Sunday, February 26, 2006

Oh - er - yes. Two years. Thanks for the reminder.

An excuse therefore not to write a 'proper' post then, cheers cheers. I probably said it all last year, to be honest, so you may as well check back there to see what I mean, then perhaps scroll up to the 28th of that month which is still the entry that I point people to when I want to describe my life.

Writing a Popular and Successful Internet Diary whilst caring for a new baby is a bit like sitting down to perform a piano recital having just overheard that there's a bear loose in the auditorium: one is still desperately keen to delight and enrapture one's audience, but little nagging worries tend to preclude total focus on the task at hand.

Thanks for all your comments, emails, odd little mentions on your own blogs etc. It's all very much appreciated - truly so. If anybody would like to give me a Sunday newspaper column then contact me and I'll put you in touch with my agent (nb ignore the stuff about the baby above, I promise I will concentrate on it 100% and I can send it via email in whatever font you want).

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

We contract food poisoning.

Food poisoning is, I can say with utter certainty, the worst thing that there can possibly be, ever.

First there are the doubts about the lingering taste of the meal, followed by an awful dawning of impending horror akin to being sat next to the one remaining vacant seat in Economy and glimpsing Jeremy Clarkson approach from Business Class, studying his ticket with a puzzled and annoyed air.

The LTLP succumbed first. I cared for her with aplomb. Then I absent-mindedly ate the rest of what she'd had for dinner. This was possibly a mistake.

Fortunately my sister, RonnieB, was down for a relaxing weekend with us, and thus was able to gain a crash-course in child care. "Hold this," I ordered, before handing her a baby and retreating to bed for three days.

The LTLP said that the fact that we were unable to care for our baby demonstrated that we were truly and acutely ill. The fact that the LTLP had shat in the bed eighteen hours previously, and we hadn't had the strength of will to change the sheets or duvet was more of a firm indicator to me. Either way it wasn't a very nice weekend and I'm glad it's gone away.

One might say that one wouldn't wish food poisoning on one's worst enemy. This seems a bit foolish to me, as if one is to have worst enemies then one may as well wish bad things on to them. May you eat a dodgy pasty, Osama. That will show you.

Monday, February 20, 2006

"I guess we'll see you at Easter then," says Keith.

Keith owns the holiday cottage next door. He is a terribly nice chap, and lets me park on his drive in return for doing his bin.

"Want me to do your bin?" I ask.

"Cheers. And do feel free to park on the drive."

He wanders back down the path and I scuttle back indoors. Moments later, however, there is a knock at the door. A Keith-shaped silhouette looms up through the glass.

It is Keith, bearing a bunch of slightly bedraggled flowers.

"Er... I was just wondering," he says, haltingly. "Would you like these as 'congratulations' on the baby thing?"

I look at them. He notices my suspicious air and continues. "I got them for Julie. For Valentine's Day. We're not taking them with us, so they'll only be chucked away otherwise."

This seems fair enough. "Actually," I reply, "that's a bit of a stroke of luck - I could do with a decent bunch of flowers. I got the LTLP a single red rose on the 15th, as they were reduced in Tesco. But I forgot to take off the 'reduced' sticker."

He hands the sad bouquet to me. A short moment passes between us as we stand there, complicit in the shame of our mutual pikeyness.

(NB I know that that is not a politically-correct term in the strict sense, and I do not wish to cause offence to anybody but it is the word that seems to most sum up the situation.)

He leaves, no doubt to steal some horses and drive down local property prices.

I retreat indoors to present my gift.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

We watch a film.

I received 'Once Upon a Time in the West' for Christmas. A 'Spaghetti Western' (they were called that because they were filmed in Spain), it stars lots of men in hats, and is famous for its indifferent violence and the lead character being introduced by a short but simple musical theme whenever he strolls into shot. Thus it influenced countless subsequent works, including 'Bod'.

It is sometimes difficult to select films to watch. The LTLP likes any film that should feature Harrison Ford (nb he doesn't have to actually be in it, it just needs to be the sort of film that he might have been sent by his agent). I, on the other hand, refuse to watch anything that involves a chap who has a bit of a rocky relationship with his ex-wife and young son but who nevertheless has rescued them from great peril by the final reel.

Anyway, I was particularly looking forward to seeing this film again. I inform her that the opening sequence is one of the greatest in all cinema, ever.

"Is anybody going to say anything?" she asks, after about five minutes.

"They are looking at each other meaningfully," I explain, knowledgeably.

"Why did they just shoot him?" she asks.

I explain that I could tell her why they just shot him, but that it would be likely to be something explained further on in the film as the story developed.

We continue watching.

"Is he the bad guy, then?"

"Essentially, yes."

"But I thought he was helping her a minute ago."

"That was a different person."

"It's quite difficult to follow. All the people look the same."

"They don't all look the same. Just because they all have hats on."

"Oh."

We continue watching.

"Is Clint Eastwood in this one?"

We continue watching.

Monday, February 13, 2006

My ham has disappeared!!!

I went to the shop. I didn't buy many things at all, but I know I bought some ham. I know I bought some ham in particular because it was to be the centrepiece ingredient for my lunch (ham sandwich), but I got home and there was no ham.

I won't go into too much detail about the ham as I do not really 'do' personal stuff in this journal (but it was 'off the bone' if you must know. That is all you are getting, however.)

I sifted through the shopping bag about 27 times, then went and searched the boot of the car, but there was still no ham. It had gone missing in mysterious circumstances and whilst it might seem a trivial thing to some people, if you do not ask questions about things like this then the next minute you have ID cards and are executing people at age 30 unless they escape with Jenny Agutter.

I don't know why but this got to me a bit. I have not been getting much sleep lately and this had a last strawness-air about it; my life does not need complications such as missing ham, and I felt an air of despair about the situation. I wanted to run out into the street and shout 'Help! Help! Help!'

The thing about running into the street and shouting 'Help! Help! Help!' is that essentially it is a cry for help. I tried to pull myself together. Then I searched the shopping bag again, but the ham was still absent. Then I got into the car and tried to start it in order to park, but nothing was in the right place and I couldn't get the key in, until I realised that I was in the passenger seat.

At this point I decided that I had better retreat indoors and sit down. Life is quite complicated at the moment, and I do not need extra things to make it more so. (missing ham, see above).

Thursday, February 09, 2006

What with all the baby stuff, I have quite neglected writing about the cottage.

I met the Methodical Builder there the other day. I like the Methodical Builder – he is doing a terribly good job and soon I will have a habitable place to live.

He wanted me to choose the bricks. He showed me some bricks. I didn’t like the bricks. He then showed me some more bricks. I didn’t like those bricks either, and suspected they were the same bricks as previously demonstrated.

He pointed out that, like teenagers, bricks change their character immensely once they’re laid. I pointed out that in that case there wasn’t much point in him pointing out non-laid bricks to me, if they were going to be completely different once they were pointed. He took my point.

We agreed to go and look at some walls together. We went to see a wall. The bricks in the wall seemed hauntingly familiar. I asked the Methodical Builder if they were the same bricks that I had previously rejected (see para. 3 above) and he hummed and hawed a bit and said that they might be. I said that I didn’t like these bricks, so we went on to a builder’s merchants to see some more samples.

“These ones are pretty good,” he said, indicating a sample board on the wall. Once more, on examination, I found myself with a creeping sense of recognition, which was confirmed with a brief cross-referencing of the label. I made terribly English noises about not wanting to be a difficult customer and all that, but that I would much rather have some different bricks, which I subsequently chose.

Since then I have spoken to the Methodical Builder on the telephone, as he wanted to double-check my choice, in case he hadn’t heard correctly. I am now worried that I will not be there when the bricks are delivered and signed for, and am keen not to find that my choice of bricks has been overruled and in fact he has ordered the ones that he always wanted to have, but used various half-baked methods to disguise this, e.g. colouring each one slightly differently with felt-tip pen.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

“Table for three,” I announce, as I stride in proudly with my family.

But the lunchtime trade is unusually brisk, and so I end up plonking Baby Servalan into the fireplace and hoping for no sudden sootfall.

“Hello!” cries Eddie from the other end of the bar. I saw him on Friday night but we didn’t get a chance to speak. I stand to greet him, but am knocked over in his haste to see the baby.

“Afternoon!” greets Big John, elbowing me to one side to do likewise.

This continues several times over, the pub grinding to a halt with even the Chipper Barman dropping his stonewall fa├žade to do a bit of googooing. By this point I am feeling like a bit of a non-person and am thinking of reporting the baby to the police for being in a pub whilst too young.

I haven’t got a clue why Al-Qaida bother spending time planning all these complicated terrorist acts in order to get back at the West for having freedom. They could bring our whole economy to its knees by simply infiltrating ten or eleven key organisations and companies that are vital to us (power stations, transport facilities, the people that write Sudoku etc), and co-ordinate bringing small cute babies in to their premises. It would cause chaos. But instead they sit around in their base in Iraq over-complicating everything.

I finish my lunch in quiet reflection. As a blog celebrity I am used to being the centre of attention, and I suppose I should be pleased that my offspring is achieving an equal status of achievement in their own right, like George Bush, Julian Lennon etc.

But I would not want her to get too big for her booties.

Friday, February 03, 2006

We go on an outing!!!

The baby has been grizzling and whinging like a Digby Jones on tax return day, so we decide to pack up our things and head for the seaside. Hoora for the seaside!!! We abandon the car 'on the front' and walk out into the 100000mph Arctic gale chiz chiz.

Although 'on the front', it's low tide so we're only slightly closer to the sea than we would have been had we visited, say, the centre of Birmingham. It churns in a maelstrom of grey out there somewhere, towards Belgium. I immediately take refuge in the car once more whilst the LTLP totters off to buy some fish and chips.

Fish and chips!!! Is there anything better than fish and chips on a winter's day? Or, more to the point, fish and chips on a winter's day at the seaside. The only thing I can really think of would be fish and chips on a winter's day at the seaside served on some women's breasts, but I think this is unlikely to happen, as it is so cold.

By this point Baby Servalan is asleep, showing ingratitude for taking her on such an exciting outing. She is very blasé. I guess if you enjoy your dinner served on some women's breasts on a daily basis, then you aren't really bothered about the odd helping of fish and chips. (Note that this is because she is a baby, not because she is a lesbain) (although it would not be a problem at all if she did turn out to be a lesbain, as it is legal now).

We eat our fish and chips. I wrestle with the car seat, which transforms magically into a pram like on the popular children's TV show 'Transformers'. We wheel her up and down past a few shops, whilst she takes no interest whatsoever.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

"So are there any volunteers?" asks the Chairman.

The floor collapses under the weight of eyes hitting it.

"It would be great to have somebody else help out."

I sink slightly lower in my chair. Beside me, Short Tony sinks slightly lower in his chair. On the other side, Big A is sinking lower in his chair. Realising that sinking low is a relative concept, I sink a bit more low, but this manoeuvre is anticipated by the others, who follow suit in the sinking stakes. It is a strategy of diminishing returns, especially since Short Tony has such a head start on us.

Volunteering for high office in a local club is a bit like having sex with Mary Archer - you have to be either a relentless social climber or very, very drunk to do it, and whilst your friends might be polite and congratulatory about the act to your face, deep down they will be clutching the side of their head and crying 'WHY??? WHY???'. Not being the social climbing type of person unless you count watching BBC4 occasionally, I maintain my 'gazing at the floor' pose until I realise that several people are looking at me with aggressive intent.

I briefly consider setting myself on fire in spectacular fashion. However, whilst that sounds good in theory, much of the immediate impact is lost if you have to excuse yourself to drive down the road to the Q8 garage for petrol first, and then scrabble round the pub on your return in order to find somebody with a spare match.

Kev pipes up. "Maybe it needs a sub-committee. People who could liase really easily. If, say, they lived next door to each other."

I sink slightly lower in my chair. Beside me (ect. ect.)

But it is to no avail. The three of us are now the official Bowls Club Social Events Subcommittee. I am not entirely sure what this will entail, or whether my idea of a social event will coincide with theirs. But I will be careful. Power corrupts. And absolute power corrupts, a lot.