Monday, February 08, 2010

Guilt? Wracked with it.

First posting on this blog in aeons... only to admit that little person number two - Nathaniel - has arrived and I've done diddly squat blogging about it! Am rubbish... but we're too busy with two yums yums to blithely hang around posting. Argh. Anyway here are some pictures. He's bloody fab.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

You're wearing what???

Last night I went to see the new Bond film, Casino Royale, with my chums Alex, Kenny and Gerry. Marvellous stuff and Daniel Craig may well unseat Piers as my second-favourite Bond (could he one day challenge the ├╝ber-bond and former milkman Connery? I'm on the edge of my seat with anticipation.). I digress. Well the AMC cinema, which had never seen such queues, by the way, disgorged us into the late evening streets of city centre Manchester.

This was Saturday night and it's been a while since I ventured forth from the People's Republic of Chorlton on a Saturday. There were pissed up boys dressed like Pete Docherty swaying over girls in doorways, there was complete meltdown at most of the taxi ranks, but the sight that requires some musing over, was the state of undress of a host of barely-legal young girls.

Now I'll come clean here. I've been to raves, got bladdered on everything from Crucial Brew to the year's new Beaujolais, I've read William Burroughs, watched Tarrentino, joined the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign and flirted with communism: I am NOT you're average Daily Mail reader; but here's the thing, parenthood has changed me at a very, very fundamental level.

Faced with a lengthy row of girls in see-through frocks, thongs, and bits of masking tape queueing in the freezing cold to get into 'Mutz Nutz', my first thought was a long, long away from a lascivious leer and some impure urge; I didn't even think "Poor love, where's her coat?"; actually, me first thought started with the words: "If that were Maddie..."

It's a sobering moment. You're in town on Saturday at 11.10. You're looking for a cab and you're feeling like a Dad. Like I said, something's changed... for the better, methinks.

Giant steps for babykind

Forgive me Blogfather, for I have sinned: it's been almost a month since my last blog entry. I can faithfully put the silence down to crazy work, the return of DIY (and B&Q) to the Limley Grove HQ and to the fact that sleep is in short supply in our house.

On that last point I'm pleased to report that even when tired beyond belief Anne and I are doing some sterling negotiations about who gets up when, and why. Even though the clock is saying 5:09 and we can only manage sentences that would make a Tellytubby feel ashamed, we can still gurgle 'My Turn' and at some deep, half-slumbering level rationalise that early morning's require a strategy. Maybe I'm off to London, maybe Anne's teaching, perhaps one of us is having a great dream about lying in until 11.00... who knows?

Anyway, back to the Madster. Great news from baby central, we're doing some bloody marvellous wobbly stands with the help of stable ledges and rails (which sounds like the nights out I remember through the fog of my early 30s...). There's also some interesting finger-pointing going on and we also think that their may be a wave developing... eat your heart out Lord Winston, this is people-watching as it ought to be.

It's tricky even for a wordy bugger like me to try and explain how it feels to watch Maddie developing. Take the mirror for example. It used to reveal a cute wee baby just like her that could be chuckled and gurgled at in equal measure. Then one day Maddie held up her hand and twirled it before the onlooking baby. She looked at the hand. Looked at the baby. Looked at me.

Pennies dropping. Amazing.

Pagan Rituals

My question is a simple one: is it acceptable to dress your child as a large vegetable (or gourd) in the name of Halloween? I'll be honest, I'm pretty torn over this one, but the Maddie Madster did indeed step forth done out like a giant pumpkin to celebrate All Hallow Even; Maddie, when you're older, we'll probably relish revealing this shot and I hope you forgive us.

On that note though, at least we didn't call you Arsenal, as 36 sets of parents in the UK have, apparently, or Gandalf, Britney or Dido (shudder...).

It could be far, far worse. Which gets me thinking to next year's Hallowe'en. Crikey, the mind boggles.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Absentee Blogger

Okay, okay. Just one glance at the date of this blog and that of the last can tell you that I've been an errant knave and have failed to keep the New Dad Blog up to date. Apologies. Apologies.

So what have you missed? Well - Maddie's been on her first trip to the States. This was August and at the time anyone with more than a day's worth of stubble was setting off major security alerts at all UK airports so we were prepared for a bit of a hellish journey. It started bad. Big queues, the tasting of all baby food... but in the end Maddie took to flying like a natural. She giggled and charmed the cabin staff and fellow flyers. She fell asleep on an empty chair. Even on the way back, an overnight flight, she slept most of the way (even if we didn't); what a star.

In the States we caught the tail end of Tropical Storm Ernesto so we were under rain-enforced house arrest for most of the time (and I was finishing off a diverting rural policy document I hadn't finished... wake up at the back there!!!). We did get out and have a few forest park moments AND a day out at MoMA - I'm pleased to report that Maddie likes Duchamp and the Bauhaus as much as she likes mushed-up butternut squash and the chance to suck on a TV remote. That's my girl.

Quality time was spent with the grandparents and with Uncle Peter, who could just about carry Maddie around in the palm of one hand. As you might expect, one or two new baby outfits were bought...

Better go - back in a moment with an update on Maddie standing up!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Raspberry Central

As a hestitant dawn breaks through our curtains, the sound of large, soggy raspberries echoes down across the landing from Maddie's room. She's awake, she's bored and she's blowing raspberries like there's no tomorrow. Bloody hilarious.

I promise, promise, promise I did not teach her how to do this, leading me to the only possible conclusion - we are genetically hard-wired to perform slapstick comedy. It's in our DNA. It's inherited intelligence. It's nature, and nurture can shove off.

Oops. Another raspberry is getting blown to my right so I'd better get back to making stuffed animals squeek.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Slurp. Bibble. Burp.

YES! We have eaten baby rice. We have rolled over. We have been sleeping!

I feel like we've vaulted up seven steps of the evolutionary ladder and landed on some blissed out promontary. The spectacle of a well-fed and snoozing baby is almost elysian . Ahhhhhh... Would write more but there's burping and slurping to be done!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Miss Maddie in London

(from Friday 14 July)

Deeply exciting. Although it’s been a surreal week (back from Cornwall, hundreds of emails missed, funeral of a friend of my parents, too much work, arrival of Anne’s Mum, Ellen, day-long team-builder on the Manchester Ship Canal) it’s ended with our little bundle of raspberry-blowing loveliness marking a high point - she had her birth registered at the US Embassy and got to visit No. 10 Downing St where a very, very lovely friend of ours works. As a result our surreal end to a surreal week featured two lots of metal detectors, scanners and security teams, not to mention a lot of queueing at the US Embassy (where I had to do a mini-oath at one point - no mention of Bush though so that’s okay). So now Maddie is officially a trans-atlantic sophisticate of the first order. What a beauty.

Jack Bauer meets Gina Ford

(From Thursday 6 July)

The first series of terrorism nail-biter 24 starts with Jack Bauer (Keifer ‘growling’ Sutherland) gravelling to the audience: “My name’s Jack Bauer, and this is the longest day of my life.”

Melodramatic nancy! He clearly didn’t have MY Thursday in Cornwall!
Dirty bombs? Hah! Electrodes bringing you back to life after torture? Puhhh! Middle eastern terror cell kills your granny and forces you to walk down Hollywood Boulevard in a rubber dress with feather boa? Nothing. Nothing at all.

Try a baby, a hangover, a wasp sting, a litigative farmer and exploding white goods.
My Thursday started with the fugged head that only a crazed combo of Stella Artois, a bottle of pinot grigio and a good few shots of Amaretto can bring to pass. Coming too in the moorland cottage that had us living in a cloud for a week, I know I’d had one too many. I took my hangover and with Anne, Maddie and our friends Melie and Jackie we headed out to St Michael’s Mount.

My first trial came in a tiny village with ‘roads’ so small they seemed to close in on you like the rubbish compacter in Star Wars. Imagine my joy when a fire engine rounded the corner. I pulled the car up onto the pavement. The appliance squeezed by with the width of a cigarette paper to spare. Nice. We parked up, relatively unscathed and then we strapped Maddie into a harness and attempted the ascent of the mount. In essence, she wasn’t happy. She screamed. She squirmed. We go to the top and Anne and Jackie did a quick scoot around the monastery while Melia and I tried - and failed - to calm the little one down. In my panic I put my hand onto a live wasp. Add a sting to the hangover, the headache and the panic attack from playing twister with an emergency vehicle.

Then I phoned the farmer who had left a note on my car that morning, to my joy the crad stalwart of the community accused us of trespassing because we didn’t go through a field marked ‘Beware of the Bull’ (his bull) and instead parked up and walked down to the cottage we were staying at. It was all too much. I needed a cuppa and a piece of toast.

Back in the sanctuary of the cottage I switched on the cooker and waited for heat. Instead, in a half-calm, half-panicked monotone, Anne proclaimed ‘It’s on fire’ as the cooker gave up any pretense of utility and promptly exploded. Great. Just great.

The Devil’s Agency

(From Saturday 1 July)
Work for any length of time with government agencies, regeneration groups or developers dangling at the end of a planner’s string and you’ll soon discover that one government agency above all others instills a strange and fascinating mix of fear, bemusement and derision. If you want to make eyes roll; if you want to hear a sharp exhalation; let those three words trip out: The Highways Agency.

Now I have my own reason to hate this shadowy group of tarmac-loving cone-deployers.
We’ve just returned from a week in Cornwall. Our moorland hideaway boasted scenic views, not to mention a crazy bull; but it also had no internet access, hence the extended silence on this blog. We struggled out of bed on Saturday and made an Herculean effort to get on the road by seven: Manchester to Cornwall is no mean feat.

We sailed past the RAC control helmet in Birmingham and within a couple of ours hit the crane-spattered estuary that is Bristol. We felt like Thelma, Louise and Louise Junior. We had the air beneath our wings. We were making fantastic time.
Then we hit the A30. I’ll make this short. No warning and we hit two sets of major road works. Three or four hour queues. Engines overheating. Babies screaming. In our car, no air conditioning and a very, very sweaty baby. Up front, Mum and Dad could do nothing but watch the bumpers in front and discuss the relative merits of pulling onto the hard shoulder and giving up. Like refugees fleeing a disaster zone, we crawled past other parents changing nappies on the verge, or calming down distressed toddlers.

Have a baby and all of a sudden a traffic jam like this is more than just an annoyance that may cause you to miss the first round at a local hostelry or have to wake up a landlady to reclaim a key; have a baby and a three or four hour tailback is frankly nothing less than an attempt on your child’s life.

The car is hot, she is hot, you are angry - with the Highways Agency.
As your baby grizzles in the baking heat, every traffic cone is mocking you; every yellow sign promising delays ‘until Autumn 3047’ is a two-fingered salute; every lane closure is a proximity fart to send you postal. Wrong wrong wrong.

The Highways Agency routinely puts children at risk. It also has no sense of irony or self awareness in its signing policy. It has a bad logo. Going a little further, I also suspect that it may have been taken over at some point by the disciples of Satan. Other Agencies get a rocket; others come under scrutiny; others get roasted by select committees - why not this one? It’s time for justice, that’s all I can say.

And don’t even start me on the caravan owners.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Blokes with Babies

We're all very, very big softies when it comes to Miss Maddie... here's my Dad, Uncle Doug and me cuddling the little 'un.

Number One Fathers Day

Without getting all Iron John over here*, the phrase 'rights of passage' springs to mind. It's my first fathers day. It's a big thing.

For coming up on four months Maddie did well with the wrapping, and painting the footprint mug must have been really tough as the brushes are so big and Maddie's lttle fingers are engorged, chubby and cute from VAST quantities of milk. Also got a Che Guevara notebook and a gorgeous shirt. She knows me so well, to paraphrase Tim Rice's 'Chess'. I'm very proud.

One person who wouldn't be proud would be head of the baby-stasi Gina Ford; we've just been on radically routine-busting jaunt to Cumbria that featured late nights, feeding on demand and a complete jettisoning of the cot. Very bad. Must get back on track.

Cumbria was a giggle. I had two days with some marvellous forestry folk but got to spend all day yesterday with Miss Maddie and her beautiful mum. Given that sleep is a stranger, we were able to pack, eat and get out of the B&B by nine. We shot on up to the Solway Firth, and then it all went a bit David Lynch on us. There were pomeranians on shopmobility trolleys, a youth having a row with himself, and a woman wearing an empty salad bag on her head.

Other than witnessing the effects of housing two-thirds of the world's civil plutonium on the West Cumbrian coast, caught the Roman museum in Maryport, the annual Carnival in Cockermouth AND the gorgeousness that is Lambrigg Wind Farm. Yum.

*Iron John? A now chronically-unfashionable 'Men's Movement' tract from way back written by poet and real man Robert Bly who would, by the way, totally kick Alain de Botton's arse.