Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Who am I?

OK, stop me if you’ve heard this one. What do you call a Househusband that gets a full time, work from home job? No, no ideas? Nope, me neither. But whatever the answer is, that’s what I’ve become and now I’m suffering from an identity crisis. I’ve spent the best part of three years convincing people that a Stay at home Dad was a real thing, a real occupation, and now I’ve gone and blown it all by getting a ‘proper’ job.

Since this strange turn of events I’ve found that all the people from my old life, my running a pub doing a job type job, have found me a lot easier to deal with. They now seem able to talk to me about things other than my kids, like the kids were the only thing that defined me. They genuinely seem happier, almost safer, when they ask me how my day has been, safe in the knowledge I will be able to give them an answer they can relate to.

Instead of moaning about screaming kids decorating my carpet with permanent markers, I’ve found myself moaning about clients daring to have an opinion, stationery requirements and email etiquette. And while we’re on the subject of email etiquette, what’s with those people that add a P.S. to the end of an email? Are you really too lazy to move the mouse up a bit and insert the inane drivel you had momentarily forgot about, into the main text? Isn’t P.S. only relevant to the written word where you are unable to magically insert text?

Even worse than that, are all the bloody emoticons littering my inbox. I could barely cope with them on twitter or facebook, but aren’t we meant to be professionals here? Has the workplace changed so much during my brief sojourn into insanity? Imagine my shock when one of my male colleagues sent me an email that contained this sentence:

“I would <3 a beer right now.”

You want to stick your testicles in a pint of beer? Seriously? What kind of company had I started working for when not only do their employees manipulate their reproductive organs into inappropriate storage devices, but they openly boast about it as well? Then I started wondering how my female colleagues would appropriately respond. Would Rhonda from Customer Procurement reply thus?

“Me too, I’m going to % that bottle of beer as soon as I can.”

What’s scaring me the most is that I’m actually turning into one of them. I actually got excited about stationary today. I opened a new box of biros with the same excitement and anticipation that I used to reserve for a new pristine packet of wet wipes.

So now I feel like a bit of a fraud and it could not have come at a worse time. I have just been made the Class Rep at school, a fact that has shocked all that know me, no more so than ‘er-not-indoors. The head of the PTA collared me in the playground a month ago and asked me if I would like to take on this ‘pleasant responsibility’. The shock of one of the yummy mummies, sorry I mean THE yummy mummy actually approaching me, put me on the back foot, and my natural instinct to lie my arse off disappeared. The conversation went like this:

Yummy Mummy – How would you like to be the class rep?

Shocked Me – I really don’t think I’m the type of person you want for that kind of job.

Yummy Mummy – Of course you are, I see you chatting to people, you’re quite friendly, you’ll be fine. (Not perfect you’ll note, just fine.)

Scared Me – You may well have seen me chatting to people, but I’ll bet you haven’t seen many chatting back, they tend to avert their eyes like I’m selling The Big Issue.

Yummy Mummy – Don’t be silly, I’m sure lots of them buy The Big Issue.

Stumped Me - {gives a look of women’s logic incredulity}

Yummy Mummy – So I will put your name down then. (Also note the lack of question mark here)

Scrambling Me – Names, that’s it. I don’t know anybody’s names, I’m useless at them.

Yummy Mummy – You’re being silly again, of course you do.

Sardonic Me – Listen hon, I’ve known your for two years and whenever I refer to you I call you the tall blonde one. (She’s 7 foot 3 inches in Uggs)

Yummy Mummy – Well my name is Ann and you’ll be fine.

Surrendered Me – OK

So my rather long winded point being, is that now I have to speak to a load of Mums that I haven’t really had any dialogue with, and as sure as eggs are eggs they always ask me what I do for a living. I would normally answer with “I’m a househusband/Housebitch” and give them a ‘what of it stare’. That now feels like a lie though, and for reasons I cannot fathom makes me uneasy.

Am I, by saying that I’m able to do a full time job as well as my househusband duties, admitting that being a stay at home parent is really only half a job? Or am I telling the world that I am indeed Superman, and there isn’t anything I cannot achieve? Neither sit well with me to be honest because neither are true, as any real housewife or anyone that know my numerous failings (which is actually everyone that knows me) will testify.

Until I manage to figure this out I think I shall remain nameless. ‘The life and times of a Househusband’ may become ‘The life and times of a confused work from home, but what is work really when it comes to it, husband’. You can refer to me as that bloke that used to be funny but now thinks too much.

I have to go now, I have a wash to put on and a stationery request to file. Fluorescent Sharpies anyone?

P.S. My first responsibility as Class Rep was to organise and run the Bar at the Winter Fayre, hic, what a result.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Bitterst Pill

One of the first obstacles the newly appointed Stay at home Dad has to face is a psychological one. Whilst convincing yourself that what you are doing is best for the family, convincing yourself that it is also best for you is a harder sell. Feelings of emasculation and insecurity are quite common and ever present, but with a slight change of mind set, can be easy to overcome.

I have found that the quickest and easiest path to the golden chalice that is ‘Acceptance’ is to bend over and take it like a man. Pretty much from the off, whenever I was asked what I was doing now that I had sold the pub, my defiant reply would be “I’m a Housewife”, with a silent “What of it?” thrown in at the end for good measure.

It didn’t matter if they were close friends, vague friends or complete strangers I had once served, I always gave the same reply. This was invariably followed by one of the following three reactions/replies:

1. “No really, what are you up to?”

2. A nervous laugh, followed by a swift subject change (I sometimes have to check to see if I am still wearing my pinny.)

3. A blank look that demanded a more detailed explanation.

Rather than be embarrassed, I would just turn the subject on its head and embarrass my interviewer. Many a person has ventured the opinion “So you just sit around doing nothing all day.” The obvious retort to which is “So your Mum was a lazy cow then when she spent her life wiping your arse and cooking for you?” A bit confrontational I know, and possibly the reason my wife calls me the ‘Bolshie from Barking’, but sometimes gross stupidity deserves nothing less.

If I am in less polite circles, down my local for arguments sake, I will quite often sign off with the salutation “See you all later, time for me to go back to being a Housebitch.” Guaranteed to get a laugh, and let’s be honest, not far from the truth. I would also enjoy telling everyone how easy it was, how much free time I had, all lies of course but jealousy is a great distracter. Well I did until I received a phone call from the head of the local Housewives union (my best mates wife actually). She quite grumpily informed me that I was getting them all in trouble. It turned out my (soon to be ex) mate had come home from our liquid refreshment session, all full of insider knowledge about how easy her life was, and what the hell was she doing all day, oops.

So I have now gone from struggling to accept, to almost playing the stereotypical Housewife role. I tut and moan when the breadwinner (It still hurts to type that, it’s part of my acceptance path) comes home and turns my calm kids into screaming monsters. I am either campaigning for more housekeeping money, or defending myself over the shopping bill, they really have no idea how much things cost in the real world. Don’t even get me started on how annoying it is to find her work clothes scattered in a path on the way to the hot bath she needs, apparently to relax her from the ‘stressful’ day she’s had at work. Stressful my arse. Try juggling teenage tantrums, potty training, and cooking the housekeeping books to hide that sneaky case of beer that’s sitting in the shed.

I am also very proprietary about the kitchen now. I recently decided it made more sense for the cutlery to be in the drawer nearest the place I plate up the food (delusions of chef grandeur I know). The wife has not stopped moaning about this change, even though the only time she goes to it is to grab a teaspoon to stir her tea, and kill my coffee with. I have been forced to point out that this is my place of work, and I would never dream of telling her what cabinet to use when filing her legal papers in her office at Charge by the Minute & Sons.

I often reminisce about my previous life as a publican, normally when I am cleaning up after the latest potty failure, and there is a part of me that feels quite maudlin and wistful. Then I realise I can draw quite a few similarities between my old and new job. Both sets of customers speak a language vaguely related to English. In fact my many years listening to Drunkanese helped me decipher the mysteries of baby babble, if you listen hard enough you get there in the end. Both sets of customers are no fun to clear up after, although the kids are slightly tidier and more likely to control their bodily functions. Both jobs demand I be surrounded by alcohol at all times, of course instead of selling it, I am now consuming it, impossible to do this job without it in my opinion. So taken logically it becomes very easy to realise what a full and proper job we have.

My middle child has now started school, leaving just me and the little fella at home all day. Life is moving too fast and they are growing up so quick. I am now hoping that he turns into a three year old Peter Pan, permanently frozen at this age, thus sparing me the hassle and upheaval of going back to work. Now that is one thing I will struggle to accept.

* This article was originally published on the site for Dad's that know, want to know, or forgot what they know.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

George the Guilt Explorer

Hello, my name is George the Guilt Explorer and I have a very important job. My vocation in life is to guilt trip people, on behalf on my client, into doing something they really should have been doing anyway and hopefully with a smile on their face. It doesn’t always work of course, popping me into a cookie jar or a case of beer, is always doomed to failure and sometimes violence. But on the whole I have a pretty good strike rate, and I get to explore some strange places.

This week I have been hired by Mr Goonerjamie. He’s quite a nice chap despite being a workshy Househusband, have you ever heard of such a thing? I would never dream of sending Mrs Georgina out to guilt explore whilst I sit indoors leafing through girlie magazines (you think your models are full of plastic, you should see mine). Although to be fair, the wife does guilt trip at an amateur level, but usually when I forget to put the toilet seat back down, or when I bring home drunken Lego friends.

Anyway, I digress. Mr Goonerjamie set me to work straight away, and boy did he give me a huge challenge to start with. His teenage daughters’ room.

On the whole it looked quite tidy, most of the clothes were hanging up and I could tell what colour the carpet was. Then I came face to face with the Wastebin Mountain, and it was tall. Four weeks worth of sweet wrappers, body mist canisters, tumble weeds and discarded homework. I started to climb, narrowly avoiding a cotton wool avalanche and a nail varnish spillage. It took me all day but I eventually made it, and there I stayed until I was noticed two days later. Two long days with nothing to do but read her facebook updates and listen to loud recycled music, it was hell.

Eventually I was noticed with a quizzical smile, and the waste bin was duly emptied, success.

I walked across the landing and over to daughter number two’s room, she’s only five so I wasn’t expecting too tough a task. What I found was a teddy bear skyscraper piled half way up to the ceiling. It was a soft climb, but no less arduous, and I almost fell to my death when a button eye came off in my hands.
I was noticed quite quickly, and my presence had to be explained, but teddies were tidied and re-settled in the Hanging Gardens of Fur.

Next stop was the Toy Room where the boy could normally be found. It looked like a crime scene in there, broken toys and half eaten jigsaws.

I started to fear the worse, and my suspicions were confirmed when he picked me up and tried to use me as a lollypop. I accepted defeat and got the hell out of Dodge City. There is only so much I can do.

My next task was Mrs G, or the artist formerly known as Imelda Marcos as she is oft referred. There were shoes, boots, flip flops, slippers and effoffbiatch shoes. I could only gather a quarter of them together, I’m not a miracle worker, and I waited for her return from work.

What happened next wasn’t pretty, and nor was her reaction. I was thrown across the room in an explosion of expletives, and there I lay as she started to write what I can only presume was a ransom note.

It all got a bit confusing then, with an evil laugh she marched me down the stairs and into the kitchen. There I was placed into a greasy metal room, and with a slam of the door I was pitched into darkness. I let my eyes adjust to the dark and could vaguely make out some strange smelling lumps of blackness. Some smelt of rosemary, garlic and potato, others of beef or chicken fat. If I had been a lazy good-for-nothing Househusband instead of a hard working grafter, I would have realised sooner that I had been placed in an oven that hadn’t been cleaned in six months. As it was, I only realised this when Mr Goonerjamie placed a dirty metal tray above me and things started to get warmer. Could this be it, the end of all things guilt?

Aromas of olive oil, tomatoes and garlic washed over me, then a smell I couldn’t quite place. A smell that I vaguely connected to the night Mrs Guilt made me take Viagra. That was it, I can smell plastic melting, who on earth puts burning plastic in a pasta sauce? OH NO it’s me. I’m melting. I’m melting. I can’t even see my ‘Made in China’ tattoo any more. Let me out, let me out, tell my wife I love her and to not feel too guilty.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Invention of Sitting

This morning I found myself deep in thought pondering life, the universe and why people leave one sheet of toilet paper on the roll. I was sitting (there may also be a h in that) in my laboratory, or what some people may call the lavatory. It has fast become the place where I do most of my thinking, where the most profound thoughts hit me and where I invent most of my inventions. You may think I’m talking shit (thought I would get that one in before you), but it’s true. This may well be because I do spend an awful amount of time in there, so much time that my Wife has started to insist that I go see the Doctor to get my Irritable Bowel Syndrome looked into. I hope she doesn’t mean literally, what a crappy job that must be.

I can assure you there’s nothing wrong with me, it’s just the only quiet place in the house I can hide. Plus it has a lock so that even if I am found I can still keep them all out. I used to hide in the shed but now winter’s approaching it’s getting a bit cold out there. Is it sad, or plain common sense, that I often pretend to be constipated just to avoid my kids for half an hour? It’s not that I hate them or anything, but it’s a guilt free place to grab a break from them. You’re not avoiding them, you’re just combining a toilet break with some much needed peace and quiet.

Whatever the reasons I’m in there, I still maintain it’s the best place to think. Over the past year I have had numerous ideas, all ripe for invention. All I need now is to find someone with bundles of cash and the same warped sense of reasoning as me. In the hope that one of you is such a person, I share these with you now. Beware, my lawyers are watching. I don’t mean they’re watching me on the toilet, I mean, ahh you know what I mean, stop being so pedantic, just don’t nick my ideas or I’ll send my kids round.

Teflon coated toilets – Seriously, it’s a no-brainer. No more scrubbing brushes, no more nasty stains, no more toilets left full of bleach ready to splash up at you and give your nether regions hi-lights when you forget. I’ve never really understood why toilets are white anyway? Whoever made that decision has neither cleaned one, or had kids. Black would have been a far better choice, if not as obvious as brown. Teflon is as cheap as chips nowadays, and who wouldn’t pay an extra £10 not to have to look at, or clean skids again?

Half width toilet roll - This is my solution for saving the rain forests and the planet. Let’s be honest, you really don’t need all that width, you only use the bit in the middle anyway, the rest is wasted. You also have the added bonus that by buying this product you are telling the world that not only do you care about the planet, but you also have a small bum.

Foot Bidet - A slightly smaller version of your traditional bidet that is sunk into the floor at the foot of the toilet. The deluxe version could also fit one of those foot massagers you bought your Wife for Christmas ’06, but has only been ungratefully used once. This way you can wash your feet whilst sitting on the toilet, not only multi-tasking, but ensuring a cheese free odour for the whole house. It’s what most people use bidets for anyway so why not put them in an easier position?

Package literature - I don’t know if you are like me, but I have to be reading something when I’m sitting on the throne. I do tend to keep a book in there to while away the time, but on occasion I find myself with nothing to read but the ingredients of the toothpaste. There is only so many times you can try to remember the spelling of monofluorophosphate, plus there’s nobody else in there to test you, talk about the worst spelling bee ever. So my idea is to put short episodes of a book on the packaging. Episode 1 could be on the toothpaste, episode 2 on the mouthwash and the title on the floss. Think of the brand loyalty it would create. Who cares that the mouthwash makes you smell like a wino if by using it you get to find out who killed whom with what?

I only need one of these ideas to pay off and I can not only justify the last year I have spent on the toilet, but also the flat screen TV I’m thinking of installing in there. That means I will also have to invent a bum cushion for those long films, I mean bouts of Delhi-belly. See I told you I get all my best ideas when I’m in here. Now if you will excuse me, I have to flush.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Woe is me, woe is me. I’m losing my best friend, I’m losing my Dad. I haven’t been given a date or a death sentence time limit, but I’m losing him all the same. His body is failing him and now his mind has decided to join in as well, like some treacherous turncoat. He has fed and nurtured both of them, and now they have turned their back on him, cast him aside like they’ve had a better offer elsewhere.

I don’t believe in God, but I blame him anyway. How dare he do this to him, he’s done nothing wrong, he’s one of the good guys. He has sweated his tabs off all of his life, supported his Wife and three kids. Gone without himself, just to provide. So now it’s his turn to relax, to enjoy life, to sit back and smell the roses or the hydrangeas. But no, you have other plans for him. You want to give him this disease, that disease. He beats those so you throw something else at him. Coping with that are you, here you go, how’s losing your ability to read suit you? Breathing is easy, we’ll see about that then. You want more, I’ve got more for you. What indignity do you fancy this week? No don’t go and guess, go spend a week in the hospital instead, let’s see what the Doctors can discover. Let’s see how far I can push you before you snap and crumble.

FUCK YOU GOD. You’re a bully, a sick deity, a friendless figment of the weak’s imagination. No family, no Wife. You had to kill your own son for some company. Are we paying for your sins because you slept with Joseph’s wife and had a bastard son? You may have taken my Dad’s voice, but I still have mine. You’re a coward, I hate you.

I didn’t realise that grief was so selfish. I sit here thinking about how it’s going to affect me, how much I will miss him. How it will be so unfair on me to lose him, miss his advice, his stories. How am I going to cope, how will I get through the week of the funeral. Me, me, me, me, me. I can’t stop and imagine what it’s like in his shoes, they’re too big for me to fill. I haven’t got the guts, I’m not strong enough. I see you, I cry. I think about you, I cry. I write about you, I cry.

Am I mourning you before you’ve gone? I guess I am. Maybe I think it will make it easier to cope with when it happens, I’m betting it won’t though. I used to say that a Grandparent dying was a child’s introduction to death, they would be sad, but they would move on. I was young, blasé and childless when I said that. It’s just that I have kids now, and their Grandfather is my Dad and I’m not so blasé anymore. You’re not an introduction, you’re my beginning, my middle, and now you’re end.

I haven’t given up on you, but I would never blame you for giving up. Too much hurt, too much pain, not enough time. Time’s a bitch, always being wasted, being passed, never appreciated until it’s too clichéd and too late.

I leave my hate on this page.

I leave my love in your heart.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ten rules for an Urban London Househusband

The lovely Heather over at recently asked me to give 10 bits of advice to a woman moving to my part of the world. Living where I live is not just geography, it’s a state of mind baby, so here we go.

1. You need to learn to juggle. Not that ‘I can make a packed lunch whilst applying eyeliner and talking to my friend on the phone’ housewife type juggling, I mean the real ‘3 balls/socks/fish throwing in the air’ type juggling. It will instantly calm a bunch or unruly five year olds, especially if you set light to the socks whilst you do it.

2. Always know where the nearest pub is to any park you may visit, or worst case scenario an off-license. Nothing inspires drinking more than an hour at a park playground, and you don’t want to waste precious drinking minutes looking for a child friendly pub afterwards. By child friendly I mean it needs to have an outside bit, nothing special just somewhere to sit. The only good thing that has come from the Government’s smoking ban is that there are now loads of places to sit outside. Just make sure you empty the ashtrays first as my lot will eat anything.

3. Always make sure you have spare batteries kept in two separate places. In site A you have fresh new batteries for all the TV/DVD/Wii gadgets, nothing causes more panic than when the third parent gets stuck on Cash in the Attic or something else involving orange old people. In site B you keep all the old dead batteries. My lot have long since sussed out that when a toy stops working, it isn’t broken, it just needs new batteries. This way you can put the dead batteries in their annoyingly loud toy guitar (thanks Uncle Daniel, be expecting Anthrax from us this year) in front of them, and then claim that it must be broken. Peace and quiet restored.

4. Never, and I cannot stress this enough, ever come along to a play date at my house without beer or wine. You will not be welcome and your children will be locked in the rabbit hutch on their own, as opposed to the cupboard under the stairs with the rest of the children.

5. Make sure you own at least 5 T-shirts. Apparently the Mums at the school gates are quite observant and will notice when you wear your favourite iPope t-shirt, especially if your child goes to a Catholic school like mine.

6. Make sure you have a Smartphone to entertain yourself at the school gates. All the yummy mummys won’t be talking to you, so you need to entertain yourself somehow. iPhone says ‘in touch with the kids, fun and down to earth’. Blackberry says ‘desperate to get back to work and boring’.

7. If you see a Yummy Mummy looking like she needs to get somewhere else fast, avoid eye contact at all costs. You are not responsible enough to look after your own children, what on earth makes you think you could look after young Tarquin, even if it is for only five minutes. It is a well known fact that middle class children break easier than working class feral ones.

8. Make sure your house has a big empty wooden box, IKEA do a good sized one. This will save your bacon when you have been playing on the Xbox all day instead of cleaning up. Approximately 30 minutes before your spouse’s arrival from work, hold a lollypop per child and tell them to throw all their toys in the box, and themselves too if they are looking too grubby, before they can have it. This will enable you to play at least 2 more death matches, and the sugar rush should kick in just before the Wife walks in the door. This will make her appreciate what you have to put up with even more, and will also put off any boring work story as she will not be able to shout over the kids.

9. Encourage your children enjoy watching football from a very early age. There is nothing more upsetting than a child’s tears when you push them out of the way and turn the Toy Story DVD off because the Arsenal v Liverpool game is about to start. And yes dear, the pre match build up is important. And no dear, they couldn’t have just watched the last ten minutes of the film, I need to know the line-ups.

10. Always lower yourself to the children’s height. A man never stands as tall as when he kneels to help a child. This will also lessen the chance of a slipped disc or a kick in the gonads, and you think childbirth hurt, pah.

So there you go, my ten rules to live by, stick by them and you may just make it out of this god forsaken hellhole alive.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Wedding Tweeter

I’ve started my own business, I’ve found a gap in the market and I’ve dived in like a Messerschmitt on speed. I have become the World’s first Wedding Tweeter, or should that be Twedding Tweeter? Why do the inhabitants of Twitter world insist on putting a ‘tw’ in front of words to make them twitterfied? I mean we are a persecuted bunch as it is, all our non tweeting friends think we’re stupid or narcissistic anyway. They don’t understand Twitter, so let’s not make it worse tweople.

Anyway, my concept is that with so many people belong to social networking sites now, be it facebook, twitter or BLAH BLAH (ask your kids), they actually start to consider their on-line friends to be real friends. Not real enough to waste a wedding invite on obviously, especially at £110 per head and rising, but real enough to want to share their special day with.

This is where I come in. For a small fee plus a free bar at the reception, I will provide the following services.

1. Set up a Twitter account for the lovely couple, i.e. @DesperateAndRichGetMarried. They can now distribute this account amongst their friends, and add worrying about their follower count to the list of things keeping them awake at night. This list includes hoping Uncle Malcolm hasn’t fallen off the wagon again, assigning an usher to steal his drinks if he has, and wondering is the missionary the traditional wedding night position or would the reverse cowgirl be OK?

2. I will then use your account to keep all your followers up to date with the proceedings. This would look a bit like the following (excerpts taken from @BaldingAndFlabbyGetMarried).
  • The @groom is looking nervous. Not sure what he is regretting more, having the stag night last night or the pink tie.
  • Just spotted @Bestman being sick in the font. Hope nobody is being baptised tomorrow.
  • Nice save, @Usher1 has found and confiscated @UncleMalcolm’s hip flask.
  • Sneaky @UncleMalcolm has a sock flask, this won’t end well.
  • The @GroomsFather and @GroomsFathersNewGirlfriend are arguing with @GroomsMother and @GroomsMothersToyboy over the seating arrangements.
  • Compromise found. @GroomsFather and @GroomsMother on front row, @GroomsFathersNewGirlfriend and @GroomsMothersToyboy on row 2.
  • Oh dear, the @Vicar is getting impatient now, @Groom checks watch again, @Bestman makes a phone call to bookie
  • Action at the back of the church, @Bride has arrived, report on dress to follow.
  • Dress is a beautiful flowing white number, unfortunately it looks like the number 8.
  • On the positive side, at least she has managed to fit in it, looks like the ‘being sick for a week’ diet has worked.
  • RT @BitchyUninvitedWorkColleague Her dress looks like it contains a bag of ferrets fighting to escape
  • RT @JealousExBoyfriend White, are you having a laugh, ask @Usher2 about the time that we (the following has been edited in the name of good taste)
  • Preliminaries under way, hymns, blah blah, why are these things so long, just cut to the chase @Vicar.
  • Really should have used the toilet before I came in.
  • Really shouldn’t have tweeted that.
  • A nervous silence as @Vicar asks is there any reason that they should not be married.
  • Several heads are shamefully looking at the floor, including @Usher2 @CousinJimmy and @GroomsSister
  • Phew, everybody remains silent and the deed is done.
  • It’s official. Congratulations to @MrandMrsGoatsbottom
  • RT @SlowWorkmate So that’s why we call him Ivor. I always wondered about that
  • Time for the final prayer. Top prank by @Bestman as the soles of @grooms shoes reveal the words HELP and ME.
  • Prank backfire. It appears the @Bestman does not know his left from right as the shoes read ME HELP.
  • In the name of good taste @GroomsFathersNewGirlfriend and @GroomsMothersToyboy have been excluded from official photo line-ups.
  • In the name of bad taste @GroomsFathersNewGirlfriend and @GroomsMothersToyboy have sneaked into presbytery for a quick grope.
  • Just enough time for all males to check their phones for the footy scores.
  • Just enough time for all females to reapply their make up with a trowel.
  • Time for the reception and a well earned pint.
  • Bucks Fizz, are you having a laugh, when will people learn?
  • Tweeting interrupted to help guests find the real bar, hopefully one that has a TV showing Gillette Soccer Saturday
  • Time for speeches, these will be abbreviated due to restrictions of 140 characters.
  • Wish the real ones had those restrictions.
  • From @FatherOfBride Lame joke, childhood mishaps, welcome to family, serious bit, dead grandmother, tears, lame joke, ushered into seat
  • From @Groom Drunken sweats, My Wife and I, applause, lame joke, nervous glances to Wife, drops notes, finishes abruptly
  • From @Bestman Slurred, dubious content, bad taste joke about sheep, worse taste joke about @Usher2, nervous looks all round, falls over
  • Well that’s that then folks, hope you enjoyed the wedding. Don’t forget to log in for the reception (over 18’s only)

3. Using TwitPic (or y.frog if you consider yourself a princess), I will post beautiful pictures of all the momentous moments, as they happen. These will be slightly blurry as I will be using my iPhone, but your friends will just think you have hired a pretentious photographer straight out of art school, so that’s OK.

4. Via I will let your friends listen to all the great tunes your wedding DJ is playing including your first dance. Unless of course your first song is ‘Angel’ by Robbie Twilliams, in this case I will change it to ‘Smack my Bitch up’ by the Prodigy. You will then either look retro cool or just ironic, depending on how many of your S&M loving details you accidentally tweeted about when drunk.

5. Supply a framed A4 wordcloud of the days, and evenings if readable, tweets. All done tastefully in black and white, in the classic Goudy Bookletter 1911 font.

I think I’m onto a winner here, I’m even thinking of franchising it out for a small fee of course. Bookings are now being taken and the weekends are being snapped up fast. For all enquires re payment plans or deletion of dubious photos, please contact me at the or by comment at this blog.

This time next year I’ll be a millionaire, or in prison.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The road to Hell (Michigan)

This week, undoubtedly fuelled by being trapped indoors by the rain with only the kids for screaming company, I decided I wanted to become a Travel Writer. Not one of those ones that visit Venice and remark that they found the quaintest little coffee shop just behind the third piazza on the right. And I definitely did not want to be one of the ones that wrote ‘Ten rambles through the Salisbury plains’ either.

I wanted to be like Bill Bryson, actually I think I wanted to be Bill Bryson. I wanted to visit places like Buttsville (Pennsylvania) just to see how many arseholes lived there. I had to see if there was a Dentist in Snaggletooth (California). I wanted to know how demanding the ladies were in Iron Knob (South Australia). Would Dissapointment (Kentucky) really be one? And I really, really needed to know what they drank out of on Whisky Dick Mountain (Washington). That was it, I had made up my mind, I was doing it.

My wife, once she had stopped laughing at me however, had other ideas. What about the children, who was going to look after them whilst I was off gallivanting in search of funny sounding places? A good question, as much as it pained me to admit it. Sod it, I would take them with me, although that would rule out visiting Titty Hill (England), as what was the point if I had the kids with me?

They are actually easier to control in the car anyway, they’re locked in place for starters, and if their noise got to be too much I would unleash the secret weapon. Normally I’m only allowed to have the car stereo’s volume at a maximum of 14, and only that loud if it’s a track the wife particularly likes. But I have discovered (when she was at work of course) that if I play Marilyn Manson as loud as 19, the kids kind of go into a trance, all slack jawed and silent. Works every time. She also said we had to be back by tea time, which seriously put paid to my plans of visiting Twatt in (all of) Scotland.

I decided to visit Butts Green (Essex), the kids spend so much time rolling around the grass anyway, and it was only 35 miles from home. I packed a bag full of healthy snacks and drinks, as well as a big bag of sweets to help with the bribery. I had my notebook, two pens and a Valium so I was set and we were ready to go.

We managed to get to the top of the road before the five year old informed me that she was busting for the toilet. My eldest is 16 for God’s sake, you would have thought that I had been in this game long enough to make the kids go to the toilet before we left. Then again, I’ve been carrying a wallet since I was 16 and after we had dealt with all things toilet and re-departed, we had to return again to pick that up.

The only excuse I can offer for having to return a third time is that I have only been carrying a mobile phone for a mere ten years, so was bound to have forgotten it given my track record. I’m sure our neighbour, as she waved us off for the fourth time, was starting to think I was trying to catch her stealing my plants or maybe the lid from our bin, as I had noticed hers hadn’t got one.

We hit traffic within 10 minutes, of course we did, why should I expect that anything in my life was going to be plain sailing? The bag of sweets turned out to be sugar-free so they went out of the window. I ask you, what kind of sick mind invents something like that. I bet it was the same kind of idiot that believes in telling children there is no such thing as Father Christmas, as it just perpetuates the commercialism of the birth of Jesus, or some such lily livered tree hugging codswallop. I was not happy, and obviously nor were the kids, they can smell a phoney a mile off.

I went to put the Marilyn Manson CD on but it was missing from the case, this was dire. I made a frantic phone call to the Wife to see if she had moved it, she had. Apparently me picking her up from church every Sunday, blasting Mr Manson’s version of ‘Personal Jesus’ had been deemed inappropriate. I do have a history of allegedly playing the wrong song at the wrong time though. Whenever the Mother in Law starts to leave our house after another visit, I have a habit of blasting ‘Stairway to Heaven’ on the stereo. Some people just can’t take a joke, and now the joke was on me.

I tried to fob them off with raisins but that only resulted in a food fight, which then obviously ruled out giving them an apple. The last thing I needed was to be hit with one of them whilst driving at 50 mph. That was of course if we ever got to go any faster than the tortoise mph that we were currently doing. Thirty minutes later I gave in, and turned the car around in defeat.

As we pulled up and trudged out of the car, my neighbour asked me what I had forgotten this time. With a sigh I replied “I forgot that you don’t have to go to Michigan to visit Hell.” She gave me a quizzical look, put the lid on her bin, and scurried into her house.

Monday, August 9, 2010

I don't love Cricket, I like it

As I write, it’s a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon and I’m on my way to a cricket match. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t know the difference between a googly and a silly mid off, and the nuances of a Seamer or a Yorker are lost on me, but I had won the tickets and I tend not to look gift horses in the mouth. Thank goodness I’m not going to a test match then. A game that lasts five days without a result is not my idea of fun. I have friends that love the slow pace and nothingness of the game, but whenever I ask them what the appeal is the most common reply is that it’s a great day out and a good beer-up.

Despite the strong allure of sitting in the sun drinking lager all day, the idea that I would have to keep an eye out for a ball that weighs the same as a small child and is as hard as a Duckworth-Lewis calculation seems a step too far on the dangerous side. I mean, if I wanted to combine stupid risks and drinking, I would just go for a beer with my Brother-in-law in the Czech Republic.

Nope, I’m off to the new version of cricket, Twenty20. I know purists hate it, it’s fun, it’s fast and you actually get a result, so you can see their problem with it. Plus all the teams get to dress in bright colours and not those dreary old whites. From the point of view of a person that has to do all the washing at home, I’m anti white anyway. After all, you can’t spray fabreeze on something white when you’ve forgotten to wash it and still pretend it’s clean. With colours I can and often do.

Luckily enough I had won a pair of tickets, so I invited my cricket mad mate JG to come with me. Not only could I pick his brain on cricket law and etiquette, but he was also a booze hound not unlike myself, so he would obviously know the best place to sit. Apparently you need the perfect combination of view and accessibility to the bar. To be quite honest I wasn’t too worried about the view, I was escaping from the kids for the day, so we could have been watching women’s darts for all I cared.

Walking into the ground I was struck by how much quieter the crowd was compared to a football match. I realise that you get a lot less fans at a cricket match, even compared to those small provincial teams like Tottenham, but everything seemed quite jolly and subdued. There was no tension in the air, just a feeling of calculated nonchalance. Missing was the smell of fried onions, instead replaced by a heady mixture of Old Spice and linseed oil.

Beers needed to be procured first, seats second. Those kinds of priorities are ones I am always happy to go along with. As we took our place in a very polite and organised queue, I looked around to take in my surroundings. Above the bar were photos of all the previous Essex Captains, proud, distinguished, moustachioed men. Oh, and Ronnie Irani.

We stepped out of the clubhouse with our pints of Oranjeboom, a lager I thought had disappeared with my milk teeth. I shielded my eyes from the sun and looked out at the pitch, which we were viewing side on. I then had to shield my eyes again as the Middlesex team took to the field to warm up, resplendent in bright pink. I had put my back out the previous day so we decided to stand against the clubhouse wall for a while, the fact that we were standing next to the nearest door to the bar was nothing but mere coincidence.

As I was purchasing my third pint, the teams decided to take to the field and a polite round of applause rippled around the ground, more of a royal wave than a Mexican one. Essex were fielding first, and the fine chap to my right obviously mistook my three pint mellow face for that of a cricket expert. He voiced the opinion that we should open the bowling with someone that was proficient in the art of in-swinging. I voiced the opinion that I had only had a few drinks and it was a bit early to be asking me to throw my keys into the middle of the table. My new friend decided to move elsewhere.

It was towards the end of the innings, and mid pint number six, that I heard the glorious sound of ball hitting willow in the perfect pitch. I knew the ball had been hit for 6 before I even turned around to watch its trajectory. I had been asking the new gentleman standing next to me how much a cricket ball actually weighed, this had become annoyingly important to me as I had had an idea for a blog. The next sound I heard as I struggled to find the balls trajectory, was the noise of something weighing 163 grammes (I googled it in the end) and travelling 60 mph, hitting the brick wall a meter above my head. The ball bounced off the wall and hit the guy 4 rows in front of me in the back of the head.

Despite the shock of a near miss, I still managed to laugh like a loon at the poor bloke, which seemed to be the correct etiquette as everybody else was. I looked up to see the mark where the ball had struck and realised I was standing under the O in ESSEX COUNTY CRICKET. Maybe the opposition were using the circle as target practise, maybe it was a fluke? Either or, I decided to take a couple of steps to the left and stand underneath the Y. I mean, why not?

The innings soon ended and it was half time, or tea. I had stopped caring about the correct terminology by then, and started on the spirits as the pint glasses were becoming too heavy to hold. The Essex innings went by in a bit of a blur. I do remember that the bowler we had been having a pop at had then turned into an excellent batsman, but I may be wrong about that, they all looked the same to me. It all got a bit tense towards the end, I could tell because the crowd had actually started to make a bit of noise. We eventually lost by 11 runs, but apparently it didn’t matter because Surrey or Sussex or Stockbrokers XI, I don’t know which, had also lost so we were through to the next round.

I can’t really remember much about the journey home, although I do know we stopped in a pub before we got on the train. I also know that I was 10 minutes from home at 9pm, yet walked through the door at 11pm? The next morning my head hurt, my only consolation was that it probably didn’t hurt as much as it would have had the ball actually hit it.

In conclusion, the only difference my untrained eye can see between a Twenty20 match and a five day test is that with one you drink all afternoon, and the other you drink for five days. Maybe that’s why they call it a test?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Quest for Knowledge

I’m about to take my first steps towards my long awaited Nobel Prize for Science, and I’m inviting you all to come along with me. Those wonderful folk over at the Science Museum, in my home town of London, are on a quest for knowledge and they want me, and of course you, to help them. Don’t panic, you haven’t got to work out why buttered toast falls slimy side down, why a full nappy weighs twice the amount of the food consumed, or even why ginger (seriously, why though?) So you can stop searching for those old Physics text books in the loft and just answer a simple question.

What makes you smile?

Your answers will all form part of their ‘Who am I?’ gallery, all about what makes you, you. In my case that’s 2 parts Jack Daniels, 1 part coffee, 4 parts body mass, 1 part Oasis lyrics and a tiny smattering of smart arse thrown in for good measure.

Your answers can be written in the comments field of this blog or you can tweet them at @sciencemuseum . You can even send them a video response, well everyone except Paris Hilton as we have already seen what makes her smile.

So to set the ball rolling I had better tell you what makes me smile. I’ve ignored all the obvious ones like an unopened bottle of Tequila and a bag of limes, watching people walk into things and winning an argument with the Wife (only because I can’t remember the last time that particular one happened.)

What I’ve plumped for, is stuff my five year old daughter Kaede says.

We were watching the third parent the other day, let’s pretend it was the Discovery channel and not The Simpsons, when the adverts come on. This particular advert was for dishwasher tabs, the ones with all the wonderful fresh fragrance of forest fresh lemons, and the cleaning power of four below minimum wage illegal immigrants. Kaede turned to me with a wistful look on her face and said “I wish I was a plate.”

Experience has taught me not to then ask her “Why?” The last time I did that her response was “because then I can wee on a trampoline”, and you really don’t want to know what the question was that prompted that believe me. So I gave a more measured reply of “Wouldn’t it be better to be the person that got to eat off the plate rather than the plate itself, always destined to carry the food rather than eat it?” I was expecting a “But I can eat the food when it’s laying on me” type answer, and not looking forward to the ‘plates don’t have mouths’ debate that would follow. Again.

Her actual response was “But plates are hard working and strong because they can carry all of that food. They have a purpose.” Did I mention she was five? This was definitely the most profound thing she had ever said, certainly more profound than my last drunken offering of ‘Kids are for life, not just the cab ride home’.

So that’s what makes me smile, her crazy statements and her ability to shock the hell out of me in a good way, rather than the riding down the stairs on a tea tray bad way.

So now it’s your turn, I look forward to your responses, and I promise to mention you all in my acceptance speech.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tour de Farce

I hate the phrase ‘it’s just like learning to ride a bike’ it’s a load of old tosh. Nothing is like learning to ride a bike, nothing comes close at all. Between that and swimming, I don’t think there is a harder thing for a kid to learn. I learnt both at the same time, and I don’t mean at the same age. I mean within 10 seconds of each other.

My Dad took me over the local park to teach me, a typical father/son outing. As with most kids, it looked like I was never going to get it, and then all of a sudden everything clicked into place. I was riding on my own, this was easy, and I was so pleased with myself. I remember feeling the wind rushing through my hair and I remember turning round to wave at Dad. I remember the bike veering suddenly and I remember heading down the hill towards the pond. What I forgot, was where the brakes were or how to use them.

But do you know what’s harder than learning to ride a bike? Trying to buy one, that’s what. I spent last Saturday trying to buy my 5 year old her first bike without stabilisers. A fairly simple task you would think, after all, we live right near a branch of a major national bike and car accessory shop. At first I thought the problem would be that they have too many models of bike to choose from, but she picked out the one she wanted and the price suited me, so no issues there.

Unfortunately they didn’t have any in stock, but after the kind man checked his computer, he informed me that the branch 30 minutes down the road did. I wish he had used the same computer that they use in Little Britain, the one that always said no. At least I would have saved myself the journey, because lo and behold they had none in stock there either. Nor did the next one that was another 20 minutes down the road, their computer actually said they had three in stock. Do I really need to tell you how many they actually had in stock? Have a gold star, you guessed right, none.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times and I guess I’m just dumb enough to be asking for it. The conversation I had with the spotty teenager in the 4th branch of Halfwits went something like this.

“Hi, I’m hoping you can help me. I have been told you have a Sparkle 16” bike in stock and I really need to buy it off you, will that be possible?”

“Erm let me check my computer. Yes we do have one in stock but it’s the display model.”

“Excellent, as long as it has two wheels and a handlebar then I’ll take it, is there any discount as it’s shop soiled?”

“I’m afraid not, any item we can still order from Head Office cannot be discounted.”

“You’re kidding right? You know what, I’m not bothered, I’ll pay full price.”

“Sorry, I don’t really want to sell it to you, it’s too much hassle when they get returned.”

“Believe me, after all the aggro I’ve been through, I won’t be returning it.”

“I still don’t want to sell it to you.”

“Listen mate, if you don’t sell me that bike, one of two things will happen. The first is that I walk out of here in a simmering rage back to my car. In that car are my Wife and two fighting screaming kids, all of whom have been sitting in a car that is doing a decent impression of an oven right now. An oven we have been driving around in for 2 hours, just trying to find this particular bike. I will open the door to the car and before I can utter a single word, my wife, who is quite intuitive, will notice I don’t have a bike under my arm. She will then start telling me, in a voice that is one notch too loud, that she cannot understand why I can’t even manage to buy a bike without it becoming a song and dance. She will have a point, but that doesn’t make hearing it any easier, so I will probably snap back some kind of nasty retort. We will probably trade insults and throw in some still-festering arguments for good measure. One of the kids will start to kick the back of my seat, whilst the other one shouts and screams and demands food. After about 149 seconds of this, something inside of me will snap. I will exit the car, my wife still reminding me what a failure I am and I will go to the boot. When there I will look for something sharp, but failing that, settle for my golf umbrella. I will then wedge the handle of my umbrella against the kerb, place the tip of it against by heart and with a calm look of acceptance on my face, throw myself upon it. This will be done with such force that the umbrella will pass through me down to the handle, the wind will pick up, and the umbrella will pop open. Upon hearing all the screams, you will rush outside and see my still grinning carcass being blown around the car park, my wife chasing it shouting “you couldn’t even kill yourself properly.” With a speed of mind that belies the dumb arse look on your face, you capture my final moments on your phone. You will post the video clip on YouTube and it will go viral within a week. You also upload the stills to your Twitter account and gain yourself 113 new followers. A year will pass, and you forget all about me. Five years later you will actually find somebody to marry you, but between you and me, she’s only agreed because she’s five months pregnant. Oh and the real father is your best man Derek, but you won’t find that out until the kid turns eight. But when little Del is five, you will take him out one hot Saturday morning to buy his first bike. As you stand there listening to the spotty little oik behind the counter tell you that there are no bikes in stock because of the rising cost of aluminium in China, you will remember me, and you will start to cry and you will never be able to stop.”

“What’s the second thing that could happen?”

“You can explain to my wife why we can’t have the bike.”

“The bike is yours sir, and here’s a complimentary safety helmet.”

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Fistful of Dollars

To plug, or not to plug: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outraged bloggers,
Or to take gifts against a sea of adverts,
And by opposing end them? To die: gift free.

Would Shakespeare have written that today, a wannabe screenwriter, reduced to mere blogging to practice his craft? Accepting gifts and bribes from the Corporate world, some relevant to him, most not. There’s a part of me that thinks he might, well especially before his independent art house film got picked up and bastardised by Hollywood anyway. I don’t know enough about Shakespeare the man, to know if he wrote for the love of writing, or to keep a roof over his head. You’ve got to hope that someone that wrote ‘Love is too young to know what conscience is,’ was doing it for more than mere trinkets and baubles. But a man’s got to eat, no?

I am in no way shape or form comparing myself to the great man, sometimes I have to stop and think if there’s an ‘e’ at the end of his name, but we all have aspirations to be published one day. I don’t know if writing something with the pure intention of selling a product, makes you a better or worse writer. Is there a skill involved in trying to hide the fact that you’re a corporate glove puppet whilst actually selling the product at the same time? Or is that just a white lie you tell yourself before you attempt to look in the writers’ mirror?

I guess we all have pieces of work that make us cringe when looking back on them, but does knowing someone gave you a new knife set for writing it make you feel better or worse? Maybe it depends on how you see yourself. Am I a writer that happens to write a Daddy blog, or am I a Daddy blogger? I guess if it’s the later then it’s OK to take whatever the Fat Cats want to throw at you. Parent blogging is seen as big business by those in the know, we’re relatively cheap to bribe, and everyone’s a winner. Who can’t do with more toys, nappies, wine tokens?

But what if you want to either be seen as, or become a serious writer? If I’m going to sell my soul to the Devil then surely I should demand something a bit more than new pots and pans. Surely a Pulitzer, or a Booker maybe, or heaven forbid a Best Original Screenplay Oscar would be better compensation. There’s a good chance I would sell my three children’s souls for those awards, well two of theirs anyway, I think one of them have made their own deal already.

Or am I doing us bloggers a disservice? Apparently we are the reason that the print media is in decline so we must have some power. Our content is free, often quick to produce, and has no overheads. We have no big shot owners or political flunkies to appease, we can write what we want and when we want it. The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Times, all of them carry adverts, does that make them less of a paper? The Huffington Post has some of the world’s best bloggers writing for them, but they still run adverts alongside the content.

Anyway, I’m just starting to ramble now. I created myself a soapbox then didn’t know what to say once I climbed on board. I apologise for the lack of humour in this post, it’s just that I nearly pressed ‘publish’ on a blog that contained the sentence ‘Luckily **** Stores, who have some amazing online stores where I can get everything from cookware to lights’, and it seems to have shaken all the laughter out of me. Normal smart arse service will be resumed soon I’m sure.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Once upon a Weetabix

Once upon a time, in a town not to dissimilar to the one where you now reside, lived a man named Bert. Bert is not his real name, I’ve had to change it for his own protection. If word was ever to leak out who the real Bert was, and what he had invented, well he could kiss goodbye to his quiet life. He leads a simple life does Bert, but believe me the man is a genius. For one day whilst sitting at his kitchen table eating his breakfast, his mind stopped looking for words that rhymed with purple and started wondering what Weetabix and chocolate would taste like.

If it had been me or you that had had this idea then our story would have ended there, or maybe in A&E after one of us spilt molten chocolate on their hand instead of the waiting Weetabix. Luckily for us, Bert worked for Weetabix and knew exactly who to take this idea to. Days, weeks, possibly months later for who knows how long these things take, a brand new box of Chocolate Weetabix turned up on my doorstep.

I had won the sweepstake in life’s lottery and had been chosen to get an advance tasting of the new offering. Such was the level of secrecy surrounding the project, that the person who delivered my box was actually wearing a cloak and dagger. I was to spend a week with my prize before it would be wrested from my chocolate stained grip and delivered to those lucky blighters at Sainsbury’s for its big unveiling on the 12th July.

It was suggested by some that I should share my bounty with the children. Fools all of them, this would be wasted on the children, they didn’t deserve it, it wasn’t Christmas. After a medium bout of foot stamping, some mild tears and at least one temper tantrum I finally gave in and agreed to share. I wiped away my tears and the box was placed in the larder ready for the morning.

Once the children had been despatched to bed I ventured the opinion that it was morning in Kamchatka, so it would be alright to have a bowl now. I have tried this trick with alcohol in the past, it didn’t work then and it wasn’t working now. I decided to go to bed on the basis that the sooner I slept, the sooner it would be morning.

I dreamt of Bert’s invention that night, dreamt I was sitting in my chair made from Weetabix, holding a bowl the size of a footballers ego, full to the brim with chocolate Weetabix. Eventually my breakfast began to taste like feathers, and I woke up to find my pillow in my mouth. Thank heavens they don’t make coat hangers is all I can say.

I woke the kids up and rushed downstairs. I now had an excuse to make everyone sit down for breakfast rather than throwing toast at them as they run out of the door to school. I gave the kids a normal helping, but as it only has half the amount of sugar as other chocolate cereals, I gave myself double, result.

It was the quietest our dining table had ever been, apart from the occasional slurps and mmm’s you could have heard a pin drop. I proposed a toast to Bert and various cups of coffee, tea and orange juice were raised.

Chocolate Weetabix was an obvious success in our house, so much so that I am now using the threat of not having breakfast to get the kids to go to bed properly, and clean my car, oh and the hoovering, and sometimes the recycling. You mere mortals will have to wait until 12th July to get your hands on them. Ha Ha.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Ignorance isn't bliss

Today I unexpectedly found out why the Mum’s at the school look at me like I was an exhibit in a zoo. I did at first just presume that the majority of them had been dabbling in a bit of Botox treatment, but it has become all too apparent that it is actually their distaste for me that causes the expression, or lack thereof.

After 18 months they have just about got their heads around the concept of a stay at home Dad, so it’s not that. I’m no longer on my own in that respect anyway, there is another part time SAHD, a fine Mediterranean fellow. Although I’m not sure being in a constant between jobs flux counts, but in the cause of the brotherhood I will give him the benefit of the doubt. Every week I ask him with a chuckle, if he has seen the perfect Italian job yet, every week a nonplussed shake of the head.

Nope, I think it is some of the things that I say that leaves them somewhat bewildered.

I was having a conversation (and by conversation I mean I was being allowed to stand close enough to listen without being considered an eavesdropper but obviously not contributing) when one of the Mums happened to mention that she had been rushing around like a ‘blue arsed fly’ all morning. With that, a voice I did not recognise asked “Why do they call it a blue arsed fly?” I did not recognise the voice because it was mine, and it is seldom heard in the playground other than in its shouty variety when I have to holler at my feral children.

The stunned silence from the Mums emboldened me to continue. “Why not a red arsed fly, is it blue because it’s cold and needs to warm up? Or why not a brown arsed fly? It spends most of its time sitting in crap, so brown would make more sense.”

More silence. Eventually Wasp Mother replied “I rather think Google is the place for that kind of ponderment, rather than in front of impressionable five year olds.” With that she grabbed Jemima, Honey-Blossom and Pig-Tails, and flounced off. I had always thought that Wasp was an acronym for White Anglo Saxon Person, but in her case it’s because, like a wasp, she’s always buzzing around sticking her nose in and is of no discernable use to anyone.

It did make me wonder about my own ignorance though. I mean, I have only just got my head around the concept that when it is winter here, it is summer in the southern hemispheres, and vice-versa. The idea of Christmas on the beach is as foreign to me as the idea of drinkable beer is to an Australian. The thing that really clogs my brain up though, is what about the countries on the northern/southern hemisphere border. If we are in winter and Australia is in summer, does that mean the inbetweenies are in a permanent spring/autumn weather zone? Is there a band of countries around the globe where it is permanently raining, and if so, why do we still have a hosepipe ban?

I would like to think that the reason these thoughts blast around my noggin is because I spend the day without adult conversation. Or possibly because of the repetitive chores my day is full of, all requiring no thought, therefore leaving the brain to occupy itself with any old nonsense. I can literally spend hours, with what can only be described as a bemused confused look, looking at the PC wondering why if you Google Google you get 2120 million results. You cannot seriously tell me that 2,119,999,999 other people were just as bored as me can you?

I rage at the TV sometimes as well. I was watching a Mickey Mouse film the other day (with my son of course) when Minnie Mouse, playing the part of princess, announces that she has fallen in love with Mickey, and it is so perfect because “We even have the same surname.” I mean come on, seriously, what are the odds? Two mice both having the same surname of Mouse, who’d of thought? My youngest tends to back away from me when I get like this, and as well he might, he never has the answers anyway.

I don’t understand how my 16 year old daughter (I know, I don’t look old enough, thanks) can get up at noon, have breakfast at 1, lunch at 4, and still moan when there’s no dessert after her dinner at 6. Since when did Facebook burn off calories? Does rearranging her iTunes library really equate to a five mile bike ride? Is sarcasm this generations exercise? I need the science explained to me.

I consider myself a fairly educated and worldly wise type of fellow, but can somebody please tell me why, come the end of the day, my voice is so high pitched and shrill that only dogs respond to it? A fact I know to be true because the kids apparently can’t hear my umpteenth request to justbloodybehaveandstopthrowingyourfoodattheTVthebookcaseandeachother.

It’s not that I’m an illiterate dummy, I do know some answers, but they are mainly of the ‘because I said so’, ‘because you’re Mum said so’, and ‘because cats don’t like microwaves’ variety. I just don’t know where I am anymore. I’m ignorant of all the things I’m ignorant about, I don’t know what I used to know, and I question the unanswerable. So my final question is, if I’m this ignorant, where’s all my bliss?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

How to teach a new dog old tricks.

Last week I was clearing out the cupboard under the stairs (I’m not that house-proud, I just wanted to hide from the kids for a while) and I kind of lost track of time. Next thing I know, it’s 7.30 and the wife is ringing the doorbell, home from work at last. I opened the door and her face confirmed that she had had a bad day, and one look at me, covered in dirt, dust and cobwebs, had made it worse. The kids were screaming in the front room and instead of the welcoming sight and smell of dinner on the table, there was a pile of wet washing. Some may call it a bad day, I call it Wednesday.

It got me thinking that I really should try harder, not necessarily at being a better housekeeper, but maybe at least hiding most of the daily crap from her. I can remember watching my Mum putting on her lippy and perfume before dad came home every night from work, and decided to take a leaf from her book. Unfortunately my Mum has never written a book, so I had to refer to that infamous 1950s high-school, home-economics textbook, the one that drives Feminists into a moustache pulling frenzy, ‘How to Have a Happy Husband’. My idea was to take their advice and somehow try to adapt it to my way of life, hopefully cheering up the missus in the process.

THE TIP: Have dinner ready, Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal - on time. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home, and the prospect of a good meal is part of this warm welcome needed.

THE PLAN: I needed a meal I could throw at the kids for their dinner, and then fancy up for ours. Bolognaise was the answer. Normal spaghetti for the kids, some of that fancy Fusilli Lunghi Bucati for us.

THE OUTCOME: Turns out the fancy stuff isn’t that easy to eat. By the time I had finished slopping and slurping, it looked like Quentin Tarantino had directed the dinner. Well my side of the table did anyway.

THE TIP: Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so that you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

THE PLAN: I liked the sound of this. 15 minutes of playing Xbox, then a quick version of the three S’s (ask your husbands), and Bob’s your Uncle.

THE OUTCOME: I fired up the Xbox, and 15 minutes soon turned into 45, just me and my marines shooting the crap out of the Ruskies on Modern Warfare 2. I rushed upstairs, threw some water and then some product on my hair. I then discovered that shaving whilst sitting on the toilet is not as easy as it sounds, and I therefore opened the door with eight bloody bits of tissue stuck all over my chin.

THE TIP: Be a little gay and a little more interesting. His boring day may need a lift.

THE PLAN: I must admit, this one stumped me at first, but in for a penny in for a pound. I dug out an old flowery shirt, put on some eyeliner, put a Broadway show tunes CD on, and attached a nipple clamp for the interesting part. That should cover it.

THE OUTCOME: The shirt went well, I poked myself in the eye with a mascara brush and still have conjunctivitis a week later, and the less said about the nipple tearing and subsequent visit to Accident and Emergency the better.

THE TIP: Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives gathering up school books, toys, paper, etc. Then run a dust cloth over the tables. Light a candle. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift, too.

THE PLAN: This sounds like the way I clean up anyway, except that it’s my main clean of the day, normally done half an hour before she comes home. I know she has some scented candles near the bath, although I’ve no idea why they are kept there? I’m also sure I’ve seen a dust cloth somewhere, they’re yellow, right?

THE OUTCOME: The clutter was picked up and thrown into the cupboard under the stairs. I ran the duster over the TV, as that’s the only place that really shows it anyway. The candles were a problem as the ones in the bathroom had worn down to nothing. Luckily I remembered we had some of those emergency power cut ones. Unluckily they were kept in the cupboard under the stairs, so I had to clutter and then de-clutter again, only for the candles to then give off a thick black oily smoke.

THE TIP: Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children's hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair, and if necessary change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part.

THE PLAN: If I let the kids play dress up all day, then their clothes underneath would stay clean. I would then lull them into a false sense of security by offering them sweets. I could then scrub their faces with wet wipes, and maybe a brillo pad.

THE OUTCOME: The kids refused to change out of their costumes, and wouldn’t stand still no matter how many sweets I gave them. My wife was therefore greeted by a crying red faced Scooby Doo, and a hyperactive Frog from A Princess and a Frog.

THE TIP: Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer, dishwasher or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet. Better yet, have them in bed.

THE PLAN: Eliminating all the machine noises wouldn’t be an issue, but gagging the kids would probably just upset her. Decided to skip this one as someone once told me it was bad to give the kids valium.

THE TIP: Be happy to see him. Greet him with a warm smile and be glad to see him.

THE PLAN: Easy, note to self, brush teeth first.

THE OUTCOME: A look of exasperation and an “I thought you promised you would stop drinking during the day” comment. I need to practise smiling.

THE TIP: Some don'ts: Don't greet him with problems or complaints. Don't complain if he's late for dinner. Just count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day.

THE PLAN: Don’t complain, are you sure? So one of the kids riding their rocking horse down the stairs, interrupting what was about to be a 5 man kill streak on Halo3 is minor? Give me a break, consider this tip scrapped.

THE TIP: Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or suggest he lie down in the bedroom.

THE PLAN: I would make sure at least one of the chairs was free of small toys, and ensured that the bed was made with extra superfluous cushions and obligatory teddy bear.

THE OUTCOME: The offer of a comfortable chair was welcomed. The offer of a lie down however, was greeted with an arched eyebrow and a ‘you must be kidding look’. The more I tried to explain that my intentions were honourable, the more the eyebrows arched.

THE TIP: Have a cool or warm drink ready for him. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes.

THE PLAN: I bought a bottle of Cava, had a spare pillow ready, and made sure that my nose would be hay fever-blocked ready for the shoe thing.

THE OUTCOME: More arched eyebrows combined with a “Getting me pissed isn’t going to help you. I’ve had a long day. When will you take no for an answer?”

THE TIP: Speak in a low, soft soothing and pleasant voice. Allow him to relax and unwind.

THE PLAN: I wasn’t sure that soft and soothing would be the sound females wanted. I figured gruff and craggy à la Sam Elliot was the way to go. I don’t smoke anymore, so smoking 60 to get the effect was not an option. Singing footy anthems as loud as I could all day, was though

THE OUTCOME: Mr Elliot would have been proud of my gruffness. Madame, however, asked me if I had been in the garden singing those awful terrace chants whilst booting footballs at the kids (I do have previous in this regard).

THE TIP: Listen to him. You may have a dozen things to tell him - the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first.

THE PLAN: My wife is half Irish Catholic, I can never get a word in edgeways anyway. This one takes care of itself.

THE TIP: Make the evening his. Never complain if he does not take you out to dinner or to other places of entertainment. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure, his need to be home and relax.

THE PLAN: Great, so that means a night of Sex and the City re-runs. I bought a half bottle of Jack Daniels to hide down the side of the sofa, that’ll help.

THE OUTCOME: I can vaguely recollect saying “The ginger doesn’t deserve the barman, he’s too good for her”, before falling into a boredom/alcohol induced stupor.

THE TIP: Try to make your home a place of peace and order where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.

THE PLAN: Seriously? Did these people not have kids? I could provide the spirit, Rum and Black ought to do it. If she drinks enough of it at least I will get some peace and quiet.

THE OUTCOME: A miserable next morning being blamed for getting her drunk on a work night.

THE GOAL: A happy marriage for him.

THE OUTCOME: No divorce lawyers yet, and as it's summer the shed isn’t that cold to sleep in.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Just a matter of routine

One of the most difficult first tasks facing a new Stay-At-Home-Dad, is just how to split his day up in some kind of constructive manner. When I first became a SAHD after selling my pub 2 years ago, my biggest worry was what the hell I was going to do with my time. Sure I had a 3 year old girl and a one year old boy to deal with, not forgetting the surly/manic/hormonal/loud teenager, but in those first few weeks I just didn’t know what to do with myself.

Obviously the house wasn’t very clean, it was surface clean, something I think all blokes are good at, but it wasn’t really clean. My other half had started making some vague comments about my lack of cleaning skills, and a list of chores soon magically appeared on my desk.

The sheer number of things that needed doing on a regular basis was a very daunting one, the flip side to that was I now had what I considered to be a real purpose. No longer would I consider myself a glorified baby-sitter, I had promoted myself to CEO of the house. I felt quite excited by the prospect, well as excited as you could be about a list of chores, although some of the jobs on it made no sense at all.

Clean inside of oven once a week. What? Clean inside the oven? Surely the super high temperature would kill all the germs, it certainly killed the Sunday Roast on a regular basis.

Air and make beds on a daily basis. This one had me a bit perplexed, I had no idea how or why you would air a bed, so I made an educated guess and left the duvet on the floor all morning, then put it back on the bed in the afternoon. That was easy enough. I failed my first bed inspection, for although I had plumped up the pillows, I had failed to put the two cushions back on top of the pillows, and wedge the big white Teddy Bear between the two sets. These are the same cushions and soft toy that have to be thrown off the bed every night before we can sleep.

The list went on and on and on. To keep on top of this I had to learn some skills that don’t come too naturally to men, well men about the house anyway. The first of which was organisation. I was going to have to organise my life into some sort of routine, that would help me out, and provide the kids some much lacking structure to their lives.

I had recently watched “About a Boy” and if you could ignore Hugh Grant’s haircut, it wasn’t a bad film, with a great soundtrack by Badly Drawn Boy. Anyway I digress, old floppy played a character that organised his life into 30 minute slots, just to while the day away. I figured I could use the system to create some kind of order in the chaos that was our lives.

Getting kids washed, fed and dressed one slot. Taking wife to station and getting paper, one slot. Afternoon nap for the boy, playing on X-box for me, four (of my favourite) slots. I found that by allocating myself three cleaning slots, spread out over the whole day, I would tend to get more done with not quite as long a face. The kids got used to the idea, and soon learnt what would be happening and when, a favourite of theirs was always the ‘watch Dad run around sweeping forgotten toys up’ slot.

The second thing I had to learn was multi-tasking. I had always presumed this meant watching TV whilst reading the paper and scratching your nether regions. The first time I tried to take a phone call whilst changing a nappy was an expensive lesson in how not to multi-task. I could never bring myself to speak into that handset again. The art of juggling children, chores and cooking, the three c’s of the SAHD’s world, is a lesson hard learnt but worth persevering with.

Within months, no more than a season anyway, I was cleaning up as I went along when cooking, the kids were peeling the spuds and naming the ingredients, and I was dishing up food fit for consumption by beings without tails.

I will admit to taking some short-cuts along the way, there were days when the TV became a third parent. At times I would put my wide awake son in his cot with some toys, just so I could vacuum upstairs. I once even told my Mother in Law that I had a hospital appointment, just so I could meet a mate for a quick pint. Sometimes the ends justify the means, in my opinion a happy Dad can only be a good thing for the kids.

So we have all settled into our own cosy little routines. The kids know that if I throw a box of raisins at them it means I have an important phone call to make. They know that if they let me put them in the car without any fuss to pick their Mum up, they will get a yogurt in return when they get home. They know a shiny apple is a reward for putting their toys away. Some may call it bribery, I call it a healthy balanced diet, oh, and multi-tasking.

* This article was originally published on the site for Dad's that know, want to know, or forgot what they know.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Photo Meme of Mystery

Many thanks, albeit through gritted teeth, to Humdrum Mum for tagging me for this meme. When I first read her blog bio I thought she had said that she worked for sanitary purposes, and I spent 20 very confused minutes trying to figure out why. How did working keep her clean? Was she a teacher of the sacred art of water aerobics? Was she a faulty umbrella tester? Did she, in fact, work in the bubble bath bubble measuring department of a leading bubble bath manufacturer? I had so many questions until I re-read her bio, and reminded myself never to skim again.

Anyway here are my instructions:

1. Open the first (oldest) photo folder in your computer library
2. Scroll to the 10th photo
3. Post the photo and the story behind it
4. Tag 5 or more people to continue the thread.

Well, what to say about this photo? It's of my sister Lucy (and let me tell you, she knows a secret or two?) and my eldest daughter Storm, taken in the pub I used to own before I became a househusband and started housebitching. It was the 20th June 2006, and as you may be able to tell, it was taken during a football match. It was England's game against Sweden in the World Cup Finals, a game we drew 2-2 that let both teams progress to the knock out phases. I can't tell you much more about the photo because I wasn't there. I was in Brno, Czech Republic, in another pub, watching the same game with 15 fellow stags, all there to celebrate my mate JG's upcoming nuptials.

I guess you would rather hear about that now wouldn't you? Women tend to be quite inquisitive as to what us men-folk get up to on these trips. That's probably because men tend to stick to the 'What happens on tour, stays on tour' code, and after hearing about some hen nights I wish more women would follow that code. All of which mean I can't give you any of the juicy bits, well none that involve anyone else but me.

Although to be fair, as there was 16 of us on the trip you was almost always with someone else. I did one morning decide to go for a bus ride on my own, but that's about the only thing I can think of off. I don't really know why I went on the aimless journey, it's not something I like to do at home, I guess I just wanted to feel like one of the locals. Unfortunately I had to fare dodge as I had thrown all my coins at a mate the previous night. He had decided to start pole dancing in a club we had accidently wandered into, ahem, and he certainly didn't dance well enough to deserve any notes.

The only other story fit for outside consumption would be the morning when me and my roomy No Rent Boy (we all had tour nick-names, mine was Boy Band Wannabe) decided to wake the groom up early. I burst into his room only to find a very naked, and very startled Czech Businessman (he was wearing a bowler hat) who was now wondering why there was two shouting Englishmen in his room. It's hard to sincerely apologise to someone in that situation. Laughing your arse off whilst walking backwards doesn't help, neither does waving his 'do not disturb' tag at him.

I can't tell you who spent so much time sleeping outside the door to his room, we ended up calling him 'draft excluder'. I can't tell you how we run up a bill of 12,000 Czech Crowns in a pub when a pint cost 35 Crowns. And I also can't give you the name of the only stag to insist on booking into a fancy hotel away from ours. I can tell you that we managed to convince him that ours had a pool on the roof. I can also tell you that he wandered into our hotel bar in trunks and a towel, demanding that one of us show him where it was, much to the merriment of ourselves and the staff.

So there you go, a couple of stories within the story that was explaining why I wasn't in the photo that I was meant to be telling a story about. I am also glad I had to pick the 10th photo and not the 11th. This is the 11th and it would need more explaining than it needed editing.

So now to nominate some wonderful wordsmiths I admire, and I know have got way too much time on their hands.

1. Brits in Bosnia.
2. I'll think of a title later.
3. Bringing up Charlie.
4. No wine on Wednesdays.
5. Notes from Lapland.

Good luck folks, I'm sure you will entertain the crap out of me.