The Flying Greenhouse

How it was supposed to look...

My wife fondly imagined it would look something like this. She’d forgotten who was putting it up…

“I’ve ordered a greenhouse,” my wife announced casually.

“What? We can’t afford a greenhouse. We’ve got Tom’s university bill to pay. Jessica’s rent. Ben’s holiday…”

“Not that sort of greenhouse. A plastic one. Thirty quid.”

My blood pressure returned to normal. Jane explained that we’d be able to grow melons. “Mangoes?” I muttered hopefully.

The greenhouse arrived a few days later. “When are you putting it up?” I asked.

“We’re doing at the weekend,” Jane replied. [Read more…]

Here We Go Again

Something to look forward to...

Something to look forward to…

But for the last time, ladies and gentlemen. For the last time…

Five years ago I wrote a column called Alien vs. GCSE. It bemoaned the fact that Halo 4 had been released at exactly the moment Tom was supposed to go into revision overdrive for his GCSEs.

And it came to a simple conclusion. We had to trust him.

He was 16: we couldn’t keep running up to his bedroom to check on him indefinitely. Besides, there was a simple problem. His bedroom was so untidy we couldn’t get through the door.

“Damn it, Tom,” I’d yell, hammering away, “Something’s jamming your bedroom door.”

“I know. Stop worrying, Dad.”

“Well what is it?” [Read more…]

Alien vs. GCSE

The one that caused all the worry...

The one that caused all the worry…

This is the original post, written in May 2010, that I refer to in Here We Go Again.

If you have a cat you’ll know that very special sound it makes just before it vomits. ‘Blurp,’ is how I’d describe it. You may have a different term. Either way you hear it and you immediately rush the blurping moggy to the back door. Or push a newspaper under the wretched animal. Unless you’re Tom, of course. In which case you simply sit there while the cat throws up on your school blazer.

It wasn’t Tom’s fault. Of course not. He was playing on the Xbox. With his headphones on. So he didn’t hear Scribble making her ‘blurp’ noises. How stupid of me to even think he might have noticed a cat puking on his blazer. I’m not fit to be a father. [Read more…]

In-Car Entertainment

How can my wife not care who plays at this ground...

My wife is less than impressed when I suggest a family quiz. But who does play at this ground…

“Are we nearly there yet, Daddy?”

“For goodness sake, we only set off twenty minutes ago.”

“Well I’m bored.”

There’s a yelp. I look in the rear view mirror.

“You might be bored but punching your brother isn’t the way to make the journey go faster. Read your book.”

“Read it at school.”

“Well listen to your tape.” [Read more…]

Election Fever Revisited

Or none of the above...

Or none of the above…

“Are you coming to watch it with me?”

“Yes. Just let me get a bowl of Cheerio’s.”

Obviously. It’s at least an hour since my youngest son last ate. He must be clinging on to life by a thread. But Ben’s soon back – and patiently explaining to me that yes, we can watch the Leaders’ Debate despite the Digibox saying it’s recording every other programme on TV. “Leave it to me, Dad. You concentrate on keeping calm. Try not to throw anything at the TV this time round.”

He’s right. The General Election can’t come soon enough. My blood pressure won’t take much more. [Read more…]

Greatest Hits – Volume 1

Forget them, Frankie...

Forget them, Frankie…

Let me share a vision of Hell with you…

We’re driving through Scotland. Apparently we’re on holiday. Three children on the back seat of a Megane Scenic. Jessica is at the height of her ‘Let’s keep Tom in line by biting him’ phase. The only time they’re not fighting is when they’re eating. And when they’ve finished eating Ben throws up. We’ve just discovered that he gets car sick. The nearest chemist and travel sickness tablets are on the other side of a mountain range. We don’t have a Satnav: so Jane and I are arguing. Still, at least it amuses the children… [Read more…]

Macbeth, Banquo and the Euromillions

I'm absolutely certain school has got it wrong...

I’m absolutely certain school has got it wrong…

Enter, stage right Macbeth and Banquo.

And they’re just like two lads coming back from the football. Meeting the witches. And treating it as a joke.

‘She said you’d be Thane of Cawdor.’

‘What about you then, mate? You’re gonna be the father of kings. Awesome or what?’

‘Looks like our luck’s in. Reckon we should buy a Euromillions on Friday…’

Any fool could see that’s what Shakespeare meant. But it wouldn’t do, would it? Not the expected answer. Not the officially approved answer. And the damn exam was on Thursday. I didn’t care any more. Sick to the back teeth of revision. I wanted to play cricket and chase Angela Miller… [Read more…]

Gambling Girl

Mis-spent youth...

Mis-spent youth…

Friday night. And I was deep in concentration. Totally focused.  Determined to be successful.

Won the Scottish National. Right time of year for it… Can’t have that one, it’s only seven… Good going. Soll? Night in Milan?

Yep, the Grand National had rolled around again – and despite all my mental anguish and midnight oil it seems a good few years since I was eagerly queuing to collect my winnings.

Maybe I chose the wrong side of the fence. Those happy days when I acted as the school bookmaker and the deputy head furtively sidled up to me at break. How I chortled when his ‘dead cert’ came down at the first… [Read more…]

The Ducks Have It

Crispy DuckA complete stitch-up. Frank Underwood would have been proud of it. The boy clearly has a future in politics…

It started with a simple text message. Or whatever a message is called on WhatsApp. We’re all connected now. We have a family group. Mind you, Jane and I have a group as well – sometimes I need to be careful I’m in the right group…

Yep, as the general election approaches our family is a modern democracy. Instant voting on any issue. And the children have been quick to take advantage of it… [Read more…]

Lack of Lamb

The picture I shouldn't have tweeted...

The picture I shouldn’t have tweeted…

Not for the first time in my life I’ve been thinking about food. And wine.

Or rather, the lack of it.

Sadly, I’m on a diet. There’s no evidence of it in North Yorkshire but I have to assume that summer is coming. Which will mean the annual squabble between the waistband of my shorts and a winter’s over-indulgence.

Assuming I have any shorts left… [Read more…]