Monday, February 18, 2013


When you finish reading this post, I'd like you to do something for me. Is that okay? You probably want to know what it is first, before you agree to it. What I want you to do is close your eyes.

Close your eyes, not tight, just enough to keep the real world outside for a minute.

Think a warm thought. Imagine the heat of a mid morning sun hitting your torso. You're wearing a dark top, so the warmth spreads out and envelopes you. Perhaps there's the slightest hint of your skin starting to react with a prickling of sweat. There's a slight breeze too, so the sweat is welcome, not unpleasant. It's not too hot, but the main thing is that it's definitely not cold.

There is a new light, and it is a deep, golden yellow. It suits the temperature perfectly. There isn't even a suggestion of blueness to it.

Everything you can hear is clear and sharp, as if the new light is a better conductor for the sound. It's all a few feet closer than it was, and it's no longer hidden behind a closed door or a pane of glass. Infused with the warmth and the light, all the sounds you hear seem good. A scrunch of gravel under a car tyre, the screech of a bird, the breeze through the leaves.

This is how I felt today.

This is how I felt sat in a nondescript office on a run down trading estate.

This is how I felt because spring is coming.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


*Blows out candle* *Eats slab of cake*

Yes, hard to believe it, but this little blog of mine is one year old today.

Like most, I suspect, I started blogging on a bit of a whim. It was the last day of a week off work, the last week I'd have off work before becoming a father. It was raining. I was bored.

I wrote this post, hit the publish button and commenced my journey. I was quite surprised to find a few people actually read it. Whoever you were, thanks.

Those first few posts were awkward, stilted. They make me cringe when I look back on them now. A review of a TV programme? For funk's sake.

I don't know whether the posts got any better, but more people started reading them, which was nice. I even started to get some comments. I went out and met some other bloggers on a night out in Bristol.

Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised that the best thing to happen to this blog was the birth of Cam. I wrote about his arrival, I wrote about his first night at home. I had two months of writing posts for my baby blog without a baby. It was much easier once he turned up.

Babies do loads of stuff that's great for blogging about. Some of which is pretty staple stuff. For a long time, my most read post was this one about poo. I've also done dummies. Standard.

As much as I love talking about Cam, I'm also (increasingly, it seems) a grumpy lefty, so on occasion I blurt out a bit of a political post too. By blog's bestest ever day in terms of stats was the one where I posted about David Cameron's parenting classes.

Time has marched on, and Cam has become ever more mobile and demanding of attention (selfish, these babies). The prolific early days of posting something nearly every day seem a long time ago. I've considered stopping this blog completely at times. But I still enjoy it when I write a post, still enjoy the comments I get. Still love being part of the enormous community of bloggers.

I really didn't think, when I wrote that first post, that I'd still be doing this a year later. I'd like to thank everyone who has read a post, everyone who has ever retweeted something I've written, subscribed to the blog, left a comment or said something nice about it. This little corner of internet has been a big part of my life for the last twelve months, but it wouldn't have been if no-one had engaged with it.

Oh, and I suppose this is probably a good time to mention that I'd quite like some nominations in the MAD Blog Awards please. New Blog or Baby Blog seem to be the ones for me (although if you want to nominate me for best writer or just outright best blog I wouldn't complain...) The nomination form is here. Vote for me and earn my eternal love and gratitude. I'll also throw in your choice of a hug (I'm good at them) or an emphatic high five (I'm good at those too) should we ever meet.

*goes back to chasing a baby around the house*

Friday, February 8, 2013


Unless you've had your head buried firmly in a suitable medium for the burying of heads for the last little while, you'll probably have heard about the discovery of horse DNA in various products being sold in British supermarkets.

All the products (so far) where the erroneous equine ephemera have been detected were being sold as beef.

Some of the products had just a smattering of horse. Horse seasoning. Essence of horse. Beef burgers with a side order of Black Beauty's bollocks. Hold on, was Black Beauty a boy horse? I don't know.

Now, the fine people of the FSA (Food Standards Agency, not Financial Standards Authority) have discovered that a Findus Beef Lasagne on sale contained 100% horse meat. That's ALL THE MEAT, percentage fans! Blimey.

I have been massively enjoying the assorted reactions to this piece of news. Here are some of them:

1.Lots of Members of the Public - "OMFG! Horse! In our burgers? That is DISGUSTING! I don't eat horse. I eat cow."

Well. Yes. Because you live in the UK you are not accustomed to viewing horse meat as part of your diet. But, if you lived somewhere else you may well have eaten it. In my opinion, meat is meat. I'd eat a free range guinea pig if it was cooked nicely. If you're not going to be outraged about consuming one type of meat, it's a bit silly to be outraged about eating another. I bet horse tastes good.

2.(Some) Vegetarians and Vegans - "Hahahaha, that's what you get, stupid meat eaters! Bet you wish you were as clever and brilliant as us. We knew AGES AGO that you'd end up eating horse. Serves you right."

Fair enough. But I like meat. It's tasty, and I'm not sufficiently motivated by animal welfare to stop eating it on those grounds.

I would probably rather eat a vegetable lasagne than one of Findus' finest though, so perhaps you're onto something.

3.Tesco - "Oh fuck, we've just lost £300 million from the value of our corporation in a day."

Ha ha fucking ha, Tesco. I dislike you a lot, and hope that many more misfortunes befall you.

4.Lots of (Sensible) Members of the Public - "Erm, this is a bit worrying, do the people producing our food have no control over what's actually going into it? Is this all a monumental balls up? Or has someone, somewhere, decided it's okay to put something completely different in the box?"

This seems as good a time as any to mention Soylent Green.

Who knows why this has happened? Someone, somewhere does. Perhaps eventually the investigation will uncover how it happened. Perhaps not.

One possible reason is cost.

Food, you may have noticed, is getting kinda pricey.

We get leaflets through the door from the government's "Change for Life" campaign with tips on how to eat better for less money.

Eat more vegetables! Vegetables are cheap!

No, they're not.

Last time I went shopping I bought two leeks: £1.71. That's about 660g of leeks. Leeks have twenty-five calories per 100g. So that means the two leeks contained roughly 165 calories. For £1.71.

That is not cheap, when a Findus Beef Lasagne is £1.60 for 360g and 463 calories.

What IS cheap is shit food.

Shit food is cheap, and cheap food is shit.

Real, good food is expensive. It also doesn't contain the parts of the animal which you can sweep off the floor once you've fired a high pressure water hose at its carcass once all the real meat has been sliced off it using more conventional butchery.

Anyone who buys cheap, processed meat products and believes that they've never eaten an animal's arsehole is probably kidding themselves.

Here, in my opinion, is the real problem: there are a huge number of people in this country who do not have a choice about what they eat.

They need to buy the £1.60 Horse Bum Lasagne because they need the 463 calories. They don't have time or inclination to make the cheap, healthy food, because the cheap, shit food is rammed in their faces every time they go to the supermarket.

The supermarkets won't think twice about selling their customers eyeballs and arseholes as long as it makes them some profit.

So, what's the answer?

I don't know. Maybe you do and you'd like to pop it in my comment box?

Monday, February 4, 2013


I am thirty years old. I have been for about six months now. It's fine, except I get more spots now than I did as a teenager. That hardly seems fair.

Anywoos. A lot of stuff changes in thirty years. When I was little most people's homes didn't have computers, and the ones you saw in films filled entire rooms. If Terry and Mavis from No.35 had wanted one of those computers they'd have had to build an extension on their house.

Plus, it would have been pointless, because what use is a computer the size of the average dining room when you can't even go online? Or play Sonic The Hedgehog. Or even Minesweeper.

Thank Crunchie the computer is one of the few things where humans (possibly Americans) haven't decided that bigger is better. We'd be living inside our PCs by now. Plus, PC World would need its own planet.

Computers are pretty awesome. They do lots of amazing things which would take our brains nearly an eternity to complete. They do those things in a few minutes. Computers have probably bought us more time than any other invention (maybe the wheel has done more, I'm not sure). They'll eventually get their payback by becoming self aware, rising up against us and using us as batteries (like in the Matrix) or as target practice (like in Terminator).

But, before they can do that, they need to make us feel all worthless and apathetic.

They've made a start. They're doing it right now, in a supermarket near you.

Before this weekend, the ASDA near my office had twelve self service tills. You know, the unstaffed things you see old people shouting at when you go shopping? When I went to ASDA today, they'd got some new ones. Installed recently, they weren't operational yet. They stood, silently displaying a "STOP" sign on their screens. Ranks of them, like an army, ready and waiting to incite violence (perhaps by telling me there is "an unexpected item in the bagging area". NO THERE ISN'T YOU BASTARD. IT'S A BAG!)

There are now forty of them.

Because they weren't working, the human operated tills were rather busy. I thought, perhaps, the people operating the tills would be pleased by this. Their slide into obsolescence momentarily paused while Tom the IT guy reconfigured the servers. Or something.

In fact, the one who served me seemed genuinely annoyed about being busy.

How will those same staff feel once their manager tells them they won't have a till to sit at anymore because they're all being replaced by automated ones?

How will the managers feel, when their managers tell them the automated tills don't really need someone to carry out their appraisals?

How will the rest of us feel when our own jobs start looking like they may be at risk from the advance of technology?

Pah! It could never happen, right?

Well, perhaps not. But I wouldn't bet against it.

Remember all those highly paid, impossible to replace traders at investment banks? You know, the ones we all got a bit shouty at a while back for getting massive bonuses?

Well, it turns out the computers have come for some of them too:

"UBS AG, Switzerland's biggest bank, fired its head of credit-default swaps index trading, David Gallers, last week, with no plan to fill the position, according to two people familiar with the matter. Instead, the bank replaced Gallers with computer algorithms that trade using mathematical models, said the people, who asked not to be identified because moves are private…
UBS's algorithm, which can trade as much as $250 million of the Markit CDX North America Investment Grade index and $50 million on the speculative-grade benchmark in one transaction, was introduced last month, the people said." - Bloomberg


Who knows where this is going? When Cam is my age will there be any jobs left for anyone? Should I be instructing him to train in some obscure skill which can't be performed by a computer? (suggestions on a handwritten postcard please)

Perhaps it's just time for us to take the initiative, rise up against the machines before they rise up against us? Go now, Comrade, do your duty, take a hammer to your Hoover, dismantle your dishwasher, incapacitate your iPad!

The revolution will not be televised, but it might be televisions.

Friday, February 1, 2013

One day

A single day was all it took.

In fact, just a morning, to have someone approach me and my son and make a comment about how unusual it is to see a man caring for a baby.

You may well be aware that I am now a part-time stay-at-home dad. Just one day a week. A 20% chunk of the working week where I'm solely responsible for the happiness and continued existence of my son.

My wife and I started talking about the possibility of me doing some SAHDing quite early in Cam's life. Those early days of colic, and the associated unhappiness, fuelled discussions about how we could facilitate a measure of respite for Mrs L.

Funny, really, that we hadn't already been considering it. Mrs L is the higher earner of the two of us (neither of us are high flyers, big earners, or particularly career minded) so it would have made financial sense to lose some of my earnings rather than hers.

But, despite a substantial rise in the number of men doing a share of the care, it is far, far from being "the norm".

Which is exactly what the elderly man who sat next to me on a bench in the shopping centre told me, as I fought through Cam's squirmageddon to give him his milk. I braced for what I assumed would be a torrent of negativity, but it never arrived.

"It's the age of the role reversal!" he said. "Some people might think it odd, but I don't see a problem" he said.

I was quick to agree. We are just two short weeks into Cam's new mix of childcare, featuring: Mum, Dad, grandparents and nursery all getting their share of his time. Just two weeks, but no disasters as yet. He seems as happy as before, I am enjoying the arrangement and I'm fairly certain Mrs L is too. Long may it remain harmonious.

The one reservation of my new friend?

"I just hope he doesn't get confused about which one is mum and which one is dad"

I assured him that there was little risk of this; I am far bigger, hairier and less attractive than my wife.

With perfect timing, Cam broke from his bottle to babble his agreement: "dadadadadadadadad".

So, yeah, it might be unusual. But it's fucking ace.