We all know that men are better drivers

Journey Into Space featured on the cover of th...
Journey Into Space featured on the cover of the Radio Times. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you agree with the title of this post?

How does it make you feel?

“Hell, yeah!” “It’s about time someone came out & said it!”

Cross? Furious? Heading straight for the comments section, angry fingers at the ready?

Or: “Yes, perhaps: but you’re not supposed to say things like that, are you?”

Continue reading “We all know that men are better drivers”

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What Christmas Means to Me

I really like Christmas. It’s sentimental, I know, but I just really like it.

I am hardly religious: I’d rather break bread with Dawkins than Desmond Tutu, to be honest.

And yes, I have all of the usual objections to consumerism, the commercialisation of an ancient religion; to the westernisation of a dead Palestinian press-ganged into selling Playstations and beer.

But I still really like it.

I’m looking forward to Christmas, ‘though I’m not expecting a visit from Jesus. I’ll be seeing my dad, my brother and sisters, my gran and my mum. They’ll be drinking white wine in the sun.

I don’t go in for ancient wisdom. I don’t believe just because ideas are tenacious it means that they’re worthy. I get freaked out by churches: some of the hymns that they sing have nice chords but the lyrics are dodgy.

And yes, I have all of the usual objections to the mis-education of children who, in tax-exempt institutions, are taught to externalise blame, and to feel ashamed and to judge things as plain right and wrong.

But I quite like the songs.

I’m not expecting big presents. The old combination of socks, jocks and chocolate is just fine by me, ‘cos I’ll be seeing my dad, my brother and sisters, my gran and my mum. They’ll be drinking white wine in the sun.

And you, my baby boy & girl, my jet-lagged infant son & daughter: you’ll be handed around the room like puppies at a primary school. And you won’t understand, but you will learn someday that wherever you are and whatever you face these are the people who’ll make you feel safe in this world, my sweet wide-eyed twins.

And if, my sweet babies, when you’re 21 or 31, and Christmas comes around and you find yourself 9000 miles from home you’ll know whatever comes your brother and sister and me and your mum will be waiting for you in the sun. Whenever you come your brother and sister, your aunts and your uncles, your grandparents, cousins and me and your mum, we’ll be waiting for you in the sun.

Drinking white wine in the sun, darlings, when Christmas comes we’ll be waiting for you in the sun, drinking white wine in the sun, waiting for you in the sun, waiting for you…

Waiting…

I really like Christmas. It’s sentimental, I know…

—————————————————————————————–

Not my words – I wish! – they’re by the brilliant Australian comedian / musician / all-round good-guy Tim Minchin from his song ‘White Wine in the Sun’. I’ve only editted them for repetition & a little personalisation, but I really couldn’t have expressed what Christmas means to me much better!

It’s being released as a single on December 1st, proceeds going to the National Autistic Society.

Here it is in full, performed live during Children in Need:

Beautiful, profound, brilliant, right? So let’s make it Christmas number 1!

It’s sentimental, I know, but I just really like it 🙂

#TimMinchinXmasNo1

 

Music Monday: The Great Gig Meme In The Sky

So MusoDad is a ‘session blogger’ now – brilliant!

He’s started a musicky meme for which the equally terrific slightlysuburbandad has tagged me.

Like him I’m delighted to have been tagged as I love music & spend a lot of my time listening to it, blogging about it & tweeting it. And yes, I do have a “not-so-secret music sock puppet on Twitter”.

The meme is very simple: name your first / worst / best / last / dream gig, and select a song from each act to add to Musodad’s Spotify playlist. And I’m incorporating it into my regular Music Monday post, so I hope nobody minds my sticking some music vids on here as well.

First gig: Split Enz, Christchurch, New Zealand

I’m not entirely sure about this one, but I think my first gig was probably Split Enz in a small indoor venue in my home town of Christchurch, New Zealand. For those who don’t know Split Enz were a NZ art-rock band known for their glitzy outfits & quirky style. I loved them then & still do now. Their main man was Tim Finn, older brother of fellow band-member Neil who went on to form the more well-known Crowded House. The gig was televised & my main memory of it is watching myself leave at the end in my favourite & I thought oh-so-cool shiny brown vinyl jacket. Thankfully there are no photos.

Track added: My Mistake. I’m pretty sure they played it there, & it’s a great, odd little song.

My first big gig was probably the great Mr David Bowie at Christchurch’s QEII Stadium. It remains one of my all-time favourite gigs. At the time major international acts on a world tour would gig in Australia & if we were lucky do a night in Auckland, both of which were out of my young reach. Bowie – & he was huge at the time – was one of the few to venture south to smaller NZ cities & for this he will forever have my love.

Worst gig: Zero 7, Brighton Pavilion Dome Theatre

I struggled with this one. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a gig I would call bad. I adore Zero 7 & their music & they played beautifully here, from what I could hear. And there’s the problem: it was totally spoilt for us by massed ranks of drunken kids who did nothing but shout through the whole thing as if they were down the pub. Zero 7’s music is mostly quiet, slow, chilled, wonderfully relaxing & scintillating beautiful. It’s the very last sort of music that you don’t listen to & shout at your mates over. I really don’t know what the hell they were doing there. I asked the bloke behind me, actually quite politely, if they could be a bit quieter & I heard them plotting to ‘get me’ at the end. We asked to be moved but it was the same in the new seats. A gig my wife & I had been so looking forward to was utterly ruined for us.

Track added: The Space Between, 1 of my all-time favourite songs


Best gig: U2, Wembley Stadium

Yes, I know: U2, Bono, probably loved & hated in equal measure. They just happen to be my all-time favourite band, & I plan a post sometime about how they helped keep me sane in the 90s. I love their passion! So I guess this makes me very uncool – which is good as I’ve never tried to be cool. Apart from wearing haute-couture shiny brown vinyl jackets, obviously.

For me live music will never get better than this, & I will never go to a gig that rivals this one: this was once-in-a-lifetime, a dream come true. It was at the height of their Zooropa / Zoo TV tour, following on from the success of their great album ‘Achtung Baby!’. The opening acts Aztec Camera & PJ Harvey were worth the ticket price alone, & the set was astonishing. Huge, overwhelming light displays synched to the music. Massed banks of screens, many of which were screening live random TV, which Bono used during the show & which allowed a virtual duet with Lou Reed on ‘Satellite of Love’. A massive catwalk for Bono & the boys to prance around on & which was used for the more intimate, acoustic songs. Naomi Campbell guest-starring & filming with a hand-held vidcam linked to 1 of the big screens. A ‘phone call to Salman Rushdie soon after he had received his fatwa, who then answered from within the crowd. Fantastic, overwhelming, a concept gig! But most importantly, of course, the music. U2 are simply the best live act I’ve ever seen, & for me can’t be rivalled. If I had to choose 1 day to take to my grave with me – up until the birth of my twins – this would be it.

Track added: Where the Streets Have No Name. Probably the gig’s highpoint (along with ‘One’), & another of my all-time favourite songs.

Last gig: Faithless, Birmingham NIA

Still the only gig I’ve gone to since becoming a Dad, & a fantastic one, one of the best. Faithless are one of my favourite bands, & I had heard they were terrific live. So when I saw that they were gigging in nearby Birmingham I knew I had to try & go see them, even though the twins were only 9 months old. I did, & I wasn’t disappointed – they were fantastic. I did a rather gushy, slightly drunken review of the gig on my other blog, including scratchy live audio of most of it. I really should try to get out more!

Track added: Insomnia, 1 of their great dance anthems &, for me, the gig’s highlight

Dream gig: Pink Floyd

For this I mostly thought of regrets: gigs I should have gone to, or at least tried to get to, & didn’t: Dylan in 2010,  Led Zep when they reformed for the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert, Massive Attack when they gigged in Brighton & I somehow didn’t know about it. But the one that really got away & is still achievable, although sadly with a different drummer, is Pink Floyd, musical heroes since my youth. There’s never been anyone like the Floyd & never will be, another of the great live acts.

Track added: The Great Gig in the Sky. Well it had to be really, eh Musodad? The electrifying ‘song without words’, the last track of side one (yes, I had the vinyl LP!) of  ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’.

This is the bit where I’m supposed to tag a few people to do the meme, but to be honest I wouldn’t know where to start – except I’m going to see if I can once again tempt the terrific Daddacool to break his meme ban! So whoever is reading this then consider yourself tagged, OK?

Listography – 5 Reasons I Know I’m a Social Media Addict

For Kate from Kate Takes 5’s great Listography blog-hop meme linky thing

1) After I say something a bit sad I make a little frown. In my head I’m seeing a  😦

2) If I won the Lottery I’d probably run outside & shout “I WON THE LOTTERY! RETWEET!”. After tweeting it & Facebooking it, of course

3) I find sitting on the toilet an excellent time for thinking up good tweets

4) I find reading the tweets of those watching a TV programme is usually hugely more entertaining than the programme itself

5) First thing I’ll be doing with this blog post after I’ve written it? Tweeting it & posting it to Facebook of course!

Why not have look at the other “5 reasons I know I’m…” lists at Kate’s blog: it’s a free-for-all this week!

Did My Baby Boy Just Say “Bugger”?!

I’ve been posting for a while now about how quickly Jallie are growing up & developing.

Part of that has been developing an independent will. I still remember being a bit shocked when I initiated a game with Jake, he looked at me, then turned around & crawled off as he wanted to do something else. That’s not supposed to happen: he’s my little baby boy!

It’s also meant that they can & do throw tantrums. Tantrums at 10/11 months? Oh yes! If I do something they’re not happy with, or stop them doing something they want to do, they sure let me know about it!

I sometimes think that this blog appears to paint too rosy a picture of life with our little darlings. This is mostly because I do love them to bits, & I’m delighted with how they’re growing & developing: mostly, everything’s good. Also, although I can do my fair share of whingeing – as anyone who’s followed me on twitter will know – I think of myself as a positive sort of bloke.* If I’m having problems I’m more likely to not talk about them, & just get on with trying to sort them out. And yes, I am aware that this is probably not a healthy, balanced approach. It is quite a male one, though.

When I’m ‘on’ the part of my day I most dislike comes after their morning nap: changing their nappies then dressing them. For reasons I can’t fathom, they hate it. It’s almost always a fight, a struggle, a wrestling match. They do everything in their power, twisting, turning, levering themselves up to stop it. You know when a protestor is dragged away by Police & plays dead, going as limp as possible? Yep: they can do that. They cry, they scream. Not always, but often.  It’s the same too when we dress them for bed. They seem to particularly hate being on their backs. And they’re surprisingly strong!

Trying to put trousers / tights onto a squirming, twisting, crawling baby can be a nightmare, made even worse with my dodgy fingers. We’re still trying to work it out. It may be the time of day; I had to dress them again this afternoon & they put up no fight at all!

So, this morning I eventually managed to get them changed & dressed, after the usual fight. Then I noticed that Jake’s trousers were on backwards!** “Bugger!”, I said in frustration.

Then I heard a little voice. What it said sounded suspiciously like “bugger”.

So,  my baby boy’s first words:

1) Daddy
2) ball
3) bugger?

Bugger.

Still: 2 out of 3 ain’t bad! Gotta be positive, right?

* 1 of the reasons for my new Posterous blog ‘3 Brilliant Things’, where every day I post 3 things that have been good about my day.

** As it happened I had Jake’s & Ellie’s trousers mixed up anyway. They’re twins but they’re quite different sizes..

It’s About That Time Isn’t It?

We’re about 6 weeks into the new year, the middle of February. Most of us are back at work or whatever our usual daily grind routine is. Long behind us now are thoughts of presents & stockings*, jolly fat bearded men dressed in red**, tinsel, baubles, decorated trees, reindeer, wall-to-wall chocolate, competing with the neighbours to be the first house to simultaneously drain the National Grid & be seen from Space,

A Danish Christmas tree illuminated with burni...
Image via Wikipedia

We’re about 6 weeks into the new year, the middle of February. Most of us are back at work or whatever our usual daily grind routine is. Long behind us now are thoughts of presents & stockings*, jolly fat bearded men dressed in red**, tinsel, baubles, decorated trees, reindeer, wall-to-wall chocolate, competing with the neighbours to be the first house to simultaneously drain the National Grid & be seen from Space, fighting with drunk Aunties who insist of cheating at Cluedo (I mean really: who cheats at Cluedo?!)***, & dreams of a White Christmas.

Life for most of us has pretty much returned to normal after the mad excitement (or otherwise) of the holiday season.  Plenty of time.

When / if we think about it some of us may be pleased & annoying, others of us disappointed & annoyed.

What am I on about? New years’ resolutions!

By now I reckon those of us who made any will have figured out if we’ve been able to keep them or not.

I, as I often do, found myself doing it backwards****. I didn’t resolve to do anything differently, but found myself doing things differently anyway & kind of realised I was acting out my non-resolutions. I then wrote about them, as you do.

So how am I doing?, I hear you cry.

I’m still not active on twitter, apart from posting links to blogs (yes, mostly mine). TICK

I’m using facebook more. Although not much more. And the main family members I have who are there just don’t use it that much! HALF TICK

Blogging. Most of any spare time I’ve had to myself this year has been spent blogging. I’ve found, read  & subscribed to loads of great blogs.  I’ve taken part, both in posting & reading / commenting, in great linky blog-hops like The Gallery & Silent Sunday. I’ve Gok Wanned my blog, & learnt a few tricks of the trade. Although the main reason I blog is for my own enjoyment, it’s nice to know that others appear to enjoy it too, & my posts have had many more views & comments than last year, & more subscribers. (Thank you). I managed nearly a post a day in January, although I wasn’t aiming for that. I think then that that’s a TICK

I’ve realised though that I simply can’t maintain this pace! I’m pretty sure that in 1 weekend I read & commented on every single post in that week’s Gallery & Silent Sunday. Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been commenting on blog posts from a week ago & longer: that’s because I’ve fallen behind in the blogs that I subscribe to, & I do like to read every one. And that’s just the email subs, I’ve hardly looked at my Yahoo Reader! (I vastly prefer subs by email, by the way; if the option is there I take it. I find RSS annoying by comparison). Also: I’m tired. And there are some signs of writer’s block. And I have a sore arm. And… (internal censor: Shut Up!)

The upshot: something’s gotta give. I can’t stand to be anywhere near my TV in case I glimpse its “Why are you neglecting me; I thought you were my friend?!” accusatory stare. And I miss playing Guild Wars.

I will definitely Carry On Blogging though, just maybe not as fervently.

So, all in all, I reckon I get a ‘B’ for my early-year non-resolution-keeping exam.

And you, dear reader…?

* Well, except it was Valentine’s day yesterday…

** ditto…

*** Sorry, getting a bit too personalised there

**** Well, it was – oh, never mind


I am Resolved

New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t make ’em, as I don’t keep ’em.

I only made 1 last year:  to make no New Year’s Resolutions. Which I immediately failed, obviously.

This time of year there are inevitably lots of blog posts of New Year’s Resolutions, & I’ve read quite a few good ones.

This one though, ‘My Online Resolutions‘,  from the excellent Him Up North’s blog made me realise something: I seem to be carrying out my New Year’s Resolutions without actually having made any.

“Huh?!” I hear you say. It’s OK: I get that a lot.

Well, I’m doing things differently this year. And it’s because I’ve decided to do so. I guess you could say I’ve resolved to do so.

I haven’t actually sat down, as I have done in the past, & said to myself: “Right: this is what I must do with my life this year”. That does, however, seem to be what is happening in practice.

So here’s what I’m doing differently this year, at least in my online life:

1) Twitter. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Twitter.  “I love it; it hates me”? Maybe! When you have responsibilities though you can have too much of a good thing. Twitter is fabulous fun. I’ve met so many fantastic people there, we’ve shared jokes, sad stories, music, films, I’ve laughed, I’ve cried,  participated in & even started hashtag memes, & generally had a great time.

‘Time’. There’s the rub, as my mate Bill once said. Working from home, & at present being pretty much a SAHD, (someone really should come up with a better acronym for stay-at-home Dads…), Twitter is always there, always available, on my office PC, on the laptop, on my iPod Touch. And there’s always something happening. It is a constant distraction; & I’m easily distracted. With baby-care taking up so much of my time I have to make the most of it to do what must be done. So often Twitter has eaten up too much time. I’ve tried just lurking during the day, the ‘no-typing’ rule, but that only had limited success.

I believe it’s known as ‘Twittaddiction’.

In the evenings I also found that a lot of the really fun messing about also resulted in my not getting on with other interests I’d had lined up for whatever spare time I’ve had.  It’s very easy to get carried away, especially after dark. All work & no play may make Jack a dull boy, but all play & no work can make Jack a bit over-excited 😉

So I’ve had to re-evaluate where my priorities lie, & as a result I’m taking a break from twitter.

I’ll still be sending tweets from my blogs when I’ve made new posts, auto-tweeting music links from my iPod, & my automatically-produced newspaper is still about. But that’s it.

Will I go back? How long will I be away? I don’t know.

Will I miss it? Yes: everything about it. What I’ll especially miss though is the daily contact with the so many terrific people I’ve met there.  So to all of my friends there: Thank You. For Everything.

I am still about online though, which brings me to:

2) Blogging. I’m doing more of it. I’ve been looking for & have found some great blogs, especially ones similar to mine: Dad blogs, parents of twins blogs, & have linked to them in my ‘Blogroll’.  I’ve subscribed to more blogs, I’m commenting more. On my own blogs I’m posting more, & linking up with other blogs & blogging resources.

And you know what? It’s great fun. It’s sociable, it’s a creative outlet, it’s therapeutic, I’m learning about other peoples’ lives & loves – some similar to mine & others very different  – & in more depth. In short, it’s enhancing my life. And that can only be a good thing.

3) Facebook. Yes I use it. I’ve never enjoyed it as much as Twitter. I have a much smaller circle of friends there, & I want to keep it that way: quality not quantity. So I’m using it more. And that leads to:

4) Family. I want to keep in touch with my family more; not easy when most of them live so far away. Many of them use Facebook. I have noticed that some of them even have telephones. And houses, with addresses attached. And emails. All of which I want to use more.

Ultimately that’s what this is about: doing the right thing by my family, especially for the sake of my beautiful twin babies. And of course being nice to my wife. I’m sure she must read this sometimes… 😉

So: keeping my New Year’s Resolutions without making any? I reckon I could be on to something here!

I’m not fat, I’m sympathetically pregnant!

My wife’s put on weight!

Have I mentioned that she’s pregnant? With twins?

Anyone who’s experienced it will know that food plays a big part in pregnancy. She’s been eating for 3 for 7 ½ months, & to start with at least, her 2 small guests  seemed to have weird taste in food.

For the first couple of months she seemed to have become a weird foodie bulimic. The growing babies seemed to need  – for her – unsusal food. The cravings weren’t too weird, but they were definitely strong.  Mostly unhealthy stuff, when she’s usually pretty good about eating lots of fruit & vege: McD’s, pop; & unusual (& often smelly) stuff like Piccalily, kippers, cockles; lots of baguettes & cream cheese. (Note: never cook kippers in the office microwave; it doesn’t make you very popular. I was made redundant soon after I did that & I don’t think it was a coincidence).

Luckily we’re staggering distance from a Tesco Express: I was going there 3-4 x a day (still am actually),  and I’ve had to make quite a few midnight runs to McD’s or the chippy.

The worst thing was that nothing stayed down, for the 1st month or 2, along with the cravings, she had  hyperemesis – severe ‘morning sickness’. She talked on the Big White Telephone so loudly that our well-meaning neighbours thought she had Swine Flu; we nearly had a big cross daubed on the door!

After several trips to the local (& excellent) 24-hour clinic, & after several false starts she finally found some medication that kept everything in check. We also had some great help from some terrific twitter people. especially @cosmicgirlie & @LuceKD.

2nd trimester she decided she needed to eat more healthily: lots more fruit & vege, less junk food. For 2 months in a row, despite 2 rapidly growing little people inside her & all the stuff that goes with them, she actually lost weight! I am often in awe of her.

In the last trimester they have exploded  – a week ago they weighed in at over 10lbs – but her healthy eating has more or less continued.

I’m a bloke. (I may have mentioned that). I’m not particularly good with food: I can cook, but I lack imagination. If left to my own devices I’ll skip breakfast & just have toast for lunch. Apart from that, I’ll mostly eat what she does. If she has junk food, so do I.

Throughout the pregnancy we’ve had several health scares; my wife’s hyperemesis was distressing. Mostly as I felt that at any time I may have to drive to the hospital or off to gather food, I haven’t been drinking so much.

So in reaction to stress, I’ve been eating. I’ve always had a sweet tooth, but it seems to have gone beyond anything normal to real cravings.

Bottom line: I’ve put on quite a bit of weight!

We’re eating good healthy dinners, & fruit in between, but for me it’s a daily struggle to not grab that chocolate / those biscuits / jelly beans / whatever. And I seem to have no will-power: if it’s there, I’ll scoff it; I don’t seem to be able to eat a little at a time, & save it for later.

I’ve decided I’m sympathetically pregnant: it’s my story & I’m sticking to it!

It’s probably nature’s way of fattening me up ready for carting 2 rapidly growing little people up & down stairs, in & out of cots, buggies, baths, etc., etc. I expect the pounds will fall off! I feel exhausted just thinking about it: where’s that Mars Bar?!

title courtesy of Cartman