Johannesblog

I may have mentioned this once or twice recently (or, if you know me in ‘real life’, every fucking day), but I shall be turning forty in just over two weeks’ time.

Now, the prospect of entering a fifth decade of existence does not exactly fill me with joy, and if I were a more reserved person (like my wife), I would undoubtedly mark the occasion by celebrating quietly with a small group of friends. But I am not like my wife, and I want a big fuck-off party, so a big fuck-off party I shall have.

(I will pause here to apologise to my mother and mother-in-law, for this being the sweariest opening to my blog ever).

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Anyway, I won’t mention the venue for my party, because some of you are just about unhinged enough to try and gatecrash, but suffice to say it’s close enough to where I live that I can walk home – unlike the vast majority of those attending (still, it’s my big day, not theirs, so tough).

Most of the arrangements are thankfully now in hand, such as the catering, band and disco, but a couple of weeks ago, I arranged to nip back to the venue to meet with the bar manager, in order that we could discuss the drinks available on the night.

I understand this may seem overly fastidious, but my reasons were as follows:

  1. On my first visit to the venue (when I made the booking), I had noticed that a couple of the beers were, for want of a better phrase, utter piss;
  2. I wanted to ensure the bar will have plenty of Jagermeister in stock, so that as many of my friends and family as possible can join me in a celebratory ‘Jagerbomb’ or six;
  3. I felt sure the bar would already have Prosecco in stock, but I wanted to make it clear to the manager precisely how many bottles of the stuff my wife and her friends can potentially get through of an evening.

So, having arranged to call in a couple of weeks ago, I prepared myself for a ‘firm’ discussion with the bar manager, about precisely what I wanted for my party.

Now, I should point out at this stage that, despite my job (I’m a solicitor, in case you are new to my blog) I detest confrontation, particularly when it is face-to-face, and I usually back down in the majority of disputes (I suspect this ability to surrender very easily is something I have picked up over fifteen years of marriage, rather than any French heritage I may ultimately discover in my distant lineage).

This is not to say I expected the bar manager to be confrontational in the slightest, but I was determined to leave the venue with what I wanted in place, and, as I opened the door, I had convinced myself that I would not be taking no for an answer.

This boldness lasted around three minutes.

The reason, I am ashamed to admit, is that I was instantly intimidated by the bar manager when I met him. Not because he was taller than me (I’m 6’3”), or because he was wider than me (which he was, but only marginally, and he was by no means threatening in a physical sense), nor was he aggressive in any way whatsoever – in fact, he was perfectly pleasant throughout our meeting.

No, the reason I was instantly on edge when I met him, was because he had a strong South African accent, and for whatever reason, rightly or wrongly, this is not an accent I associate with ‘friendly discussion’ (in much the same way I struggle to associate certain regional accents with any signs of intelligence*)

*and, if you think I’m telling you which regional accent that is, thereby alienating a chunk of my readership in Birmingham, you can guess again (that was a joke, obviously, as I happen to love Birmingham and it’s people very much. My maternal grandmother originated from there, so I felt it was the one part of the UK I could pretend to take the piss out of, without repercussion or fear of anyone taking me seriously. Unlike those fucking Londoners, who can never take a joke).

Moving swiftly on.

As soon as I met the bar manager, he greeted me warmly and offered me a beer on the house, which was extremely kind of him, but I still felt nervous declining in case he took it personally and snapped my neck (see how irrational I was being?). Thankfully, any fears of neck-snapping were quickly allayed, as it transpired the beers on offer behind the bar had changed since I was last in, with both the ale and lager being far more to my liking.

He then said he had received my e-mail about the Jagermeister, and had agreed to get two bottles in for the party, so long as we did our best to drink it all on the night, as they would struggle to sell it to their usual clientele afterwards. I reassured him this was not a problem, although I suspect I visibly squirmed when he joked about some people actually mixing it with Red Bull and making something called a ‘Jagerbomb’. Hopefully he will have forgotten me describing such drinkers as ‘idiots’, when it comes to me ordering a tray of Jagerbombs in just a couple of weeks.

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Having also re-assured me that he had more than enough wine and Prosecco for the party, he then turned to the bottles of spirits nestled gently in the optics behind the bar, and this is where everything took a distinctly frightening turn. You see, having worked his way through the gin and whiskey/whisky brands on offer, whereupon I hesitantly revealed I don’t drink either, I then made the mistake of admitting my tipple of choice (other than beer and red wine), is actually rum.

At this point, he became visibly excited, and said in his South African accent (which, when I have told this story in person recently, I have impersonated, and I have to say I fucking nailed it every time) “well, my friend, you must try some of this!”

Then, collecting a series of shot glasses from under the bar, he proceeded to pour me a measure of every single rum on offer (there were five), and insisted I down them all one after the other.

It was only after I had consumed four of these shots, and politely declined the fifth (because it was made with coffee, and I hate coffee), he informed me that one of the varieties was made with hemp (which, if you didn’t already know – and you shouldn’t, because drugs are bad, hmmmkay? – is essentially a strain of the cannabis plant).

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Now, it might have been the five shots I had just downed in a matter of minutes (because he offered me a fifth measure of Captain Morgan’s while explaining about the hemp rum), but I swear I noticed an even stronger twinkle in his eye at this point, and I began to fear that I was about to collapse, only to wake up a few hours later in a bathtub of ice, with one of my vital organs missing.

My unease was not helped by the fact he then asked me – again in his accent, which again I nail every time I impersonate it – “tell me, my friend, have you ever had a Springbok?”

I’ll admit this question took me by surprise a little, but having pondered my answer for far longer than was comfortable for either of us (I later blamed the hallucinogenic rum coursing through my blood stream when recounting the tale to my wife), I opted for the rather tame “no?”, offered in such a way as to hopefully infer I was nervous about trying a Springbok now (as that was surely where this scenario was headed). In fairness, for all I knew, ‘Springbok’ was what he called his penis.

Sure enough, he then insisted I have my first ever ‘Springbok’, and I only wish I had paid attention to what went into it, so I can be sure to never mix the same concoction ever again by mistake. What I can be confident of, is that it contained a cream liqueur – which I suspect was Bailey’s – and something green, which, if I did not know better, was probably Crème de menthe.

Hold on, I could probably Google this and find out for sure….

Yep, close enough. Apparently, the traditional recipe contains Amarula (which appears to be a South African Bailey’s alternative), with, as suspected, Crème de menthe. And the evil little fuckers look like this:

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Anyway, to cut a long story (with an astonishingly-accurate impersonation) short, the bar for my party should now be more than satisfactory, the bar manager is a lovely bloke (and I am not just saying that because I firmly believe he has killed before, and could easily kill again), and I returned home within half an hour to find that I could no longer feel anything below the waist, and the vision in my left eye was distinctly blurry.

Bodes well for my party, doesn’t it?

Thanks for reading x

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Blog Marley and the Wailers

I have said it before – and I am about to say it again – I love crappy TV.

I think this is, in part, due to the fact my job tends to be quite serious and stressful at times, and raising two children isn’t always a barrel of laughs, either (particularly when one of those children happens to be Isaac), but I also think my love of terrible TV is helped by the joy I get from laughing at stupid people.

Now, in the interests of keeping the peace, I should stress that I don’t like to make fun of the clinically dense in real life (unless they really bring it on themselves), because it would not be fair to mock anyone whose elevator perhaps doesn’t go all the way to the top floor, but as soon as said thicko chooses to appear on television, particularly where their inadequacies in the brain department are likely to be exposed, it’s open season as far as I am concerned. Joey Essex, I’m looking at you (not that he would be able to read this, even in the unlikely event he stumbled across my blog).

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As a result, there are certain television programmes I particularly enjoy winding down with after a busy day/week (although I should stress, having just mentioned Joey Essex, I have never seen a single episode of TOWIE), sometimes with a glass of wine or two, in order that I can sit and feel smug about having all of my batteries included. The fact I am knitting with both needles. That all the lights are still twinkling on my Christmas tree. Ok, you get the idea.

Consequently, I’ll freely admit that I like The X Factor (but only in the early stages, when they have the dreadful singers who genuinely think they are the next big recording artist), and, in March 2016 – [gulp] was it really that long ago? – I wrote an entire blog entry about one of the finest programmes to come from these shores in recent years, Take Me Out (https://middlerageddad.com/2016/03/11/let-the-blog-see-the-rabbit/), so you get an idea of my level when it comes to watching TV. Essentially, my standards in choosing something to watch of a weekend, are on a par with the United States standards in electing a president.

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You might think, therefore, that the latest crappy singing competition to grace our screens for 2020, The Masked Singer, would be right up my street, and in some respects you would be right (as I’ve watched three shows now, and I will have to finish the series to find out who everyone is), but I cannot deny even I am struggling to tolerate it, and there are certain aspects which are now getting on my usually-very-tolerant nerves (oh, shut up, I’m a fucking delight and you know it).

If you have mercifully dodged The Masked Singer thus far (and, if that is the case, please don’t start watching it now on my account, as I don’t want to be responsible for any of my followers slipping into a catatonic state, or, worse, doing something stupid with a machete in a shopping centre), let me explain the concept: Twelve celebrities (and, I should immediately stress here, only three singers have been revealed so far as I write this week’s entry, and the word ‘celebrity’ has never been more abused), dress up in overly-comical costumes to sing for a panel of four judges, who then have to try and work out who the singer is from their voice and the clues supplied to them.

Honestly, it’s like the bastard love-child of Stars in Their Eyes and Through the Keyhole.

To give you an idea of the costumes the viewing public are treated to, the twelve ‘contestants’ are: Butterfly, Chameleon, Daisy, Duck, Fox, Hedgehog, Monster, Octopus, Pharaoh, Queen Bee, Tree and Unicorn. And here they are:

Of course, when selecting twelve overly-elaborate outfits for someone famous to disguise their identity and sing for the viewing nation, a tree is a natural (excuse the pun) choice, isn’t it? Oh, how I would dearly love to have been at that production meeting:

“Ok, so we’ve got a butterfly, a unicorn and a hedgehog. Any other ideas?”

“Tree?”

“Excuse me?”

“A tree…. oooh, and a Pharaoh.”

“Fuck off, Dave.”

It would be fair to say ITV have pulled out all the stops with the judging panel, too (yes, this is sarcasm), as they comprise the following ‘A-listers’: Jonathan Ross, Davina McCall, Rita Ora, and ‘head judge’ Kim Jeong (who, if you aren’t familiar with the name, played Leslie Chow in the Hangover trilogy). A strange choice, perhaps, but if it helps to explain his particular involvement, he has already appeared on the US version of The Masked Singer, and it is our cousins from across the pond that we have to ‘thank’ for the format reaching our screens.

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Now, the judging panel should give you some idea of the calibre of celebrity behind the masks, but just in case you had an inkling the budget was perhaps spent on persuading movie stars to get dressed up incognito and belt out a show tune or two, there have been three ‘celebrities’ unmasked so far, and they were, in order of fame:

The Chameleon….

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Justin Hawkins from ‘The Darkness’ (yes, this IS in order of fame)

the Butterfly….

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Patsy Palmer (who, for the unitiated, played Bianca in Eastenders)

And the Pharaoh….

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Alan Johnson (Former Home Secretary). Yes, honestly.

I mean, fuck me.

What makes the first three reveals even more incredible, is that the panel genuinely offered guesses including Tom Cruise and Lady Gaga, only to be thoroughly disappointed when Alan fucking Johnson, a man who might not be recognised by his own children, was paraded around like the Dalai Lama.

Now, perhaps it is pure coincidence that the first three singers to be revealed (i.e. those deemed to have the worst voices), are simultaneously the three least famous among the characters, and we can only dream that the remaining nine participants are the real budget-stretchers, but I fear not. After all, would Tom Cruise really have a better voice than the fella from The Darkness?

Nevertheless, in the interest (and I have never used the term more loosely), of maintaining some, erm…. interest in the rest of the series, I have decided to come up with my own wild predictions of who might be behind the nine remaining masks. However, unlike the majority of those still watching this utter pish, and the British press for that matter, I am not going to take my guesses too seriously (as should become immediately apparent).

So, in alphabetical order, I have now determined (based on the pointless clues provided thus far), the remaining nine masked singers are as follows:

Daisy = Pope Francis

Argument For: His Holiness probably likes flowers

Argument Against: Daisy is clearly female

 

Duck = Bob Marley

Argument For: It justifies my use of this week’s blog title

Argument Against: He’s slightly dead

 

Fox = George Clooney

Argument For: George once played the lead in ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’

Argument Against: Would probably demand a higher appearance fee than, say, Former Home Secretary, Alan Johnson

 

Hedgehog = Pep Guardiola

Argument For: As the manager of Manchester City, he is used to being surrounded by pricks (I thank you)

Argument Against: Notoriously allergic to striped trousers

 

Monster = Vladimir Putin

Argument For: Requires little acting, as he is already a monster

Argument Against: Ol’ Vlad isn’t exactly known for embracing campness, is he? Well, not deliberately

 

Octopus = Prince Andrew

Argument For: Known to be ‘handsy’; diary is currently empty

Argument Against: Claims he cannot sweat, so would undoubtedly struggle in a heavy costume under studio lighting

 

Queen Bee = Beyonce

Argument For: Well, it’s her nickname, isn’t it? Plus, the bee can actually sing

Argument Against: Obsessed with Jonathan Ross, and not allowed within fifty feet of him

 

Tree = Tom Hanks

Argument For: Plays ‘Woody’ in the Toy Story films (woody = tree, geddit?)

Argument Against: Famous for his sense of humour, but even he has limits.

 

Unicorn = John Barrowman

Argument For: It’s clearly John Barrowman

Argument Against: None. Did you not here me? It’s clearly John Barrowman

 

Disclaimer: The Middle-Raged Dad accepts no legal liability whatsoever, should someone reading this week’s entry choose to place a bet on any or all of the above predictions. If, however, aforementioned bet pays out at ridiculous odds, said reader is obliged to provide Middle-Raged Dad a ‘prediction fee’ of 35% of the sum paid, within 14 days of being placed in receipt of funds. Cash, or the equivalent value in Jaffa Cakes, are the only acceptable methods of payment. This does not affect your statutory rights. 

Thanks for reading, folks x

 

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Blog Geldof

“It’s Christmas time, there’s no every need to be afraid.”

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope you all had a great Christmas, with much love and laughter.

Before the joyous memories of yet another festive period fade into the utterly bleak shitness that is January, and while fans of my Facebook page might have seen some of what follows already, here are my fifteen festive highlights from Christmas 2019:

1. ‘Northern Christmas Eve’

Like many couples who have young children, every year we face the challenge of dividing our time between visiting my family in Cheshire, and my wife’s family in Norfolk. What we tend to do is alternate ‘Actual Christmas’, so the boys get to spend 25th December with my family one year, then my wife’s family the next.

This year, it was the turn of the latter, which meant we celebrated ‘Northern Christmas’ on Sunday 22nd December (it’s exactly the same as Actual Christmas, only we have roast whippet for dinner instead of turkey*) and, thankfully – despite his hectic schedule – we managed to persuade Father Christmas to do a dummy-run to my mum’s house a few days before the main event.

*joke.

As a result, the boys eagerly placed their sacks in front of the fireplace before going to bed on 21st December, and awoke the next morning to bundles of presents. Well done, FC, you fucking nailed it, mate.

Just look at those little faces.

2. Vomiting Gnomes

Following Northern Christmas, we returned to Sandbach on Monday 23rd December, to spend one night at home before heading to Norwich for Actual Christmas / ‘Norfolk Christmas’ (Norfolk Christmas is exactly the same as Actual Christmas, only with funny accents and incest*).

*another joke.

Prior to our long journey on Christmas Eve (Actual Christmas Eve, not Northern Christmas Eve – stop me if this gets confusing), I decided to treat my car to new tyres (for safety, as the front two were looking particularly battle-worn, a bit like some of my pants) and a wash (because it was covered in shit both inside and out, which is not like some of my pants).

While Kanye was having his well-earned clean (I like to name my cars, and my current motor is ‘Kanye the Kuga’, because he’s big, angry-looking, and has a shiny roof), Isaac decided to put on the ‘Schmebulock’ mask he had received from Father Christmas the day before. For those of you who have never watched Gravity Falls (which, for a kids’ show, is actually very watchable), Schmebulock is a gnome who vomits rainbows. Obvs.

Unfortunately, it seems the delightful Albanian lady who was tasked with cleaning the insides of Kanye’s doors has never seen Gravity Falls (I suspect the humour doesn’t translate well), and when she opened Isaac’s door to be greeted by a goblin puking multi-coloured fabric, it would be safe to say she damn-near shit herself.

Hilariously, however, once she had composed herself, she mistakenly assumed he was dressed as Father Christmas, and very sweetly asked in broken English: ‘Do you have a present for me, Santa?’

To which Isaac rudely growled ‘I am NOT Santa! I am Schmebulock, the rainbow-vomiting gnome!’

In other news, I need to find another car wash from now on.

3. Colour-blind Violence

Continuing with my youngest son, and his penchant for being a bit of a twat (although, so help me, how little material would I have without him?), when returning from the car wash, Ollie suddenly howled in pain, after which the following conversation ensued between us:

“Ow!”

“What’s up, Ol?”

“Isaac punched me!”

“Isaac, why did you punch Ollie?”

“I saw a yellow car!”

“Where?”

“Well, it was yellow-ish.”

“What colour was it?”

“Red.”

4. Ruminant Bathing

When you arrive at the in-laws, and there’s a large, stuffed giraffe in the downstairs bathroom (wearing shades)…

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5. Glitter Warfare

… not to mention a strategically placed Christmas decoration, which is only ever likely to injure (blind) the one person in the family who is over 6’ tall:

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I didn’t take this personally.

6. While Shepherds Groped Their Flocks

At (Actual) Christmas Eve Mass, my wife wanted to get a nice photo of the boys in front of the church nativity scene. Naturally, Ollie tried to smile sweetly, while Isaac gravitated at alarming speed towards the nearest ovine rectum:

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7. Record-breaking ParkRun

On Christmas morning, I braved the cold to take part in a special festive Norwich ParkRun. And, not only did they smash the attendance record for Norwich (over 1,350 runners, compared to last year’s 800-odd), but it was officially recognised as the second-highest attendance at a UK Parkrun ever.

Needless to say, the date/occasion brought out the very weirdest in people (even aside from the fact they were voluntarily running on Christmas morning):

8. Fruit Farming

Isaac is astonishingly naive about where food and drink originates from:

“Mummy, what animal does blackcurrant come from? It is a pig?”

9. Making Your Mind Up

When your Mother-in-Law asks if anyone would like some Bucks Fizz, you make a joke about her whipping her skirt off, but she doesn’t get the Eurovision reference and thinks you’re asking her to get undressed.

10. Ollie’s Good Deed

Nothing funny here, but it was certainly a highlight.

Over Christmas, Ollie accompanied my in-laws onto the cold streets of Norwich to help feed the homeless. He enjoyed making hot drinks and doing something worthwhile, but (as hoped), it really drummed home how unfortunate some people are, how lonely they can be at Christmas, and how lucky he is to have a family and home around him.

We were immensely proud of him.

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11. A Slip Of The Tongue(s)

I suspect my in-laws may not thank me for the following two paragraphs, but they really made me laugh.

Firstly, at one point over Christmas, my mother-in-law (who I love dearly, and I’m not only saying that because she will read this), clearly intended to describe someone as either ‘mardy’, or ‘whingy’, only she got mixed up and called them a ‘minge’.

Meanwhile, I don’t know whether I missed my father-in-law informing everyone that they had been woken in the early hours by four of their six grandchildren wriggling around the bed, but the first I knew was him saying: ‘Honestly, it was like a maggot when I got up this morning.’

Well, we’ve all been there.

12. Isaac’s Further Education

I suspect Isaac ever attending University may well be a pipe dream (and I don’t say that purely on the basis he thinks blackcurrants come from pigs, although it doesn’t help his case), but on a family walk between Christmas and New Year, we happened to pass the University of East Anglia, and he asked me what the funny-shaped building was.

Having explained what a University is, and that this is where Mummy and Daddy met, I asked Isaac what subjects he thought Mummy and Daddy had studied.

“Dunno.”

“What does Daddy do for a job?”

“Lawyer?”

“Right. So, Daddy studied….?”

“Boring stuff.”

“Close enough. And what does Mummy teach?”

“Boys!”

I then asked Isaac what he might study if he went to university, and he looked confused. In an attempt to help him, I queried what his favourite subject is at school.

“Lunch!”

I wouldn’t mind, but he never eats anything.

13. Happy Families

Once my brother-in-law and his family arrived after Actual Christmas, there was a day when all six grandchildren on my wife’s side were together, and they began playing ‘Mums and Dads’ upstairs. Being the two eldest, Ollie and his first girl cousin were Dad and Mum (Isaac later informed me that Ollie was called ‘Bob’ for some reason), and the others took varying roles for the rest of the family.

Naturally, not being one to conform to usual stereotypes, Isaac decided he did not want to play a child, and instead dressed as the family dog:

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After a while, ‘Dad’ was reading a bedtime story to their daughter (Grandchild #5), and proudly exclaimed she had ‘gone to sleep’, which panicked me as I was nearby and was under the impression a mid-afternoon nap might, for want of a better phrase, ‘fuck with bedtime’, so I asked Ollie to check his cousin hadn’t actually nodded off. Isaac then took it upon himself to explain:

“No, Daddy, it’s just a game! Ollie is the Dad, then there’s Mum, the children and their pet dog!”

Then, as if I needed clarification – bearing in mind his outfit – he leaned toward me and whispered: “I’m the dog.”

14. Life’s a Beach

On New Year’s Eve, we had a family outing to the beach.

On arrival, Ollie sat himself down in the cold sand to write some emo prose about the crashing waves, while Isaac busied himself ensuring not an inch of his body remained sand-free by the end of the day.

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Eventually, the boys did play together and, along with one of their cousins, built an impressive sand fortress – complete with moat.

Of course, having spent an hour or so playing ‘normally’, Isaac then decided to create a separate ‘seaweed castle’ by himself.

And, when Ollie suggested they could use that seaweed in the moat, because ‘it will look like water’, Isaac – in typical fashion – responded with: ‘no, it’ll look like seaweed’.

15. Addressing the Elephant in the Room Photo

Finally, to end the day (and, indeed, the year), we took the children to a nearby park, where my sister-in-law noticed Isaac and his cousin playing beautifully together on the see-saw. However, when she tried to take a photo of the moment, I ruined it by getting myself stuck in a springy-elephant in the background.

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***

Well that was Christmas 2019 in the Middle-Raged Dad household.

Thanks for reading x

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‘Twas The Blog Before Christmas (2019)

‘Twas the blog before Christmas, two-thousand-nineteen

Thirty-six further entries, published and seen

For the fifth year running, here’s my audit

Of a year’s worth of blogging (and most of it’s shit)

 

JANUARY

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To kick off the year, the Christmas just past

With my family and kids the hilarious cast

A stain on the carpet, a book about cock

A visit to Stockport when I got quite a shock

A woman out shopping, living the dream

Wearing her dressing gown and drinking cream

Then in ‘Blog Habits’, I set out a year

of novelty months (the reasons weren’t clear)

And following that, for a little fun

I wrote a play all about our school run

 Both boys pushing me nearer my grave

When all I wanted was a shower and shave

To finish the month, my appraisal at work

(I re-wrote the questions because I’m a jerk)

 

FEBRUARY

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To kick start month two, we gave up the chocs

Even the boys went full-on detox

Isaac especially became rather quiet

(because chocolate comprises most of his diet)

I then wrote an entry about my hometown

And described how our ‘shared space’ was built by a clown

Pedestrians and cars must give way to all

And every day there’s a crash or a brawl

 

MARCH

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In a break from driving me around the bend

At the start of March, the boys got girlfriends

But just as my respect for each of them grew

It transpired that neither of the girls knew

Then ‘I’ll Have A P Please, Blog’, I went to a quiz

With colleagues, my boss and some friends of his

But, unfortunately, the place where we sat

Was next to a table of four stuck-up twats

Next it was ‘BrewBlog’, where beer got tasted

Out with my mate, and the two of us wasted

The ‘hyper’ Tallulah our annoying host

(but it was beer mixed with cheese which upset me the most)

Then over to Hastings, my useless insurer

Their service honestly could not have been poorer

And ending the month, it was entry two hundred

‘How the fuck’s he got this far?’ everyone wondered

But in my ‘Blogcentennial’, it seemed rather apt

To have four years of entries succinctly recapped.

 

APRIL

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Three blog posts in April was all you would get

The first one a list of celebs I have met

To anyone reading I made it quite clear

I’d like to meet someone A-List this year (I haven’t)

I explained how my anger is out of control

(if you didn’t like that one, then you’re an arsehole)

To finish the month, we thought for a lark

We’d go on an Easter Hunt ‘round Tatton Park

But it ended in shouting and tears instead

When Isaac fell from a tree onto his head

 

MAY

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I started with footy as we moved into May

My team were promoted and later that day

I treated young Ollie to the club’s gala dinner

(If there’s a Dad of the Year Award I must be a winner)

In ‘Blog of the Dump’ Isaac turned five

And a kid at his party scared me alive

The weird little rat-girl (who wasn’t a guest)

Tried to steal all his presents, the vile little pest

A trip then to York for a nice little break

Where Isaac was feral and mostly ate cake

Before I wrote ‘bout the phone system I have in my car

It sends pre-programmed texts, but I took it too far

By suggesting my own, like ‘I should go by train’

and ‘I’m stuck behind a fucking tractor again’

Lastly, I wrote about ‘Biff, Chip and Kipper’

And the books that I read back when I was a nipper.

 

JUNE

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Just three entries in June, with Sports Day to start

Typically, Isaac refused to take part

Eventually persuaded, he ran in four races

Two golds and two silvers, his collection of places

Our trip to the circus was a bit of a farce

It was no ‘Greatest Showman’ (and no Zendaya’s arse)

But Isaac had fun watching acrobats fly

Then the clown sprayed his face, which of course made him cry

 

JULY

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If you thought June was sparse, then July’s count was two

So, I tried to make both extra special for you

The first was all about Ollie’s first gig

A festival in Yorkshire (I thought I’d go big)

Stood right at the front in his massive band shirt

The crowd formed a barrier, so he didn’t get hurt

His class then cooked lunch for their parents at school

An ‘Italian Café’ which was pretty cool

The main course was pizza, which was nice but I gotta

Say that I preferred his dessert panna cotta

 

AUGUST

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I then tried out something I’d not done before

My first ever threesome I thought I’d explore

Don’t jump to conclusions though, I need you to note

The only ‘entries’ were the ones that I wrote

A trilogy, in fact, about our glamping trip

Stuck in a lodge, not getting much kip

‘Don’t Let The Bed Blogs Bite’, Parts 1 to 3

Carnivorous insects tried to eat me

Our hosts were straight out of Deliverance

(I think they’d have killed us if given the chance)

But both boys had fun, so I shouldn’t complain

Although, I doubt I’ll ever go glamping again

 

SEPTEMBER

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More outdoor fun as we moved to September

‘The Twiggles and Bloggles’ you might just remember

A trip to ‘Bewilderwood’, climbing up trees

(I got myself lost when I went for a wee)

Then ‘Blog to School’, an entry which featured

Putting my foot in it with Isaac’s new teacher

Following that, Isaac’s YouTube obsession

A girl group who fill me with rage and aggression

A family of sisters singing terrible songs

Everything about them is so fucking wrong

 

OCTOBER

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I then published ‘Another Blog In The Wall’

Going to parents’ evening in the school hall

My wife was away, so I went on my own

I might have refused, if only I’d known

I’d embarrass myself and book the wrong times

(to mention just two of my most heinous crimes)

Remaining with school, in ‘Blogz In The Hood’

I explained how this month I thought it would

Be nice to go drinking with my two oldest mates

Though one got accosted outside our school gates

Lastly I wrote about Ollie’s foul mood

He was grumpy, and sulky, and just downright rude

Then one of the mums scared the life out of me

By explaining he’s probably near puberty.

 

NOVEMBER

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I wrote in November about how I look

My body is shoddy, but I don’t give a fuck

If you’re healthy and happy, then really who cares?

(though I’d still add some length to the fella downstairs)

In ‘Mary’s Blog Child’ just a few weeks ago

We ended the month thinking reindeer and snow

For once it’s December it’s no longer absurd

If anyone mentions the dreaded C-Word

(No, Christmas)

 

DECEMBER

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Just two final entries to finish the year

(so my round-up is ending, and I’m off for a beer)

The first of the two was called ‘BlogDay Cards’

And I wrote about I found it quite hard

To get famous people to send to our house

Signed birthday cards addressed to my spouse

So thanks Norwich City and especially Dan Snow

(whereas John Barrowman knows where he can go)

And ending the year, as I fill up my cup

The ‘Blog Before Christmas’ – this poetic round-up

Another year done folks, and you know I adore

Each of you readers, so to you and yours

I raise up my glass and give festive cheer

Merry Christmas you rabble, and Happy New Year!

Thank you all, as ever, for reading. I hope each and every one of my followers has a fantastic Christmas and thank you for humouring me for another twelve months. You have no idea how much writing this blog and posting random garbage on my Facebook page keeps me sane at times, so thank you.

Merry Christmas x

 

 

 

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BlogDay Cards

As I mentioned a couple of times on my Facebook page recently, my wife turned 40 at the end of November (although, in my humble opinion, she still doesn’t look a day over 39) and, aside from the gifts I bought for myself and the boys to give her (for which they – unfairly – took far too much credit), I decided to try and organise some rather special birthday cards for her.

Essentially, I thought it might be nice if she got a few cards from some of her favourite celebrities, and, having enlisted help from her siblings, a few months ago I compiled a list of famous people I intended to write to (via their PA or agency). I then set about purchasing as many different ‘40’ cards as I could lay my grubby little mitts on and began posting them out to the celebs on my list, with a covering letter explaining my plan and asking for their help. I also included a stamped addressed envelope, so that there was no expense involved to said celebrity (even though, I suspect, they were all in a far better financial position that myself to be paying for a stamp), in order to bolster my chances of persuading them to help me out.

In truth, from the list of ten famous people I created, I never expected more than a couple would even respond, let alone oblige (and – spoiler alert – they didn’t), but of the few I did receive back, they were most definitely the ones I had hoped for. From the remainder, most failed to get back to me at all, but that was still preferable to the two whose representatives did respond, but very firmly told me to go fuck myself*

*ok, they didn’t use those exact words, but was how it came across.

As a result, I have decided to publicly thank the famous people who took time out of their busy schedules to do something nice for a complete stranger’s 40th birthday, but also ‘name and shame’ those celebrities who were less than approachable.

In true ‘Middle-Raged Dad’ fashion, let’s start from the top and work our way down to the dregs, shall we?

Dan Snow

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Now, my wife doesn’t openly profess to having a celebrity crush like I do (Holly Willoughby, if you happen to read this, call me), but if she did, it would be Dan Snow.

Not only will I admit he a good-looking chap (although, as you will see further down my list, good looks count for shit if you don’t have the personality to match), he is – like my wife – a keen historian. And, if there is one thing my wife will surely find attractive in a man (other than his ability to produce a comedic weekly blog, and make repeated innuendo about his genitals), it is a man who loves a good castle as much as her.

Ok, this may be viewed by some as nerdy, but is it really any different to every heterosexual middle-aged man fantasising about Princess Leia in that gold bikini, Lois Griffin from Family Guy, or – dare I say it – Cheetara from Thundercats?*

(*shut up. Cheetahs are my favourite animal anyway, and she was a sexy one who didn’t wear much).

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Anyway, Dan was probably top of my list, as I knew how much she would love to get a card signed by him, so I was understandably delighted when his PA, Hilary, responded to say she would do her best to grab Dan when he returned to the UK from filming abroad.

And, Hilary didn’t let me down, because although it took a while to arrive, Dan not only signed a card, but took the time to write a personal message to my wife:

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Christ, get a room, you two….

All joking aside, I am very grateful to Dan for such a nice gesture, and if my wife does happen to run off with him in the future, at least she’ll have left me for a decent bloke.

Norwich City Football Club

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My wife is from Norwich, and is a big fan of the Canaries, so I decided to write to the club to see if they could perhaps get a few of the first team to sign a card for me.

Not only did they gladly oblige, with a card signed by most of the squad, they returned it to me within a few days (which was very good of them, as I did not get around to sending it until a couple of weeks before her birthday, so I was under a fair amount of time pressure by that point).

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I have no doubt that very few Premier League football clubs would have even replied to me, and certainly not so quickly, but having been to Carrow Road a number of times, this is indicative of what a friendly club they are. Well played, Norwich City.

Jason Manford

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My wife loves Jason Manford (although admittedly not in the same way she loves Dan Snow), so I was very pleased when a signed card returned from his people, particularly because he seemingly works around the clock on various television, radio and acting projects.

That said, he did only sign a card, with no additional message, so although I am grateful, it probably took a few seconds and he is therefore in third place (some way below the top two).

Still, he did better than….

Jason Donovan

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Jason Donovan and/or his team never got back me, but since he was a very late after-thought, with barely a fortnight until my wife’s birthday, I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much. Besides, I think he is on tour at present, which might also explain the lack of response. Jason is excused, and finishes 4th despite not actually doing anything to deserve it.

Eddie Izzard and Greg Davies

No, they have not suddenly announced themselves as a couple (although I would definitely go round for dinner if they did), but I have placed both of these gentleman in joint 5th, because although neither responded to my request, in fairness I again gave them / their representatives very little time to comply, only adding them to my list at a relatively late stage (albeit not as late as Jason Donovan). As such, they are (partially) excused for not getting back to me.

It also helps that I find both of them hilarious, and I don’t want that adoration tarnished in any way.

Graham Norton

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I have no doubt that Graham is an equally busy man, what with his own BBC1 show to prepare for and present, but I can’t believe he didn’t have time in his schedule to sign a quick card, and I gave him more than a month to get back to me, so he has dropped in my estimation now.

Ok, I highly doubt he even found out about the card, and he may very well have signed it if asked, so my gripe is probably with his team, but until I hear otherwise, I shall be holding him personally responsible.

7th place for you, Mr Norton.

Jamie Theakston

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Here we have an example of a good-looking fella (well, my wife thinks so – or certainly used to), letting himself down on account of his refusal to engage with fans. Again, it might be his publicity team who have taken the decision to block any requests for autographs, but is he really that busy/famous these days (Heart Radio’s breakfast show aside)?

Plus, he no doubt hired his publicity team in the first place, so when they responded with ‘Mr Theakston doesn’t do requests like this’, I took that to mean ‘Mr Theakston is an arrogant prick who thinks he is better than everyone else’. This may be unfair (which I will emphasise for libel reasons), but I doubt it (which I will also emphasise, because I think I am correct in my assessment).

John Barrowman

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In last place, rather surprisingly, is John Barrowman (my wife is a huge fan of musicals), who – until recently – I had a lot of time for.

Sadly, like Jamie Theakston, he is either extremely arrogant, or he has employed some particularly stand-offish people to represent him, because not only did I get a reply very firmly telling me to do one, but they went that bit further than Theakston & Co, by suggesting John would be willing to sign a book for me, if I bought tickets to one of his shows, and his book, then queued up after the show to ask him nicely.

I didn’t bother e-mailing back, as I felt ‘tell John to go fuck himself’ might have been poorly received. Last (9th) place for you, JB.

Honorary mention – Dick van Dyke

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The more astute among you will have realised that my list currently only numbers nine.

Step in (presumably with some assistance), Dick van Dyke.

Now, had I been able to secure a card signed by the owner of the single worst cockney accent in cinematic history, I think my wife may very well have lost her shit, but aside from the fact Dick is now well into his 90s, he also lives – to my knowledge – in America, and I had automatically discounted any overseas celebs (yes, Bryan Adams, that includes you), as being unachievable, not least because I couldn’t possibly cover their postage for sending the card back.

So, Dick features last in my list, but only because he is an after-thought, and not because I dislike him.

And, there you have it. If you take anything away from today’s blog entry, let it be this: Dan Snow is a thoroughly nice chap and, if my wife does run off with him, I can’t be too upset about it; while John Barrowman is a colossal bellend (or, at the very least, his representatives are).

Thank you for reading x

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Mary’s Blog Child

On Sunday, it’s December

Which means it’s nearly time

To start discussing Christmas

Without it being a crime

 

Guy Fawkes has been cremated

The fireworks have gone boom

It’s time to get your tree up

And decorate the room

 

Put on that wacky jumper,

novelty socks and, heck

While we’re fucking at it

Shove a mince pie down yer neck

 

For the first-time since last Christmas

It’s all right to drink sherry

In fact, have what you like, mate

Whatever makes you merry

 

That’s the best thing ’bout Christmas

The joy of festive cheer

It’s eating, drinking, doing stuff

You wouldn’t dare throughout the year

 

You wouldn’t eat sprouts in April

Have ‘one more choc’ when full

A dry turkey stuffing sandwich?

(“Nah, turkey’s fucking dull”)

 

If you heard Mariah in August

You’d want to punch her in the throat

But once we reach December

I’ll try to reach each note

 

I swear old Shakin’ Stevens

Must hibernate all year

And it won’t be long ’til Noddy

and Wizzard will appear

 

That first door on the Advent

First jingle of sleigh bell

“Would you like some sprouts, Sir?”

“Oh go on, what the hell.”

 

Look, sprouts are fucking awful

There’s little else I hate

But sitting down on Christmas Day

I’ll heap them on my plate

 

That first visit from the big man

When the Rotary come round

(We all know it’s just ‘Fat Tony’

but the kids are still spellbound)

 

It’s cold and wet and windy

But it’s ok, ’cause we know

If it’s cold and wet and windy

It might just turn to snow

 

Sat watching school nativities

When no parent will admit

They’ve lost all feeling in their arse

and the acting has been shit

 

The office Christmas Party

‘Dad Dancing’ with aplomb

Getting Janice from Accounts

To down a Jagerbomb

 

Now we’ve reached December

It’s the magic of Yuletide

When common sense and decency

Are quickly cast aside

 

You can eat until you’re queasy

and drink until you’re pissed

It’s your one chance to go mental

So why try to resist?

 

Make the most of next month, folks

For soon it will be gone

I wish you all much festive cheer

Merry Christmas everyone x

 

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Bloggy Image

Over the past few years, body image has been a popular topic for debate, particularly on social media, with many companies supposedly moving away from using the stick thin supermodels of the ‘80s and ‘90s, in favour of healthier women with curves (which happen to be my favourite bit, for what it’s worth).

While this is to be applauded, not least for raising awareness about eating disorders among women (and especially young girls) around the world, as they strive to achieve what society has historically deemed to be ‘attractive’, we as a species still have some work to do.

I know this for a fact, as I just Googled the word ‘model’ (with caution, as I’m in the office), and I had to scroll through a disappointing number of images before I discovered a lady even close to what I would consider to be healthy looking. Ok, some of those images may have been associated with stories highlighting eating disorders, but I didn’t click to find out – and the problem is, many young impressionable girls won’t either. They will search online for what a model should look like, and be immediately faced with images like this:

Now, it may be the case that these three women are naturally skinny, and happy in their own bodies, and if that’s true then I applaud them, but it does worry me that those images were in the first few rows of the Google search result for ‘model’.

Don’t assume we men have it any easier either, though. I have just done another search (again, with extreme caution), and within the first few results for ‘male model’ I was faced with the following:

Fuck right off.

The thing is, I have never been one for going to the gym (I have this irrational fear of merciless ridicule), and even though I have a weights bench at home (it’s buried under a mountain of crap in the garage), I guarantee I could spend an hour on it each day and still never look even remotely like any of these fine specimens of manhood. Ok, one of the men is black, but you get my point.

Would I like to have a body like that? Sure. Perhaps not quite so muscly – because my wife assures me that she doesn’t find a six-pack sexy, even though I feel sure she would prefer that to the current ‘keg’ I try to disguise each day – but a flatter, toned stomach would be nice. Together with some arm and leg muscles, perhaps, so I don’t resemble a twiglet. Oh, and you show me a man who wouldn’t like a bigger penis, and I will show you a dirty stinking liar.

Therein lies the fundamental difference between men and women (no, not penises, even though that is a major difference) – our attitudes to body image. Social media constantly reminds us that, if we want to be attractive, women ‘should’ be thin, and men ‘should’ be muscly. Bullshit.

Fortunately, our attitudes to body image are slowly but surely improving, and there appears to be an increasing trend for women – particularly those who have had children – to post pictures of themselves on social media, either without wearing make-up, or without wearing much full stop, to show that they are happy with how they look. Halle-fucking-lujah (for once, that was not typed sarcastically).

Ok, I still get annoyed when these pictures are accompanied by corny phrases like ‘your body is not ruined, you’re a goddamn tiger who has earned her stripes’; because, well, it’s all a bit fucking cringey, but I do understand what those people are trying to say, and I whole-heartedly support the message.

The thing is, though, women who have had children will often use their previous pregnancy(ies) as justification (or, worse, an excuse) for having a fuller figure, and this is inherently wrong for two reasons:

  1. Firstly, women should not feel pressured into explaining their image, whether they are happy with how they look or not;
  2. Secondly, and more importantly, the last time I checked men cannot give birth, so we are denied this justification (if, indeed, that is the right word) for our bodies not being at their best as we get older – even though, believe it or not, having children affects the way we look as well.

Next February, I will be turning 40, and like most people I have decided this would be an appropriate milestone to reflect on the ageing process, and what I can do to improve the way I look (or slow down the decline),

Admittedly, some aspects of my body are outside of my control, unless I consider surgery (my ever-deteriorating eyesight, and insecurities in the trouser department instantly spring to mind – although, there is at least some spring still in it), but there are parts I could take better care of as I approach my forties, because they have been badly destroyed by becoming a parent.

In fact, if we consider my body from top to bottom (although, that should perhaps read ‘head to toe’, as the problems most certainly do not cease with my bottom), there is very little which has not been worsened by fatherhood….

Hair

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I suppose I should think myself lucky that I have avoided grey hairs until my very-late-thirties, but not only will I need to give serious consideration to masking the ageing process with hair dye in the next year or so (something I have not had to consider before), but I recently had my hair cut shorter than normal to save money, and if my wife mentions my apparent bald patches one more time, I may have to kick her in the shin.

Forehead

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Not only is mine getting larger as my hairline inevitably recedes, but wrinkles (or ‘worry lines’) are appearing at an alarming rate. Now, far be it from me to make a connection between these increased wrinkles and Isaac’s birth, but it does seem more than a coincidence….

Eyesight

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My eyesight has always been dreadful, but since having children the rate at which it is deteriorating seems to have accelerated. Worse, I now find that whereas I used to decline all the optional extras when purchasing new glasses, I now actively seek additional ones just to be on the safe side.

“Ok, so that’s the anti-scratch, smash-resistant, anti-glare lens options all added, plus we’ve got that thing which makes car headlights less blinding, but can you offer me anything by way of ‘sharp object repellent’? No? How about something which makes it look like you’re asleep, so the kids leave you the fuck alone?”

Ears

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Look, I know everyone’s ears get bigger – and, in the case of us menfolk, hairier – as we get older, but I have noticed my hearing has deteriorated far more rapidly since we became parents. Now, this may be because of the excessive noise created by the boys screaming at each other, and us screaming at them to tell them to stop screaming at each other, but I also can’t rule out the possibility my body is trying to protect me from having to listen to that fucking Baby Shark song ever again. Evolution is a wonderful thing, sometimes.

Nose

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As a father, I suppose the worse-case scenario, is that your nose will be broken at some point, whether by a stray baby leg during nappy changing, a toy thrown at your face when they are a little older, or by your partner punching you for any number of things you may or may not have done to upset her (almost all of which you will not have foreseen), but even though I have thankfully avoided ever visiting A&E to have my conk snapped back into place, I now find that I apparently have a cold for the majority of the year, because my children collect and distribute every single bug available at school. I swear I never got ill before we had them, and now I feel ill all the time.

Boobs

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From the moment we are born and they nourish us, through puberty when we realise they are fabulous and we long for nothing more than to see them up close, right up to middle-age when we try to remember the last time we saw a pair in real life, we (heterosexual) men are obsessed with boobs. But now I suddenly have a pair of my own, and not only has the appeal worn off when I look down at them each day, but I sometimes cry myself to sleep at night when I am reminded of their presence.

Stomach

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I have already covered this above (although sadly, actually covering mine is getting increasingly harder these days), and there are only so many times your shirt button can ping open before you have to accept there is nothing wrong with it, and you have fastened it correctly each time, it’s just that your clothes can no longer accommodate the vast gut underneath, but the real kicker is the first time you glance down in the shower and realise you can no longer see your own penis.

Hips/Legs/Knees

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These are all, quite frankly, destroyed, and while I have to blame running as being the primary cause for my lower-body deterioration, I’m not ruling out child-based factors either. If I am not running up and down stairs to fetch things for the boys (or, more commonly, to bollock them for fighting again), I am smacking my lower extremities on items they have left strewn around the house, or being kicked by Isaac.

Feet

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I have lost count of the number of times my feet have been injured by small sharp objects being left lying around (and, yes, Lego usually gets the blame when someone on social media posts about the pain of standing on a piece for the 1,000th time that week – I do wish people would get their own material – but the truth is most things kids leave on the floor are likely to hurt like Hell when trodden on).

So, there we have it. My body is ruined, and I fear the situation is only going to get worse as I enter my fourth decade.

Wish me luck, folks.

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Thanks for reading x

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