Monday 7th August 2006|
Another top tip, to go with the sandwich filler one: don't go to Kill All Hippies at 333. It's not very good.
In fact, maybe I'm just getting old, or have spent too much time going out in places like Brixton, but I'd recommend staying away from the Old Street area in general at the weekend - it reminded me far too much of a Friday/Saturday night out in just about any small town (and I grew up in Swindon so I know what I'm talking about!)
Just...not a terribly nice atmosphere: a bit overly charged with young testosterone and brightly coloured alcohol.
And Kill All Hippies, well... They gave me a huge amount of hassle getting in because I had a bottle of Lucozade in my bag (being a diabetic I always carry some Lucozade, I case I have a rare, unexpected attack of hypoglycaemia), then it was almost £15 for four drinks (three lagers and a cider). Now, this may be London, and we may have invented the three-pound-pint, but even so...
And then the club started filling up with mad people and folks who looked like they watched Big Brother for fun...
And so we decided to leave and go to a friend's house (seeing as it was already too late to go to How Does It Feel To Be Loved down in good-old, friendly, non-Big Brother-watching, two-pound-fifty-a-pint Brixton).
God, I'm turning into such an old git.
Sunday, the Lovely Melanie and
I took Millie to Fruitstock in Regent's Park. A little corporate free festival. That was a very
pleasant afternoon, although it was rather truncated by the two and a
half hour journey to get there.
I'd be less annoyed about the
whole experience if London Transport had, at various stages of our
lengthy journey, deigned to inform us that the
entire network was in the process of going completely tits-up. But no,
they left us to deduce this state of affairs for ourselves from the
lack of trains turning up. So we ended up waiting on a variety of
platforms at a number of different stations for various amounts of time
as we struggled to amend our route to take into account the ongoing
verticalisation of breasts on the network.
The only real problem for
Millie was that by the time we got to Fruitstock the poor girl was
knackered. She struggled bravely to stay awake, and was agog at her
surroundings and at The Mighty Zulu Nation Theatre Company,
but eventually she fell asleep on my shoulder right in the middle of
being agog, and so suddenly that her head banged my shoulder, waking
her up for another five seconds, before she fell back to sleep -
properly, this time.
This week Millie's having her
MMR vaccine: you know, the one the Daily bloody Mail whipped up a
non-existent scare story about, so that now thousands of kids are at
risk from a resurgence of measles because one doctor theorised, in a
now discredited article, that the MMR vaccine might,
in a tiny minority of cases, trigger autism in
So, er, yes. MMR for Millie. On Thursday, I believe it is.
By the way, here's another top
tip from me - a computer-related one this time (I could be making a
fortune from magazines like Chat and, er, Chit - they give you £25 for every tip printed - and most of them aren't
exactly rocket-science, "When getting up in the morning, remember to
open your eyes to save bumping into things!" "Washing will dry quicker
if you put it outside when the sun is shining!")
This sounds so obvious you might think it's barely worth doing, but it's more helpful than you'd imagine, and takes just seconds to do.
9th August 2006
Actually, no, it isn't. And it isn't even anything
to do with the proper "foot and mouth", which saw sheep and cattle
No, in fact, hand, foot and mouth was one of the
seven plagues visited by a vengeful Old Testament God (and nagging -
good grief, did He ever nag) upon the Egyptians after they were a bit
rude about Moses' mum. Or something.
Let's start again. Hand, foot and mouth is a mild
viral infection that gives the sufferer spots on the hands and feet,
and around the mouth. These spots can be quite tender, and there can
also be a mild fever.
And that's it. Otherwise she's absolutely fine.
I think, to my shame, this is the first proper full day of lone parenting I've done with Millie, and it was hard work.
Actually, I was completely and utterly
wrong! Parenting on your own is incredibly hard and unending
So, a big - nay, a massive - kudos bonus to the Lovely Melanie for the past year spent at home with Millie. :-)
Ahh, from Superdad to humble dad in just 300 words...
Thursday 10th August 2006
He also notes that "It used to be said that patriotism was the first resort of the scoundrel. Now terror-mongering is giving it a close run for its money. When someone tries to scare you, the first question you should ask is "who benefits?" Al Qaida and their friends carry out terrorist actsin order to terrorise you, with a specific political agenda in mind. Why are the US and UK governments trying to do the terrorists jobs for them? And what is their fear-facilitated agenda?"
And as if to back up what Stross says, John Reid, our brutish Home Secretary, notes that anyone who disagrees with him is simply wrong, and is helping terrorists (and he'll be doing something about that kind of thing quite soon...)
Monday 14th August 2006
In other news (by which, naturally, I mean Millie news) we took the girl swimming on Saturday morning, since she's completely cured of the old hand, foot and mouth, and is back at nursery today. She "enjoyed" it more than the time we went in Weymouth back in the Spring; she didn't start crying at all until she'd been in the pool a good five minutes or so, and that crying didn't then become uncontrollable for another 10 minutes - quite an improvement, really. She'll be scuba diving by the end of the year, you mark my words.
Of course, the scuba diving
will depend on whether she's still alive, being such a mischievous
character, and quite unwilling to listen to her stuffy old parents
telling her, "No, don't grab the TV. No, don't pull that wire,
it's the plug for the fan. No, don't dribble on the computer. No, don't
try to eat the phone. No, don't press the buttons on the freeview box.
No, don't pull that large encyclopedia down on top of you. No, don't
keep trying to slam that door while your head's in the way. No, don't
try and follow that toy that just fell off the bed. No, don't pull all
the CDs off the shelf. No, don't grab Daddy's mug of hot tea. No, don't
eat Mummy's old flip-flops..."
Millie will not sit still for more than five seconds unless she's being swung upside-down by her feet (but the Lovely Melanie can't sit still while Millie's being swung upside-down by her feet - it makes her too nervous). When she's awake she's indefatigable, always - always - trying to climb Mount Beanbag to reach the lights on the TV, only to be plucked inevitably from the summit by a pair of parental hands and returned to base camp. Either that or she'll be out the door towards the kitchen (never the bathroom, for some reason...) or into the office. The only thing that shouting, "Millie, no!" will get you is a cheeky smile and a flash of her pink heels...
I'm not moaning about this
though: she's usually huge fun to be around now, so that being at home
with these days is less of a chore - no shaking of toys in front of her
for the brazillionth time saying, "Ooh, look, Millie, look; look at
this!" These days she can play happily on her own for quite a while
while Mummy and Daddy catch that rare repeat of Churchill's
Bodyguard on UK TV History.
That's our house, these days.
Although, I did get to see Kung Fu Hustle on DVD Saturday night, and that went straight into my top five films of all time without passing Go or collecting £200. Forget His Majesty O'Keefe, Kung Fu Hustle had me laughing, gasping and cheering all the way through it.
Still no new photos on this
page, you may have noticed. That's not because we don't have any - far
from it, there are some brand new ones up on my Flickr page.
Let's have a vote on it, shall we? Click on the links below to send me an email with your opinion (the judge's - that's me - decision is final, no purchase necessary, no correspondence can be entered into unless money is offered).
15th August 2006
Hurrah! Go Prezza!
What?! "Damage"? You're kidding, right? Gordon Brown's probably crying into his briefcase as we speak, knowing that he's lost his chance to be prime minister!
Wednesday 23rd August 2006
My dad was rushed into hospital
on Tuesday morning, not very well at all.
Not, however, before doubling
the dose of the drug he was being given. The same drug they'd had to
keep him in hospital for previously; on a heart monitor; with expert
supervision available at all times in case there were any side-effects.
Well, anyway, I got a call on
my mobile at five past seven on Tuesday morning; I hoped it was the
Lovely Melanie, ringing to remind me that Millie's name is Millie, or
that she needs to wear clothes, or not to give her vodka - something
And sure enough, it was my
brother saying that my dad had gone into hospital with heart problems
and wasn't very well. Something to do with ventricular tachycardia. My
brother's a paramedic and told me that dad was lucky to be alive now,
as sudden ventricular tachycardia is often rapidly fatal. Given that my
parents hadn't wanted to make a fuss, and that my mum had driven my dad
down to A&E in the car (my dad originally wanted to phone them
for advice!!) he was luckier still to be alive!
When I got into work I looked up ventricular tachycardia on the Net. Given that my youngest brother, the paramedic one, had already said it was pretty serious, this wasn't very reassuring at all: the prognosis for people like my dad, with pre-existing heart problems, who then have an attack of ventricular tachycardia was...patchy.
I told my boss what had happened and then caught a train to Swindon.
Coincidentally, it was the
fastest trip to Swindon I've ever made, but that's another story.
Half an hour later we were ushered into a twilight zone of beds and bleeps; kind of like a normal hospital ward, but with more room and more equipment and more nurses. My dad, as far as we could see in the darkness, was fast asleep, covered in monitors and wires (I mean, really covered in monitors and wires - his chest had almost no hair left on it afterwards!), plus a particularly big monitor right over his heart, which my brother later told me wasn't a monitor at all, it was pad for delivering those electrical shocks that restart the heart if it stops beating. Apparently, if they you expect you to "arrest" (as it's called) then they put the pads on beforehand, to save time. It's not something they do willy-nilly, and was just another measure of how serious my dad's condition was.
As we went in he woke up...and,
basically, over the next couple of hours, he got better; to the point
where my mum was apologising and saying that he really had looked quite desperately ill that morning.
And I got back to London in time to see a very very tired Millie just before she went to bed. So everything worked out OK in the end.
Except, perhaps, for the cause of the ventricular tachycardia; but if that wasn't caused by the
incredibly poor management of my dad's experimental new drug, then I'm
not a world-renowned heart specialist!
28th August 2006
The Lovely Melanie met some
self-proclaimed crazy people during her four-hour return journey from
Hatfield last night. It would be fair to say that by about the two-hour
mark she wasn't in the mood for "craziness" - let alone "wackiness" or
- the absolute lowest form of wit - "zany-ness", but that's exactly
what she got. "Zany-squared."
But we were sat with the Lovely
Melanie at King's Cross...
Fortunately, we didn't see any of this kind of thing in Leigh-on-Sea. When we walked the couple of miles to Southend we saw a little bit more of it, but it was true craziness - the kind of pissed-up English seaside resort craziness that you really really don't want to be encountering after dark. And, after the mud flats, fish smell and desolation of Leigh-on-Sea, it was almost a relief to see (did you know they've tarmacced the "beach" of Leigh-on-Sea? I kid you damn well not: instead of building a seawall or something sensible like that they've poured tarmac along a mile-long stretch of the coast. It's quite a remarkable sight in a sort of beating-Mother-Nature-to-death-with-a big-stick-with-a-nail-in-the-end sort of way).
So everyone made a fuss of Millie, we had a great big lunch, bought some rock (the sugary mint variety) and played a game of "Adventure Golf" at the Southend Pleasure Beach. I highly recommend the Adventure Golf. It isn't eh most imaginative in terms of the course obstacles, but they've really gone to town with the surrounding scenery, and I was jolly pleased with my score of 26 over 9 holes.
After a pint in a local Wetherspoon's pub that welcomed Millie (Millie thinks all pubs are like Wetherspoons) we jumped on the train home, and were back in sunny Forest Hill just 90 minutes later. Since we were all absolutely exhausted it was just as well. A four-hour journey with added wackiness wasn't something we could have dealt with without resorting to some particularly zany violence.
Here's the Lovely Melanie and Millie on the mud flats at Leigh, and Millie and "Uncle" Mike reading the papers in the pub in Southend.
Millie's getting more and more mobile, which is half blessing, half problem. It's a blessing because, as I think I mentioned, she can amuse herself to a certain extent now: crawling around the house, eating dust and dead flies, using any vaguely supportive object to hold onto while she stands up (it's the getting back down again that's currently a bit of a problem for her). The problem is that she never wants to stay where it would be convenient for us for her to stay, and consequently our house continually echoes with the tolerant refrain, "Millie, where are you, poppet? What are you doing, eh?"
And we thought, the Lovely Melanie and I, that we were largely immune to smells of pooh, these days; that we could be vomited on, pee'd on, poohed on, burped over, whatever, but when I walked into Millie's room yesterday...her entire bedroom smelt bad. She can fill entire rooms - not just a nappy - with eau de schiesse, these days; give her an hour in a medium-sized room and she can make it pretty much uninhabitable, yet with no outward signs that anything untoward has happened.
Thanks to everyone who sent their good wishes regarding my dad - he's out of hospital and still doing fine. Well, no worse than he was before, at any rate.
If you really wanted to help him then you should bid on some of the comics I'm selling on eBay... Nothing cheers me dad up like his son's comics selling well on eBay. ;-)
And my job search has gotten
off to a disappointing start, it must be said.
5th September 2006
Millie's very well, I'm a bit
run down, and there'll be a proper update, erm...very soon.
Now, let me just try and remember: why am I a dynamic, go-getting, self-motivating team-player who has always wanted to work in web content management...??
11th September 2006
I may still not be quite with it after last week's illness.
Anyway, break in service due to
being, first of all, busy, and second of all, ill.
But we had a lovely time once
we we were all there. Millie, particularly, spent the whole weekend
getting desperately overexcited at the merest glimpse of the cat,
Fergus. She's crawling very well indeed now, up hill and o'er dale,
into bins and ovens, off of tables and across sharp, gravelly patches.
There are some lovely new
pictures on Flickr.
If I can find time between revising my CV, filling in some
badly-thought out application forms and trying to fit a wireless
network at home I'll try and add one or two on this page.
So I'd better get on with it, hadn't I, rather than talking to you.
Millie, by the way, still has
no teeth. She, is, however, becoming ever more interactive and social.
She knows to say "Ma-ma-ma-ma" when she wants something, and
"Da-da-da-da" when she wants to play. We can put her down on the floor
in the living room and she'll scamper down the hallway to her room (our
new laminate flooring in the hallway makes that so much easier now) within about 20-30 seconds, and we'll hear her getting
busy in her room, such that, when we slowcoach grown-ups finally get
there, you can see the exact route she's taken through her room -
lights knocked over, blankets pulled off low shelves, cupboards doors
opened, books stripped from bookcases... rather like a little tornado
has torn through it; and then you'll come to Millie, probably
underneath a table, picking up and eating all the dust balls from
underneath a chest of drawers, and humming to herself.
And (almost) finally...
I don't expect anyone to read all the way through that page (it's a pretty exhaustive list) but you might want to have a quick skim through - some of them sound really rather important.
At least the Tony Blair/Gordon Brown "domestic" isn't on there. But I wouldn't really call that news, personally.
Definitely finally: do you not
think there's a great English version of new film Crank waiting to be made? In the UK remake Hugh Grant plays an upper-class
English hitman who is injected with a poison that will kill him if he
is embarrassed by anything.
12th September 2006
When I was studying for my Masters during 1996-97, I still wrote essays out by hand, but the library at my university did have a few computers to access the web on. Not that anybody really knew what to do with it. I still recall sitting down at one of these, opening Netscape Navigator (I did at least know that NN was the way to access the web back then), typing "Modernism" into the address bar, and being perplexed when an error came up. Eventually I gave up and went to have a look at some proper paper books. The point is: nobody knew how to use a web browser then, and - importantly - this was less than ten years ago!
I'm just writing this because I
do a hell of a lot of research at work, and 99.9% of it is now done on
What's my point?
And that's it. You can look up anything, find out anything, in seconds with just a few finger movements. Come on, that's a genuinely god-like power you've got there. Move a finger, find out anything...
When I was younger (note: not "young", just "younger") if I was reading this article and, say, I didn't know who William Gibson was then I'd have to go to a library or a bookshop and find a book about "William Gibson". I could ask people I knew if they'd heard of him, or I could maybe write a letter to the British Science Fiction Association and hope they would eventually write back with some information.
Now you want
to know who William Gibson is? What he's written? What he's writing
next? What awards he's won? Where he lives? What he likes for dinner?
Who his wife is? If he has a wife?
I count myself as being pretty computer-literate and up-to-speed with current technology, but even so, when I think about how easy, how fast it is now to find out something you don't know, then it's almost frightening.
Want to keep up to date with your favourite band? I've got some old copies of Smash Hits from 1986 at home, and the back pages are full of ads for fan clubs. You'd pay your money (oh, yeah - you had to pay for this privilege) and if you were lucky you'd get a newsletter from them a few times a year. That's right: a few times a year.
Want to buy an old out-of-print
book? Go to Amazon,
or to Abe Books.
Nobody thinks twice about it now, but at the time this was just crazy stuff. Again, move a finger, and stuff from the other side of the planet is sent to you.
So my point is, I think, that
Millie's going to grow up in a world where this is the norm. She's never going to type "Modernism" into the address bar. Everything she could
ever want to learn is going to be available for her within seconds.
She's never going to wonder "Who/what/where/why/how is X?"
and not be able to find out.
No, really. I can't remember the last time I went somewhere to do some "shopping".
And this is what Millie's world will be like: very different from the one I grew up in, in a way that mine wasn't different from my parents. Is it good? Is it bad? I'm inclined to think it's more good than bad; but the one thing I am sure of is that I can't imagine how Millie will shape and use this "god-like" power available to her, never having known anything different.
14th September 2006
18th September 2006
She didn't like it at all.
And this was despite going in the "baby pool" this time, which is warmer and shallower. If anything she was actually worse than last time. We took her on Sunday morning, about 9.30, and she was in a great mood - babbling and gabbling all the way to the leisure centre - sat bolt upright in her pushchair, watching everything going on around her and telling us all about it, smilling and giggling... until we got to The Bridge in Sydenham, our very nice local swimming pool.
The place was full of other
parents with their children (nobody sane or without children gets up
before lunchtime on a Sunday to go swimming - if you're not a parent or
not sane then there''s a whole ecosystem of people you barely, if ever,
interact with!) Millie started looking unsure when we were still in the
changing rooms; her bottom lip started wobbling when we were stood
beside the pool; she moved up a gear to actual crying when we got into
the water, and then moved up another gear to full-on wailing when we
tried to convince her that she was perfectly safe in the pool.
Every other child in the pool
was fine, even some much younger than Millie.
Our thanks to a chap there with his very young daughter, who reassured us that sometimes his daughter she really really didn't like swimming either (this said as she repeatedly dived in off the side...)
Well, regardless, we're going
again next weekend. We think - actually, we know -
that we don't go swimming often enough for Millie to feel familiar and
at ease with the experience. Hopefully if we go a few weeks on the trot
Millie will learn not to be so upset and frightened.
I was also possessed by the
spirit of Handy
Andy this weekend - that's the only reason I can think of for
the amount of DIY jobs I got done without bodging a single one of them.
I cleaned and repaired door locks, replaced door handles, safely
removed a door, cleaned out the garden, planted some strawberries, all
without a single problem.
Finally, the Lovely Melanie was
aghast to see I spent the best part of an hour learning to use
Photoshop to make people hairy.
19th September 2006
That's a quiet moment when you think, having kids is great; I may have had my doubts about this occasionally, but a small sleeping child on your chest really sorts out your priorities.
There are some new comedy pictures on Flickr. Now, shhh...