The Christmas List Goes Missing

The Christmas List goes Missing

Come on, Tom. Help us out…

In the olden days it was simple. And I must be getting old because I find that particular phrase tripping off my lips all too frequently these days.

But it was, damn it.

“What do you want for Christmas, Tom?” we’d ask as November waved goodbye.

“I’ll send you a list,” he’d say. And a few days later, said list would drop into our inboxes.

“Can you understand it?” my wife traditionally asked.

“Well, I can understand one of the games. And I can understand it costs a lot. But basically, no.”

We didn’t have a hope. It was full of F1 technical details, go faster stripes for computers and various devices that would consolidate his hold over our home internet. It was also full of links. [Read more…]

Empty Nest Alert

Empty Nest Alert

Here we go again…

“I’ve had acknowledgements from Exeter and Edinburgh, Dad.”

“That’s great, Ben,” I say, outwardly smiling.

But inside I’m a mix of emotions. Pleasure, panic, relief, sadness.

Twelve hours ago our youngest son pressed ‘send.’ And that was that. His university application was hurled into cyberspace.

Clearly it’s landed safely. At least in Exeter and Edinburgh. And I’m pleased for him. Ben’s ready to go. He’s ready for the next step, ready to leave home.

But does he need to be quite so far from home?

“What about York?”

“Much too close.” [Read more…]

The Coffee Snobs

The Coffee Snobs

Acceptable to the boys. Just…

Really sorry if you got caught in a traffic jam on the M1 this week. It was almost certainly my fault. A virtual pal of mine was in trouble. I had to help.

Panic! he tweeted. Our coffee machine has broken down. We’re having to drink instant Followed by every ‘terrified face’ emoji on the app store…

Now, if you’re in Barnsley or Bolton or Barrow you’d just shrug and carry on. You’d reach for the warranty or your screwdriver and drink instant.

But this poor bloke doesn’t live in any of those beauty spots. Sit down, because this is serious stuff: he lives in the South.

So no coffee machine – having to drink instant – is as bad as it gets.

When the news leaked out the value of his house plummeted faster than a pound coin faced with a Far Eastern trading algorithm. Social isolation was inevitable. “Drinks instant,” they whispered as he walked past… [Read more…]

Back to School No More

3 for 2? It doesn't matter any more...

3 for 2? It doesn’t matter any more…

‘Back to School.’ Three words in a shop window that used to utterly depress me.

Now, I rather like them – in the same way I’ll like it in the afterlife when Beelzebub tells me he’s going to roast someone else for the next half hour.

Sure, Ben’s going back to college on Tuesday, but so what? He goes in jeans, t-shirt and a hoodie. Uniform? You must be joking – that’s only for the girls, jeans with ripped knees clearly being mandatory.

Tom’s now a grown up and Jessica’s heading back to Sheffield – via a short detour to a music festival in the Isle of Wight. Meanwhile, the shops are ablaze with window stickers – and several social media pals are on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Not that I was always so relaxed… [Read more…]

One of my Children is a Grown Up!

Dan - Yr 4When I started writing these weekly ramblings about my children Tom was nine: in Year 4 at school. I’m not sure when the photo was taken – my wife would know – but he looked something like that.

Three years later there was a Grand Prix on TV – goodness knows why as I had no interest in the sport – and Tom wandered in. He started to watch and became fascinated: not by the race or the drivers but by the technicalities – specifically the aerodynamics.

The first time he started talking about it I scuttled off to ask Google for help. Tom was just beginning to suspect that his Dad didn’t know everything about everything. I preferred to delay the confirmation for a few more months…

Then he disappeared to his bedroom. And a few months later they called us into school. “Tom’s falling behind in Physics.” [Read more…]

Pokemon Gone

Pokemon

I haven’t got a clue…

Let me introduce my two eldest children…

Tom: Master’s in Engineering. Jessica: very shortly to be awarded an honours degree in Journalism.

Both currently at home pending a) going off to design formula one cars and b) going back to uni to do a Master’s.

Both intelligent; both with a great work ethic. And both currently wandering up the road in search of Pokemon.

I vaguely remember Pokemon from when Tom was 11 or 12. Peekaboo? Pikachu? Something like that…

Anyway, they’re back. And apparently the most important thing happening in the world. Failed coup in Turkey 1.54m results on Google. Pokemon Go 33.9m results.

Clearly it wasn’t just a passing fad. And clearly – as an engaged Dad who has his finger on the pulse – I need to show some interest…  [Read more…]

Motes, Beams and Top Trumps

The view from Denis Malcolm Kendall...

The view from Denis Malcolm Kendall…

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Or in this case, thy son’s…

You may have noticed there’s been a little political excitement of late. Tom and I were discussing it over the dinner table last week. I use the word ‘discussing’ in its loosest possible sense.

“Did you really vote Leave?” [Read more…]

A Perfect Father’s Day

Father's DayFather’s Day. 8:30 in the morning. I was back from walking the dog. Six weeks to go until the Pennine Way and the wretched training schedule had demanded ten miles. Ten foggy miles…

Never mind. My loving family would be in the hall to meet me. Jane with a cup of tea and a slice of toast, two of my three lovely children with beaming smiles and ‘Best-Dad-Ever presents.’ And somehow Tom would have arranged a special delivery from Cambridge, cajoling Yodel to deliver a case of amusing Shiraz on a Sunday morning.

No.

They were all still asleep.

I scanned the hall.

And nothing from Tom.

Ah well. I hadn’t been expecting much… [Read more…]

You Never Stop Worrying…

Sigh...

Sigh…

Tom was two days old. Lying in an incubator. He was jaundiced: the result of a Ventouse delivery.

“He’ll be fine,” the doctor said. Which was no use at all to his anxious parents. We  sat by the side of his cot – quite painfully in my wife’s case, thanks to the stitches – watching, waiting and powerless. And now on first name terms with every parent’s daemon; worry.

But the doctor was right. He was fine. We took him home – and three days later we were pacing the bedroom floor at four in the morning, worrying that we couldn’t get him to sleep. “What the hell have we done?” I said to Jane.

But gradually we learned how to be parents. ‘That’s it,’ I remember thinking. ‘I can change a nappy. Cracked it.’

Tom grew up; a bright, intelligent, curly haired little boy. Then suddenly, he was ill. Really ill. [Read more…]

The Football Family

The days before sponsorship...

The days before sponsorship…

Monday. A text arrives from the Beloved Daughter. Our final bills payment is due this week. Would you be able to transfer me £75? Then it starts again.

Of course, darling, there’s nothing I’d like more. And I’d be distraught if it didn’t ‘start again.’

Tuesday. Another text. Do you fancy going to the play-off finals?

Hang on. Yesterday she needed money to pay bills. Today she has enough to go to Wembley. Or am I’m being stupid? Maybe the text translates as Would you like to take me to the play-off finals?

Not this year, I tactfully reply. You need money: your brother needs money: another year. When it’s Wolves vs. Owls.

Yep, she’s become an Owl. Three years in Sheffield and she’s a Wednesday supporter. [Read more…]