…To Be A Dad.

"Any man can be a father. It takes someone special to be a Dad." ~Author Unknown

…To Be A Dad. wedding day

Diamonds are Forever

February 2nd, 2011 · death, music, tv

After the best part of 2 months without a proper post, I break my blog silence. (OK, I posted yesterday, but I actually drafted this first!) Skipping the reasons I’ve abstained from publication, it is telling that my silence is broken to say something about the subject arguably most consistently close to my heart throughout my life: music.

John Barry has died. Many may not recognise the name, but most will recognise his music, particularly from film and television. He had the ability to pick up on the mood of a film and write a theme that became as much a signature for the movie as its starring actors and their roles.

The BBC have posted an audio slideshow of some of his best-known and most popular works. But my own favourite is probably still his spendid theme for the TV series The Persuaders, a show featuring Roger Moore and Tony Curtis in their heyday back when I was only a little older than Oliver is now.

I expect the music Barry wrote will long outlive him. I write this post primarily in the hope that my children will enjoy his creations and the great films of which they were a part.

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Capturing the moment

February 1st, 2011 · Uncategorized

Today I heard a poem that beautifully captures feelings of love for a daughter, a three year old daughter no less, just like my own.

As it is available online, I have taken the liberty of reprinting here, complete with publisher’s credits. (The book from which it is taken is still available via Amazon.) For a while you will also be able to hear it, as I did, by going here and scrolling to 27 minutes 40 seconds.

BEATTIE IS THREE
At the top of the stairs
I ask for her hand. O.K.
She gives it to me.
How her fist fits my palm,
A bunch of consolation.
We take our time
Down the steep carpetway
As I wish silently
That the stairs were endless.

© 1975, the estate of Adrian Mitchell
From: The Apeman Cometh
Publisher: Jonathan Cape, London, 1975
ISBN: 1 85224 164 0

I have attemtpted to write poetry from time to time, a natural extension of the task of writing lyrics for songs. I’ve rarely been as satisfied with them as I have songs. But reading this perfect expression today, I wonder perhaps should I try again. Try harder. So that I might reach into the future and deliver a message of love to my children, even if, sadly, it is a message that they may only truly understand after I have gone.

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Fatherhood Institute: “UK lags behind in new family fairness league table”

December 3rd, 2010 · Fatherhood Friday, gender roles, parenting, politics

UK lags behind in new family fairness league table

First ever international Fairness in Families Index places UK 18 out of 21 countries

The UK ranks in the bottom 4 in a groundbreaking new ‘Fairness in Families’ index showing countries’ ability to support equal parenting, launched by the Fatherhood Institute today.

UK families get a raw deal on paid paternity leave, time spent caring for children and men and women’s pay, the Fairness in Families Index reveals.”

The USA came 12th by the way. The full report is here and is actually worth at least a quick flick through. It’s full of interesting graphs, facts and figures. Did you know the USA has the largest percentage of children living in a single-parent home? (The UK has the second biggest.)

There was also a discussion on Radio 4’s Today programme about this. What I found most despressing was the attitude (from Tony Parsons, very disappointingly) that we can never achieve fairness in terms of shared roles in the home so we should just give up. Perhaps even worse was his reference to men who take their full allocation of paternity leave (a wopping 2 weeks in the UK compared to 40 in Sweden) as “wimps! That thinking is so retarded.

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Attitude of gratitude

December 1st, 2010 · Uncategorized

Today I am grateful:

  • to Idaho Dad for sending me my prize CD from his recent giveaway (plus another equally splendid CD for no other reason than he is a good egg – thank you sir!)
  • that Oliver enjoyed the snow on his walks to and from school today and that Lucy got chance to go sledging.
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  • that I had chance to clear the snow  and grit the path of our octogenarian neighbour; surely the most satisfying thing I’ll do all week.
  • to Hayley for taking the time to play games with Oliver that involve him in learning, but without him seeing at as work.
  • that I will get a little time to play my ukulele this evening. Hurray!

Inspired by the Attitude of Gratitude blog.

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Attention all commenters

December 1st, 2010 · Uncategorized

For some reason, some comments are not showing up on the blog (for me anyway), yet I can see them in the WordPress dashboard.

So, Jessi and EnglishDadInNewYork (amongst others), your comments are appreciated, even if not yet visible.

Bear with me people, I’ll sort this….

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Looks like we made it

November 30th, 2010 · Uncategorized

So here we are at the end of NaBloPoMo. I rarely doubted I’d make it to the end, but I certainly doubted whether any of my posts would be worth reading. So how did it go?

Well, it was enjoyable, but the fact it was daily made it too time consuming to want to do it again soon or maybe even annually. On the plus side it has reassured me that, contrary to my fears, I can usually write a satisfactorily coherent post without needing all that much time to do so. Satisfactory from my point of view anyway. I didn’t get many commenters during my posting mini-marathon, so maybe others were less impressed. Whatever, thanks to those who did check in regulalrly. It always makes the next post a whole lot easier when you know someone out there is still reading!

Over the month I tried to mix up the content to be representative of what the blog is about. So I allowed myself one day without words on a Wordless Wednesday, I contributed a Fatherhood Friday even though Dad-Blogs seemed to have forgotten them, I squeezed in some questioning of reality TV and even enjoyed revealing a few secrets about my wife. But mostly it was just another month, blogging family life, just relentlessly so!

So expect to see more of the same. Just don’t expect my particular literary diet to be daily.

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Snippets

November 29th, 2010 · Uncategorized

Nothing of consequence. Just a document of how life is today. After all, that’s what I started this blog to capture. This is the sort of post that I would normally publish only to family, but for NaBloPoMo, to get a flavour of the whole blog, I am making it public.

  • There’s nothing better than seeing your kids happy, especially if they are playing happily together. So when they both decided to ride the toy Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer that we’ve had since Oliver was a toddler, it was great to see them both squeeze on and share the fun.
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  • Oliver still loves to be a comedian and is at an age where “poo” is the source of endless amusement. Mr Poo Poo Head is a name I seem to be given quite often these days by Oliver and indeed by some of his peers. In fact anything revolting is a source of hilarity. So I gladly stole the list of imagined gross foods concocted for his son’s amusement by James at “Luke, I Am Your Father“, adding a few of my own. Oliver was in hysterics and I couldn’t have been happier seeing him so laugh uncontrollably. Though hopefully he won’t suggest offering bogey marmalade if the vicar comes to visit.
  • This evening Lucy asked to play a game with me of her making. It involved me standing at one end of the kitchen with my arms open wide, while she sprinted into them from a starting position in the living room. I then swept her high up in the air, above my head, before lowering her to my face for her to give me a kiss. Great game sweet pea.
  • The other day Hayley locked herself out of the house as she left to take Oliver to school. I came home with keys, by which point it made more sense for me to drop Oliver at school. On the way there, Oliver seemed a little concerned that he was going to be late. I was all ready to explain on his behalf why we were delayed, but when we got to school he immediately launched into a concise but accurate explanation to the head-teacher (who happened to be just inside the door) before I could even open my mouth. The he was straight off to class with Daddy only just managing to peck his cheek before he was away.
  • Before bed tonight, Lucy and I did a jigsaw together. It was a 24 piece puzzle portraying a fairly princess garden. When we had finished it, she insisted it be left out on the floor so that Mummy could see it when she got home from the gym.
  • This evening, as he went to bed, Oliver told me how important it is to go to school, stressing the importance of doing “teacher’s jobs”, a phrase which he uses that seems to refer to teacher-led activities in small groups. He also told me which children keep shouting out to the teacher without putting their hand up, which I take as a good sign that he has improved himself in this area!
  • When Lucy goes to bed she can sometimes drag things out, but often she can be very good. She says goodnight to her brother, often insisting on giving him a kiss, somewhat against his preference. Then I carry her to her room and sing her lullaby to her with her head on my shoulder. Then she has to have her lullaby a second time when she’s in bed, while I hold her hand (and, as of the last few nights, scratch her back with the other hand). After this she insists on giving me one kiss and one cuddle, which is a lovely hug. But before she does, she often tells me, “I’ve got a little cuddle for you and a big cuddle for Mummy”. She adores Hayley!
  • At bedtime, Oliver is currently having me read him an abridged version of Treasure Island. It’s the first time we have read a book over more then one evening. Hopefully we can continue this enjoyment of stories in a longer format.
  • On Sunday both kids went to swimming lessons in the same pool at the same time (though in different classes as Lucy is just starting). They both enjoy it, even though Oliver went through a stage of complaining it’s hard work. Lucy was all smiles the whole lesson, much helped by the fact that Cara, a playmate of Oliver’s since birth, was also in her class. Here’s hoping she doesn’t leave Lucy behind as I reckon she’d refuse to go without her!
  • This evening the kids had a dinner designed (if only partially cooked) by Daddy: Chicken Tikka Masala. OK, I didn’t invent it, but I suggested it and bought the ingredients. I just wanted Hayley’s help cooking the chicken as being a veggie left me concerned I might poison my kids through under-cooking the meat. Although initially skeptical about the spiciness of the sauce, both kids ended up mixing it with their rice, aided by having a glass of milk each to take out some of the heat. Both had extra portions and at the end Oliver gave it two thumbs up. Result!
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  • And finally, with Christmas coming we have two lists of presents. Oliver’s has about five things on it. Lucy’s consists of the last five toys she saw on TV. To be fair, she does have a few things she has consistently asked for and those are definitely going to be here on Christmas morning. Oliver’s number one present is this, which is already sitting in the garage (boxed, to keep it secret).

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Have you seen the weather?

November 28th, 2010 · biking, illness, local, morning, photo, wheels

IMAG1396
Goodbye sun… at 3.10pm!

We British are blessed with rather good weather considering our northerly position on our planet. This green and pleasant land arises from the fact that we have a temperate climate, warm and wet. Perhaps it is this tendency for moderate weather conditions that leads us to be so woefully under-prepared when something out of the ordinary comes along. And when I say out of the ordinary, what I really mean is something fairly ordinary and pretty well guaranteed to be an annual occurrence, but not so enduring that we bother to remember to prepare for it.

Take, for example, snow. Much of the country has had a good blanket of it this week, the first of the winter (though not a flake yet in my town). To be fair, I don’t think I’ve known snow this early in the season in my lifetime. Nonetheless, after last January’s long cold snap, there was much talk of being prepared this winter. And some people are indeed prepared. But most of us do nothing about winter tyres and hope for the road-gritters to keep us moving.

Of course, if the roads are icy, there are no tyres that will save you. And it’s worse still if you are on two wheels. I was reminded of this a week or so ago, when I hit some black ice when cycling to work. I landed heavily on the floor grazing my knee and twisting my wrist. I limped back home and haven’t cycled since.

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This morning when I rose at 7am the temperature outside was -10 Celsius (14 Fahrenheit). It eventually rose to 0C but has sunk back to -7C as I type. Apparently we are going to have this weather for the next two weeks. And no doubt it will continue to lead the evening news on many occasions, just as it will dominate office chatter. You see, we Brits love to talk about the weather. In contrast, I have it on good authority that back in Communist days, teenagers in eastern-block countries attending ballroom dancing lessons were told that it was an appalling social faux-pas to engage your partner in conversation about the weather. The resort of the socially inept.

In this country you’d seem odd if you weren’t to talk about the weather, even if only to smugly declare that “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”. The trouble is, I’m not sure I own clothing with enough padding to dress appropriately to cycle to work without looking like the Michelin man. But no doubt I’ll have plenty of chance to discuss this further.

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What’s on my…

November 27th, 2010 · books, lucy, music, photo, work

Bookshelf

Just finished:

“One Day” by David Nicholls. Engaging if seemingly plodding at first, it lulled me in then hit me with a killer punch.

Just starting:

“The Spirit Level – Why Equality is Better For Everyone” by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. A book that claims to expose that “almost everything – from life expectancy to mental illness, violence to illiteracy – is affected not by how wealthy a society is, but by how equal it is.”

And for work:

“Succeeding with Agile – Software Development Using Scrum” by Mike Cohn. Introducing new levels of common sense into the harsh world of software development.

MP3 player (which is actually my phone)

Nothing yet. I haven’t reloaded it since my SD card died. I’m open to recommendations.

Sky+ box

Aside from the zillions of kids shows… Grand Designs, Eastenders (for Hayley), Undercover Boss USA.

Phone backdrop

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Lucy inspecting a bottle of wine for the School Quiz.

Mind

Christmas shopping. And how I’ve barely started it. Of course, these days Christmas is all about the kids, so the presents we buy each other tend to be at the lower end of price scale, sometimes by use of a mutually agreed “Under a tenner” rule. Nonetheless, even “under a tenner” presents don’t buy themselves.

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Friday?

November 26th, 2010 · lucy, music, radio

It’s McFlyday!

Ah what a joy it is to say that. For the uninitiated, for some reason Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles renamed Friday to McFlyday and always plays their undeniably bouncy and uplifting song “Stargirl” on his show on Friday mornings. He played it as I drove to work this morning and I sang along with the volume cranked up. Ah yes, it’s good to confess.

I wrote a few weeks ago about the up side of having kids at 40. High on the list of positives is the fact that whereas a 13 year old Lucy would no doubt consider my singing a total embarrassment, my 3 year old Lucy doesn’t mind a jot.

Not that she is without opinions on my taste in music already. Next May I’ll be going to see the Canadian rock band Rush, a mere 30 years almost to the day after I first saw them. I put their “Snakes and Arrows” album into the car CD player this afternoon when Lucy and I went to pick up Oliver from school. Unfortunately, Lucy immediately requested that Twinkle Twinkle be re-instated as our music of choice. Oh well, maybe she’ll come round in a few years.

She then told me that we “haven’t got many good CDs” in my car. She’s right: I have one kids’ music CD at present. So this weekend I shall have to put together a stunning combo of They Might Be Giants,  Bare Naked Ladies, kids’ TV theme tunes… and maybe just a teeny weeny little track for myself, like, say the full length version of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird”.

D’you think I’ll get away with it?

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