The Augean Garage

He hadn't even started...

He hadn’t even started…

“There you are, Tom, if you want something to do in the summer holidays you can clean out the garage. It would be a fantastic help and we’d obviously pay you.”

What an offer. And Tom reacted exactly as you’d expect him to react. He went up to his bedroom and spent the summer designing Formula 1 cars. Which explains why Jane delivered him to Brackley last week – and why there are parts of the Amazon jungle that have been visited more recently than the back of our garage.

Bluntly, it’s full. It’s full of junk and it’s needed emptying for years.

But it’s a Herculean task. In fact, it may be more than that…

[Read more…]

Father’s Day Detour

It was worse than this...

It was worse than this…

“It’s a bit dry, Dad…”

“Tom’s right,” Jessica said. “It needs a jus.”

“Or some sauce. But it’s better than I thought it would be. Mum just said you were doing sausages and vegetables.”

“It definitely needs a jus though…”

“Well I’m truly sorry,” I said. “I’m sorry my cooking isn’t up to the standard you’ve become accustomed to. Clearly student life has changed since I scrounged God-knows-what from Hull market. But give me two minutes. I’ll zip into the kitchen and knock up a red wine reduction.”

“There’s no need to be sarcastic, Dad. Real men can take criticism. We’re only trying to help.”

Yep, Tom and Jessica are home from university. [Read more…]

Like Father, Unlike Sons

Apple Tree“Aye,” as I frequently say when I’ve lapsed into Professional Yorkshireman mode, “’Appen t’apple don’t fall far from t’tree.”

One of the apples came downstairs last Saturday, mournfully made his breakfast and trudged back to his bedroom. Another weekend with his Physics text book…

“Not long now,” I said cheerfully. “Your last exam isn’t far away.”

“Not for you. But you’re not doing the exams, Dad.”

A fair point. And given the half term break in the middle he did seem to have been doing GCSEs for about two months. Maybe breakfast would console him… [Read more…]

White Whine

Should see us through to the weekend...

Should see us through to the weekend…

Like any marriage that’s rumbled along for twenty years or more we have the occasional disagreement. There are a few bones of contention. My inability to do any form of DIY isn’t a great help. Nor is my perceived untidiness. Or my point blank refusal to move from the sofa if Joe Root is batting… (You may notice a theme developing here.)

But all these pale into insignificance when chicken is on the menu. Or fish.

“I’ll do chicken and pesto tonight. Called at Tesco and bought a bottle of New Zealand wine. Is that OK?”

“I’ve already put it in the fridge.” [Read more…]

Holding Back the Years

Not that I'd keep them for long...

Not that I’d keep them for long…

I gazed lovingly into the bathroom mirror. 38? 39? Definitely not a day over 40. Assuming the light didn’t catch that grey hair…

I rubbed my hand over my chiselled jaw. How had it never happened? Fresh out of the shower, just the right amount of stubble, new moisturiser – surely it was only a matter of time before the perfume ad became a reality? A sultry temptress dragging me into her bedroom as my ship sailed straight to her door. I took her in my arms. Pulled her to me. Found the laces on her basque… [Read more…]

Mum v. Food

Not quite that big...

Not quite that big…

“Mum’s not going to eat a burger that big, Dad.”

“She didn’t have any lunch. She’ll be starving.”

“It’s a waste. Give me a bigger one.”

Ben may have a point. But that defeats the object of the challenge.

We’ve been father/son bonding. That’s to say, we’ve been watching Man v. Food on Dave. And now we’re bringing it to a kitchen near us. Extremely near us.

You may have seen Man v. Food. [Read more…]

Give Us This Day…

The basic ingredients...

The basic ingredients…

“What’s that?”

“Flour. I’m going to make bread.”

“You mean you’re going to make a mess. When are you making this bread? That is, when will we need a new kitchen?”

“The day after Boxing Day. We’ll all be fed up with turkey by then. I’m going to make bread every weekend next year.”

Jane didn’t seem convinced. And rightly so. That was Christmas 2013.

And every holiday since… [Read more…]

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…]