Always The Underblogs

Last weekend, I became a Footy Dad.

By that, I mean I became one of those fathers who spends his Saturday/Sunday mornings in all kinds of weather (and it was most certainly raining at the time), watching his child play for a local football team.

I’m not entirely sure whether ‘Footy Dad’ is the correct term, as I’ve only been to one match so far, and none of the other parents have explained what we should refer to ourselves as yet (I felt silly asking, and it didn’t seem important at the time); but I suppose the best way to explain it is this: I became the male British equivalent of a ‘Soccer Mom’ – only ‘Footy Dad’ sounds less sexy.

Anyway, if we thought Isaac’s first day at school could have gone better, that was nothing compared to poor Ollie’s debut in the Mid-Cheshire Youth Football League (although at least Ollie didn’t cling to me and refuse to go onto the pitch).

Ollie only joined the Sandbach United Under-9’s ‘Kites’ team a couple of weeks ago, and had been to just two training sessions prior to the start of the season (the latter of which was only the night before).

As such, he didn’t really know most of his teammates before the first match on Saturday, and – more importantly – the manager wasn’t sure where best to play him. Ollie is adamant he is a striker, but what nine-year-old doesn’t think they should be the one scoring all the goals? It’s extremely rare to find a young aspiring footballer who is desperate to play at left-back.

Thankfully, the training session a few weeks ago, and then the ‘pre-season friendly’ last Friday night, had both seemed to go relatively well, so the manager was optimistic of at least giving The Kites’ first competitive opponents a decent test.  Unfortunately, however, this optimism was short-lived.

When we arrived, there was a bit of time before kick-off for me to take some pictures of Ollie in his new kit – which, whilst the Kites’ away strip this season (the home kit hasn’t arrived yet, apparently), is still alarmingly reminiscent of Burnley’s colours, and to a Stockport County fan this is horrifying (long story short: they cheated at Wembley in 1994, were promoted at County’s expense, and I haven’t forgiven them since). Still, despite the disgusting colour scheme, Ollie looked very grown up and smart, and I managed a few photos dotted around what is a very impressive set up at Sandbach United.

As the 10.30am kick-off time arrived, Ollie and the rest of his new team mates were called over by the manager, who quickly ran through their starting formation – and even though I was some distance away by the side of the pitch, it was quickly apparent that Ollie would be starting as a lone striker up front. I was now beaming with pride, and just praying he could score at least one goal.

The fact that Ollie didn’t know the names of his teammates turned out not to be a problem, because it transpired almost all of the squad were called either Lucas or Jacob; so, by shouting one of those names, he at least stood a good chance of attracting someone’s attention.

The referee then indicated that one boy from each team should come over to determine who would kick off, and Ollie (being the nearest Kites player to the centre spot) readily volunteered.

To my amusement, kick-off was not decided by the usual coin toss (as is customary), but instead by an impromptu game of ‘rock, paper, scissors’. I assume this is standard throughout the league, rather than at the whim of this referee in particular; but should tomorrow’s kick-off be determined by a quick ‘thumb war’, or even ‘musical statues’, I will be just as equally delighted.

Continuing my proud father moment, Ollie’s rock destroyed his opponent’s puny scissors, and it was all I could do to restrain myself at the side of the pitch. I had to remind myself that, much as I was desperate to yell “Ha! In your face, dickhead!” at the opposing player, he was only eight years old, and presumably one or more of his legal guardians would be nearby.

Ollie then kicked off (rather prematurely, in all honesty, as the referee had not yet blown his whistle – but seeing as we later went to watch Stockport County that afternoon, and even they managed to screw up kick off, I subsequently apologised to Ollie for laughing at his eagerness).

Almost immediately, it became clear that Ollie’s team were likely to be outclassed, as their opponents passed the ball around well, and won every tackle. Unsurprisingly, therefore, it wasn’t long before they went ahead. Ollie, meanwhile, looked utterly lost up front, but equally didn’t get involved enough to try and win the ball. I pointed this out to one of the mums who we know, but we both agreed that it was their first match, and Ollie was just settling in.

Unfortunately, not all of the adults on the touchline were as patient/considerate as us, and one grandfather in particular (I assume he was a grandfather, as he looked to be of retirement age, but he also appeared to be from one of those families where even the middle-aged members are on borrowed time) became very vocal towards the players, singling Ollie out in particular:

“Who’s that kid there? He’s just standing there doing nothing!”

I wanted to respond with: “That’s actually my son. He’s eight years old, this is his first match, and, in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s pissing it down. How about you cut him some fucking slack, you horrible, odious, mouth-breathing swamp donkey?”; but, as ever in this sort of situation, I had to quickly assess my chances of ending up in hospital, and decided that this chap – whilst potentially elderly – probably didn’t lose all his teeth eating toffees.

Even though I later regretted not defending my son, I made a mental note to instead blog about this piece of shit the following Friday (today) and wish upon him a plague of every venereal disease known to man (plus, if possible, some not yet known to man). The fact that his penis was almost certainly black and shrivelled already, made little difference to me, and I was comforted by my mental act of revenge.

I then became slightly side-tracked, by trying to remember how to spell gonorrhoea (even now, having spell-checked it, that still doesn’t look right to me), and by the time I regained my focus on the match, Ollie’s team were 4-0 down.

Now, if I thought the unusual kick-off routine was a bit different, another rule I was unaware of until last weekend was that, should a team find themselves 4-0 down, they are allowed to bring an extra player onto the pitch. So, just when I thought Ollie may be substituted for someone better, his team ended up with an extra man on the field.

Unfortunately, this made no difference whatsoever, as they just as quickly found themselves 8-0 down, meaning their only remaining player could also enter the pitch. To further compound the problem, their opponents were now able to rotate their players to give some of them a rest, whereas The Kites had to keep all of their players on until the end of the match (or at least until they reduced the goal deficit, but this seemed unlikely). Unsurprisingly, they quickly became knackered – and soaked.

This didn’t help the mood of the group next to me, and one father in particular who – whilst at least directing vitriol towards his own son rather than mine – took matters a little too far (following a badly timed slide tackle) by shouting ‘Stay on your fucking feet!’. Classy.

Anyway, much as I would love for this story to end in triumph, with Ollie’s team overcoming adversity to snatch victory with the last kick of the game (preferably with Ollie scoring the winner, so that I could run the length of the pitch waving my shirt around my head); sadly it was not to be, and I lost count of the score when it got to 15-0.

I was, however, immensely proud of Ollie – and the rest of his team for that matter – since at no point did his head drop, and more importantly, he didn’t cry (which, if I’m honest, I fully expected him to).

In fact, he seems relatively upbeat about tomorrow’s match (God love his optimism) and has spent the last few days working out ‘tactics’ on FIFA 18. Unfortunately, this has involved him playing as Burnley (so that the kit looks realistic), but at least he has changed all the players’ names to match those of his teammates.

“Lucas, passes to Lucas, back to Jacob, who picks out Lucas, Jacob shoots….”

See, don’t they look similar?

Wish us luck for tomorrow, and thanks for reading x

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Blog Boy School

On Tuesday, Isaac started primary school – and, as expected, it could have gone better.

Don’t get me wrong, it could have easily gone much worse (this is Isaac); but compared to some of the little angels at the school gate, who behaved impeccably for their parents – practically skipping into the reception classroom – ours still claimed a podium finish in the ‘sulky little twat’ event.

Admittedly, it’s not like his refusal to accept school came as a shock, since there were plenty of warnings:

  1. He was the same when he went to pre-school (and even, on a few occasions, at nursery – which he loved);
  2. Ollie was the same, when he started reception four years ago. In fact, he not only screamed when my wife dropped him off each morning, he refused to take part in P.E. for months (even, on one occasion, running away and hiding under a desk in an empty classroom). To this day, he still refuses to take his socks off when doing any kind of sport, lest his classmates catch a glimpse of his perfectly ordinary feet;
  3. I was also the same at his age, when I went to primary school (a point my mother has raised on more than one occasion since Tuesday); and, until DNA tests prove otherwise, I assume that Isaac’s genetic make-up is roughly 50% mine.

So, on the basis the male side of our family is comprised solely of wimps, who don’t deal well with change, we really had no reason to believe Isaac would take the transition into primary school education with anything other than a massive fucking tantrum.

Still, ridiculous as it may sound, my wife and I still clung on to the slight possibility he might just ‘pull it out of the bag’ at the last minute.  Of course, the only thing he actually pulled out of the bag at the last minute was his P.E. kit, which was then launched across the room with a banshee-like scream, but this was the least of our worries.

You see, all parents have concerns before their child starts school; but whereas some might panic that their son or daughter will struggle to make friends, or may even get bullied, my three main worries were as follows:

1. Toiletting

The stubborn little bastard won’t go to the toilet. At all.

It’s not that he doesn’t need to go, more that he cannot bare the thought of anyone knowing he is having a wee (including, sometimes, his own parents). He would far sooner give himself stomach ache (and Christ knows what other medical issues), by storing it up all day until home time, than just go to the toilet like any normal child would.

Thankfully, my wife also appears to be part-camel, and he has inherited his strong bladder from her (another Daddy-DNA bullet dodged, since I have the bladder of a particularly-incontinent tea-drinking pensioner), so at least there is only a limited risk of wetting himself.

2. Writing

He writes backwards. This is entirely because he is left-handed, and it is apparently quite normal with left-handed children, but his letters are sometimes so obscure, I did have a niggling concern that his teachers might assume he is a Russian spy;

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That’s his name at the top

3. His hair

I wrote in a recent blog entry about his long hair (https://middlerageddad.com/2018/06/01/blogs-and-girls/), and how much he adores it, but he has recently started worrying about being picked on because of it – and even, the day before starting school, confessed that he was scared the other children might think he is a girl.

Aside from this breaking my heart a little, it also gave me the rather unnatural concern that he may try to prove he is a boy by getting his willy out for all to see. It was a fleeting worry – since he won’t even announce going to the toilet in front of others – but it was a worry nonetheless.

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I also have the rather selfish concern that, for three days a week, I will be doing the morning school run, and I was meant to spend the summer practising doing pony-tails, pig-tails, French plaits etc., but time ran away with me.

What I had not anticipated for his first day, was that it would take nearly an hour of screaming and kicking to even get his underpants on (I should stress that the screaming and kicking was all him), and at one point the thrashing became so violent, I contemplated phoning our local priest.

In the end, my wife patiently went through every pair he owns (and he seemingly has hundreds), in an attempt to calm him down, and somehow succeeded just in time for us to leave the house.

Ok, he refused to wear the school jumper, and would only put on the embroidered polo-shirt if he was allowed to wear a dinosaur t-shirt underneath (which was, incidentally, highly visible), but we chose to pick our battles, and the very fact we got him out of the door with any clothes on at all was frankly a miracle. We even managed a couple of obligatory ‘first day’ photos in the garden, which up until this year have only featured Ollie.

When we got to the playground, I have to admit I could see why it might be daunting for Isaac – or any child – to enter that environment for the first time.

The intake at our school is sixty children, and all of them had at least one, if not both parents with them for their first day; so there were upwards of two-hundred bodies swarming around the classroom door (and that’s not including the children and parents of the neighbouring classrooms, which comprise the ‘Infants’ half of the school).

To pass the time before the bell (and subsequent scene I was expecting Isaac to make), I looked around at all the other parents, to see if I could determine which had experienced the ‘first day’ before with older siblings, and which were newbies. The difference was very obvious.

For example, the newbies often looked more nervous than their children, and some were already emotional at the thought of their little baby going off on their own. Many were uttering the usual phrases, like ‘where has the time gone?’ and ‘it’ll seem so quiet at home now’, between tearful sniffs (hey, I’m not judging, I cried like a little girl at Long Lost Family the other week).

In contrast, the seasoned parents like us (and we only have two kids; some of these idiots with three or more really need to show some self-control), had adopted the same universal expression – which was a mixture of sympathy for the newbies (‘I remember when we were like that’) and sheer fucking glee that the latest/last of our offspring was finally someone else’s responsibility for a large chunk of each weekday.

The difference between the two types of parent was even more obvious when the bell finally went, and the reception teachers came out to collect their new recruits for the academic year.

All the newbie parents squeezed their little darlings tightly one final time, wished them a wonderful first day, and sobbed as they watched them disappear through the door. They then hung around outside, hoping to catch a glimpse of their son or daughter smiling and having fun already, as a form of comfort for their childless journey home.

Some even made a point of talking to the teachers, to try and cram all of their child’s little foibles into one barrage of verbal diarrhoea – as if the teachers haven’t already dealt with every kind of weird child many times before (apart from, perhaps, Isaac). It was as though these parents simply couldn’t bear to leave the playground.

Then, there was the rest of us. The battle-hardened parents with older siblings, who had given up caring some time ago. As one, we simply ushered (in some cases, pushed) our kids towards the teachers, offered a half-hearted ‘you’ll be fine’; ‘have fun’; or ‘don’t fuck this up’ (to our children, not the teachers); then turned and ran with unbridled joy and freedom.

None of us looked back, and we certainly didn’t hang around (in case our particular child did try to escape). Most importantly, we didn’t even make eye-contact with any of the teachers, let alone talk to one of them, in case it slowed down our escape.

Even if we had spoken, it would only have been along the lines of:

“He’s your responsibility now, so you fucking deal with him! You’re only in teaching for the holidays anyway, admit it, so you’re going to damn well earn them this year. Try not to let him break you by 3.15pm on the first day!”

(Then turn and run away, cackling gleefully).

In our case, Isaac immediately clung to us when he noticed other children going through the gate, and had to be physically detached by his favourite teaching assistant from pre-school, who we shall call Mr Shaw (because, well, that’s his name). I doubt Mr Shaw will ever read this, but we owe him our thanks; because he came over, gave Isaac a hug, and then quickly carried him through the gate before he had chance to react.

Thankfully, it transpires the limited amount of concern we had dedicated to Isaac’s first day (compared to when Ollie started, and I couldn’t concentrate at work through worry), was completely unwarranted; because – by all accounts – it had gone about as well as we could have hoped.

As I said at the outset, it was by no means perfect, because he apparently hardly spoke all day, and didn’t seem to make any new friends; but at least we didn’t get a phone call around lunch time asking us to collect him and never bring him back.

When it comes to school collection time, particularly in those first few weeks, you dread being the parent who the teachers come over to for a ‘chat’; because as soon as that happens you know it’s your child who has created an issue. It’s like a walk of shame, only it’s the teacher doing the walking.

In contrast, there is no greater feeling of relief, than when the teacher heads towards you, only to detour or walk past at the last minute. It’s the playground equivalent of your airport transfer bus arriving at a shitty hotel when abroad, then discovering it’s for someone else.

Isaac even seemed relatively enthusiastic about returning the next day (which was something of a relief, because I was due to do the school run on my own) – that is, so long as he could have new shoes for the second day (and every subsequent day thereafter).

See, I told you he’s odd.

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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

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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.

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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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