Archive for April, 2012

The Joys and Dangers of The Great British Seaside Holiday (Part 1)

I have just celebrated my 12th wedding anniversary. I say celebrated: we spent the weekend in a permanent caravan on the South Coast of England in one of the worst Spring weekends for weather on memory.

We have been to this park* a number of times before. It all started when the wife and her sisters got codes for cheap weekends away at such establishments although we’ve only been at the same time as one sister one time. We did find however that this particular place had a lot to do that Boy loved so we booked up this weekend as soon as we left last years. This was our first mistake. Last year Boy was not at school. This year he was and we therefore had to beg him a day off. Really we only got this because we had a) already paid for him and b) he has only missed one or two days all year. We realise this is naughty and won’t happen again.

What we did not realise is that caravans are potential death traps. Or at least they are with an 18 month old bent on destruction and investigation of every object in the room. I worry sometimes that our house is less than toddler-proof. Never again. We walked in to be greeted by a large, fake, gas fireplace. There was no fire-guard. There were stones  – golf ball sized (read easily chucked by a toddler sized) stones in the front of it. Baby made a beeline for them. Luckily it was mid afternoon and the only warm day so the fire had not been on but ‘prevention of stone checking’ was another job added to our parental responsibilities. Stones found, she moved on to the kitchen where, as we quickly unpacked her bags, she realised she could play a game of ‘move the dial’ with the gas cooker’s hob controls. On went the gas. Off went the gas. On went the gas on a REALLY HIGH setting. On went another. Eventually she was rumbled but it was a good thing it was daylight in a non-smoking household. And that she missed the ignition switch.

The party piece was to come after we had all unpacked though. Boy had just gone to point Percy at the Porcelain. Baby had calmed down. Then he came back in and she did a disappearing act. Boy does not always flush. Boy does not always close the lid. When we couldn’t see her I went in search and eventually found her in the Kermit. She was navigating the Yellow River using her hands as the boat. And then licking them. I screamed, grabbed her, turned on the tap, used half a hand soap bottle on her hands and dried them on a towel I thought we probably wouldn’t miss if it ended up being confiscated by a Haz Mat team. And now it was time for dinner.

Now fixed caravan parks are all good fun but they are not centres of  haut cuisine. We found the pub. The kids had heated up stuff with beans. I had a peri peri chicken that was drier than Emo Phillips. In the midst of trying to chomp our way through it ‘If You Tolerate This’ by The Manics came on and the local irony club drank a toast. Pudding was better however. Boy had a banana split that he proclaimed ‘yummy’. I had a fairly decent white chocolate cheesecake (you’d have to REALLY fuck up white chocolate cheesecake before I thought it any less than decent mind you)  Wife had an average brownie (she had only got a couple of badges and Brown Owl could never remember her name). Baby did not have anything specific. Instead we ALL gave her spoonfuls of ours.

On arrival back at the caravan we chilled for a short while then I put Baby to bed.With a night bottle. Which she drained. 20 minutes later there was a deafening toddler scream and a noise not unlike Vesuvius erupting. When I got in to the room, Baby, the bed, her bed-rail and two walls were covered in vomit of the most foul smelling awfulness. I nearly went too. I showered a protesting Baby. Wife cleared up the bed. I dressed like the guy in the picture at the top and did the bed rail. Then we put her back down and hoped for some sleep.

*Length dictates I write this in 2 parts at least. I will reveal the place’s name at the end as they ended up doing rather well.

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Musical Meme-ories

A TAG HAS COME IN TO MY TWEET BOX!

The smashing bloke that is

Not Just Another Blogger

has tagged me in a music meme. I loves music I do. The hardest part was actually remembering the answers because of the kids, y’know, STEALING ALL MY BRAINCELLS THROUGH LACK OF SLEEP.

Sorry, I’m a bit shouty at the moment. It’s been a long day. Anyway rules. a) link back b) answer same 7 questions c) tag dudes and dudesses (is that even a word?). GO!

1) What was the first 7 inch single you bought?

I can vividly remember being at Primary School and having a massive crush on a blond girl called Julie Francis. I got a kiss off her a couple of times and she smelled of strawberries. She was madly in to Adam and the Ants and so, of course, I was madly in to Adam and the Ants. I saved up all my pocket money for an Adam and the Ants single – any single – and the one that came out when I had enough was Deutscher Girls in a double A side with Plastic Surgery (on re-release)  It was from their punk days when they used to hang out with Derek Jarman. I think my parents would have preferred it if I’d got Prince Charming.

2) What was the first full album you bought ? (Any format)

Albums took much more time to save up for and I had other stuff to buy so I think I got my first one by myself quite late on. I can remember listening to Introducing The Hardline According to Terrence Trent D’Arby, Gracelands by Paul Simon and Picture Book by Simply Red, all on vinyl on my Dad’s stereo. Based purely on release date I’m guessing Picture Book was my first.

3) What album do you own that you are most embarrassed to own up to?

Oh fark. Errrr……*thinks hard*…….

As an indie kid who turned in to a dance kid I made avoiding anything in the charts an absolute policy so I don’t really have any one album wonders or truly embarrassing bands in my collection. That’s not to say I don’t have quite a bit of dreadful music of course. *Looks in collection* The below is actually pretty dreadful. My wife has Roxette’s greatest hits though. Fucking awful but at least it only lasts 3 minutes.

4) What was the last album you bought?

The Ting Tings – Sounds from Nowhereville. I got it on Amazon and it only came last week so I haven’t listened to it properly. Sorry for such a dull answer. B-. Can do better.

5) What is your most favourite album of all time?

It’s between The Stone Roses by The Stone Roses, Loaded by Primal Scream, Innervisions by Stevie Wonder and The Seldom Seen Kid by Elbow. Don’t make me choose. I could sit on this particular fence until the splinters worked their way in to my body through my bum-skin and back out of my mouth again. And to compensate for that horrible mental image have a track

6) What is your favourite song of all time?

Someone asked me this on another meme and I said Open Arms by Elbow but I have had a rethink (again this is something I rethink often). My current thinking is Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. Musically it’s still one of the most complex singles ever made. The lyrics are mental and EVERYONE knows them. It’s one of those songs you and all your mates sing along to when you’re tipsy with your arms round each other. And Freddie is possibly the greatest showman ever. I haven’t got a lot of Queen but I could listen to this over and over again.

7) If you could use 3 words to describe your musical tastes what would they be?

Eclectic but outdated.

Erm, tags onwards.

Comfort In Sounds

Mother Venting (because it’s been AGES since I tried to make her do anything like this)

First Time Daddy

You are it should you so choose.

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Family Sunday Ruined by the EDL

Baby loves swimming. I have been taking her for baby swimming lessons since she was 3 months old and these lessons have always been on a Sunday. She was due one this afternoon.

However today I won’t. Today in Brighton there is a ‘March for England’ and having checked with the Police a minute ago they are due to finish and march back to the station on the same route I would use at the same time I would head back home. I simply cannot risk taking her especially as there is a counter demo planned according to the local paper.

One of the things I did to check the route was look at the March For England facbook page. It is a sickening parody of right-wing Englishness, bigotry dressed up as patriotism. They may go to pains to explain they’re NOT the EDL but they most certainly are. And they’re promoting it as a ‘Family Day’.

Spending a day in cheap Burberry and tracksuits, singing ‘no surrender’ and spouting vile Islamophobia and paranoid creeping Sharia is not my idea of a family day out. It may be their democratic right to demonstrate. It’s mine to call them a bunch of mindless, Neanderthal, fascist cunts.

A theme of this blog is not to judge other parents but I’ll make an exception here. Anyone who takes their child to this event knowing the threat of violence, and who inculcates such mindless unthinking bigotry in their children should expect a visit from Social Services sooner rather than later.

Thanks for ruining an 18-month-old’s usual treat you brainless wankers.

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Family Summer Outings

On Saturday the football season finishes. Well not really. In fact, all you football haters out there will be disappointed to know that the Championship (which Brighton are in) has another week after this Saturday. It’s just that we’re away so I’m not going. Then the Premiership finishes a bit later and we have the FA Cup Final, the Champions League final and the playoffs. Then it’s Euro 2012 which will go on for some considerable time though not if you’re an England fan or player. Then there’s football in the Olympics. I think there will be friendlies in July and then, in August, the domestic season will start again.

So you see, the season never really stops. What I mean about this coming Saturday is that it will stop for ME. It will be the last time I go to the Amex and watch my beloved Super Seagulls and cheer and drink Harvey’s and fart a lot until August. Except the farting bit. I’ll still probably do that.

This frees up each and every weekend for Family Time.

OH………….MY…………GOD

We didn’t do much “going out” family time last summer what with Baby being still very small and us being still very knackered. We’re still knackered but she’s bigger. I vaguely remember the boy at this age and if my memory serves me correctly you need to be equipped roughly like this to cope with all eventualities

Even that may not be enough eyes and arms. Baby, as I may have mentioned is just a teeny bit more adventurous than the Boy was.

For a start she considers herself a mermaid and any body of water she sees as a bath for her to dive in to. She has to be variously chided, reigned in or scooped up every time we go to the beach before she embarks on a world record attempt for toddler-swimming the Channel. One of our local attractions is Drusillas and they have an open air penguin pool. That’s off the list then. I am not rescuing her from a giant bath full of penguin poo.

She’s also learning to talk at the moment. Quite well really. However one word she struggles with is ‘horse’ which is a shame as she’s aces at recognising them. Specifically she points at them and yells ‘WHORE!” at the top of her voice. So farms are probably out.

Then there’s the Brighton Pier . Ooops. Water again. *imagines Baby tombstoning*

Maybe the Brighton Wheel? Nope. She’s a fantastic climber. Bound to be seen as a challenge that. *imagines buying tiny toddler size crampons*

Pub lunches? I wouldn’t put it past her to outdrink the visiting Bikers and start a fight.

In fact the safest place for her might just be the football. Roll on August.

(N.B. not really of course. I’m sure we will visit all these places and more during the summer, Sussex in the summer is actually my favourite place ever in the world and there’s loads and loads to do. But I will miss the football just a teensy bit.)

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Saturday Night Telly

(Or Jaz v Jazz)

One of the things I do a lot more of as a parent than I ever did before is watch Saturday night television. Saturday used to be my night out but now it is, almost unchangingly, spent indoors, kids upstairs, telly on downstairs. This was not a change I was looking forward to for when I was a lad Saturday night television was unremittingly dreadful. Here’s what you got:

• White men boot polished up to look like black men singing Al Jolson un-ironically
• Relatives who always looked a little too much like lovers dressing in Swiss national costume and yodelling in order that they could win a teddy bear off a conveyor belt
• Contestants trying to work out the world most difficult riddles ever in order to win a car rather than a dustbin (that one even came with impossible hand signals).
• Contestants trying to work out the most obvious clues ever while being told ‘say what you see’
• Jim Davidson – after Hitler perhaps the most loathsome man to have regularly appeared in the media – doing a snooker / “comedy” crossover show
• Noel Edmuds killing people

And my Dad sat through every minute of every episode, can of Websters Yorkshire Bitter in hand, the fucking rotter*
Now I’m the Dad and I’m stuck in on a Saturday and it still drives me up the wall. There is such a lack of originality, shows that barely even bother to conceal the fact they’re ripping off the last big success. Dance shows. Dancing shows. Dancing on Ice shows. Shows talking about dancing and dancing on ice. And then on ITV there’s the smug wankathon that is Simon Cowell taking over the world. Smugger than Billy ‘Billionairre’ McSmug at a Smug convention in L.A. Not my cup of tea.

This weekend however I did get to choose for myself and that mean the front room was No Cowell Zone. The wife was out with her NCT chums and the telly was MINE! Bruce Springsteen used to sing about 57 Channels and Nothing On. Well this was more like 250 channels and nothing on. The football didn’t start for an hour or more and the porn doesn’t get good till after 10pm BBC4 schedule wasn’t to my taste.

Eventually I found a man making a chorizo (which I am addicted to) and egg pie on a cookery channel and then by chance stumbled across a Jazz legends documentary on PBS. Bird. Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman. Great soundtrack, interesting documentary. Then the wife came back early and we put on Million Pound Drop instead for she hates pretentious documentaries like I hate Crystal Palace.

And so to my actual point *takes actual point and embraces it like an old friend much to the relief of my reader*
Her being out meant we had Sky Plused The Voice. The Voice started life as A Program I Was Never Going To Watch mainly because of it’s elements of ripping off the X Factor which is a program I Will Never Watch Again. However she has been watching it with Boy and I have started to slowly pay attention. I still don’t find the idea of a talent show on a Saturday night that original but at least judging the contestants purely on voice gives it a slightly more interesting dimension. I also like the fact that there’s no ‘laughing at chavvy mental patients’ element that so cloud the Cowell shows.

So we watched The Voice off the Sky box and I paid attention. Boy made it more entertaining by facing away from the telly and using Gymbo The Clown as a buzzer to turn himself round and it was all mildly entertaining till the end. At that point there was one place left and 2 singers fighting for it. Now, cynical me thinks this could have been staged, certainly it was cleverly edited but it turned out that penultimate bloke had a pretty OK voice but was not chosen.

The last bloke was called Jaz. Jaz had a voice like honey and treacle and heaven and soul and long days out at the seaside and nights in sweaty clubs and Gospel Choirs and sunshine and medium rare steak. He was pretty fucking good in other words. And Jessie J asked him to sing again just for the hell of it. So he did. A-Cappella. Then the band joined in, taking their time from him, improvising and it was a magical musical moment, as pure jazz as Miles and Ornette the night before.

Damn it. I think I’m a convert.

*he’s not really a rotter. Merely doing what I am now before the age of digital tellys and taste.

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Saturday is Caption Day 14/4 #satcap


Saturday is caption day at http://mammasaurus.co.uk/

You know the routine. Add a caption then post your own and link up! Here’s mine…….

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A Nasty Thing Happened On The Way From The Spice Shop

Rewind to Easter Monday. It’s chucking it down with rain. Boy decides he wants to paint and draw all day. I decide I want to cook a big Thai curry. Only I’m missing galangal, lemongrass and green chillies which are fairly essential to the making of the curry paste. Chillies I could get from the local Tescos but they do not do galangal and lemongrass. In fact I’d be willing to stake quite a bit of cash they wouldn’t know what they are. This means one thing; a visit to my local Asian grocer.

I say local. I mean a decent drive or bus ride away. I decide to take Baby with me and go by bus, being as I’m not the biggest fan ever of driving. I learned relatively late in life and while I have a full, clean driving licence I tend not to actually make use of it. In the time I didn’t drive I took public transport everywhere and got used to it. This may be about to change however……

An uneventful journey in. So far so good. We get in to the shop and Baby realises that being strapped in to a harness and covered in a rain cover is preventing her from doing stuff like picking up Bird’s Eye Chillis and eating them neat. The diverting smells and banging Bhangra beats that are enhancing my general shopping experience appear to be grating on her like a large cat descending a blackboard , nails first. She starts squealing. I find my galangal and my lemongrass and my chillies, pay and take my leave. Then I head to the bus stop.

It’s pissing down. It’s wetter than Wendy Craig narrating Mills and Boon. Now Baby is glad of her rain cover. We get to the bus stop but there are none in sight. A woman in front in the queue apologises for being in the way (she wasn’t) in a broad Scottish accent. Then she smiles at Baby and gets her sex right and says how sensible I am for using a rain cover and I warm to her instantly. I should know by now this is normally a mistake. The bus is taking ages. Longer than Jimmy Five Bellies running a marathon. More time than it takes to stew a goat. Ages. As it’s a Bank Holiday I’m guessing we’re on Sunday service and the bus is going to be packed with shoppers.

When it finally turns up the Scottish voiced lady lets me and Baby go in front of her even though I arrived after. The bus is busier than a teenagers fashion sense. I ask the driver if I can get the buggy on to which he indicates a group of people standing in the one spare buggy space. However before I can get to them I will have to negotiate two large gentlemen with several bags of shopping who happen to have black skin. This is important or I wouldn’t have mentioned it.

The buggy space occupiers move back a bit. The gentlemen with shopping start to make way but Scottish voiced woman has now paid and got on and is looking daggers at the pair of them. “WE DON’T HAVE THAT MUCH SHOPPING ON BUSES!” she shrieks. “WE’RE ENGLISH!”. Where do I start? That the only thing indicating to her they may not be English is their skin colour (they could be from Brighton, Birmingham or Bolton as far as she or any of the rest of us actually know)? That this is pretty fucking funny delivered in a Scottish accent? That Baby has noticed there is conflict afoot and has gone back in to full meltdown? Any way up the formerly lovely lady has gone, in my mind, from

this

to this

I’m now trying to wedge the buggy in to it’s space without breaking any ankles. The shopping gents are looking confused. My former friend is looking murderous. And then I hear another comment from the back somewhere.

“FUCKING PRAMS!”

Now what do I do? Confront Scots voiced woman for her casual racism? Look for the perpetrator of this latest intolerance? Soothe 500 decibel Baby? Obviously soothe her though it’s difficult as I can’t sit next to her. I’m wedged in under an armpit and all I really want to do is scream “what kind of sweet hell is THIS?” before dishing out a few rabbit punches.

There’s a vaguely serious point here. Brighton and Hove Council is now run by the Green Party and they are trying to promote sustainable transport, including public transport by making parking expensive and adding cycle lanes. Meanwhile central Government is cutting subsidies to transport companies and privatising anything that moves. As a result the bus ticket I bought for my oh-so pleasure filled journey is about to go up by 10% utterly defeating the parking charges increase.

At least if I’d taken the car I’d have been dry. I’d have been listening to my CDs or Radio 4. I wouldn’t have had to listen to baby intolerance and casual racism. It wouldn’t have taken me 2 fucking hours door to door to get three essential spice paste items. Baby might even have slept. I consider us to be reasonably environmentally friendly as a family and yet if the car is just as cheap and more convenient and sat in the same traffic jam as the bus where’s the incentive to be green?

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