Monday, March 31, 2008

jet lag margaritas and teeth

80% proof Margaritas
Friday night we went over to Sam’s and drank rather too much alcohol. We went for dinner with Kate and her husband.

Sam met Kate in hospital last year when she was having metal re-enforcements fitted in her neck. Kate has had a dreadful time by all accounts after having a miscarriage and loosing twins…One problem after another delayed her recovery and she’s still using a stick. The point is, she’s always able to be happy and bright despite it. Some people, you just know can cope with stuff. It’s such a great skill to have.

The night started off relatively civilised, but when we thought everything was winding down (Sam having just arrived from the US, we thought would want to get an early night) – Sam asked if we wanted a drink… we all assumed it was going to be coffee.

But it was margaritas… if you know a night is going to end with margaritias, you pace yourself. This was rather sprung on us and the results weren’t great.

I went to give George his late night feed (we’d left him to sleep in Sam’s room) and instead of me sending him to sleep, he sent me to sleep and I wandered back in bleary eyed half an hour later.

Lisa mixed the drinks and ended up being sick the following morning. It was the first time she’d been really drunk since having George.

Kate decided that adding 2 shots of 40% proof alcohol meant that the final drink would be 80%. She seemed unconvinced by the question “what happens if you have 3 shots?”.

Chestnuts, jetlag and Jim Bowen
On Saturday we went to Russ and Pietro’s and drank rather too much alcohol. We’d spent the day slowly recovering from Friday night, but when we arrived, there was a double-sized bottle of wine on the table, and it seemed rude to refuse.

On TV in the background during the meal (I must remember to cook Brussels sprouts with Chestnuts – it’s a really nice combination) was Jim Bowen’s 100 greatest party hits.

Each very obvious gay anthem was introduced by the presenter (who hadn’t been on TV for 20 years to my knowledge – since the darts-related crap TV quiz Bullseye died a long overdue death). He looked somehow sadly desperate sat at a table in a mock up of a rather unsuccessful party at which he appeared to be the lone guest. He introduced each music video with a dreadful joke, underlining if emphasis were needed why he’s no longer on primetime TV.

Sam was with us. She doesn’t recognise the concept of jet lag – stating: “nobody suffers from Rave-lag when they’ve had a night out. It’s not jet-lag, it’s just laziness”

Egyptian chimneys
On Sunday we had Pauline and Phil and Sam around for dinner – and drank rather too much alcohol.
I got a slightly deeper insight into Billy’s lifestyle on Sunday (He turned up in his van with a fibreglass elephant on the roof which he refuses to add any kind of information about his building work to – because then the elephant would be advertising and that would destroy the integrity of the elephant).

Phil is a chimney sweep, gardener and acting extra and he and Billy have decided to create a side-business sweeping chimneys while dressed as Egyptian pharaohs.

This is Billy’s idea, and I’d like to say there’s method in this madness. However, there quite explicitly and purposefully is no method whatsoever. It’s just madness, and Billy will resist with every fibre of his being any attempt to create or discern method.

His perspective as he explained it is that life is strange and purposeless – and that as a kind of protest against the purposes other people invent for their lives, he intends to fill his with random nonsense.

His hope, as he explained it to me on Sunday is that at the end of his life, he will be taken from our universe like a laboratory mouse being removed from an experiment - by whoever it is that has devised the strange and pointless mazes that our lives consist of. He’s not very confident that this will happen, but he is very certain that it’s a belief system with as much validity as anyone else’s and that because it doesn’t really matter what you do, you might as well do something nobody else has tried and do it with all the energy you have.

Like making fibreglass elephants or sweeping chimnies dressed as a Pharaoh.

Dipping things in chocolate
We did a traditional roast on Sunday – roast beef, potatoes, parsnips, cabbage, sweed, you name it (I had a nut loafy thing made from the breadcrumbs of the loaf we’d bought on Saturday to make the cheese and pickle sandwich I needed to get over my hangover).

Anyway, over the past few weeks, I’ve been starting to dip things in chocolate…. And it’s great – just warm a bowl over a pan of simmering water and drop the strong dark chocolate into it, and you can dip strawberries, raspberries, orange segments, and even mint leaves to create lovely home made sweets.

They always taste absolutely great – and just need a few minutes in the fridge to solidify.

It takes just a few minutes, but tastes fantastic. I think it’s because the chocolate is so thin, it melts as soon as you bite into it.

What’s more, it’s virtually fat free.

Well, OK, it isn’t. but we did have six people and only used two bars of chocolate, so that’s only really 33 grams each…. Not too much for a pudding, and the rest is fruit…

George’s first tooth
On Saturday morning I found George’s first tooth. It’s been getting sharper and pointier since then – making it impossible to comfort him without him biting chunks out of you. Which he thinks is terribly funny, of course.

He’s sleeping through the night more and more often – despite the fact that we’ve been moving him from house to house over the weekend…

Friday, March 28, 2008

A much better day –

The Flash project that turned out to be very difficult yesterday is solved and out of my way. The newsletter is on the way to being written (although I’ve had to stop mid way because one part of the package didn’t seem to want to install, and I’m having to wait for technical support….)

I’ve decided that if Forbes are going to be difficult about this TV rental nonsense, I’m going to offer to donate the money to charity if they drop their claim – if they refuse then I’m certain they’ll loose far more in lost business when people hear about their behaviour than they gain from pursuing me…

In the end it’s too small an amount for them to take me to court over it – there’s just no justification- likewise, it’s too small an amount for me to concern myself too much with arguing with them over it. I have, after all, plenty of better things to do.

The benefits of adding to my advertising on Google started to appear today. I got contacted by a company from Malta who want me to do some graphics for a TV add for them… sounds interesting and I’ll keep you posted as it develops.

George is really growing now. Over the past week, he’s learned to balance himself sitting up (that happened quite suddenly over the weekend and he’s been getting better at it all week.

He’s been to the osteopath again today and seems sorted out. He’s getting better and better at night (perhaps thanks to Winnie, but I think it’s more to do with us leaving him to cry) and he’s getting really active – he loves splashing in the bath and kicking his legs franticly while lying down.

He was told on Wednesday when Lisa visited the dietician that he now doesn’t need to be on the high-fat formula milk and can go onto normal formula feed. This seems to us to be the end of the final link with his heart problem – he’s now just a healthy, happy little boy.

However, we’ve got so much of the high-fat formula sitting in the hall – a month’s supply of bottles which amounts to a pile of boxes about 4 feet high – probably 5 times his weight! So we’ll probably carry on giving it to him (watered down) until we’ve got rid of it.

He’s getting more and more keen on food too- expanding his repertoire to parsnip, carrot, squash, apple, pear and baby rice just this week – and eating everything he’s given.

Returning home
Sam and Lisa’s Dad returned from America visiting Livia this morning. She’s apparently doing well and so are her parents – but I’m sure we’ll get the full story from Sam who we’re having dinner with this evening.

At least they escaped the debacle of terminal 5 which launched yesterday in the kind of catastrophic failure faced by most epic projects. It’s kind of a stereotyped Doctor Who storyline actually: Doctor Who always teaches us that massive monstrous schemes are always brought down in the end by the failure to take into account the acts of those you consider insignificant.

In this case it was the fact that nobody had told the baggage handlers how to use their brand new machines and nobody had thought to provide parking for the staff on the early shift – so there was nobody there when the terminal opened and planes ended up not leaving at all or leaving with no baggage…

I guess they had a worse day yesterday than I did.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

What a crap day. First, the “small” edits I needed to do to one of the animations I did a couple of weeks ago turned out to take most of the day – God I hate Flash. The program isn’t just completely un-intuitive, but it also makes the most obvious and simple tasks overly complex.

Not only that, but it’s unfathomable programming language seems to change its syntax with every new release – so even if you search for solutions on the Internet, the chances are they won’t work with the version you’re using….

On top of that, the newsletter I’m now writing has just changed its rules – instead of wanting me to write two newsletters, they want to do just one, with the same content as both the originally suggested ones – but they only want to pay me for one – so I’ll have to re-negotiate the fee – which I hate doing.

To top it all off, I’ve just had a call from a credit agency – about a TV rental from Forbes Direct – who are turning out to be a very untrustworthy company.

I rented a TV from them years ago when I lived in Brockley. When I left, I cancelled the agreement, but they didn’t collect the TV (most rental companies don’t bother to collect old TVs after they’ve stopped being rented – as they’re pretty much useless by then).

I thought no more about it until I realised they were still taking money out of my account a year later. I cancelled the direct debit and heard nothing for several months.

They then contacted me wanting the TV and payment of three months extra rental despite the fact they’d already had taken a year’s rental illegally from my account.

I argued with them and eventually emailed to say they could pick up the TV on a given date on the condition that the illegal demand for extra rental was dropped. They picked it up – and I noted the condition on their delivery note so there could be no confusion.

I agreed to overlook the extra year’s payments on that condition – rather generously I thought.

Anyway, I heard nothing for another year – only now, today, I get a call from a debt collection agency who first try to trick me into giving them confidential details – and then reveal that they’re in fact chasing up this rental money.

This shouldn’t surprise me, Forbes Direct are a big company – and if every time someone moves house and cancels their order they “accidentally” forget to wipe the account, they must make hundreds of thousands per year out of the omission. I guess there’s no reason for them to be particularly studious in filing their closed accounts.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

We spent the Easter break in Worthing. Lisa’s family were all in America meeting the new arrival, and we spent four days catching up on friends and sleep.

I've come back a lot more relaxed - even though I've been tired and still am, I'm working out slowly how I can deal with the changes in work - it's good to pause and get a bit of perspective.

I've been working too hard - or at least too long - recently.

Thursday night, I dreamt that the fire alarm was going off. When I woke up I couldn’t work out weather it actually had gone off and I’d made it into my dream, whether it was just the dream or whether I’d heard George crying and dreamt it as a fire alarm. Not happy with keeping us on our toes when he’s crying, George is now making us dream that he’s crying when he isn’t.

Dressing George in the morning, I noticed a tag sewn into his baby-grow. It read: “keep away from fire”. I’d kind of hoped to do that anyway, but thanks for the advice….

Miles is a Quiet baby
There’s an advert on behalf of the NSPCC at the moment in which a sad little child is pictured along with the phrase “miles is a quiet baby – he’s learnt that nobody comes whether he cries or not”.

I’m sure that wasn’t intended as a piece of childcare advice, but we’ve taken it as one. In an attempt to get him to sleep through the night, we’re leaving him when he cries - obviously we’re checking he’s OK first, but we’ve had him crying from 4am solidly until 6:30am – that’s our record so far.

It seems to be working – slowly. He’s beginning to learn to comfort himself and get back to sleep on his own.

Curiously, he’s also becoming a quiet child… Or, at least, he’s not crying as soon as he wakes up. He’s not leaping about and fighting for attention every second of the day and he’s able to occupy himself (at least for a while) if left to play on his own.

I think the NSPCC are onto something.

We decided over the weekend to buy him a musical mobile thingy to help (having decided that it’s probably not great for the ipod to have it playing all night every night given their reputation for breaking down). We went into Mothercare and looked at various devices.

Having found nothing that really fulfilled the requirements, we finally decided that the problem was what we were really after was a magic button that would make him sleep through the night.

The machines we encountered didn’t offer that… in fact,they seemed to be designed simply to instil recognition of Disney’s various brands by repetitive hypnotic suggestion while your baby sleeps.

We plumped for a Winnie the pooh model which plays the winnie the pooh theme tune over and over whilst projecting images of the bear onto the ceiling whenever George makes a noise in the night. If you wind it backwards, it repeats the phrase “Satan is lord” in a gruff demonic voice.

Still, it keeps him quiet.


We’ve only had it for 3 days and yet I’m already associating the Winnie the Pooh theme with sleep. By the end of the week, I’ll be able to fall into unconciousness just by hearing the first few bars. Mind you, anything repetitive will do that for me right now… music, Midsommer Murders, fire alarms…

George is enjoying his food more and more – wolfing down pear, apple, squash, carrot, curry… ok – we haven’t tried curry yet, but he seems to like everything else.

We had dinner with Suzanne and Richard on Saturday – they find me tough to cook for because I don’t eat meat and they don’t eat anything else – and had lunch with Anne Swaybey on Sunday. Anne is always great fun and is single-handedly responsible for the scouting movement. Right now she’s opening a new Brownie pack and teaching the girls about the inequities of world trade with some clever games…

I think the movement has moved on a lot. And a good job too - all I remember is swearing allegiance to the Queen (of all people) and spending nights learning to tie knots when the scout master couldn’t think of anything better to do with us.

Actually that’s not true – I remember a lot of other things – most of them a lot of fun. I had a good time with the cubs until I decided I didn’t much care for paramilitary organisations…

Thursday, March 20, 2008

George is not sleeping again… he was crying from four this morning, so I’m not in a very well rested state… still…

What have I lost with the loss of digital video magazine?
Well, I did their help desk and usually one or two tutorials every month – that probably amounts to 3-500 per month. ImagineFX was 3-400 – so the loss of the magazines is quite a serious amount of my income gone… but writing for them also meant getting sent review copies of all the latest software – which I’d otherwise have to buy. And it’s not cheap – probably a couple of thousand pounds a year to keep up with products I need in my work.

Additional to that is the fact that magazine work is what makes me an “expert”… it’s a small pond and I’m a big fish in it. Not a lot of other people doing it. I don’t want to loose that. Maybe I should be looking around for online publications to work for, but I’m not sure. The magazines I’m still working for are pretty stable and do create a good basis – it’s just a pity there aren’t the specialist ones so much right now.

In addition, Lisa goes back to work in 2 weeks and I’ll be spending a day per week looking after George.

Right now, my plan is to look for more illustration/graphic design and animation work to take up the slack left by the magazines.

Looking for more work can’t be done by going out and trying to get work. I just don’t have time, so I’m relying on my advertising on google.

Basically, with google advertising, you pay for your site to be at the top of the list when people enter certain keywords. But you only pay when they click on them. You can decide on a daily budget so you decide how many clicks you get.

Up to now, I’ve found that I get someone offering me work every 1200 clicks (which works out to about £175)…. It’s not a great return, but it helps build up business. I’ve only been putting very little into it so far (about £1 per day) but I’m putting it up to £30 per day for a few days to see what happens – see if I can get a significant amount of work…

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Lisa’s parents and Sam stayed over last night on their way to America to meet Livia the new arrival. Not knowing about the length of time George’s recovery would take, meant that Lisa and I couldn’t join them. Still, we’ll probably meet Livia when she visits Italy later in the year.

Today’s been much more relaxed, and although there was still an article to write for PC Plus, I’ve been able to do at least some editing work. The whole documentary’s coming together finally and I should have a finished version by the end of the month.

The natural history museum called. They’re looking for a producer for their new audio visual work – but it’s not me because they want someone full time. Still they’ve got an interesting set of projects going on and they seem interested in what I’m doing so I’ll go in and see them in the next few weeks.

Recently more and more people have wanted to pay me through paypal. Which is fine, but it’s now pushed my paypal account over some kind of barrier so I’ve now got to become a business user… which means lots of things I don’t understand and don’t have time to research…. Never mind.

Crisis back on
Ok – so the bottom seems to have fallen out of the magazine market. Well, that’s not quite true, but Digital Video is closing, Computer Arts isn’t doing reviews anymore and is changing its requirements. Imagine FX has taken its reviews in house….

All of which doesn’t entirely wreck my writing work, but it does pose a few questions.

There aren’t all that many hours in the day, and there are going to be less once Lisa goes back to work and I’m looking after George one day a week. In addition, looking ahead to the next few years, things are going to start getting expensive and Lisa isn’t going to have her job long term, so I’ll have to find a way to do less and earn more.

Plus, there’s a global recession on the way – at least I assume there is because all the banks and politicians keep reassuring us that there isn’t.


I’m not panicking about any of this because we’ve got backup plans and even if the financial situation gets much worse, we can still move out of London where we could have a much cheaper lifestyle because the house has gone up in value so much since we bought it….

Anyway – the point is, I need to work less and earn more – and even though I could probably replace the magazines that are going, I have to ask myself whether I really want to.

Ok, I’d certainly like to continue writing for magazines, and there are a lot of benefits to it – not least that as one of the few people who can write and do various creative videoy arty things with computers, keeping my name in the magazines means people tend to contact me with interesting projects (like the book I’m currently writing, for example).

However, if there isn’t going to be a regular magazine dedicated to filmmaking and digital video for a while, It’s going to take an awful lot of work for me to build up a similar number of commissions from other magazines – and this at a time when my illustration, animation and documentary work seem to be taking off rather well…

Perhaps it’s time to do some re-focussing….

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Well, George has gone to sleep. In fact, he's been sleeping (at least during the day) a lot over the past couple of days. I think the sleepless nights have caught up with him and he's conking out all over the place.

He's still his happy self when he's awake (most of the time) and he's really learning to pick things up and play - he's even holding his own bottle some of the time.

He's also getting used to the new regime of solid food - we've mixed pear in with the baby rice and that's going down a lot better. I'm not surprised. baby rice is horrid, tastless stuff. they try to kid you that babies like it, but in tests one out of one of them didn't.

That's a hundred percent faliure rate....

Sunday, March 16, 2008

George had been bad for a few nights, and we'd taken him to a cranial osteopath who had puggled about with him and made him relax for a day before he went back to crying and screaming.

We took him back on Saturday and gave him another session and I think he's begining to stop waking us up in the night.

I think part of the problem is that we'd decided to become a bit more forceful in letting him get himself to sleep. We could probably have stopped him crying just by picking him up and comforting him, but we're not doing it. We're letting him cry.

And that has meant leaving him to cry for two hours at a time.

However, I think he's finally getting it. He's learning not to wake up in the night, but he's also learning to be a bit more self-sufficient on his own - play on his own and go to sleep on his own.

We're putting the ipod on in his room at night because he finds it easier to relax to music. when I went in at 3am, Coldplay was playing.

I have to congratulate him for actually waking up during a Coldplay song - that's got to be some kind of a record. Even Coldplay themselves rarely manage that.

it's a tough thing to learn, and not easy for us to let him... but still. it'll eventually work I'm sure.

..well, I'm not sure, but it better had.

On saturday we met up with Jane and Dan and a couple of their friends with a baby the same age as George. We tried really hard to resist going on about babies all the time - I don't think Jane thought we tried hard enough - but it's difficult. If you're not careful you end up having nothing else to talk about!

By about 4pm, though we were both knackered... we've been working hard and not sleeping. it's not a good combination. On the way home, though I found a good outlet for tiredness. A teenage girl was playing music on her mobile phone - one of those nasty tinny mobiles that can't possibly be better to listen to than a pair of headphones.

There are only two reasons I can think of for playing music loud on a train when it sounds better through headphones. One is to deliberately annoy people and make a statement about how you just don't care. The other is because you're stuck so far inside your own head that you haven't got a clue that other people even exist.

I told her to turn it off - but instead of giving me a screaming row or pulling a knife as teenagers are supposed to do, she agreed.

God, if you're going to rebel, at least have the courage of your convictions!

On sunday we went over to Mons and Abi's for sunday lunch. We had curry and Mons randomly handed out Islamic literature. Not because he's Muslim, but because he was given it at college.

The glossy leaflets were titled "discover islam" and were laid out like leaflets for the Norfolk Tourist board. They could just as easily have been entitled "discover Yarmouth". Only they probably wouldn't have contained so much information on the evils of other religions if they had been.

Again, we were knackered by 5pm... come on, George, go to sleep.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The last few days have been horrendusly busy at work - lots of people suddenly wanting animations for bizzare reasons ranging from a waste disposal conference to a videogame featuring Mexican Wrestlers.. in addition, one of the main magazines I work for has just been told it's closing with no replacement in sight.

On top of that, Raoul just phoned saying he has a meeting with some people at the Natural History Museum tomorrow… one of them is looking to expand their audio-visual side and wants a producer. I don’t want to do this as a job, but maybe I could do it freelance… unfortunately, this means getting a CV or something like it together today.

I haven’t had a CV since 1998….

George has been sleeping so badly over the past few nights that Lisa was at the end of her tether yesterday morning. She eventually decided to take him to a cranial osteopath…

The difference was amazing. He’s now much calmer, sleeping much more easily and longer and being happier in himself. I don’t know what the guy did, but it worked!

Lisa just came back from Somerfield – some mad woman in the shop attacked her. The woman thought the pram was getting in her way and started shouting and swearing – she poked George, and then started hitting Lisa before security arrived and threw her out of the shop.
No damage done, but Lisa was very shaken up.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

George's first food

George had his first solid food today. Baby rice (a kind of powder which mixed with milk makes a sloppy mess ideal for spreading around the room).

George didn’t really get what it was all about, but Lisa bought him up to the office so we could both feed him.

He took it at any rate, and didn’t complain too much.

Monday, March 10, 2008


On Friday it was Nicky’s birthday and it’s becoming traditional to go to the Comedy Store. Before moving on to the comedy where a couple of good comedians followed a guy who seemed to have been parachuted in from the 1970s (plenty of jokes starting “my wife’s so fat…”) - I met up with Steve, Nicky’s brother.

We were talking about schools for children. His go to a church school and apparently they’re being taught Genesis rather than evolution! He didn’t seem bothered about it, but I would have been – I don’t think it’s even legal. I’m sure he’d have been pissed off if they’d been teaching that the world was flat… mind you, they probably are.

To drop or not to drop

More and more often, we’re coming home to find no parking spaces in the road and we’re having to drag George and whatever shopping we have back from Sam’s road. We don’t want to, but it’s looking more like we’ll eventually need to put in a drop kerb and a drive at the front of the house. Apparently people paving over their front gardens is eating up lots of the green space in London – but without resident’s parking, it looks like we’ll have to do it.

The thing is I don’t want to become someone who goes on about parking all the time… it seems to be the only thing (apart from house prices) that the neighbours want to talk about.

I guess that means things are generally good.

Mum’s birthday – sudden glimpses

We went up to Mum and Dad’s for mum’s birthday at the weekend. Everyone was delighted to see George had put on so much weight. Helen met him, and Grace (my grandmother) was there too.

Grace is horrified that we’ve taken George swimming – she’s also not best pleased that we’re going to a nursery (although she doesn’t say so).

Sometimes you get a sudden glimpse that not everybody shares your world view…. At one point, Grace asked me a question:
”I’ve been meaning to ask you - You know on TV programmes, when you get a telephone number come up?”


“well, you know there’s sometimes some writing underneath and it ends in .com”

“what does that mean?”

What I said was:
“it’s like a magazine – you type that into your computer and the magazine comes up on your screen.”

What I didn’t say was:
“it’s the single most important invention in the history of the human race. Almost everything anybody does involves it in some way.”

Grace is 92, but she’s quite with it… I guess the technological revolution just passed her by.

Andrew arrived, had lunch, then fell asleep almost immediately. This set the tone for the weekend. When he wasn’t’ eating, he was sleeping – it was good to see him, but he must be so tired to sleep like that – propped up against chairs, or anywhere he happens to be sitting, lying or standing… it sounds like the danger of him loosing his lorry driving job is passed for the moment – and they’re relying on him more than ever… still, I can’t help thinking he could do with a less demanding job.

Mum opened a bottle of rose at lunchtime – a nice gesture since it’s only us two that would drink it – but it was from Grace and Igor’s cupboard and I’ve no idea how long it had been there. Anyway, it was the colour of whiskey and had thick black flakes in. we didn’t drink it. Extra low fat food was served… as always at home. We had cheese on toast for tea, with an extra piece of cheese on the side, followed by carrot cake…. and Croissants for breakfast…. There’s an awful lot of dairy in my parent’s diet. And a lot of fat too.

Dad decided he wanted to put some of his old videos from his camera tape onto VHS. He wanted my help and I thought it would be a good way to judge just how basic the book I’ve been asked to write on digital video for absolute beginners has to be.

I’ve been told that the target market is older people who have never really got involved with youtube or digital video - so I thought my Dad would be the ideal person to set the right level for the book.

About half way through explaining to him how to plug the camera into the VCR, I realised that writing the book is going to be a tough job if it’s really to appeal to him…

George probably had the most sleepless night of his life, keeping us awake most of the night.

Mum and Dad are thinking about moving. Dad’s always thinking about it. He has an idea of moving “somewhere warm” but he won’t do it. It takes enough effort for him to go on holiday… However, now Mum’s thinking that it’s not good to be living on a flood plane and wants to move uphill (locally). So we had a look in the local papers…. We found out what we could afford if we sold up in London – it’s a game, I think most homeowners in London play occasionally.

Every time we do it, we see what’s on offer and wonder for a moment why we live in London. Then we look at what it would really be like having to get in the car if we wanted a pint of milk – and decide we’re better off in the city – for now at least.

On Sunday, the Andrew Marr programme showed an interview with Ian Paisley who’s just stepped down. For the first time ever he appeared sensible… I guess you can do that when you retire from politics.

On Saturday I’d mentioned to Dad that the documentary had sold in Spain and Indonesia now as well as Canada…

“oh.” He said.

“What’s it about?”

he’s seen it, of course. Lisa must have seen the dejection in my eyes because Lisa, Mum and I had a big chat about Dad on Sunday.

It’s not that he isn’t interested in what I do… he just can’t get his head round it and so it just falls out of his mind. Lisa gets very frustrated with him (so do I and so does Mum). But I don’t think he even notices.

He’s always there to back me up – but not until after whatever I’ve done works – by which time he doesn’t need to.

I always compare him to sooty. I never hear him speak about important things – I just have to infer that he thinks them. My mum ends up speaking for him

“your Dad thinks this” “your dad thinks that” “Your dad’s very proud of you”



Friday, March 7, 2008

We took George to see another nursery today. It was a shambles – kids crying all over the place, adults not knowing where they were supposed to be. We were let in and then left in the hall for ages without anyone speaking to us. This has really made it clear to us that the first couple of nurseries we saw are what we really want for George… despite them not having any spaces… looks like we’ll be waiting a while before he gets a place.

Meanwhile, he’s had a bad night – waking up all the way though. And I don’t blame him. In addition to teething, we’ve been told over the phone by a dietician that he needs to have about a third less food and be topped up with water… this has come as a bit of a shock to him poor fellow and he’s not in a good mood.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

George had his injections yesterday and what with that and whatever’s happening with his teeth (no teeth yet, but he’s chewing and dribbling ferociously and waking up in pain most nights) – he’s not being the nicest little boy at the moment.

Lisa had to take him into the spare room last night and he didn’t give her much sleep even then.

He was predictably grizzly today too, so I took him at around 4 and told Lisa to go out and have a coffee. He was fine with me for an hour, but I think that’s because I just gave him lots of attention to distract him. We went on the trampoline. He loves being bounced around, or just lying in the middle while I jump around him.

We got a call from the dietician who didn’t seem to know that we hadn’t had any advice about how much milk to give him… apparently we’ve been giving him too much and he should be having about a third less and toping up on water.

Monday, March 3, 2008

This weekend with George was great. On Saturday we took him swimming for the first time at the Peckham hydrotherapy pool. They have baby swimmimg sessions in which they raise the floor of the pool (I didn’t know they could do that) to about half a meter and let babies and parents splash around.

We thought he’d like it, but we assumend he’d only be able to cope with about 10 minutes before he needed to come out. He absolutedly loved it - smiling, giggling and playing for about 40 minutes before we decided to take him out.

He didn’t even mind going underwater when we dunked him… apparently it’s fine to do that and the sooner babies get used to being underwater the better. (We decided to restrict it to five or ten minutes underwater at a time though…)

He was happy for the rest of the day while but by the time we’d pottered around Peckham, come home, taken him on the trampoline for a while and put him to bed, we were exhausted.

We did, however, watch the Eurovision song contest selection programme (for some reason).
I’d had a dream the previous night that I’d somehow agreed to sing in front of a concert hall full of people – it was the morning of the performance and I was worried sick – realising that I couldn’t sing, had no experience and didn’t want to do it anyway. I only perked up when I discovered that I wouldn’t have to do it anyway because it was just a dream.

It struck me that these days it must be like that for most new pop stars. Gone are the days when bands used to “audition” for years, going from one club to the next, playing for small groups of friends and building up their audiences until they could play in front of anyone. Now bands are catapulted from nowhere to the top of the charts in a second (and back again just as quickly)….

They must always feel like complete amateurs – which of course most of them are. The guy who won the Eurovision thingy said in an interview that he didn’t feel like he’d been thrust into the limelight – he’d been working at it for 40 years – and it showed. He was more polished and more relaxed and professional than any of the others….

I most of the entertainment industry has become this instant hit thing now - the only exception being comedy – where the names you see on hit shows are generally people you’ve seen over the years in small comedy clubs (if you go to small comedy clubs).

Sunday was another packed day.

It started early with a visit to the photographer’s in Dulwich (a husband and wife team, mr. and mrs. Sherrif whose advertising bears the phrase “shot by the sherrif” of course).

They did a great job and hopefully photos will be available soon. They seemed very surprised when George started smiling and relaxing immediately for the camera and they got the shot they wanted within 2 clicks of the camera.

Apparently it normally takes a couple of hours to get a baby to smile for the camera. George continued to smile for the entire session.

This pleased Mrs. Sherrif very much and she kept dropping very unsubtle hints to her husband that she wanted a baby by Christmas. I think he was beginning to soften to the idea by the end of the session….

Once that was done, we went to Whitstable – Sam and Nick had wanted to go because someone at her college was having a party. We went to the beach, ate cockles and oysters and then we went to a fish restaurant (fish restaurants in fishing towns are so great! – especially when oysters are in season and really cheap)

We discovered that pilchards and sardines are in fact the same fish and we had yet more oysters (cooked this time).

We then went to the party – which turned out to be a home made cream tea party – featuring an infinite number of scones and lots of cava. We dumped George in the living room for a group of strangers to look after, and went to the kitchen to eat scones….

By the time we got home we didn’t fancy any tea.