E-Blog The Letter

(That’s an R.E.M. reference, in case you didn’t know. Random, but it fits this week’s entry)

For those of you who don’t follow my Facebook page, we were on holiday last week, but I kept in touch by uploading a daily ‘postcard’. This entry is a compilation of those postcards, because:

  1. It’s a nice summary, both for me to look back on, and for you to (hopefully) enjoy – particularly if you haven’t already read them;
  2. For those with a job like mine, where nothing gets done in your absence, I have returned to a shitstorm of e-mails and post, and don’t have time to come up with anything more original….

Monday

  1. This morning, we drove to Stratford-upon-Avon, to visit a playground we discovered last year. Ollie jumped straight in to the lido, wearing a swimming costume far too small – it left little to the imagination – while Isaac sulked by the side, claiming he ‘doesn’t like water’ – presumably because he is part-Gremlin.
  2. He eventually dipped one foot in, before crying because it got wet.
  3. My threshold for other people’s brats, who soak everyone in sight (while squealing like fucking banshees), is two minutes. After that, I have visions of taking off a shoe and throwing it at their face, because the crying would be a welcome change.
  4. Isaac waited until we had to leave, before deciding he loves paddling, and refused to get out.
  5. We must stop taking our children to nice places for lunch. It would be easier, and cheaper, to take them to McDonald’s, and let them beat the shit out of each other there.
  6. Back at our campsite, I joined the boys for a swim in the outdoor pool. Ollie got straight in, whereas Isaac forgot his earlier experience, and was back to hating water.
  7. My recollection of how freezing the pool was last year (it took three months to relocate my testicles) was unwarranted, as the water was lovely and warm – probably thanks to the dozens of children pissing in it.
  8. Having eventually dipped his feet in, Isaac’s bravery returned, and he began jumping for me to catch him. This quickly became tedious, but was apparently the most fun he has had in months.
  9. Why is there always one little shit, who ignores the signs and cannonballs repeatedly?
  10. Why does that kid always belong to the monstrosity sat miles away on their phone? And why, no matter how hard I wish, does that kid never hurt himself?

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Tuesday

  1. The market we went to as kids has gone downhill – unless you want giant old lady underwear, 1970’s crockery, or knock-off DVDs.
  2. The amount of time an adult can spend in a ‘model village’, before becoming bored, is around seven minutes. Children last longer, because ‘everything is TINY’.
  3. Our Children + Heat = Post-apocalyptic savages.
  4. If you cheat on ‘My Fitness Pal’, you can get a cream tea for 284 calories.
  5. All parking machines in The Cotswolds were designed by fucking morons. In Bourton-on-the-Water, one insisted I pay depending on my vehicle, but only offered four options: Coach, Minibus, Motor Home, Honda Civic*. It then asked me to select the duration in 1.5-hour increments, before demanding payment via card (despite having a coin slot).

*I can’t remember the final option, but it wasn’t ‘car’, and with the average resident being 92, it was either ‘Honda Civic’, ‘mobility scooter’, or ‘coffin’.

  1. The boys wanted to go in the pool again. Isaac got on my back and insisted on shouting ‘gallop, horsey, gallop through the deep blue sea’.
  2. My ‘galloping horsey’ apparently looks more like ‘mincing velociraptor’.
  3. A kid jumped in near Ollie, who cried like he had been mortally wounded, claiming he had water in the back of his eye.
  4. We took the boys to a nice pub for dinner, despite their behaviour earlier. On the walk, Isaac wanted to play ‘I-spy’, and started with “something beginning with TR”. The answer, we discovered, was ‘leaves’ (because they are on TRees).
  5. Ollie decided the children’s menu was beneath him, and ordered a 10oz steak. I would have objected, had I not been so damn impressed. He cleared it, the fucking legend.

Wednesday

  1. Today, we visited ‘Birdland’, which was – rather disappointingly – not a strip club.
  2. On the drive, we challenged the boys to spot animals. Within seconds (and with no animals in sight – not even a bird in the sky, or distant cow), Isaac claimed victory. I called bullshit, and insisted he point out this mystery animal. Turns out, he thinks trees are animals (and will scream at anyone who suggests otherwise).
  3. At Birdland, Ollie insisted we head straight to his favourite animals: penguins. In fairness, they were the highlight (flamingoes are fine, but nowhere near as much fun), and Isaac grabbed his pencil and started to draw. Suitably impressed, I braved speaking to him (he doesn’t like it when I address him directly) and complimented his lovely penguin. He then screamed that the drawing was, in actual fact, a robot.
  4. Isaac continued drawing over lunch, sketching ‘kisses’ (hearts) for mummy, flowers for Daddy, and footballs for Ollie. When asked what he was going to draw for himself, he answered: “Jaffa cakes”.
  5. We then visited the ‘Dragonfly Maze’, where you have to not only find the centre (standard maze rules), but also solve clues along the way. Issac insisted on leading, but proved about as useful as a blind, hyperactive puppy.
  6. Next, we drove to Stow-on-the-Wold, and having walked around the shops for an hour, we decided Daddy should have a beer (because Daddy was looking pissed off). Having found a pub, which was promptly ruined for everyone by the arrival of our children, I smacked my head on a low beam for the second time today.
  7. Isaac thought spending the day being horrible warranted a treat, and asked us to buy him a Peppa Pig toy. I wanted to laugh and tell him to fuck off, but opted for the more diplomatic “Isaac, you have been incredibly naughty, and you are getting nothing.”

“My been good!”

“You haven’t.”

“My have!”

“When?”

“Next week.”

  1. I took the boys to the pool again, and thought it would be funny to reference Stephen King’s ‘IT’, by teasing Isaac into the water with ‘Come on, Isaac, you’ll float. We all float down here.’ Everyone heard me. No one got the reference. Twats.
  2. The boys demanded I carry them like a donkey, then Ollie wanted to stand on my back and ‘jet ski’. His foot not only pulled my shorts down (exposing me), but he buried a toe in my arse-crack. I squealed like a pig.
  3. Isaac finally dropped off the colossal shit he has been threatening for two days, but waited until dinner to go fully dilated. After eating, he needed another, and it was Daddy’s turn to dash him back to the caravan. Whilst cleaning, post-splashdown, Daddy got actual shit on his finger.

Thursday

  1. Today’s ‘trip for our kids to ruin’, was, erm, a ruin. Kenilworth Castle, to be precise. It wouldn’t be a family holiday if we didn’t go to a castle (fortunately, now we have kids, my wife usually rations herself to just one per holiday).
  2. When faced with an Elizabethan dressing-up box, you can count on me to head straight for the lady garments. I’m starting to think, if there was such a thing as Elizabethan Drag, it’d be right up my street.
  3. We visited ‘the Queen’s privy garden’ (the Queen being Elizabeth I) and, because he had read the word ‘privvy’ elsewhere, Ollie asked “is this where the Queen went for a wee?”. Yes, Ollie, Liz One was a huge fan of pissing in the bushes.
  4. At lunch, Isaac demanded a ‘kipper’, and got very upset when he couldn’t have one. It was only later, when he started grabbing Ollie’s ‘Calippo’, that we clicked.
  5. I got stung for an ‘English Heritage’ membership, which means I might as well grab the diary when we get home, and pencil in ‘another fucking castle’ every Sunday for the next year.
  6. I was then back in the pool for the fourth day running, pretending to be a jet ski, and causing irreparable damage to my spine. As we were getting out, Isaac begged me to play one more game. Say what you like about him (I often do), but Isaac never fails to surprise. What was his game? “Let’s pretend we’re Vikings and go on a hunt for feet!” That’s one fucked-up kid.
  7. I went for a run – my second of the week – to earn extra calories on the ‘My Fitness Pal’ app. Sadly, it was that hot, I only managed three miles, and then immediately consumed my ‘bonus’ calories, by downing three Coronas.
  8. I cooked pasta for dinner, and burnt myself on the oven. The boys learned a new swear word. They insisted on ham and cheese wraps as ‘starters’, which meant they didn’t each the pasta I lost two fucking fingerprints making.
  9. Over dinner, Ollie found something so funny, he farted. Isaac decided to join in (turns out, Isaac can fart at will, which may be his only talent), and in stereo it sounded like ‘The Frog Chorus’.
  10. I then wanted more beer, so we went to the clubhouse for the boys to burn off energy in the soft-play. Isaac performed ‘jimastix’ (gymnastics), which involved him doing rolls, before they recreated ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ – with Ollie being the judges, and Isaac the contestant. Isaac’s act – ‘Pranks’ – was a combination of football and jimastix. He claimed to be 64.

Friday

  1. During the night, we were woken by something on the roof. My wife thought it was a rat, but I decided it was a pigeon (aka ‘rat with wings’). Over breakfast, she asked me to climb up and find out, but I didn’t fancy getting my face bitten off should she be correct.
  2. The kids were more inventive with their guesses. Ollie decided it was ‘rain…. or Isaac’, whereas Isaac opted for ‘Spongebob’ (but also didn’t rule himself out).
  3. Having watched ‘The Cat In The Hat’ for the third time this week, Isaac now wants to be called ‘Chocolate Thunda’.
  4. We drove to Gloucester, and my wife headed to a shopping centre for some ‘me time’. This lasted around thirty seconds, because Isaac wouldn’t leave her alone, and was back to being vile (after a brief attempt at behaving).
  5. In M&S, we found a mirror for the boys to recreate ‘Snow White’ (Isaac’s request). Isaac stood behind the mirror, while Ollie asked “mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” Isaac’s reply? “Well, it used to be Snow White. But then I killed her.” Standard Isaac.
  6. Went to Nandos for lunch (Ollie’s choice) and Isaac only wanted chips with “ALL the ketchup”, until he saw Ollie’s chicken strips and demanded the same. We stood our ground, so Isaac retaliated by pouring half a bottle of ketchup onto his chips, before claiming he no longer likes ketchup (which is bullshit, because he likes ketchup more than oxygen).
  7. Isaac then began drawing more hearts for Mummy, but only used the black crayon – to represent his cold, dead heart.
  8. After lunch, I visited the toilet, but stupidly followed my wife’s directions and ended up in the kitchen, much to everyone’s surprise.
  9. After a final trip to the pool (which Isaac changed his mind about so many times, we had ten minutes before it closed), we went back to the clubhouse for dinner one last time. Bizarrely, of the families to our left, one had a son called Ollie, and the other an Isaac. I suggested we swap our kids with theirs, but my wife wasn’t keen.
  10. We were then subjected to the lamest of entertainment, bingo. Not only was the microphone too loud, and the caller too fast, he didn’t know any of the phrases. Even I know 88 is ‘two fat ladies’, and not ‘one eight, then another eight’.

Thanks for reading x

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Fungus The Blogeyman

Fairy2

Hello everyone.

Let me introduce myself – I’m the Dummy Fairy. You may have heard of me – especially if you have young kids – since I’m kind of a big deal.

My job is relatively simple. If a child has become somewhat attached to having a dummy in their mouth, and all other attempts to wean them off have failed, parents contact me as a means of last resort to help them out. I then swoop in when the child is asleep (usually within 48 hours of getting the initial job sheet through from my office staff), and steal all remaining dummies from the house. The child then has no choice but to go cold turkey from that moment on.

Some of you may think this sounds cruel, but I find it’s the only guaranteed method of success, and I tend to leave a gift (or sometimes money – depending on the preference of the parent) in exchange for the child’s dummies, so it’s not all that bad. Besides, the dummies are then re-homed, to younger children who need them more, so nothing is wasted, and everything gets recycled. I pride myself on offering an environmentally-friendly service, and my carbon footprint is very much like my actual footprint – very small indeed.

Look, if my service didn’t work, I wouldn’t still be in business – and business has never been better. In fact, I started to get so busy a few decades ago, I had to go grovelling to that fat bastard Santa for some of his magic dust, so I could slow down time for my rounds.

Anyway, I’d argue my job is harder than Santa’s, because I have to be more thorough when visiting a child’s house. He only has to haul his colossal arse down a chimney, then throw some presents under a tree and leave; whereas I have to cover every square inch of the house, to make sure all the dummies have been collected, before I can even think about dropping the gift off and getting the hell out of there. You have no idea the pressure I am under, knowing that – at any given second – a child could wake up and spot me.

In fairness, he has to visit every child on the planet in just one night, whereas my rounds are restricted to only those kids with dummy addictions (at last year’s ‘P.E.N.I.S.’ Convention – Pixies, Elves, Nymphs, Imps & Sprites – it was estimated that our workload is roughly 4% of his), but he spends a fraction of the time in each house, and has 364 days of the year to plan his route – which is the same route every sodding year. Not me, though. I’m never off duty, and can be sent anywhere at the drop of a hat. It’s a good job fairies can’t get sick (apart from that pillock Tinkerbell, who claims to be ill every time someone doesn’t believe in her).

In the end, the workload became so much, the Fairy Council decided to divide the planet up into sections, and recruited a load more fairies like me to be responsible for one part of the globe each. As a result, I’m the Dummy Fairy responsible for the UK and Ireland; but we also now have, for example, the ‘Pacifier Pixie’ covering the United States (stupid fucking name, I know, but she insisted because she thinks it makes her sound cool); the ‘Chupete Clan’ deal with all the Spanish speaking countries; and the Germans have the ‘Schnuller Sprite’ (very efficient fairy, is Schnully, and one of the best in the business). Of course, parents in each of those countries may know their respective fairy by another name, but that’s the official titles they have been given by the Council.

Say what you like about us, but we offer a crucial role in society. Sure, there are other methods of weaning children away from their dummies, but studies have shown that Saliva Patches aren’t always that successful; Chewing Gum is generally advised against when it comes to young children; and don’t even get me started on these new-fangled electronic ‘e-dummies’. Total waste of money, and the child looks ridiculous vaping away on one of them all day long.

No, if you want your kids to give up dummies for good, you need to give one of us a call, and we guarantee success within a week – or your money back (actually, we have to say that, even though you only pay for the gift you want us to leave for your child, so there isn’t really any charge for what we do. We tried to re-brand the service as ‘no-success, no-fee’ a few years ago, but apparently the personal injury lawyers thought it was too similar to ‘no-win, no-fee’, and threatened to sue, so we had to back down).

If you still have any doubts about how successful our service is, let me introduce you to this little fella:

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His name is Isaac, and he lives in a place called Sandbach, in Cheshire. Until recently, he craved a dummy more than he clearly craves a hairbrush. At one stage, he had eight dummies on the go at the same time – not all in his mouth, obviously, but he had amassed quite the collection.

His parents had tried everything to break his addiction, but the most they had managed to achieve was restricting him to two dummies at bed time. They evidently decided this was a worthwhile compromise, if it meant getting just a tiny bit more sleep (it never fails to amaze me, the steps parents will go to for just a fraction more sleep; but since I’m awake all the time, I guess I will never understand what sleep-deprivation can do to a person).

However, with primary school looming this September, and disapproving glances from other parents, they finally reached breaking point, and gave me a call. Well, I say me, but I have a team of call centre operatives based just outside Delhi, who field my incoming work for me.

Within a day, I was on the case, and crept in to their house in the small hours to begin my search. They had already told me where most of the dummies were hidden, but I can’t afford any slip-ups in my line of work, so I still have to cover every part of the house. Imagine if a child was told the dummy fairy had taken their dummies away, to give them to younger children who needed them more, only to discover one under their bed, or down the back of the sofa? My reputation would be in tatters.

Once I was satisfied that the house was entirely dummy-free, I left one of my customary notes, explaining that Isaac was too big to have dummies now, and they were being put to better use, and I was on my way. Although not before leaving him a little gift to sweeten the deal.

Another successful result for the Dummy Fairy.

Of course, I always like to keep an eye on the child for a few days after removal, in case of any follow-up issues the parents may encounter (the withdrawal can be tough at times), but that’s just part of the service.

Anyway, that’s me. It was nice to finally meet you all, but I better dash, as I’m out for dinner tonight with the tooth fairy. Nasty piece of work, the tooth fairy, but he’s rolling in it (his parents died when he was six, when a toadstool collapsed and fell on them, and they left him a bloody fortune – hence why he can afford to pay some kids a fiver per tooth these days), so he always picks up the bill. And, if there’s one thing I like more than seeing a well-used dummy sent to a good home, it’s a free meal.

See you around some time – and, remember, not a word of this to any kids, ok?

Sleep tight, folks.

DF x

Fairy

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Goldiblogs and the Three Bears

Once-upon-a-time-2

there was a little boy called Goldiblogs.

Well, his real name was Isaac, but he had such long hair (on account of the fact he would scream like a fucking banshee if he was placed within thirty feet of a barber’s chair), he was often mistaken for a little girl. So, for one week in January 2018, purely because his father needed material for a blog entry, together with a *clever* title involving the word ‘blog’, he became known as Goldiblogs. If you don’t like it, then tough shit.

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Anyway, Goldiblogs lived in Sandbach, with his family – Daddy Bear, Mummy Bear and his elder brother, Ollie Bear.

One Saturday morning, Goldiblogs woke at his usual weekend time of 6am, a full hour before he would ever open his eyes during the week (when his parents actually needed him to get out of bed and ready for nursery), and he immediately began demanding to watch Youtube. Despite her sleep deprivation, Mummy Bear was able to find a suitable video on her phone in a little under ten seconds (she had considerable experience of searching Youtube quickly whilst semi-conscious), and immediately handed it over to Goldiblogs, so that he might ‘shut the hell up’. As Mummy Bear drifted back off, she reflected that such inadvisable parenting methods were fully justified, if it meant a few more minutes of blissful slumber.

Unlike most children his age, Goldiblogs didn’t want to watch Youtube clips of Disney characters, or CBeebies cartoons, and instead preferred to savour wildlife documentaries of small, innocent animals being ripped apart by savage predators (*this is a joke, in case anyone considers notifying the authorities about our questionable parenting. If you really want to report us, it would be far better to tell them about the cage we keep our children in sometimes).

Despite getting precisely what he wanted, Goldiblogs still decided to scream loudly for no apparent reason; and, when chastised by Daddy Bear, he retaliated with a swift kick to the testicles – his signature move. Daddy Bear knew this was likely to happen when the screaming started, and even began to take counter-measures to protect his teddy junk, but he was not yet fully awake, and his reactions were too slow. The kick found it’s mark, and Daddy Bear made a sound not dissimilar to a donkey giving birth.

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Goldiblogs’ scream then woke his brother, Ollie Bear, who immediately wanted to go downstairs to play games on the laptop. Daddy Bear tried to persuade both of his children to go back to sleep for a bit, but he knew this was fruitless, and he was destined to now get up and make breakfast for them both.

This was the usual weekend routine for the Bear family. Daddy Bear would get up early with the children, while Mummy Bear had a lie-in, and in return they would swap later in the morning, so that Daddy Bear could go back to bed for a much-needed nap. Daddy Bear loved his naps, and his record was five in a day.

So, Daddy Bear reluctantly hauled his tired (and bruised) body out of bed, and dragged both of his children downstairs for breakfast.

He offered Goldiblogs a bowl of cereal, which Goldiblogs initially agreed to, but having taken just one bite, he decided it was ‘too crunchy’.

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He then offered Goldiblogs some toast, which was again readily accepted, but after the briefest of tastes, it was ‘too chewy’. In the end, Daddy Bear gave up trying to placate Goldiblogs, and pretended to be asleep on the sofa, while Goldiblogs searched for his own breakfast. He soon returned from the kitchen, with a bowl of own-brand jaffa cakes, and they turned out to be just right.

Now, due to the fact the weather outside was horrible – because this story takes place in January, the worst of all the months – the Bear family decided to have a relaxed Saturday at home, without leaving the house. This turned out to be something of a mistake, however, because Goldiblogs was feral by nature, and belonged outdoors (presumably hunting for squirrels, and other woodland creatures to feed on).

As a result, within the first hour of their relaxing Saturday, Goldiblogs was climbing the walls. Normally, this is a figure of speech, to express one’s feelings of nervousness or frustration, however, on this occasion, Goldiblogs actually attempted to climb one of the walls in the living room, and nearly destroyed a cabinet of DVDs.

What made the situation worse, was that this was the cabinet on the left-hand side of the Bear Family’s fireplace, which was the one containing Daddy Bear’s prized collection of Bond films. Had it been the cabinet on the right-hand side of the fireplace, Daddy Bear said he would not have given a ‘flying fuck’ about the Home Alone and Scooby Doo DVDs taking a beating, but he was very protective of his Bond box set, and slightly over-reacted as a result. Fortunately, soon after Daddy Bear had shouted at Goldiblogs, Mummy Bear got out of bed, muttering something about all the noise, and Daddy Bear was allowed to go for his nap. This pleased Daddy Bear immeasurably.

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Unfortunately, Goldiblogs was no quieter during Daddy Bear’s nap, as he decided to play with ALL THE TOYS IN THE HOUSE simultaneously; and, having surrounded himself with all the toys, he set about searching for the absolute noisiest.

Following what appeared to be several hours of thorough investigation, Goldiblogs determined that the toy keyboard was too quiet, the toy guitar was too broken (thanks, in no small part, to Daddy Bear removing the batteries earlier in the week – something he chuckled to himself about at the time), but the toy drum kit, which Goldiblogs’ uncle had bought him for Christmas just two weeks earlier, was just right.

So, having located a device with which to re-create the precise thumping monotony and decibel level of a pneumatic jack hammer, Goldiblogs set about beating the living crap out of it for the next hour.

When Daddy Bear eventually gave up on trying to nap, and arrived back in the living room with every intention of launching said drum kit over the fence in the back garden (whilst simultaneously making a mental note to buy his ten-month old niece an air horn next Christmas, to enact sweet revenge on his evil sibling), the decision was made to get the family out of the house before someone fully lost their shit. That someone was highly likely to be Daddy Bear.

Sadly, the brief trip to Crewe, to buy new shoes for everyone apart from Mummy Bear – who, Daddy Bear remarked, already had enough pairs of shoes to wear different ones each day for at least two months – did little to raise everyone’s spirits, and so Mummy and Daddy Bear eventually gave in to Ollie Bear’s pleas to have lunch at Nando’s.

Once Goldiblogs had been provided with a packet of crayons, and something to scribble on, he was much quieter (if not particularly well-behaved), and eventually agreed to some chicken strips, garlic bread and chips for his lunch. Whilst not the healthiest of options, Mummy and Daddy Bear had long since given up hope of having a nice family meal out together, and so they chose their battles carefully. For a while, Goldiblogs seemed almost happy, and even posed for a photo.

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Naturally, when the food arrived, Goldiblogs wanted lashings of ketchup over EVERYTHING. Ketchup was Goldiblogs’ favourite food of all time, even above jaffa cakes, and he bloody loved jaffa cakes. It did not matter to Goldiblogs that ketchup is nothing more than a condiment; because, to him, it was the very centre of the culinary world. In fact, if Goldiblogs could smother jaffa cakes with ketchup, then he most certainly would – although the idea had not yet occurred to him, and if anyone were to mention it in his presence, Daddy Bear would surely hurt them. No, seriously, don’t even think about it.

In order to keep Goldiblogs happy / sedated, Mummy Bear applied a large dollop of ketchup to his plate. Goldiblogs was displeased with the quantity, however, and cried for more. Mummy Bear therefore glanced at Daddy Bear, who was in turn glaring at his youngest child (whilst chewing angrily), and she allowed Goldiblogs a little more sauce to keep the peace. This was still not enough, however, and so Goldiblogs grabbed the bottle from his mother, and promptly emptied the contents over his food, until it was almost entirely coated. This, to Goldiblogs, was just right.

That evening, following his bath, it was time for Goldiblogs to go to bed. Goldiblogs hated going to bed, and loudly screamed that he wanted to stay up late, but all of the day’s bad behaviour had taken it’s toll, and soon his eyes began to drop – although not before he had loudly announced that his bed had ‘Pooh in it’ (which caused Daddy Bear to come sprinting up the stairs in a blind panic, fearing the worst).

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Once Goldiblogs was asleep, Mummy Bear crept downstairs, so that she and Daddy Bear could have their evening meal, and regain some normality.

But, before long, it was Daddy Bear who began to feel sleepy, and he decided to head to bed himself. He crept carefully up the stairs, so as to not wake either of the children, but unbeknownst to him, Goldiblogs had already woken up, and had decided that his own bed was too small. He had then tried to climb up the ladders to his brother’s bed, but it was too high. So, in the end, he had walked into Mummy and Daddy Bear’s room, and got into the middle of their bed.

And it was just right.

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Argos Catablog

This week’s entry is all about Christmas.

Now, I imagine most of you will have reacted to that opening line in one of two ways. Firstly, there will be those reading this, who – in the words of Roy Wood and Wizzard – wish it could be Christmas every day, and the 25th December cannot come fast enough.

To compensate for this, you begin preparing for Christmas at some point in early June, because it’s never too early to start planning. You reacted to that opening line with a warm glow inside, and a broad smile on your face. By this stage of the year, with December just around the corner, you can barely contain your excitement.

The second group, on the other hand, will have reacted with sheer repulsion at the mere mention of Christmas just yet. Those people who refuse to even acknowledge that Christmas exists until the 1st December each year, and if they happen to spot a mince pie on a supermarket shelf, or hear Shakin Stevens’ Merry Christmas Everyone (undoubtedly the finest of all the Christmas songs, by some margin) being played while they peruse the freezer section, they will go fucking mental. Not only that, they will make damn sure every customer within hearing range will know of their displeasure at being subjected to ‘Christmas stuff’ so early in the year.

I am somewhere in between those two camps. On the one hand, I love Christmas, and it is without doubt my favourite time of year; but by the same token, I also love Easter, yet I don’t feel the need to start stockpiling masses of chocolate in late January. I’m all for sensible planning, but there comes a point where it starts to get a bit silly. I do not necessarily subscribe to the idea Christmas should be banned until the start of December, but I do object to the sight of baubles and tinsel, when it’s still warm enough to wear shorts outside.

I know this is largely the fault of the retailers, who will start to quietly infiltrate their stock with mince pies and decorations before the August Bank Holiday weekend is out of the way, but is there really any need? If we all took a stand, together, and refused to purchase anything Christmas-related until say, after Bonfire Night, they’d soon stop it.

Sadly, my wife is very firmly in the ‘Christmas cannot come early enough’ category. This is partly because she loves nothing more than buying and wrapping presents for everyone, but mostly because she is a secondary school teacher, and Christmas means getting away from the repugnant little shits that she teaches for two whole weeks.

Unfortunately, this also means that she begins planning for Christmas as soon as she goes back to school in September (as a coping strategy, I suspect). It gives her something to aim towards, to keep her sane. As a result, she will begin buying gifts ‘to put away’ – mostly for our two boys – at the start of each academic year. This is fine at first, but the more she buys, the harder it becomes to hide the growing mountain of gifts from prying little eyes.

Admittedly, our boys are largely unaware of anything they cannot eat or destroy, so we tend to get away with hiding presents in plain sight (in fact, Ollie is generally so oblivious to what is going on around him, that we could probably store presents under his bed), but by this time of the year, we are always faced with a problem.

You see, such is my wife’s obsession with both shopping and Christmas, that she starts buying gifts at the end of summer, but doesn’t then stop until mid-December. Now, I wouldn’t mind so much if she just did all the shopping early, then ceased spending come Halloween, but the speed at which she purchases Christmas presents never falters for the final four months of the year.

The result of this, is that by mid-November, when we have our annual ‘let’s get everything out in the living room, to see what we’ve bought, and who we still need gifts for’ evening (which she enjoys far more than I do), we could honestly build an extension onto the rear of the house with all the boxes we appear to have amassed.

No word of a lie, we got the boys’ presents laid out on the carpet last week, and it looked like someone had ram-raided Argos, filled a van, and then dumped the loot between our two sofas.

A girl plays on an artwork made of unwanted toys at the solo exhibition of Japanese artist Hiroshi Fuji, in Tokyo

Actual footage

I suppose I shouldn’t complain, as she loves Christmas shopping so much, that she takes control of buying not only the boys’ presents, but also both our families’ gifts, and those for all our friends too. In fact, the only person I have to buy for, is her – and I swear that, even then, she will send subliminal messages to me when she knows I’m not listening, so that I later think I’ve had a great idea for what to get her, and it was her suggestion all along. Oh well, at least she gets what she wants this way.

The problem I foresee this year, however, is that neither of our boys is behaving particularly well at present, so unless there is a dramatic improvement over the next month, we may have to hold some of the gifts back for their birthdays (which are three days apart in May), as I don’t want them thinking bad behaviour goes unpunished.

Sure, we still have the option of Father Christmas ‘swapping’ some of their presents for potatoes (our usual threat each year, although coal works just as well if you prefer), but such is their current level of naughtiness, I fear sticking to that threat would see them with no presents whatsoever, and more spuds than McCain (the frozen food manufacturer, not the US Senator – although he does look a bit like a potato).

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Mr Potato

This year, Ollie has decided he doesn’t want his usual long list of toys from the Argos catalogue, and claims he will be happy with just a Barcelona kit, and some massive Lego ‘Scooby Doo Mansion’ he has set his sights on. In some ways, I’m pleased he now acknowledges that growing up sometimes means receiving fewer (but more expensive) presents; however at the same time, it shows a complete ignorance of just how much those two gifts happen to cost.

I admire his apparent restraint, but not only is the gesture undermined when the two presents seemingly cost more than a decent family holiday, I also know he’s a lying little shit.  Sure, he can make such a bold statement now, but even if he did receive both the Barcelona kit and Scooby Doo Lego on Christmas morning (which he won’t), is he honestly going to sit there, content, while Isaac continues unwrapping gifts for the next half an hour? No, he’s going to sulk like a little bitch.

Saying he only wants two very expensive gifts for Christmas, is like me saying I only want an Aston Martin and Holly Willoughby this year (which, if my wife is reading this, is exactly what I would like, please). Ok, the logistics of arranging this are somewhat complicated (one promises to be a luxurious and thrilling ride…. and the other is an Aston Martin), but it’s what I truly want, and Christmas should be a time of making your loved ones happy.

Still, socks are nice too. I always need socks.

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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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Chicken Blogs

This week’s entry was going to be about our firm’s Christmas party a couple of weeks ago, and to be honest I had well over 1,000 words penned before I decided to ditch it and start again with something else, but I can pretty much sum up the evening in two paragraphs:

I got drunk, then realised I was going to have to dance, so got even more drunk. As the evening drew to a close, a lady collapsed on the dance floor, and, having published my blog entry about fainting earlier that day, I decided that not only was my presence on the dance floor some kind of fate, but I was suitably qualified to offer medical assistance – ignoring the fact that she worked for a GP surgery, and most of her colleagues were either nurses or doctors.

Undeterred, I insisted on trying to offer advice (‘You’re a nurse, I get it, but this has happened to me before’), and was in the process of trying to lift her legs up (the collapsed lady, not the nurse), when one unnecessarily aggressive chap told me to fuck off. So, being a lover not a fighter, fuck off I did, but then another bloke stepped in, squared up to original dickhead, and started a brawl – which ended up with a security guard getting head-butted. We scarpered, and the rest of the evening is a little hazy. 

So, that’s my original entry in a nutshell. Quite how I stretched that beyond 1,000 words is a mystery, although I suspect many years spent as a lawyer might have helped.

Then, just as I was mulling over what material might replace it, the Comedy Gods smiled down on me, and Isaac got chicken pox.

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That’s not to say I found his itchy misery amusing, far from it, but I had to take my last day of annual leave to look after him on Monday, and decided to keep a record of events….

07:30

My wife just left for work, and I’m stuck with two particularly grumpy children. Isaac has every reason to be, as he looks like an extra from The Walking Dead, but quite why Ollie is being such an offensive little twat remains a mystery.

07:45

Despite Ollie’s mood, and Isaac’s persistent itching, I have managed to get them both sat at the kitchen table eating cereal.

I initially considered this to be a win, until Ollie chose to have a completely unnecessary tantrum. Essentially, he was lining up some toy animals, to represent a ‘Lion Guard’ (crap Disney spin-off from The Lion King, don’t ask) and insisted that this:

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is a honey badger.

Clearly, without any shadow of doubt, it is a cat, and I’d even go so far as to suggest it is Jess from Postman Pat, but one thing it is very much not, is a fucking honey badger. I’m not even sure I know what a ‘honey badger’ looks like – other than a strong suspicion that it bears more than a passing resemblance to a ‘normal’ badger – but I am 99% certain it doesn’t look anything like a black and white cat.

It’s not often that I side with Isaac, over Ollie, when it comes to matters of intellect (in his defence, Isaac is four years Ollie’s junior, and has had a number of head injuries of late), but on this occasion I am very much Team Isaac. Which has only angered Ollie all the more, and made the entire screaming dispute rather confusing – because I am in no doubt that he knows full well it’s a cat, so I’m not sure why he’s being such a dick about it.

08:15

Progress has improved considerably. I have managed to put a load of washing on, pay some bills, half-listen to Ollie read his school book (then wrote a note in his planner, giving the impression we spent yesterday afternoon lovingly reading together in front of a burning fire, rather than a rushed five minutes this morning while I forced his shoes on), and I fixed Isaac’s pushchair ready for the school run – the wheel fell off in Waitrose yesterday, amid a string of curse words that I surprised even myself with.

09:15

School run complete, and aside from Ollie crying twice, I have safely delivered him to his teacher, fed and fully clothed. Since I now have 50% fewer children than twenty minutes ago, the day is bound to improve.

09:30

Realising that I still hadn’t booked my car in for its emissions upgrade with those naughty folk at Volkswagen, I phoned on the off-chance they could fit me in today, and they can – so long as I get the car to them in the next hour. Fine, except I want to hang the washing out before I go.

10:15

The final spin cycle finished ages ago, but the door is still locked. I’ve tried kicking the machine, and calling it an ‘insufferable piece of shit’, but neither worked.

10:25

Washing finally finished and on the dryer. I might have been able to hang it out quicker, but Isaac insisted on ‘helping’. And, by that, I mean throwing wet socks at me, before running off with a pair of my pants on his head.

10:40

Arrived at Volkswagen ten minutes late. They appeared to be put out by my tardiness, until I pointed out that the only reason I was there on my last day of holiday, with a sick child, was because they are a bunch of lying, cheating, rule-dodging fuckers, and we decided to call it quits. They have assured me that the car will be ready for 1pm, which means I can take Pox Boy into Crewe for a bit.

11.10

Turns out my recollection of the distance between VW and the town centre is woefully inaccurate. I’ve been walking for nearly half an hour, hunched over Isaac’s crappy pushchair (the handle won’t extend to suit anyone over 5’4”, and the steering appears to have been modelled on the QE2), and I’m still nowhere near. I’m inclined to Google which is longer – this journey, or the river Nile.

11:45

Made it to the retail park in Crewe, and headed for Costa. Handed over life savings for two drinks, a piece of cake for me, and a penguin biscuit for Isaac.

He initially wanted a penguin biscuit, then chose a cookie, and finally a gingerbread man, before settling back on the penguin biscuit. Just as I was about to buy it, he changed his mind again to the cookie.

Then, as soon as I had made the purchase, he demanded the fucking penguin biscuit. I decided to teach him a lesson, and insisted he have the cookie…. but within ten seconds, I gave in to his embarrassing screams and queue-jumped to make yet another swap.

“Hi. Yes, I know you just served me. Yes, I was the guy with the indecisive little shit. Turns out, he does want the penguin biscuit after all – if you could exchange it again please. Yes, I’ll be sure to tell him you hate him.”

11:55

The women next to me are giving me filthy looks, because I have apparently brought the Bubonic Plague into their miserable lives. I’ve tried having a loud conversation with Isaac, about how he’s much better and no longer contagious, but this has not appeased them.

To make matters worse, Isaac has now finished his penguin biscuit, as well as most of my cake and hot chocolate, and is demanding the cookie we put back. Time to leave (but not before letting him cough over the woman next to me as we pass).

12:30

Have managed to buy all my family’s Christmas cards, including a ‘Merry Christmas Brother and His Pregnant Wife’ (see, Mum, I can buy overly specific cards too), and have started the long walk back to VW, just in case they haven’t also lied about my car being ready for 1:00pm.

12:50

Just encountered the scummiest man in Crewe (which is some achievement). He hurriedly overtook us as we were walking towards the train station, then dashed to pick up a discarded fag packet on the pavement, which he obviously thought I had my eye on. No, mate, be my guest.

He then turned, while checking through the sodden packet, and shouted ‘well, you gotta check, just in case, eh?’ Amazingly, I found myself nodding in agreement, but this only confirmed his suspicion that we were indeed in competition, and so he scuttled off to make sure he was first to the next one.

13:10

Arrived back at VW, ten minutes late again. Naturally, the car was only ‘nearly ready’, but they would give me a shout in a few minutes.

13:30

Lying bastards.

13:45

The car is finally ready.

The generous people at VW, by way of an apology for their multi-million pound scam, have given me a VW gift set, comprising a VW key ring, a VW key fob, a VW pen, a VW flask, and two VW business cards, in case they can ever be of assistance in the future, should I need something else illegally tampered with.

They have also apparently washed the car – which I was initially grateful for, until I remembered that I had washed it myself only yesterday. So now I’m just left feeling insulted, as if they saw the job I had done yesterday, and decided to make it better. Cheeky swines.

They’ve also done a ‘health check’, and have told me that various parts of the car need attention, so although the emissions upgrade is free, if I would care to spend my children’s university fund on some brake pads, they’d be happy to help. Not a chance.

14:05

Don’t judge me, but after the morning I’ve had, I’m taking Isaac to McDonalds for lunch. Well, I’m not taking him inside, clearly (not after the Costa incident), but we’ll get a Drive-Thru and take it home.

14:15

Had a row with Isaac at the Drive-Thru. He only wants beans on toast for lunch, but when I said I’d happily make that for him at home, he screamed and insisted that he wanted it from McDonalds. I tried to explain that McDonalds don’t do beans on toast, but he wasn’t having it, so I had to ask ‘Sally One-Star’ at the Drive-Thru window to play along.

Quite why I thought someone who struggles with the concept of a ‘plain hamburger’, would be able to master a bit of impromptu role-play with an irrational toddler, I don’t know.

14:30

Finally home, and having wolfed down my burgers, fries, and diet coke (the bloody milkshake machine wasn’t working, as if my day couldn’t get any worse), I feel much better.

No, of course I don’t, I just ate a McDonalds. I feel like shit and hate myself.

Time for a lie down.

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