It’s Cracking The Blogs

This week’s entry was meant to be about…. erm, hang on, it’ll come to me in a minute…. it was about…. damn it, I nearly had it then…. erm….

The truth is, I can’t think straight at the moment, because it is so frigging hot outside. Well, it is on the day I am writing this week’s entry, but such is the erratic nature of the British weather, you will most likely find yourself looking out of the nearest window, at the relentless rain / lightning / hailstones / snow (delete as applicable – or if applicable, because we could very well be experiencing all of those conditions simultaneously), and wondering what the fuck I am going on about.

Look, cast your mind back to the start of the week. Remember how hot and sunny it was? Yeah, well that was summer, hope you enjoyed it. If you’re upset that the weather is now crap again (as I predict it will be by the time you read this), then blame Glastonbury.

As Brits, we are almost always pissed off with the weather. When it’s cold and rainy outside, we just want some sunshine and warmth, but when that big ball of fire does eventually break through the clouds which cover our little island for most of the year, we get bored after a day, and want it to bugger off again.

There are two reasons for this.

Firstly, we Brits are never happy with our lot in life. Whether it’s our jobs, finances, cars, partners, or, in this case, the weather, we always want what we don’t have. Then, if we do eventually get what we want, we turn our attentions elsewhere, and the endless cycle of mindless coveting continues. We are greedy little shits, and we are never content.

Secondly, Brits are simply not built for this kind of weather, in the same way that some of our European friends (soon to be ex-friends) are.  If we adopt the analogy of food at a barbecue – which seems appropriate given the circumstances – then the likes of the Spanish, Portuguese, Italians and Greeks are glorious, meaty burgers. When the sun comes out, and everything gets hot, they look better, they smell better, hell, they probably even taste better. Pair them with an ice-cold beer, and that’s about as good as life gets. They look magnificent.

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NB: Not me

In contrast, we’re the salad. We shrivel up, go limp, and generally look pathetic in hot weather. And, frankly, who wants salad at a barbecue? No one, that’s who. Salad is only good for one thing, and that’s to go on top of the burgers occasionally – except none of those lovely continental burgers wants a feeble Brit on top of them, all limp and sweaty.

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NB: Also not me. But considerably closer.

My point is, we’re not physically designed to deal well with hot weather. We’re built for queuing, whinging, and drinking tea – and pretty much bugger all else.

Essentially, the range of temperature where we get even remotely close to being content with the weather, is laughably minuscule. It is the weather equivalent of getting the water right in a baby’s bath – a parameter of about 3 degrees – and any variation either side, can be potentially hazardous to our health.

I know there are people out there, who will argue that we should enjoy the nice weather, and make the most of our all-too-fleeting summer while we can, but these people tend to make that argument whilst sat in their garden, or outside a pub, with a nice cold pint of beer in their hand.

These people are not trapped in an office. An office which, to be honest, might as well be used as a tropical greenhouse. An office without any air-conditioning, and with just one small window which, if opened any more than an inch, will cause all loose paper within the room to go flying off in every direction (even though a cursory glance out of said window, will establish that there appears to be no breeze whatsoever outside – not even a gnat’s fart).

These people are not sat there, in a suit and tie, on a faux-leather office chair, with a case of swamp-ass so chronic, that they are currently experiencing the optimum conditions for growing mushrooms in their underpants.

These people do not suffer with hay fever – the most pathetic, yet utterly debilitating, of all the seasonal ailments. They are not sat there with their eyes streaming, so red and sore and itchy, that their work colleagues have been asked to hide all sharp implements, lest they attempt to relieve the incessant itching with a rusty fork. They are not sat there, in their sodding beer garden, sneezing into that delicious ice-cold pint of lager.

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These people do not have embarrassing bodies. Not necessarily what society considers an amazing body (because they are, after all, British), but sufficiently toned that they can comfortably strip down to very little, despite being in public, and flaunt what they are so very lucky to have.

They need not worry about any unfortunate sweat stains, whether underneath or nestling on top of the embarrassing mound they call a stomach; on the backs of their damp, clinging shirts; or, worst of all, on their sagging posterior when they rise from a seat. You will never accidentally walk in on them, while they perform lunges in their office, hoping to sufficiently aerate their clothes before meeting another human being.

These people have wonderful, care-free temperaments, largely because they are the sort of person who can be sat in a beer garden on a glorious day. They have no need for angry outbursts, whether in response to irrational / ungrateful / unreasonable clients, or simply because their damn stapler has run out of staples again.

Never will you hear them scream the phrase: ‘Well, why didn’t you tell me you were nearly out of staples, you useless fucking excuse for office equipment?’ They live a perfectly care-free (and stress-free) existence, and will never find their already sour mood exacerbated by the heat, to the point they cannot even tolerate their own children anymore.

These people tan beautifully, sat there in their fucking beer garden, as they sip that delicious ice-cold nectar, and smile at the other beautiful people around them. They require no more than a minute, to delicately (and erotically) apply a small blob of sun cream to the 92% of their attractive bodies currently exposed to the sun. They need not concern themselves with the triviality of adequate protection and coverage, because they will inevitably turn an alluring golden-brown colour, in just a few hours, regardless of what factor sun cream (and how much) they use.

Never will they feel the need to spend an hour and a half, liberally slapping vastly excessive quantities of factor 50 sun cream to every single nook and cranny of their pasty, flabby bodies, until they look like they have been the victim of an explosion in a mayonnaise factory. They will never have to leave the house so plastered in sun cream, that any physical contact with another human being over the course of the next week, will see that person slip away from them, like a wet bar of soap.

Never will these people stand in front of a mirror, after just twenty minutes of exposure to sunshine, wondering why the nose they lathered in sun cream a short while earlier, now resembles the conk of someone with a heavy drinking problem. Never will they stand in a tepid shower, crying because the water hurts so damn badly, and wondering how their feet managed to get burnt when they were wearing socks all day.

These people are everything I am not. I hate these people. May their beer always go flat and warm, and may a fly take a shit in it.

Still, at least I’m not Scottish or Irish. I feel really sorry for those poor bastards right now.

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The Blogs And The Bees

Last Saturday, as we were driving to the Cheshire Ice Cream Farm (which I can thoroughly recommend), Ollie suddenly blurted out from the back seat: “I have a question….”

Ollie is a naturally inquisitive child, so this was nothing new to us, but his questions are usually rather mundane, and don’t require a great deal of thought before answering. Questions like:

                What day is it?

                Can we go to Pizza Hut?

                What’s that smell?

More often than not, his queries can be answered with one or two words, and the entire process takes no more than a few seconds. He is, after all, only seven, and whilst he is a very bright and intuitive seven-year-old, he still asks seven-year-old type questions.

Until last Saturday.

As a parent, there are three questions (or genres of question), which I am dreading hearing from my children, and I hadn’t expected to have to deal with any of them so soon.

The first, is about the meaning of life, death, and the existence of God. Whilst I would struggle to know where to start with this line of interrogation, it is at least a topic where my wife and I could try to answer together, as a team. And, by that, I mean she can answer, and I’ll just nod silently in the background.

The second question, is: “Daddy, why are Stockport County so rubbish?” Now, I would not require any assistance from my wife to answer this question (in fact, I would actively discourage her participation), and could happily sit Ollie down for an hour or four, to explain our football team’s current predicament (and who is to blame); but I would be far more concerned about what prompted such questioning, and the potential repercussions of my answer.

My worry would be why he was asking this question, and whether it was indicative of him growing weary of supporting County. Hopefully, though, with a carefully focused response, an optimistic outlook for the future, and a repeated warning that if he ever chooses to follow one of the Manchester clubs instead, I’ll personally pack his bags within the hour, I can nip any doubts firmly in the bud.

The third question, and the one I fear the most from my son(s), is the very question he chose to ask us last Saturday, completely out of the blue:

“How are babies made?”

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Shit.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

The thing is, I know perfectly well how to answer that question (I have, after all, played a minor part in making two babies now), but I find discussing the topic uncomfortable at the best of times, and especially with my seven-year-old son.

Back when my wife and I were still happy (around 2 BC – Before Children), the subject of ‘where do babies come from?’ had cropped up in conversation. Not in the sense that I required an explanation, but more in terms of who would be best explaining sex to our children at the appropriate time.

We (and, by that, I mean my wife) decided that we should stick to our respective genders – she would explain how babies are made to any daughters we might have, and I would be responsible for any boys. I naively agreed, believing my chances to be roughly 50/50 (I have a basic knowledge of genetics), and of course we ended up with two sons. To this day, I swear my wife can only produce boy babies, and knew all along.

Anyway, I am now responsible for explaining procreation to our sons, and I accept this, I just didn’t think I would have to have ‘that’ conversation so soon.

Unfortunately, Ollie asking the question at such a young age, took me completely by surprise, and I rather fumbled my answer. In the end, I told him we would have a proper chat when it was more appropriate (in my defence, the sat nav was making a complete arse of finding the Cheshire Ice Cream Farm at the time).

Thankfully, he accepted the postponement, and hasn’t asked me again since. But, now the issue is on his mind, it’s only a matter of time before he asks again, so I need to prepare myself (with notes, diagrams, and perhaps even a PowerPoint presentation) sooner rather than later.

The thing is, I have no intention of ever lying to him (apart from, you know, the obvious ones about Father Christmas, the Tooth Fairy, and where all his Easter eggs went), but there are certain aspects of conception which he doesn’t need to know at this stage, so I might keep my explanation to the basics. Even then, I get embarrassed very easily, so I will probably find the conversation more uncomfortable than he will.

In fact, I find talking about any delicate issues extremely difficult, and I cannot be as matter-of-fact as some people when discussing sex. So, with that in mind, I have decided to explain to Ollie where babies come from, in the only way I know how – through the medium of song….

 

Ok son, let’s have a chat.

I hear you’d like to know,

How a baby is created.

Sit down – I’ll have a go.

 

I promise that I’ll tell the truth,

Throughout our little talk.

So, let’s get one thing straight right now,

There is no frigging stork.

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I’ll keep things quite traditional,

As more and more these days,

Babies can be made and grown,

In many different ways.

 

But I’ll stick to the basics,

and the act of sex involved.

I hope that once I’ve finished,

All your issues will be solved.

 

It takes two to make a baby.

A woman and a man.

“But, Dad, I really don’t like girls,

And avoid them when I can.”

 

You may think that way now, my boy,

But might just change your mind,

When you’re that bit older,

And you meet one sweet and kind,

 

Girls are soft and smell nice,

And if you meet the perfect one,

You might just fall in love and want,

A daughter or a son.

 

When that day comes, and you choose

To make a baby of your own,

You’ll look down at your willy, son,

And see that it has grown.

 

That happens when you like a girl,

It gets all stiff and firm.

And underneath, within your balls,

Are millions of sperm.

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They’re just like tiny fishes,

And maybe, son, just maybe,

One of them will find a way,

To turn into a baby.

 

Meanwhile, inside the woman,

Each month an egg will form.

And there it waits for just one sperm,

To help it to transform.

 

“But hang on just one second, Dad,

My sperm are inside me.

So, how do they get to the egg,

Do they travel in my wee?”

 

Not exactly, but I’m glad,

You asked that question, son,

As here’s the really thrilling part,

Where everything gets fun.

 

Usually, before you start,

The two of you get nude.

“What, we take our clothes off?

But Daddy, that’s just rude!”

 

I know you think that now, my boy,

But wait until you’re older.

Each time you meet a pretty girl,

You’ll want to kiss and hold her.

 

And when you find that special one,

Who’ll let you in her pants,

Be sure to keep her, since you might,

Not get another chance.

 

Now, once your willy has gone hard,

You put it inside hers,

And after a few minutes,

Something special then occurs.

 

All the sperm come rushing out,

And set off on their quest.

But only one will find the egg,

The strongest and the best.

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“Hang on, that’s disgusting.

Just let me get this straight:

I put my fishes into her?

Why is that so great?”

 

Just accept that what I’m saying,

Is how it has to be.

Besides, it feels amazing,

And one day, you’ll agree.

 

“Ok, so if sex feels so nice,

Why is it over fast?”

Enough with all the questions, mate.

Look, sometimes you can’t last.

 

“What happens after that then, Dad,

To make the baby grow?”

Well, it doesn’t always work, and,

It takes weeks before you’ll know.

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But if just one sperm gets lucky,

The egg will start to change.

It moves around inside her,

And begins to feel quite strange.

 

It starts off really tiny,

Just like a grain of sand.

But over months it grows and grows

Gets eyes and feet and hands.

 

“So, if the baby gets quite big,

Then how does it get out?”

It comes out of the lady’s hole,

While she screams and shouts.

 

She’ll find it really painful.

Imagine trying to poo,

Something like a rugby ball,

And she’ll blame it all on you.

 

“But even if the sex part’s fun,

The rest sounds really silly,

I think I might just live alone,

Let no one near my willy.”

 

Just wait until you’re older, son,

Then you’ll understand.

But, whatever you do make sure,

That any baby’s planned.

 

“So, some babies are accidents?

You can make them by mistake?

For just a few minutes of fun,

It’s quite a risk to take.”

 

There’s ways to stop it happening,

Though I really have to say,

I’m getting fed-up talking now,

Can we chat another day?

 

“But I’ve still so many questions,

And you’ve only answered some –

You’re not explaining this at all!”

Look….

…. maybe ask your Mum.

 

This isn’t going to go well, is it?

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The Old Blog And The Sea

You might have noticed (oh God, I do hope you noticed), that there was no blog entry last week, and that’s because it was half-term, so we spent the week visiting my in-laws in Norwich.

Then, last Friday (or ‘Blog Day’ as I now like to call it – and feel free to join me), I conquered two of my biggest fears: the ocean, and playing badminton with pensioners.

The ocean is quite a common phobia to have – it’s right up there with spiders, heights, and the Dark Lord of the Sith herself, Theresa May – and even has its own medical term: Thalassophobia (which, strangely, is also a fear of women from Yorkshire).  However, whilst Thalassophobia covers everything from a fear of drowning (entirely rational) to travelling by sea (less rational, but still perfectly understandable – and probably related to the fear of drowning), my ocean-based phobia is completely irrational: I hate ‘paddling’ my feet in the sea.

Admittedly, it’s not so much a fear, more an inherent dislike, and its actually the sand sticking to my feet afterwards that I detest the most, but, whatever the reason, I try to avoid dipping my tootsies into the surf at all costs.  The problem is, unlike drowning and travelling by sea (which are easily avoidable), when you take two young children to the seaside, as we did last week, getting your feet encrusted with wet sand – and, even worse, beach flotsam – is virtually inevitable.

As for my other phobia, the fear of playing badminton with pensioners is unquestionably more obscure, and doesn’t have its own medical terminology. This is partly because there should be very little to fear in the first place, but also because the only people who tend to play badminton with pensioners, are other pensioners, and the elderly are frightened of nothing (except, perhaps, going into a home, or losing their winter fuel payment).

Anyway, last Friday I met both fears (together with an additional fear I never knew I had) head on, and survived to tell the tale. Here is that tale:

I got up early and, despite the fact I was on holiday, went for a run in the large park opposite my in-law’s house. Running is still not a pastime I particularly relish, but since I have spent a sizeable sum on my new trainers, and since there aren’t many other ways I can see to halt (and perhaps shrink) my ever-increasing belly, I must persevere.

The good news, is that I not only managed to successfully complete a distance I haven’t run since my late teens (and by ‘successfully’, my benchmark these days is to finish running without vomiting or requiring medical attention), but I could have continued, if it weren’t for the fact I needed to get to badminton, and because I was distracted by a semi-naked man having a wash in the boating pond. Well, I say ‘semi-naked’, but it was more like 90% naked, as he was only wearing boxer shorts (although he may have had socks on too, as I could only see him from the shins up).

The first time I passed the pond, I spotted him stood there, soaking wet, as if he had just been for a wash or swim. I assumed it was the former, because this particular pond is only about two feet deep, and is primarily used for sailing model yachts and remote-controlled boats:

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Boating Pond, Eaton Park, Norwich

Not most people’s idea of a pleasant morning dip, I’m sure you’ll agree – although I’d still choose this over the ocean. The really confusing part, however, was that he was staring at me, like I was the weird one, and he was thinking: Don’t know what you’re looking at. I’m just washing my bits in this ‘ere pond; you’re the one running around, in bright yellow shoes, in broad daylight.

The second time I passed him (I’d contemplated changing my route to avoid doing so, but didn’t want to get lost), he was surrounded by three police officers, and my opinion of him suddenly changed. I had initially assumed he was some lunatic going for an early morning dip, in what is essentially a large (public) puddle, but now I had to accept that he might be homeless, and in need of help. He had stared at me, like I was the odd one, but maybe this had been his way of silently pleading for assistance, and I had simply run on. What if he was vulnerable, and mute with confusion or fear?

But then I thought: what if I was right the first time? What if, when I initially passed him, I’d assumed he needed my help, but it turned out he was just a semi-naked nutter after all? It might not have ended very well for me, with no one else around. After all, even though he was only wearing boxers, he could still have been concealing a sizeable weapon down there, with an intention to thrust it into me.

Wait, that came out wrong.

Anyway, I ran back to the house, to avoid further involvement with either the nutter or the police, showered, quickly grabbed some breakfast, and jumped in the car to get to badminton.

Until last year, I can safely say that playing badminton against a group of pensioners would not have featured very highly on my list of fears. In fact, it wouldn’t have made the list at all, as it wasn’t an activity I had ever previously contemplated, let alone lost sleep over.

Then, whilst in Norwich last summer, I was invited to join my wife’s parents at their weekly badminton group and, whilst I’m relatively shit at the sport anyway, I was secretly confident that at least I wouldn’t embarrass myself. After all, even if some of the old-timers were former professionals, they couldn’t all be that good, and even with my comparatively poor fitness levels, I felt sure they would tire before me, as I had a good thirty years on most of them.

As it turned out, I was 50% right, since none of them were former professionals – although they were all playing at a relatively high standard – but they were bloody fit for people in their 60’s and 70’s. Well, they were fitter than me, and that’s all I really cared about, because if I couldn’t beat them in terms of skill (and I couldn’t), then my only weapon was youth. Sadly, whilst I often joke that I am a grumpy old man, trapped in the body of a middle-aged one, I always thought that referred to my outlook on life, rather than my physical fitness.

In any event, whether it was my general decrepitude, or the fact these people were in remarkably good shape for their age (honestly, it was like Cocoon), didn’t really matter to me. What mattered, was that after ninety minutes of being distinctly average, at a sport I’ve now been playing for a few years, against a group of people who have bus passes, replaced body parts, and – in some cases – birth certificates predating the demise of Hitler, I was breathing out of my arse.

It came as quite the shock. Maybe I had underestimated the older generation, or maybe I had misjudged just how physically unfit I was, but either way it taught me a lesson. And that lesson was: don’t play badminton with pensioners ever again.

Clearly, I didn’t learn the lesson for long, as last Friday I once again found myself at Wensum Sports Centre in Norwich, greeting people with names like Hilda and Doris (not their actual names, but you get the idea), and praying they wouldn’t once again destroy me, at one of the few sports I still enjoy.

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In truth, I knew what to expect this time, and probably performed better as a result, but they were still all in remarkably good shape for their respective ages, and aside from a few extra wrinkles here and there, no one would have been able to tell us apart.

In fact, the only time I was reminded of the age difference, was when a particularly low shot came towards me just over the net, and I dived to my left to try and reach it. When our normal group of middle-aged men play on a Friday evening, it is quite common for us to dive around to try and execute spectacular shots (my success rate is in the region of 7%), but as I landed on the floor, I suddenly realised that all three courts had stopped playing, and everyone was looking at me.

Apparently, if a player ends up on the floor during their weekly badminton sessions, it usually means someone has suffered ‘a bit of a fall’, and the consequences can be as severe as a dislocated knee or broken hip. They simply couldn’t understand why I might fall to the ground voluntarily.

Despite this minor embarrassment, I survived the session, and wasn’t entirely outplayed by people approximately twice my age, as I had been previously. As a result, I hopefully won’t be so anxious, if I am invited back next time we visit.

Unfortunately, the relative success of my badminton trip made me somewhat over-confident, so that when we went to the seaside later that same day, I decided to conquer another irrational fear, by joining my wife and boys for a paddle in the sea.

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Damn, my legs look good in this picture

However, while my trepidation of once again playing badminton against a group of pensioners had been largely unwarranted, my recollection of paddling in the ocean (something I haven’t done for several years) was pretty much spot on. The water was cold, murky, salty, and provided the perfect adhesive for half of the fucking beach to cling to, from my toes right up to my knees.

At least I was half right.

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The Ballot Blogs

Happy Election Eve, everyone!

Yes, yes, I know it’s not Friday, but I thought I’d offer my own invaluable advice to anyone still undecided about which way to vote in tomorrow’s election (whilst at no point revealing my own political views, or bias in any way). So, not only do you get some guidance on which way you should vote, but you also get a bonus blog entry this week. You lucky buggers.

Simply respond to the following multiple-choice questions, honestly, and remember to keep a record of your answers. Good luck!

 

Question 1

Which of the following animals do you like the most?

(a) Koala Bear – I love hairy, cuddly animals, that sometimes seem confused and lost;

(b) Black Widow Spider – They’re ruthless, deadly, and don’t care about any creatures other than themselves;

(c) Polar Bear – Not very intelligent, extremely vicious, and most of all, white;

(d) Sheep – I like to be part of a large group and follow others.

 

Question 2

Which of the following holiday destinations most appeals to you?

(a) I’m happy so long as I get a holiday each year;

(b) The United States – it’s the only country that will have me these days;

(c) Anywhere but fucking Europe;

(d) Don’t think I’ll bother with a holiday this year. Might just stay home and alphabetise my CD collection.

 

Question 3

Which of these Star Wars characters do you most relate to?

(a) Obi-Wan Kenobi – I like an old bearded man in a dressing gown and slippers;

(b) The Emperor – ultimate power (and I find your lack of faith disturbing);

(c) Anyone but Lando Calrissian – I don’t like the look of him at all. In fact, I dislike all aliens;

(d) C-3PO – He’s friendly, well-organised, and speaks many languages.

 

Question 4

Which of the following meal choices do you like the most?

(a) Bacon sandwich and a cup of tea;

(b) Foie gras and champagne;

(c) Anything British really. None of that foreign muck;

(d) Pizza – so I can share with everyone else.

 

Question 5

Which of these films is your favourite?

(a) The Full Monty – it’s full of working class heroes;

(b) The Wolf of Wall Street – I only care about power and money;

(c) Carry on Camping – Good, old-fashioned, British humour. And tits;

(d) Friends with Benefits – I like friends. Especially ones with benefits.

 

Answers

Mostly (a) – Labour

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Mostly (b) – Conservative

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Mostly (c) – UKIP

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Mostly (d) – Liberal Democrat

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Hope this helps, folks.

Whichever way you decide to vote, do vote. It’s important.

See you Friday, for more mindless bollocks.

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Blogged Nose And Sore Throat

Towards the end of last week, I got poorly sick, and been feeling unwell ever since.

Not properly sick, like when you can’t stop vomiting and shitting yourself, but I developed a bit of a cough, which turned into a bit of a cold, and then, combining the two, a really sore throat.

Admittedly, I was hardly at death’s door (which I have always found a strange phrase, because if you knew where Death lived, you’d never fucking go there would you? Even the Jehovah’s would dodge that particular address), but in some ways that can be more annoying, because you don’t tend to get as much sympathy when you only have ‘a bit of a cough’. If anything, people find you even more irritating than usual (in my experience, anyway).

At least when you are regularly puking your guts up, that is an obvious ailment, which no one can deny you, and people have to accept that you truly are unwell. However, when you try to explain to your family and friends that you have a ‘nasty cough’, the very worst thing you can do is then immediately demonstrate this by coughing because, far from prove your point, it has the opposite affect and seems so forced and unconvincing. It’s like when you call in sick at work, and adopt your very best ‘I’m really not well’ voice for your boss, in case he or she doesn’t feel inclined to believe you.

Anyway, I was unwell, and feeling sorry for myself, without being properly sick.

In truth, I haven’t been physically sick in years, and I think the last time might have been after a heavy night in Altrincham around 2004. I had been to a few bars after work, slightly overdone the drinking (by ‘slightly’, I couldn’t walk), and when my dear Mother picked me up around 1am, we only made it a mile or so down the road before I had to ask her to pull over so that I could vomit onto a grass verge.

To make matters worse, we were travelling through Hale Barns at the time, and I remember a number of posh people tutting at my behaviour as they passed. Quite what posh people were doing walking the streets at 1am (when I’m almost certain there were no fox hunts or polo matches arranged for that time of the morning) is a mystery, but they clearly didn’t take too kindly to me telling them to ‘fuck off’.

If you don’t know Hale Barns, it’s essentially where the people of Monte Carlo would live, if only they weren’t so bloody obsessed with yachts (Hale is almost exclusively yacht-less, on account of the fact it is miles away from any sizeable water).

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Typical dwelling in Hale Barns

Anyway, I’ve strayed off topic. Let’s get back to my illness.

What began as a niggling cough, then developed into an uncontrollable hacking, and this ultimately led to my sore throat. It wasn’t even a deep, manly cough, either, and was more of a pathetic yapping, like a small terrier trapped at the bottom of a deep well. In fact, I think the only person who found this relentless spluttering more irritating than me, was my wife, who threatened on more than one occasion to smother me with a pillow while I slept.

Last Thursday morning, having woken myself at 3am by coughing so much I had tears streaming down my face, I decided to sleep on the sofa to avoid waking the family. Of course, the chances of sleeping on a sofa roughly two-thirds the length of my body, were limited at best (I perhaps should have let my legs hang over the end, rather than my head), so instead I spent a couple of hours feeling sorry for myself.

In an attempt to stem the coughing fit which had so rudely woken me, I downed approximately half a bottle of Benylin (don’t try this at home, kids), as well as a large glass of diet coke – because my mother is always saying fizzy drinks help sore throats, and I was desperate for some relief. However, this only had the effect of making me feel nauseous, extremely gassy, and essentially stoned off my tits. Blackcurrant syrup and diet coke, do not good bedfellows make (which, in hindsight, should have been bloody obvious beforehand).

I have never taken drugs in my life, and never will, but it seems that a precise mixture of sleep-deprivation, blackcurrant Benylin, cold diet coke, and overwhelming self-pity, is exactly what I require to start hallucinating. Good to know, should I ever feel the unlikely urge to attend Creamfields.

When I did eventually go to sleep, I suffered an array of short, bizarre dreams, that were both terrifyingly disturbing, and utterly boring at the same time (a little like this blog, then).

I cannot recall them all, but to give you some examples:

  1. I gave my sister a lift to Bramhall, so she could go to the bank to pay a cheque in, while I popped over the road to Greggs;
  2. I got a job working for the Government in a top-secret department, where my sole responsibility was inflating balloons;
  3. I organised a trip to Alton Towers for Ollie and his classmates, but Ollie went missing and, in my panic to locate him, I had completely forgotten that I was giving him a piggy-back at the time.

I’m pretty sure I can explain the second two, as Ollie’s 7th birthday party was last Sunday, and I am currently organising a trip to Alton Towers at work, but quite what the first dream was all about, is beyond me. I do love a Greggs though.

By the time I awoke, scared and confused, on Friday morning, I was totally exhausted, and failed to achieve a great deal in work that day.

I managed to play my weekly hour of badminton in the evening (badly, although I couldn’t blame my performance on the illness, as I am always shit at badminton), but I swerved the now customary post-match drink, in favour of going home to bed. See, I really was poorly.

Despite being exhausted, and falling asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, I was once more woken by a coughing fit in the early hours of Saturday morning. Tears streaming, I again banished myself downstairs to the sofa and, to avoid another night of hallucinogenic trance, this time I opted for a cocktail of cough medicine alone.

Having sat there for a while, slightly comforted by the fact I at least didn’t have work the following day, nor did I have any major plans, I realised that I was in need of the toilet (I’m a big boy now, and my body tells me when I require urinary relief).

Rather than head upstairs to our bathroom, and risk waking the family again, I went to our downstairs toilet, and in light of what happened next, I am very relieved (excuse the pun) that I did.

Basically, as I stood there (there aren’t many occasions nowadays when I don’t opt for a relaxing sit-down wee, but on this occasion I remained fully erect – so to speak), and began evacuation of my bladder, my body chose that precise moment to commence ‘Operation Surprise Involuntary Coughing Spasm’.

Very much in the same way a novice firefighter may struggle to control a wayward hose (keep that mental image, ladies), I suddenly lost all control of my body as the coughing fit dominated my every move and, while I’m not proud to admit this…. I pissed all over my bare feet. I perhaps shouldn’t share this latest embarrassment in my life (of which there are many) publicly, but I feel like we’re more than just good friends now, and you won’t tell anyone, will you?

There is nothing, and I mean nothing, more depressing than having to wash your feet in the shower at 4 o’clock in the morning, because you accidentally pissed on them while coughing. I was so upset, I seem to recall emitting a deep, pitiful wail, like a wolf who has got his foot caught in a trap, after his wife has just left him.

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NB: Departing wife just out of shot

Thankfully, as I alluded to earlier, this happened in our downstairs toilet, which has easily-cleanable laminate flooring (as opposed to the carpeted bathrooms upstairs), but I still hadn’t planned on mopping the floor in the early hours of the morning, when I had retired to bed the night before.

And, while we’re on the subject of silver linings to the many clouds of my life, if I am ever unfortunate enough to be stung on the foot by a jellyfish, at least I now know that I have what it takes to piss on myself.

Plus, if a semi-naked man, mopping the floor and washing his feet at 4am (thanks to a self-induced urinary foot spa), doesn’t depress you, the sight of me trying to eat Weetabix the following morning surely would. Weetabix, as you most likely know, is extremely soft – once suitably soaked in milk (hot, in case you were wondering) – but even that hurt like hell to swallow, which resulted in more pitiful howling on my part.

Even my morning shave became virtually impossible, as my throat was so sore, the outside of my neck became too sensitive to touch as well. In the end, I gave up, and only shaved my face, with the result that my neck closely-resembled the back of a fat Cypriot.

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On that final note, take a look at the pictures I have included in this week’s entry, and spare a thought for what my Google image search history looks like (and just be grateful that my search for ‘man pissing on his own feet while crying’ yielded no results).

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Happy BlogDay, Son

On Monday, we celebrated seven years since

The day when (with rather more than a wince)

My wife gave birth to our eldest son

Her oven pushed forth a small wrinkly bun

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It’s fair to say we expected a girl

But everything happened in so much of a whirl

It took me a while to realise with joy

That our first ever baby, was actually a boy

My wife is a teacher at an all-boys school

And during her pregnancy set a strict rule

To avoid the names of some kids who she taught

Which made it quite tough, but after some thought

There was one we agreed on, so we told the midwives

That Oliver Martin had entered our lives

He was cleaned and weighed, an outfit arranged

Then I had my first cuddle, and everything changed

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I cried like a girl, I’ll gladly admit

Overcome with emotion, and scared half to shit

I was now responsible (along with my wife)

For the safety and wellbeing of this tiny life

As I sat there, proudly holding my lad

All I could think was “Fuck me, I’m a Dad!”

I’m sure that I speak for my wife and I, when

I say that it’s been quite the whirlwind since then

There’s been feeding, and screaming, and teething, and naps

Not to mention all manner and colour of craps

He learned to crawl, and then stand, and then walk, and then run

And before we knew it he’d gone and turned one

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Now here we are six more years along

It’s fair to say that I’ve got some things wrong

But I try the very best to do what I can

To raise a polite, well-mannered and respectful young man

He’s handsome and clever; he’s wacky and fun

I couldn’t be prouder to call him my son

He supports Stockport County, just like his Dad

But this particular Hatter, is especially mad

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There is honestly no feeling that I enjoy more

Than seeing his face light up when County score

We’ve shared joy and elation, disappointment and tears

(He even ignores all the swearing he hears)

I know that his childhood won’t always last

But it’s sad to think how he’s growing up fast

It’s his last year in Infants; done his first SATs exam

Match of the Day is his favourite programme

He’s learning guitar, and just lost his first tooth

I wish life could slow down, to tell you the truth

But for now, I’ll just watch him, and try to enjoy

The years we have left while he’s my little boy

It might seem quite soppy, but I’m just trying to say

How proud I am of him (in my own unique way)

Oliver Martin, you are second-to-none

So, this blog is for you…

Happy Birthday, son.

 

 

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Party Loot Blog

Today marks the third-anniversary of when my wife and I bade a fond farewell to any chance of getting a decent night’s sleep ever again. Or, to put it another way, it’s Isaac’s third birthday.

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Yes, shortly after 4:30pm, exactly three years ago to the day, this nocturnal miscreant graced us with his shriveled presence, amid screams from my good lady wife, and the dulcet tones of Noel Edmonds in the background (Deal or No Deal was on the television, just in case you thought the bearded weirdo had crept into Leighton Hospital, to provide running commentaries on childbirth: “We know what we don’t want to see, but let’s find out, after a break…”).

To say Isaac has been hard work ever since, would be something of an understatement; but he can also be utterly adorable, and with a flick of his Donald Trump hair, and a flash of that cheeky grin, he can usually get away with most things. We wouldn’t change him for the world (probably).

Then, on Monday, Ollie turns seven. In his own unique way, Ollie can sometimes be an insufferable little shit too, but we also love him dearly – and equally. Well, I say ‘equally’, but of course you never love your children equally, because you always have a favourite at any given time (https://middlerageddad.com/2015/05/01/fighting-like-cats-and-blogs/),. Still, you get the idea.

Having two children so close together (in terms of birthdays, not their ages), can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, we get to celebrate their birthdays at the same time. However, on the flip side of that, we have to celebrate their birthdays at the same fucking time.

Ok, it’s nice that they both have their birthdays in May – which is frankly a far better month to celebrate your birthday than either mine (February) or my wife’s (November) – but it can be a monumental nightmare to hide, and afford, two piles of presents at the same time. That challenge, however, is nothing compared with the task of simultaneously coordinating two children’s birthday parties.

On the one hand, you could argue that a joint birthday party would be the ideal solution, and would get the whole torrid affair over with in one afternoon, but the boys were born four years apart, and want very different things from their parties – even though, this year, both events will take place at the same venue, and will be catered for by the same person (my wife).

Isaac’s party took place last weekend, while Ollie’s is next weekend. I know what you’re thinking and, yes, it is rather strange to not have either of their parties on the actual weekend of their birthdays, but that is for one very good reason: Ollie initially insisted that he should take precedence as the older child, and have his party this weekend, while Isaac would have to move his party to another time (because Mummy and Daddy had said there was no fucking way they were hosting both in the same weekend).

So, having booked Isaac’s party for the weekend before his birthday (because, frankly, so long as he got a party, it could have been in January for all he cared), Ollie then realised – as did Daddy – that tomorrow is the National League North Play-Off Final, and just in case Stockport County achieved the unthinkable and actually reached the final (which, inevitably, they did not), Ollie and Daddy would be otherwise engaged – and Daddy would be far too hungover on Sunday to face his own children, let alone other people’s.

As a result, Ollie’s party was immediately postponed to the Sunday after his birthday, and we now face the rather unusual situation of having their actual birthday weekend without either party taking place (and no football to go to). Frankly, this weekend is turning out to be quite the disappointment – although I do still have Eurovision to get drunk to, and ridicule, tomorrow night.

Isaac’s party last weekend, involved fourteen toddlers (and a few older siblings) running around and screaming for an hour, whilst falling off various pieces of play equipment – including a giant bouncy castle – at our local leisure centre in Sandbach. This was followed by an hour of party food and games, throughout which Isaac had a wonderful time socialising with his friends:

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My wife, party planner extraordinaire, was in charge of most of the arrangements (booking the venue, invites, balloons, food and drink, cake, party bags….), whereas my only jobs were to prepare a playlist of party music (that the children could listen to whilst eating, then dance to afterwards), and to not behave like a total dick at the party itself. Both of these, inevitably, were a struggle.

First of all, whilst I like to think of my music collection as varied (even, dare I say it, eclectic? – although anyone who claims their music tastes are ‘eclectic’, is generally a tit), apparently many of the two-thousand songs on my iPod are not suitable for toddlers.

Well, at least according to my wife, who dismissed the first three play-lists that I came up with: Celtic guitar-based folk; Soft rock ballads; and Popular film and television themes of the 1980’s. I tried to suggest that children of all ages will appreciate Roxette, and if they haven’t seen a single episode of Airwolf, then their parents are doing an appalling job of raising them; however, yet again, my opinion was dismissed. Thank goodness I went thought that weird Little Mix and Taylor Swift phase a while back (which, in all honesty, is ongoing), otherwise the whole shebang would have been utterly kiboshed.

Having been a father for almost exactly seven years, I like to now consider myself relatively comfortable when surrounded by groups of young children (I implore you to not read too much into that sentence), so long as they follow my three golden rules:

  1. Don’t wipe food, vomit, or faeces on me;
  2. Don’t shriek directly into my ear from close range;
  3. Don’t call me anything derogatory, like ‘poopyhead’.

Sadly, that’s pretty much all young children want to do at birthday parties (with the possible exception of the shit-smearing), so it was inevitable that I was going to have a pretty miserable time of it. Of course, if any of the parents who were actually at the party happen to read this, none of what I just wrote is directed towards your child – who, I have to say, was an absolute delight.

I’m joking, obviously.  Not only was the party a relative success, but the only child to step out of line at any point was our own – although he stepped out of line at pretty much every possible opportunity. From the time his first guest arrived, he more or less refused to interact with anyone (only pausing to briefly acknowledge their existence if they brought him a present); spent no more than thirty seconds on the massive bouncy castle we’d paid for; and sulked when everyone had the audacity to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him.  I mean, the sheer nerve of some children.

Actually, the only time he perked up, was when Daddy’s music came on. #win

Fortunately, Ollie’s party next weekend is likely to be less mentally and physically draining. He naturally wants a football party – because that’s all he talks about these days – followed by lots of food and games. Essentially, he wants what I want from a birthday party (except for the alcohol, topless waitresses, and a nap afterwards), but am not allowed, because society dictates that I must act my age.

Why? Why can’t a man of nearly forty have a kick around with his mates, play ‘tag’, then eat his own body-weight in cocktail sausages and cake? Why can’t my friends bring me Star Wars toys, and sing to me? It’s just not fair.

The answer, of course, is that men can have all those things, but we have to refer to them as ‘stag parties’, and rather than have them once a year, we usually only get to have them once, and end up married shortly afterwards.

And no party is worth that.

(just kidding, dear)

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