot of my weekend dripping with sweat and wielding a spade, turning over the "soil" in preparation to seed a new lawn.

This is a post about my neighbour.  I can not be in my garden for more than a few minutes without her coming out for a chat.  This is NOT GOOD.  My neighbour is unfailing friendly, maddeningly friendly.  But worst of all, disarmingly friendly.  She asks questions, and though I don't like her, don't want to tell her the answers, I do.  Because she asked so nicely.  She should consider a role with MI6, she'd be brilliant interrogating people.

So, when she asked how my wife was, instead of saying "yeah, good ta, now will you please leave me alone?" is said "yeah, good ta, we're expecting our first baby in a couple of weeks so she's pretty tired a lot of the time but..."

She cut me off with a sort of squeal.  I thought she was broken.  Actually, it was excitement.



And then, from a person who I could happily end my days without ever allowing to cross the threshold of my home: "Would it be okay if I came over to see the baby when it's born?"

Remember, DISARMINGLY nice: "Oh, erm, yeah, I'm sure that'd be fine" (Balls!  Balls!  Why did I say that??)

"It's alright, I only like them when they're really little, up to about fourteen weeks, so I won't bother you for too long"  Well.  That's fine then, obviously.

With that, plus a quick lesson on how I was digging my garden incorrectly, she was gone.

I was left wondering how I'm supposed to say no to people like that.  Not just her, but the colleagues, and vague acquaintances who will probably all want to come and visit the baby when he arrives.  I'm not talking about family and good friends here, and of course I'll want people to come and see the little guy.  But I won't be wanting a house chock full of people from the moment the baby is in it.

So what's the etiquette?  How many times can I put off the neighbour from visiting before it's obvious I'm stalling?  Could I make it to fourteen weeks, so she loses interest?

At least I got the garden dug over okay:

Silent Sunday

Friday, March 23, 2012

Falling Apart

Young people bounce.  They have a spring in their step.  Toddlers don't run, they gambol.  Today a little lad ran past me, his mum trailing behind: "I'm a fast runner, look!"  He was talking to her, not me, taunting her with his supple musculature and flexible connective tissues.  He seemed genuinely happy, running along, leaving the previous iteration of his genetic code struggling to animate her leaden, time worn limbs to chase after him.

I felt jealous.  I can remember running around a park when I was about his age, my dad ambling along behind in a similar fashion.  I was a fast runner then.  Now I wake up each morning and have to re-teach my limbs the same action they've been doing most of my life.

I turn thirty in a couple of months.  Thirty's not old is it?  Not even a little bit really.  So why do I already find myself thinking back to years gone by, a wistful expression on my face, to times when my body felt indestructible?

Drawn on by a surgeon, to make sure they operate on the correct leg.  A real confidence booster.
There is a reason.  I broke myself quite effectively a few years back.  Tore my Anterior Cruciate Ligament playing basketball.  Oh, there was some choice language in the air that day.  Fiddlesticks and fuckeroo.  Some advice: warm up and stretch out before you exercise.  Tearing the major ligament in your knee is not clever. 

Bizarrely, the first (non-sweary) thought I had after I did it and realised I couldn't walk on it was "I hope this doesn't mean I can't play with any kids I might have in the future".  Kids weren't on the agenda any time soon, but that really was the driver behind working really hard at the rehab.

I'm glad I did, because all is well in the knee department these days.  But my shoulder has been hurting for the last couple of weeks, my wrist aches (don't say it...) and every day there seems to be a new part of me crying out for the dawn of the cyborg era.  I'd totally take a cybernetic arm or two.  

So, what's the deal, does it just get worse and worse?  When can I expect my limbs to start parting company with my body?  What are the woes you deal with every time your children escape your grasp and display their youthful athleticism?

Is it too much to ask of my body to not fall apart before my sprog wants to beat me at a running race?

*leaves to put frozen peas on shoulder*

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Health Visitor

My wife had her first appointment with the health visitor yesterday.  I wasn't there, I was sat in an office thinking about cheese and biscuits.

The health visitor asked my wife whether she knew much about the role of the health visitor.  My wife did not.  The health visitor told her all about her role.  My wife listened and later recounted it to me.  The key words used were: intrusive and surprising.

Neither of us had any idea that the health visitor would be keeping an eye on us/judging us until our little one is five years old.  Neither did we realise that if we take our baby/toddler/infant to A&E the health visitor will be notified and we may be paid an additional visit.  My wife especially liked answering the questions about her childhood, my childhood (because she's an expert on that, obviously) as well as our own relationship.

All these things and more are covered in your first conversation with this person who you don't know, have no relationship with or trust of.  I'm sure she's lovely and everything, and just doing her job, but I bet she's also on a pretty hefty power trip.

Anyway, we now have a nice book from the NHS, which says "explore", "grow" and "child" on it, the last of which is presumably just in case you'd forgotten what was going on.  I haven't read it yet, but I have had a quick look through.  It looks good.  Plus it didn't ask me any questions, which was a bonus.  All the children on the cover look really happy, and none of their parents look like they've been awake since 4am dealing with a tantrum, which is probably a bit dishonest.  

I think at least one of them ought to have their head cradled in their hands, a mug of steaming coffee next to them and a look of fraught horror on their faces.  I'd be more inclined to believe in it then.

Perhaps that's why the health visitor asks those questions.  To make us realise it's real.  I think we knew that anyway (especially my wife, with under three weeks to go now it'd be quite hard for her not to realise).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


So, here's the thing.  I'm a bit rubbish at being a grown up.  Usually I can do a decent job of ignoring the fact that I'm basically an overgrown ten year old.  That sort of denial comes easily when you're rubbish at being a grown up.  It's all conveniently circular and self perpetuating.

I've been on a training course in Cardiff this week, for my job.  I sit in the room, I look like I'm listening and taking in the information which the trainer is throwing at me.  But, really, in the morning I'm thinking about what the buffet lunch will consist of (sandwiches, cold chicken drumsticks, soggy mini pancake rolls, a selection of chopped up stuff to dip in pureed other stuff) and in the afternoon I'm thinking about how late I can have a cup of tea and still complete the ninety minute drive home without needing a wee break.  Across the entirety of the day there are underlying thoughts of the imminent baby, plus plans for the weekend, plus what is my favourite cheese.

I'm not loving the training course.

But it has brought me back to Cardiff, the city where I studied for my degree.  Yesterday it also became the city where I parked my car and couldn't find it again, which is a less endearing feature.

Students, being all studenty.  They were probably drunk.
When I was walking back to my car today (parked in a road which I wouldn't forget this time) I was looking at all the current students milling around.  I don't envy them, despite their fresh faces, "statement" clothing and air of yet-to-be-realised potential.  Because they're going to come out of university with a degree (probably), a raging hangover (almost definitely) and roughly three times the amount of debt I accrued while studying (maybe, I don't pretend to know their actual financial situation).

It was as I realised how much debt they'd be in that I had a horrible thought: in eighteen years time I will have an eighteen year old.  My eighteen year old will probably want to go to university.  I will want my eighteen year old to go to university.  But I will not want my eighteen year old to become a twenty-one year old saddled with masses of debt.   Shit it.  That means I'll want to help him out, give him cash to waste on booze, weed and all the other trappings of studentdom.

BUT I HAVE NO CASH.  Precisely because I am an overgrown ten year old who sits in training courses and thinks about whether chocolate and Philadelphia should ever be mixed (still unresolved) I am to the corporate ladder as a greased sloth is to, well, anything it tries to climb.

So, what to do?  Because I'm fairly sure there are some costs associated to having a child prior to their enrolment at university, so I don't have an eighteen year window in which to win the lottery (haven't checked my tickets from Saturday yet though!)

I know money's not everything by the way, I'm more using it as an example of my responsibilities.  There are others, many, many others.  But this has already got quite long, and I should go to bed, to make sure my mind is fresh, sharp, ready to think about the important issues of tomorrow.  Like whether a HobNob is better than a Digestive.

Monday, March 19, 2012

We can't afford to let the NHS go.

I'd better preface this post with the following disclaimer, in case it should be less than abso-fucking-lutely obvious: I do not think too highly of the ideologies of the Conservative party (or, for that matter, their Liberal Democrat whipping boys in the current "coalition".  Waste of my vote that was), their actions or their smug bastard faces.

One of the things I like the least about them is their drive to privatise everything they can, seemingly regardless of whether it is a good idea to do so.  The most offensive of these is the NHS.  "Oh no, we're not privatising the NHS" says Lansley.  But they are.  Surreptitiously.  Insidiously.  

I'm no expert on stuff like this.  I'm not really clever enough to understand all of what's going on.  The to and fro between commons and lords, the revisions, alterations and re-wordings which go into policy changes.  I watched the final of University Challenge this evening and didn't answer a single question.  Not one.  So I have no chance when it comes to politics.

But what I do know, is that there are a lot of people in this country who can't afford private healthcare.  I don't think I'm one of them, though I haven't looked into it.  I'm reasonably young, reasonably healthy, don't have a raft of "existing conditions" which an insurer could use to ramp up my premiums.  But I'm lucky.  I know people who would be laughed off the phone if they tried to get a quote for medical cover.

So what happens to those people?  Let's (briefly) drift onto the topic of parenting shall we?  Let's say that your medical insurance quote was prohibitively expensive and you had no choice but to hope you were lucky with your health.  Then you get pregnant.  A quick Google suggests that this is not something you should undertake unless you are the possessor of some pretty deep pockets:

So, in total, a private birth at a hospital such as the Portland could cost £7,500 to £10,000. 
Hmm.  Bargain.  That figure includes at least one night's stay in the hospital, at the meagre cost of £1,000.  Seriously.  I stayed in a private hospital for a night once (under NHS care, I'd been lucky enough to hit the end of the allowable waiting time, whereupon you are outsourced to a private facility) and it was not the plush-fest I'd been expecting.  They didn't even give me any bloody morphine.

I don't know.  Pregnancy probably isn't the best example of how bad it could be, but this is meant to be some kind of parenting blog.

I hate the idea of the UK moving toward a US style system, where hundreds of thousands of people are just one serious illness away from having to make a choice between bankruptcy and death.  In a world where there is a workable alternative to that situation, no matter how imperfect that alternative may be, surely that alternative (especially when it represents the status quo) MUST be the preferred option?

Apparently not if you're a Tory.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

When worlds collide

Evening.  I've just about reached the point of feeling human after a rather jolly night out last night.  Part one was a meeting of bloggytweety people in Brizzle for @MammasaurusBlog's twenty-first birthday.  A finer bunch of people I could not have hoped to meet.  I'll be honest, I'd been worrying about it a bit.  I'm not generally too good with meeting new people.  I needn't have worried, I got a warm welcome from @SAHDandproud, @jbmumofone and @motherventing who were there when I arrived, and everyone else turned up once I'd had a couple of beers and was feeling more comfortable.

There was plenty of chat.  Chat about blogs and blogging, about Twitter, about everyone's kids, about lots of other stuff that was nothing to do with the internet or parenting.  It was just a night out, like any other, with some really lovely people.  I also got to try cauliflower puree (which, for the record, tastes like thickened air).
Mammasaurus' Cupcakes

I've only been blogging for just over a month, so it was fantastic to meet some more established bloggers this early on.

Part two was a house warming party about a mile away, with people I've known for years.  Because I arrived late I was asked where I'd been.  Because I was a bit drunk I let people know I'd been meeting up with some people I'd met online.  Probably because they were drunk they found this hilarious.  Thankfully, after a bit of piss taking we moved on to other topics.  It got me thinking though; clearly it's not yet accepted as the norm to mix and match the online world and the offline one.

I hadn't told many people I know in the "real world" that I'd started a blog until last night.  My wife knew (hello!) and that was about it.  I'd told a few I was writing it, but not where to find it, and everyone else had no idea.

I like my little corner of the internet, and I like being able to write what I want here.  It pissed me off when people I like couldn't see that meeting up with people from the internet is NOT weird in the slightest.  So I've decided, I won't be telling my "real world" friends where to find my blog, in case they annoy me enough to want to say something about them.  There's an exception to that of course, because I'd like to think I can now count the strangers I met last night to celebrate a birthday as real world friends as well as online ones, which has to be the best of both worlds.

Huge thanks to everyone who was out last night, it was a true pleasure to meet you all, hope to do it again soon!

Silent Sunday

Thursday, March 15, 2012


There are moments in life where we are faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges, either as individuals or as a race. Climbing Mount Everest, visiting the north and south poles, putting footsteps on the moon. All these and many more bear testament to the will and ingenuity of humankind.

We're pretty damn awesome when you think about it; pat yourself on the back quickly, bask in the glory of being a person, take a sip of whatever is your favourite tipple and permit yourself an indulgent moment of self congratulation.

There.  Feels good right?  Good, you've earned that.

There's something else that, if you are a parent, there's a good chance you've done. Something which you might not often think about, might not wish to recall. You may well have fitted an Isofix car seat base, plus the associated seat.

I was feeling masochistic tonight, so I decided to take on that particular challenge for myself.  I'd heard the stories about how annoying it is, how awkward and frustrating. But there was a little sticker on the base. It had pictorial instructions, like you get on Lego kits. There were numbers next to the pictures and the biggest of those numbers was five.


"It must be easy" I thought to myself "there are only FIVE instructions, and they all look really simple!"

DO NOT BE FOOLED.  There is false security deeply ingrained within those bright, cheerful instructions.  Here's how it went:

1.  Push the button on the front of the base.

(Done.  Easy.  This is going to be a piece of piss.)

2.  Slide the seat base forward, exposing the two Isofix mount thingies. 

(Bit of a struggle.  Hmm, this is harder than it should be isn't it?  Am I doing this right?  Oh, for the love of Jesus, why won't this farking thing mov...*smack of plastic on knuckles*...*Swearing*... Oh, good, done it.)

3.  Push the Isofix mount thingies onto the Isofix bracket thingies in your car.

(I don't see the bracket thingies.  The car definitely has bracket thingies, doesn't it?  Are you supposed to take the seat out or something?  WTF?  *rummaging in depths of car seat*...*scraped knuckles*...*more swearing*... AHA!  There they are.  Now, just push them in until they click.  Done.  *mop sweat from forehead*)

4.  Slide the seat base back until snug to the back of the car's seat.

(*pinches tiny piece of skin on hand between sliding parts of Isofix base*...*VIOLENT swearing*... Done.)

5.  Slide the stabilising arm doofer until firmly against the floor of the car.

(*shaking in anticipation of mishap*...Oh.  That bit was actually easy.)

Feeling a strange mixture of smugness and resentment I went back into the house.  That was when I found the two little pieces of plastic which go between the car's seat and the Isofix base.  The two little pieces of plastic which meant I had to go back out to the car and start again.  The two little pieces of plastic which I may well one day tell my therapist about.
Yeah, it's all smiles for you...
Still, I've calmed down now and realised that, actually, all the manufacturers of these things are trying to do is prepare us for the arrival of the child itself: poor instructions, lots of mistakes, trials and tribulations, swearing and pain.  I ought to be writing to thank them.

Memeology - My Birthday Meme - 14th July

Last time I did a meme I got more visitors to my blog in a day than I ever had before.  It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, like an inverted teddy bear which had been microwaved for a bit.  So, when I saw that I had been tagged in another one by Mr @SAHDandproud my heart fair jumped for joy at the prospect.  It’s quite obvious I’m still new to this blogging lark isn’t it?

So here’s the basis of this meme:  Kate, of The Five Fs Blog, is compiling a list of birthday related information for each day of the year.  This is dead good, because not only do I not have to think of a topic for a proper post but I also get to learn stuff about what happened on days.

I’ve known of one event that had the audacity to be on the same day as my birth for some time.  But now, thanks to my in depth and time consuming research* I have learnt that the day of my birth has, historically, been quite eventful.  Without further ado then, I present to you “The My Birthday Meme”:

When is your birthday?
I made my earthly debut on the 14th of July 1982. 

Pick three people who share your birthday and share what you know about them.

Former US President Gerald Ford (1913) – The only US president to achieve his place in office without being elected, he replaced Richard Nixon (who was ahead of the phone hacking curve, should have been a NOTW reporter) and subsequently didn’t do anything all that noteworthy.

Billy McCool (1944) – I have included Billy McCool because of his name.  He definitely has the best name of anyone born on the same day as me.  Had he been a good example of nominative determinism he could have been as awesome as James Dean (or a refrigerator salesman).  But actually, he was a fairly mediocre baseball player.  What a wasted opportunity.

David Mitchell (1974) – English comedian and writer of funny columns in the Observer.  Star of popular sitcom Peep Show, as well as numerous other lol-worthy productions.  David is half Welsh, has a hairstyle disconcertingly close to Hitler’s and currently sports a beard which is a little bit dodgier than mine.

Is anyone listed as being born on the same day as you (ie the same year). If so, what do you know about them?
Outrageously, yes.  Dmitry Chaplin, a Russian born American dancer.  He was a finalist in “So You Think You Can Dance”.  Does this explain why I can’t dance?  Did Dmitry get all the dance skills that day?  Perhaps.

List three people who died on your birthday and tell us what you know about them?

Billy the Kid (1881) – A frontier outlaw in America’s “Old West”.  He killed people, somewhere between four and twenty-six depending on who you believe, and was killed himself after a bounty of $500 was placed on his head. 

Richard McDonald (1998) – Co-founder of the McDonald’s fast food empire, purveyors of dirty cardboard burgers which aren’t very nice but do a good job of dissipating a raging hangover.  Didn’t die sat on a toilet eating a Big Mac.

Octave Lapize (1917) – French cyclist from the days when cyclists were proper hardcore, not espresso sipping, leg shaving, EPO doping prima donnas.  Won the Tour de France in 1910, on a bike with one gear and racing on unsealed roads.  Accused some of the tour officials of being murderers while doing battle with the Col du Tourmalet, though in fact he actually died seven years later after being shot down while he was a fighter pilot in WW1.

List three notable events that took place on your birthday.

1789 – The rising of the French proletariat!  Storming of the Bastille in Paris is the flashpoint for the French Revolution.  They were mostly after gunpowder to put in their muskets, but I expect the seven prisoners held there were pretty pleased.  France is now well known for making tasty cheese and wine, and for that we should all be glad.

1933 – The Nazi Party passes a law which makes all other political parties illegal.  No flippant remarks on this one, as we all know what this (and other things) led to.

1965 – Mariner 4, an American space probe, takes the first close up photographs of another planet in the solar system.  Largely dispelling the idea of life on Mars, which probably made a lot of people sad.  Still, pretty cool.

Tell us about a holiday that falls on your birthday.

It’s a flag day in Sweden, what with it being the birthday of  Victoria, the Crown Princess of that fair nation.  How nice.  Maybe I’ll move there so I can have the day off.

There we go, meme memed.  It just remains for me to tag five fortunates to further the fun.  Here they are:

@_firsttimedaddy – because revenge is a dish best served via the medium of meme ;-)
@mycuntrymanor – because I have no doubt she will just tell me to fuck off and I respect her candour.
@thecrumbymummy – because she put the theme song to the Poddington Peas in my head yesterday with this blog post and…oh, dear, this is revenge again isn’t it?  Seriously though, lovely bloggage over there, you should read it.
@bodfortea – because I didn’t tag her in the other meme and then felt bad about it.  Which is probably the direct opposite of how she felt about it. 
@OneDad3Girls – he took a picture of a tiger which made me smile.  Also I think he’s just tagged me in something…

On my birthday

*Looking on Wikipedia for a bit.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Three Weeks!

It’s not how long there is left of my wife’s pregnancy (I know, surprising to see me write about something else, right?)

It’s how long my HTC Sensation* has lasted so far.  That shouldn’t be remarkable, or blog-worthy, or even thought-worthy really.  But it is.  Because I’ve had three HTC Sensations now, and three weeks is the longest one has lasted.  This is because the HTC Sensation is SHIT.  You hear me HTC?  No, you don’t, because you’re using an HTC Sensation and you can’t hear me because it is SHIT and BROKEN.

I wouldn’t usually get annoyed by a phone being so unreliable.  I’d take it back to the shop.  I’d stand around looking impatient and tutting.  I’d get a new one under warranty and that one would be fine.  But (to return briefly to the pregnancy thing) right now I feel I need a phone which works.  Just in case someone needs to get in touch.  Y’know, to let me know that labour is happening and maybe I’d like to be there to see it/be shouted at.

My first Sensation lasted just under three weeks.  It was AMAZING for the first two weeks.  I wept in joy at the AMAZING camera which actually took pictures worth looking at.  My geek senses tingled at essentially having a miniature computer in my pocket, connecting me to the world with fuss-free efficiency.  Oh, yes, the honeymoon period was glorious.  Then, one day, the battery lasted just seven hours.  Frustrating.  One full charge later I was ready to forgive it and continue with our beautiful friendship.  Three hours later the battery ran out.  Fuckingfucksocks. 

A kind word here for Carphone Warehouse.  Replacing my phone with no questions asked, and no stupid suggestions as to how I might prolong the battery life.

Sensation number two started well.  All the good things were similarly good.  Then the power/sleep button stopped working.  Amazeballs.  I wondered whether this was a new feature, to improve the battery life.  It wasn’t.  It was just another example of the HTC Sensation being shit.

Back again to Carphone Warehouse (when oh when will you change your name?  There’s surely no such thing as a carphone in 2012 is there?) who dutifully apologised on behalf of HTC and provided me with HTC Sensation number three.  Well done Carphone Warehouse, especially as you could have told me I had to have a warranty repair this time.  Perhaps you were warned off this course by my burning red eyes and polite-but-clearly-somewhat-miffed demeanour.

Three weeks on, and Sensation Three is still functional.  But I spend at least a few minutes a day wondering when that will cease to be the case.  When I will have to waste ANOTHER hour of my time returning ANOTHER stupid broken phone to the lovely, patient souls of Carphone Warehouse. 

But, if it happens again, I’ll be trading it in.  Maybe for an iPhone. 

Or, if they have one, a sniper rifle, so I can go all “Sarah Connor visits Cyberdyne” and sort this out once and for all.

Me, if I was roughly 1000% more AWESOME (and Carphone Warehouse start selling military equipment)

In conclusion: if you need a phone that works, don’t buy an HTC Sensation.

*Also, now I think of it, stop giving your phones such stupid names.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Glimpse of the Future

Just a month to go.  One month.  Four weeks.  Thirty odd days.  That's not very long really, is it?  The baby is nearly here, he's been patiently swimming around in amniotic fluid for nearly long enough, his little body is ready to break free and begin its attack on the outside world.

So what better way to spend one of our final weekends sans baby visiting Mrs L's brother and his wife and their little boy.  At the start of the week Mrs L received a phone call from her brother, it went like this:

B: Hi [Mrs L]
Mrs L: Oh hi [brother], we're really looking forward to the weekend!
B: Yes.  Good.  The boy has turned into the ACTUAL DEVIL.  He's forgotten how to sleep, is angry all day every day and will probably soon be turning his head through three hundred and sixty degrees and projectile vomiting pea soup.  You may wish to reconsider your visit.
Mrs L: Okay, well, let's decide at the end of the week, we'd hate to miss him.
I jest of course.  He didn't actually say the head spinning and vomiting parts.  On Friday morning he phoned again and informed us the situation had not improved.  Of course, we were undeterred and, on Friday evening, hopped in the car (complete with "just in case" baby supplies) and prepared to do battle with the eighteen month old manifestation of evil.

Imagine our surprise then, when we arrived to find the house intact, no swirling fog and a distinct lack of dead members of the catholic church.  The updated situation was this: "he's gone to bed with no fuss at all, better than he has in weeks, we don't know what's happened!"

You've robbed me of a woe filled blog post about our weekend in hell, I thought.  Oh well.  Here's some things I learnt over the course of the weekend:

  1. Even the new, improved, going-to-bed-with-no-fuss nephew's "best night in ages" still involves waking up well before 7am and ensuring everyone else in the house is awake too.
  2. When your vocabulary is limited to "daddy", "mummy", "shoes", "car", "bus", "train" and "dog" you will say those words A LOT.  It's cute, but there are moments your audience may yearn for the second album.
  3. Eighteen month olds have a switch somewhere within them.  The switch is easily changed from position one "peace" to position two "war".  Once switched only mummy knows how to return it to position two.  This is inconvenient if mummy happens to be in the shower.
  4. Given a saucepan, a wooden spoon, a cake tin and fifty Rice Krispies, a toddler will make fifty Rice Krispies worth of dust and a kitchen floor that needs sweeping.  This particular toddler will also remain switched to "peace" for around thirty minutes.
  5. Going to a park and playing on the swings gave rise to probably the most raucous laughter of the weekend.  Sweet!
  6. Toddlers can fall asleep anywhere.  Including on their father's shoulders while walking back from the park with the swings.  Swings are pretty tiring.
Just add toddler...

It was far from the sleep free nightmare weekend originally advertised, but it still managed to make us both realise what an unpredictable future we have ahead of us.  That future is closing in fast, so I'd better go and get some sleep.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Memeology - 11 Questions for 11 "Lucky" People

Ooh, check it out, my first meme!  @_firsttimedaddy has tagged me, so here goes.

First off, the rules:
  • You must post these rules.
  • Each person must post 11 things about him/herself on their blog.
  • Answer the questions the “tagger” listed for you in her post, and create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
  • Choose 11 people to tag and link to them in the post.
  • Let each blogger know that you have tagged them
The 11 questions are....
  1. If you were to have a meal with 3 other people alive or dead, who would it be. (Anybody famous or not) - I'm actually answering this one last, it's really difficult.  Subject to change - Margaret Atwood, Tim Minchin and Bill Bailey.
  2. If you could have chosen your name, what would it have been and why? - It's really boring to say it, but I've always liked my name, so I think I'll keep it.  No, wait: Xavier.  Because it's cool, and will suit me even more when I finish going bald.
  3. If you could make one return trip in a time machine, where would you go and why? - It would be AMAZING to go back and see dinosaurs, or massive battles, or whether all that Jesus lark happened, or something else in the past.  But if I only get one, I'll go for today's date 2082 please, to see how my boy's getting on and whether I've ended up with grandkids/great-grandkids that I don't (won't?) know about.
  4. If you were a darts player, what would be your nickname? - Something to do with how badly I suck at darts I should imagine.
  5. If it became possible to live in space and travel to any planet in a matter of hours. Where would you live? - Earth, because it'll probably be quite nice once everyone else has fucked off elsewhere.
  6. If you could make any film storyline true, which would it be. - Films I like are often rather dystopian, and I'm not sure that's the kind of thing I should want coming true.  So... How about Amelie, that's nice.
  7. If a film was made of you life, what would it be called and who would star as you? - Average Joe: A Tale of Normality starring Jason Lee
  8. If you won the lottery (Lets say £50 million), whats the FIRST thing you buy? - First would probably be something really mundane, like I'd realise I needed petrol for the car to go and inspect the island I'm planning to buy.  But that's probably not what you're after, and the first BIG thing I'd buy would be a mahoosive party for all my favourite people.  That's still not one thing.  Damn.
  9. What would be you super power of choice? - I'll just be Wolverine please.  *Snicksnicksnoin*
  10. Which animal would you be and why? - A Peregrine Falcon; fast, flying, cool.
  11. What did you want to be when you were 7, 13 and 16? - 7: a Dalek, 13: professional mountain biker, 16: Journalist (failed on all three, I rule!)
Well, I quite enjoyed that, but I suppose it was my first time.  Losing my meme virginity has been largely pleasurable.  Here are my questions:

1.  What is your favourite language?
2.  If you had to leave your house, right now, and never return, what three things would you take with you?
3.  Do you have a particularly amazing skill which makes you superawesome?  What is it please?
4.  If you could be any age, but had to be that age forever, what age would you choose and why?
5.  Do you love TK Maxx, or think it's full of last season's unsold shit?
6.  What is the most impressive gymnastic feat you are capable of (and I'll just take your word for it, no evidence required)?
7.  Whose books do you wish you'd written?
8.  If there's an aeroplane on a conveyor belt and it tries to take off, do you think that will work?
9.  Honestly, have you at any point during this ordeal thought "fuck it, I'd rather be eating [snack of choice]" but then felt guilty and carried on?
10.  Pints or shots?
11.  Better to be too hot, or too cold?

I'll be honest, I don't expect anyone to entertain the notion of completing this, but here are the eleven people whose answers I would genuinely find interesting, if they can be bothered:


Wow, I'm going to feel like a right nuisance when I tweet all you lot...