Come along for the ride!!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ho ho bleeding' ho ....

It makes me smile when we teach our children how bad it is to tell lies, then proceed to tell them that on one particular night in the year, a rosy cheeked fat man wearing a red velvet suit, will slip effortlessly down our chimney in order to leave them a present or two provided they've been well behaved for pretty much the whole of the year!

It's lies and bribery rolled into one!

We tell ourselves that it's for their own little bit of magic, to bring a bit of sparkle to the festivities but at the end of the day, it is basically a fib of whopping proportions. Of course, I for one absolutely loved the idea of Santa Claus shinning his way back up the chimney or, even better, waking up and catching him in the act of leaving presents at the end of my bed.

I remember one Christmas many years ago when my brother and I were sharing a bedroom (I guess I must have been about 7, him about 3) and we awoke to oddly shaped pillowcases at the foot of our beds.

We set about opening them up before our parents woke up and I remember feeling ever so slightly deflated when my first present was a Fisher Price camera and his first present was a cool looking sports car with a boat on a trailer. This continued for a couple more pressies before our Mum heard my wailing and made excuses while swapping pillowcases.

"Santa" must've had too much "special milk" and got the bags mixed up!

What a laugh.

Roll forward to about 5 years ago and myself, M and a 2-and-a-bit year old Joseph are heading to Covent Garden to visit Father Christmas in the enormous hollow tree (made out of scaffold but still very effective) they had put up that week.

The look on his little face as he was confronted by the mystical St Nick I will never, ever forget. It was a mixture of fear and amazement with a little bit of trust thrown in for good measure and he edged his way toward the open hand of Santa (who was being played by a rather skinny chap in Dennis Taylor style snooker glasses), but who was a very kind sounding Father Christmas.

We have the most wonderful picture of this meeting (even though it is permanently damaged - boo hoo - read
here for why) and it brings back the best memories. I got outside that fake tree in Covent Garden, it was dark, it was cold and it was all I could do to not blub like a baby in front of the "collect your picture here" booth.

The point to all this is that that meeting, that first ever encounter with St Nicholas stayed with Joseph for several years. It might still be there somewhere for all I know although he doesn't refer to it any more but I remember feeling warmth and gratitude towards the stranger in the red suit for making the wonder of Santa a reality for Joseph.

Roll forward another couple of years to yesterday and in one of hundreds of Christmas fairs up and down the country, another random individual playing Santa Claus was getting changed into his outfit and applying his make up.

Only this individual had never been Santa before and was quite nervous, even though he had been looking forward to it.

The reason I know all this is because that individual was me. I had been asked a few weeks back and as soon as my colleagues approached me, I remembered the Santa in the Covent Garden tree. Skinny he may have been but he (and his grotto) had conjured up enough magic to get my son through his early years - if he could do it, so could I.

After whiting out my eyebrows a bit, a dab of rouge on my cheeks and nose, padding tied round my waist, newly made suit climbed into, white wig on, beard on, hat on, glasses on, wellies on et voilà, one Father Christmas open for business.

M and I had discussed that the children wouldn't visit Santa until my shift was over (3 hours later) but approximately 2 hours in, they wanted to see the man himself.

I figured it would be the ultimate test so I gave the nod to one of my fairy helpers and in they came.

At first I wasn't sure if Joseph was fooled, although Annabel seemed to be buying it, looking embarrassed and avoiding eye contact which suited me fine!

I got her to sit next to me and Joseph to stand on my other side and carried on in my voice that was a cross somewhere between the Major from Fawlty Towers and Ronnie Corbett in Sorry! It seemed to be working even if M was barely containing her hysterics!!

You know what? It bloody well worked!!! They left happy, waving their wrapped presents and out they went. It wasn't until half an hour later that I regretted not having taken a picture of the three of us.

So we called them back, gave them some story about Santa forgetting to take a picture for his scrapbook, sat them down again and said 'cheese'.

So here, for the first time ever on these pages, is a picture of my children and myself (I've tweaked their features slightly). If you ever meet us in the street however, remember, they have no idea!!!

Help me keep it that way.


It's me, your old Dad - I was Santa at the Christmas fair and you never had a clue - it was the best feeling!!!!!

Happy advent to you both!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Unions of the World, unite!

Earlier on in the year, I bored you to tears with a letter from my podiatrist (to whom I had been referred), to the Consultant Physiotherapist. The content of this nonsense is neither here nor there, but I did post a very entertaining picture for your amusement.

Refresh your memories

I found another corker of a sign at a public convenience by the underground station that serves the
O2 arena.

Now that is a specific closing time!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"Beans, beans, the musical fruit ..."

Rip; bottom burp; pant rumbler; horse and cart; 1 man salute; break wind; flatulence; honk; pass wind; the dog did it.

In this increasingly politically correct world, it seems even the funniest of words are being deemed unnacceptable. I mean, what's offensive about the word "fart"?

Ok, I admit, there are plenty of more "polite" words to explain the action, especially if you are teaching your children but does the word fart actually offend?

To offend or not to offend, that is the question!

Either way, in a bid to keep it clean for my children's sake BUT, not wanting to completely lose the humour surrounding the word (or should that be verb?), I introduced two options.

"Oh my goodness, who let one rip?" is the first choice of question that even now gets plenty of cheap laughs from both offspring. This is absolutely nothing however, compared to the laughter that Annabel got from me when tonight, with a totally seriously face, she offered up the second option of phrase which I associate more with my Dad saying. She held her nose, looked from her brother (the perpetrator) to me and said, "I think Joseph's let one go Dad".

I don't care who y'are, but coming from a 4 year old, that's funny right there!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"Can you tell what it is yet?"

I have been trying to find the time to sit down and write about last Saturday since ... erm ... last Saturday, but have been too busy doing I'm not sure what!

Nevertheless, here I am, willing and able.

Poor M has a busy enough week as it is without offering to work 50% of our precious weekend, but work she did. This coincided with Joseph going to play at a school friend's house which left Annabel and my good self, almost unbelievably, alone for the day!! Annabel and I never get to spend any time alone, like, ever!!

It was a treat.

The weather was rotten but this didn't matter in the slightest. We played snakes and ladders, we did arts and crafts, we did drawings, colouring in, fuzzy felt pictures, puzzles, had lunch alone and, when it was all too much, we watched some TV slumped on the sofa until late afternoon.

Although (most) parents love their child/ren with all their heart on a daily basis, there are days when you feel your heart will burst; today I was lucky enough to have one of those days.

Thanks Missy - I had a lovely day.

Can't wait 'till the next one!

I could tell you all about this scene but it has been done so creatively, that I know I need not explain what it is?


Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Bread's better wi' nowt taken owt"

Here's one I never saw coming, but you will have to allow for my London accent to appreciate it. I think.

Annabel, as you may or may not know, has started on her reading "words" and is doing rather well with them (see

Well, this evening we were going through some new words and she got to one that was spelt;


Now, when I say that word, it starts off rhyming with "car" as opposed to "gas" - geddit?


rather than


Am I making myself clear?

As mud?

The thing is, Annabel's lovely teacher is from Yorkshire and obviously, she says the word 'fast' in an accent different to mine (it's not a problem, please don't report me to the racist police!!!), but it did take me aback slightly, that's all, ok?


Sunday, November 08, 2009

In Flanders Field ...

As a young teenage lad walking to the Territorial Army cadets on a Friday evening, I thought I was pretty damn cool in my uniform, beret cocked dandily to one side with a Royal Artillery badge upon it, glistening in the evening sunshine. I can remember just how badly those awful shirts itched, no matter how much fabric conditioner my Mum used on them! I can remember feeling generally very proud to be a part of something that was affiliated to the regular army which, it turns out, my parents were terrified of me signing up for.

I can also remember how good it felt asking my Dad to sign the permission form which would allow me to go up in a Chinook helicopter if ever the need arrived and, with his pen poised, asking me, "yeah, but you're unlikely to ever actually need to right?"

Sadly, I never did go up in one but still rush to the window at hearing one, looking forlornly at them, watching their turns as they follow the twists of the river Thames as they head across the capital.

I remember also, the immense pride at taking part in the special parade which took place on the second Sunday of November to honour the memory of those who had given their lives during The Great War.

Quite why it was called the "great" war though, continues to be a mystery as there is nothing great about war.

Strange really, that after a decade of making me cry with laughter, Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson managed to bring home the awfulness, the sadness and the incredible waste of life, in the final scene of Blackadder Goes Forth. From muddy trench to lying dead in No Mans Land in the space of 30 seconds.

The war to end all wars?

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

— Lt.-Col.
John McCrae (1872 - 1918)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

See an opportunity ....

Take the opportunity!

"Guess what love? I've got another load of money to spend!!"

Monday, November 02, 2009

Knock, knock. Who's there?

Ooh, that reminds me.

One thing I did forget to mention in my Paris post, was that I developed a rather keen interest in some of the beautiful (what we would call), front doors. They were more than just front doors though; they were the entrance not only to the flats and apartments, they usually opened out onto a little courtyard, some were beautiful, some less so. Some of the doors were very grand, others, again, less so.

Anyways, just thought I'd share some of the nicer ones that caught my fabulously (un)trained eye.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Fright Night

Roasted chestnuts ......

a freshly opened bottle of 10 year old brandy .....

and a particularly scary looking, personally carved pumpkin. What more do you need for a successful Hallowe'en?

Oh yeah, the children.

After 3 or 4 years, Joseph is now fully versed in the 'knocking-on-doors-and-scaring-people-to-death" etiquette but it's all quite new to Annabel. She was so excited and had a great time, and she only refused to walk down 2 garden paths thanks to their overly realistic ghosts and ghouls hanging above the front doors.

She enjoyed it right up to the point where she told me, "one more house Dad and that's it, we're going home ok? I'm getting tired".

It was ok though; she enjoyed opening the door to the hardier types who kept on coming until the "treats" ran out!

Happy Hallowe'en.