Friday, April 28, 2006

I'm the Daddy, get me out of here...

I came across the concept of Meme’s years ago, and loved the thought of cultural evolution via viral distribution of concepts by word or deed. Blogs being the things they are (and inherently a form of Memetic distribution) have mutated the word into the distribution of an action or a list from blog to blog (which is indeed a subset of the concept). So, it being Friday, and I have to waste some time before meeting friends for dinner, my meme of the week. The basis for this is from Petite, who joyfully expounded on her latest of the same theme.

My top three, most hole digging, face reddening, eye shutting, get me the hell out of here, things my kids have done.

  1. On taking my young Princess into the pool while the boys where having their swimming lesson. We’re having a lovely time, playing and splashing together. There is no sign, no auger that something is amiss. Then, as she’s climbing out of the pool, a dark sludge starts running down her legs and stains the edge of the pool. Of course there is a life guard standing right there who gives me a horrified look, then runs off shouting, “Get the mop, quick!”. I jump out and run holding her at arms length leaving a trail of dribbling mess. Into the loos, and I strip her out of her swimming costume. The interior is a sight no human should have to behold. So, of course, as I leave the cubicle to take it to the sinks I walk straight into another chap leaving the loos…
  2. On taking Number One Son into a set of train station loos when he was just learning to speak. We share a cubicle, he goes first, I second. He says in his exuberant, loud voice, “Daddy! You have such a big willie!” I rush us out, to a horrified look of the attendant, don’t even wash hands, and stand waiting for the train certain an officer of the law will come tapping me on the shoulder in a second and haul me away on child abuse claims…
  3. On sitting and waiting for a plane, Number Two Son turns to me and points to a rather distinguished older looking Sikh gentlemen beside us. “Daddy, why does that man have a cushion on his head?” This situation, which could have been aweful was redeemed by said Sikh gentlemen who laughed delightedly, got a roll of cloth from his bag and proceeded to tell my young boy of his faith while he wrapped his young head up in the turban. He didn't remove it for days. I have rarely been so grateful for the kindness of a stranger.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


No, not those sorts of toys...

Or those sorts of toys...

One of the things I love about my job is I generally get early sight of new technology. Sometimes in the lab, often pre release prototypes. Sometimes its just demos, sometimes its to play. I love my techy toys. My phone changes on a regular basis, and I've had a regular rotation of PDA's, laptops, MP3 players etc etc etc. Sometimes I hate them. I am currently trialling an Microsoft phone that I just can't stand (new one tomorrow with any luck). Sometimes they are just OK, rarely (oh so rarely) do I love them.

I saw something today that my fingers are itching to get ahold of. I think I first saw a demo of epaper in the labs four or five years ago. It is essentially a thin plastic wafer that squishes a liquid that can be either black or white depending on the last electrical charge passed through it. Think Liquid Crystal, but instead of needing to pump continual power into it, you only power it when it changes (ie, it will continue to show what was last on the screen years after the batteries die). It is also very high contrast, as good as printed paper.

Its taken a long time to commercialise it, but today I got to play with a working prototype. You're going to see a lot of these come out over the coming year, and for once it really could change how people behave. Think an ipod for the written word.

Its not a computer, the refresh rate is too slow, and its still only monochrome, so internet browsing is out. Yet, oh yet... The unit was less than half an inch thick, weighed very little (less than a book) and was the size of a large paperback. The internal memory of the unit I was playing with could hold 20 books (and that is an easy thing to expand). What was truly amazing was the contrast and the definition, it was a delight to read. It really was very close to being as good as a page printed on good quality newsprint or your average paperback. The viewing angle was also as good as paper, no more having to have it directly in front of you, like your average LCD or Plasma screen.

The one I saw will probably be first to market, but I know of at least two more close to release this year. The price to begin with is too high, but if this takes off as a technology, and I predict it very well might, costs will drop fast. Watch out folks, the world turns again...

Oh... and it will play your MP3s as well. This was one cool piece of kit.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Love Hate and Commuting

I have a minimum 1 and 3/4 hour door to door commute every day, each way. On the plus side I get to do emails, read the paper or a book, watch the odd movie, people watch and walk South Bank and over Tower Bridge. These are good things.

On the down side I have to take the train. Now, at the best of times this is almost bearable. I usually get a seat, usually have someone not too obnoxious beside me, and usually the time passes not too badly.

Then there are days like today. I arrive at the normal appointed hour and stake out my little square foot of platform space to await the arrival of the train. Today, it arrives on time, but has only half the carraiges as normal. There was no warning, no tell tale augers, it just showed up and only filled up half of the platform. Not my half of the platform. There is a mad dash, elbows, brief cases and handbags are deployed, small children are left crying at the sidelines.

Oddly enough, there are no seats free. Even worse, the standing room only space is packed. So rather than having an almost bearable jouney reading my book, I stand with not enough space to breath. Then, my connecting train is also late and also packed. There is a long line out the door of the coffee shop I normally get my caffiene dose at, and when I find further along free, I find I have no dosh.

My grumpy old man gleefully strode to the fore.

Then I saw this over at US and life got better again. I love how people can be serious about the absurd...

Monday, April 24, 2006

I've got anoder hed code

I’m working too hard. Its this bloody commute, almost two hours each way. What a waste of time, almost half of your average person’s working day spent getting to and from the office. On top of that I put in 10 to 12 hours a day. No wonder I have come down with yet another sore throat. I try to remember why I took this new role, and still can’t quite answer the question.

Mid last week I was starting to feel normal again. It was only Friday morning I woke up feeling randy and turned to LL for a “Hello Another Day” quickie. It had been five days since we last made love. Five days! So, it was especially lovely to have her turn to me with that sleepy smile, reach down and find me awake and happy.

On coming home that night, I could feel the glands in my throat starting to swell. By the time I went to bed, they were swollen and sore. Bloody hell. Still, it was a nice weekend by almost all other measures. I took the kids out Saturday morning to let LL study. Went to a playground and gamefully tried to chase after Princess as she screamingly skittered up the climbing frame. Got us all ice creams as a bribe to leave, then led my mob around the super market.

I’ve read that women find the sight of a man with kids in the super market sexy. Can’t say its ever changed any behaviour when I do it. Well, I get the blue rinse brigade coming over to pat Princess’ hair and say, “Isn’t she darling?”, but I don’t think that counts.

Then in the afternoon I took the kids down to the village green. We’ve got a stream meandering through it, bordering the cricket green (its such a Surrey village). A favourite summer thing is to take some nets down to the steam and catch minnows. The boy in my head reminds me of when we did the same back in Canada, so it’s a mutually enjoyed activity. For dinner I corralled them into helping make the pizza dough, then we all made our own. Nice way to end the day really. The kids where nicely exhausted and fell asleep easily.

Sunday was miserable weather though, we just stayed inside. That makes for a baking day, so it was pinies all round and we whomped up mince meat squares, Gingerbread men and a Rhubard crumble for tea.

I still felt miserable with flue the whole time.


Friday, April 21, 2006

Red Rage

I am a libertarian by nurture and nature. I hear things like this, and I see red. Last night on Radio 4 (I love Radio 4, if I ever leave England I’ll have to steal it away with me) the head of the local probation service intoned that it was a sad tragedy, but they really weren’t at fault you know, because you can’t eliminate all risk.

Bollocks to that. I just get so frustrated when people confuse the ideals of liberty. Individual liberty is, of course, key, but can’t be overlayed with a confused interpretation of acceptable risk, or worse weighted in favour of the victimiser, rather than the victim. There can be no reason for allowing a known convicted paedophile into the public domain. His rights for freedom where forfeit when he abused a child. If he wanted to stay free his entire life he should never have given in to some rather sick desires. His choice, he got caught, away he goes.

Paedophilia is known to be like alcoholism. It can’t be cured, at best it can be controlled (if the subject is willing that is). When are we as a society going to understand that? We likely can’t completely stop first time abusers, as there’s no safe way to identify who will eventually abuse. Indeed, to go that far would be a major infringement of liberty. Yet… why do we think its right that a risk of another child being abused is more important that infringing a convicted abusers liberty (or *shudder* more cost)?

I despair sometimes.

Little England

I grew up being told that 5% of your time and 5% of your money was the minimum to put aside for good works. The time bit gets shrunk these days with a young family, but I do try. My local good works is our Village Hall Committee. It’s a lovely building, really is, and even in this day and age serves a real function for the locals. However, the only way I get through the monthly meetings is to find the humour. The following is a verbatim extract from our 2 hour marathon last night…

“Mr. Chairman, I would like to raise the condition of our plates.” Mrs. X, a local lady who lunches, looks prim in her Prada.

“The Chair recognises Mrs. X. Sorry, what was that?”

“Our plates Mr Chairman. They are a disgrace. What few remain look as if they come from a jumble sale.”

Me, “Uhmm, I think those where left over from the last village school jumble sale. We didn’t have any plates before the kitchen refurb.”

“Well, my point exactly! I would like to put to the committee that we must purchase new plates immediately! Mr Treasurer,” That would be me, “You just pointed out our booking income for the Village Hall is very low given the refurbishments to the hall of the last six months. I would like to put it to the committee that we buy new plates. I have no doubt it would entice many more bookings.”

“Do we have a second?” Mr Chairman, who runs a small media production company, looks far too excited at the thought of new plates.

Me, “Hold on, we’re very low on cash, can’t this wait until we do a bit more fund raising?”

“Mr. Treasurer! How can we hold a fund raising event without plates! I don’t think this need be extravagant, Heals will be holding a sale shortly. I would be happy to spend the time to find the exact fit.”

“Think the estate barn has some old stuff stacked at the back. Shall I look?” Mr. F, who’s family has had someone working on the local estate as far back as time records, is quietly ignored.

“I’ll second it. Ya, absolutely necessary” Mr. Y, a recent retiree from the civil service, and who has been a committee member for over 30 years, looks far too keen. I’ve noticed he frequently examines the wall behind Mrs. X.

“All in favour?” Mr. Chairman scribbles some notes, am going to have to quiz this interest in plates when we have a pint later.

“Hold on, hold on, can we at least set a budget?” Me.

“Passed. I believe Mr. F was going to discuss the work party to clean up the parking lot?” Mr F perks up, this is going to be a long one tonight I think.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Grumpy Old Man

The boy inside my head is alive and well, but there’s another lurking in there. He’s showing himself more and more these days, coming out from the dark corners of my mind where he lurks. He’s the impatient one, the one who has little time for hypocrisy or other’s failings. He grumps and complains, but cynically knows the world will never really change.

He came out in full force yesterday, running about in my mind for most of the day. It started in the morning as I drove to the train. A man guided a push chair across the road in front of me. A lovely site you might think, should be more of it. Yet it was no babe in the chair in front of him, but a girl that had to be six or seven. She was well dressed and clearly healthy.

So my own grumpy old man strode to the fore. It was a fine example of one of the things gone wrong with our society. How can we complain about an obesity epidemic when we let our children sit like mushrooms in front of the telly all day, or push them about in prams when they can clearly walk or run even (some days I can’t stop the boys from running, too much energy). When I was still grumping about it five minutes later as I parked the car I knew GOM was in control.

I grumped at everything yesterday, from the overly stewed tea I bought for the train, to the completely wasted first meeting of the day, to the poor dithering underling for whom I had to make a decision he was well capable of handling himself.

I’m not so nice when GOM is about. I think I pissed someone off in their blog too. At least the comment I posted never got turned live. In fairness my comment was more acid than whit, but it was a moderately introverted post. I know part of the point of the blogsphere is to allow one access to anonymous support and encouragement, but GOM won’t have it some days.

I think the boy has shooed GOM back in the dark corners of my mind today. At least I stopped and listened to the morning chorus, and checked out a newly opened Christmas Rose bud before jumping in the car to start the day’s commute. Life is more pleasant when the boy is on top.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


I am an addict.

Its chocolate. Can’t resist it. If deathly ill, and I was told that I would have a few more years if I gave it up, it would be a tough choice. I can’t think when it was last I went a day without the stuff.

I don’t need buckets of it, I’m a gentleman addict. Just a few squares of proper dark melt in your mouth Green and Blacks and I will be happy. Though I do have to say it is my one food that breaks my simple is best rule. I’m quite happy for my chocolate to be adulterated with other things.

I’ve never quite resolved whether I’m blessed or cursed by our local chocolate shop. The owner and I have become friends of sort, if the dealer of your addiction can ever truly be a friend. She looks to indulge a bit herself, so is a dealer through avocation rather than greed for money. The fine fine lady has another friendship with a small chocolatier in Brussels, for which she’s the sole English importer.

Ah, how someday I want her to introduce me to that man, though it’s a topic for which she is unusually cagey. The things that he can do to black gold is astounding. His champagne truffles are to die for, and don’t get me started on his whiskey ones. Mixing those two of my sins together is something I shall never forgive him for. Well… at least until I need my next hit.

It is a small dark ball, clearly hand made. I usually start and just lick it, just a bit. Not enough to melt it in my hands. Propriety demands that one must not go so far as to leave hands or face dirty with one’s addiction. When that starts happening you know its gone too far. No, I just put the tip of my tongue to it, just tempt myself with a small dot of taste.

It gets the juices roiling in my mouth. When I can’t stand it any longer I will take a bite, just half. What first hits is that same dark bitter sweet taste that my tongue just licked off. But then… oh, but then, my tongue gets a starting melt of the inner core. Here is where his genius shows. It dissolves on my tongue, this mix of pure malt and dark gold. Oh, what glory. Sometimes it is so intense as to make me shiver in place. I often have to close my eyes as if in the intensity of the best of orgasms.

When the last bit is melted and gone, and my eyes open again, what sweet agony awaits. There is still another half in my hand. At this point I’m too far gone. No letting it melt slowly, no it has to be popped into the mouth and crushed and gored into a sticky mess of madness. The resultant rolling down my throat in a mix of alchohol and dark glory.

I restrict myself to only two truffles a day if we have them in the house. The agony of denial is good for the soul.

We do keep other chocolates in the house. Mssrs Green and Black have a lot to answer for. There is little of their trade that I won’t consume. No, that’s a lie, there is none of their range I won’t consume. Even their white chocolate, which normally I disdain as a sickly aberration. However my favourite is their cooking chocolate. At 72%, with a higher cocoa butter content than normal it is soft and dark and far to good to go in a cake.

In a pinch I will eat any chocolate, even Cadbury’s. They use vegetable oils instead of cocoa butter you see, so are apostate in my mind. Yet in a moment of desperation, when there is no other choice, I will eat even theirs. I have even sunk to stealing gold foil encased coco coins from my kids sweety box (kept on the top shelf, all sweeties get confiscated, then doled out again slowly) when desperate. I have to have a bit a day you see. It’s a horrible thing.

I am an addict.


I think Easter is my favourite holiday. Not that I don’t like any holiday, but it’s a slower, easier one. There’s little expectation, and its more focused on immediate family than anything else. This one was a little quieter than normal as both LL and I suffered from a lingering cold, but to have four days alone with our kids is a real luxury these days.

We didn’t do much, a trip to LegoLand, swimming, lots of Gardening and a few long walks, lots of good meals. It’s a slow pace, really quite lovely. There really is little better than being out in the garden with the kids. Sometimes we play with them, sometimes they help us with small chores (they each have their own bit of veg garden and a few flowers to take care of), otherwise we just amble around each other doing our own thing.

I particularly like getting them out for on their bikes. We have a long stretch of drive, essentially car free, which they can barrel up and down. They love it, though I can’t wait for the day their a bit older and we can bike out along the dirt tracks that surround us. For now I am content to walk (and occasionally race) alongside them. Ali Baba was particularly amusing as he pretended to be a break down train, hooting as he sped past to save another set of passengers.

We even went to Church. Both LL and I have an ambivalent relationship with Christianity. She rebels vocally and loudly against its patrician nature. I find I can not believe in a all seeing all controlling god. Someday I’ll return to discuss my philosophy, but I am not a traditional Christian. Yet we both love worship. There is something deeply satisfying about a holy service in a place where man has struggled to adore something bigger than himself. The singing, the organ (I love a good organ that can rattle your bones, we have a fine thumping one in our local Church), the rolling verse of the bible. It serves a purpose, and though we don’t go weekly, or even monthly, its good to go.

So, all in all, a fine long relaxing weekend.

Saturday, April 15, 2006


So, both of us full of cold, we had promised to take the kids to LegoLand yesterday, so take them we did. Normally I love LegoLand, its an easy day out. Yesterday though? Well, it was raining as we drove there, raining as we got out of the car, and raining as we walked down to see miniland (love what they did with London though, I would kill for the job of being a LegoLand modeller).

Still, the kids where happy, and despite it being Good Friday the queues for the rides weren't too bad. That is, so long as you're not with Ali Baba, the incesant wee meister. Half an hour we stand in the queue for the Lego Driving School, half an hour. Just as we're about to be let into the gates of Heaven to have pictures taken for Lego driving licenses... "Daddy... I need a wee."

There was no helping it, so we barge backwards past the queue. LL being off with the Princess for the smaller rides, there was no helping it. Queue busting in reverse is the only queue busting you get complimented for in this country.

It was a good day though, and with a curry picked up on the way home for dinner, it was a good way to end it odd. Nothing like a good curry to help cure a head cold.

Woke up this morning feeling just a little bit better, though I could have done not being woken up by a four stone cannon ball. Still, it took little encouragement to get our wee ones to go downstairs and play for a bit. It took even less encouragement to get LL to curl up beside me.

It took a little more encouragement for me. Bloody cough, does me in every time. Still, with a little amusement from LL, and a little bit more help as well, she finally spooned up facing away, and life started to return to normal. I'd thought I was up for only a slow lazy screw, but it had been five days so ended up a little bit faster than harder than thought.

No complaints though.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I still have a hed code

Another of the things I hate about a head cold (other than yesterday's post that is), is that my brain doesn't work as well. I find some of this very hard to describe, and is not something I've seen my betters put to word either. My brain works in multi track. There is always the task at front of house. The conversation I'm having, book I'm reading, the movie I'm watching. That's always the most important, but rarely takes up 100% of my attention.

That doesn't mean I day dream, I rarely loose track of what I'm doing, but a slew of other stuff is going on in my head. The hardest to describe is only semi conscious. Its not thought in pictures or words, but is a flow of interconnected information. I'm aware of it, and can nudge it in different directions. It often informs and changes what's going on front of house.

Beyond that there is usually an internal conversation going on. I have to be careful with these ones, and they can be very real to me. I can be discussing something with LL, or a friend or my parents or... I've been caught out before when I'm sure I told someone something, only to later figure out, and get caught out, when I only told the virtual them that exists in my head.

There is a running soundtrack to my life. Music is playing continually in my head. Sometimes its something I've heard, sometimes I'm jammin along to my own tunes. One of these days I'll try scoring something up, though I suspect the rest of the world would go "Huh? That's not music".

Finally, there is the internal porno channel. I have a constant multi media stream of absolute filth running through my brain. Forget this thinking about sex every eight seconds rubbish, I'm very rarely not thinking about sex. People would likely be shocked if they knew what was going on in my head with my virtual wife and a virtual cast of thousands whilst I discuss the finer points of European Data Protection with a room full of marketing dullards as to why they really can't use people's credit data to identify and sell them something (sorry, this mornings problem. I mean really. (Be afraid people, be very afraid. At my command I can access your most intimate details. (Good thing I've got morals))).

Thing is, I have a head cold, and the sound track to my life, and the Boy's own porno channel is currently showing static.


Though LL said she was feeling better this morning...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I have a hed code

I hate being ill.

I'm not good at it. Having a fairly high pain threshhold I just get on with things and generally ignore it, but when you end the day completely wiped, its crap. I supose I should be reasonable and just take a day off and rest, but that's such a waste of time.

Still, normally there are some few advantages. LL is really quite sweet when I'm ill. She sends me to bed, brings me food and generally pampers me. Particularly on getting into bed with me, I get pampered in other ways. Nothing like lying back and thinking of England while you're being taken care of down below to make a soul feel better.

Thing is, she has a cold too.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Monday, April 10, 2006

An Oddly Pleasent Weekend

In many ways it was a grim weekend, yet I found it oddly pleasant. I think that’s due to both LL and I just kicking back and not trying to get much done. We’ve both been suffering from bad throats, so frankly, we just took it easy. Oh, there was a bit of puttering about in the garden, pruning things, planting things, playing with the kids, but we didn’t push to get a lot done as we often do.

The news though, from all sorts of fronts, was not so good. I got a note from my friend K, and I can best describe it as good bad news. She has cancer in one milk duct, and its been caught early. So, it should be treatable, but treatment means surgery and chemotherapy, so she has a rough number of months ahead. Its not a full mastectomy, thank god, but as she puts it in her own wry way, it will make choosing a new bikini a bit hard. She also sent some pictures of herself trying on wigs. The Marylyn Monroe blond look just didn’t cut it.

Then I got a heart rending phone message from my mum. My uncle had died. It wasn’t unexpected; he’d been in a bad way for the last year. I liked him, but I can’t say he was close. He was a Methodist preacher (as was my maternal grandfather, and indeed my own dad, read into that what you will…), and a bit odd. He was rather partial to stories about his days in the RCAF during “The War”.

What was heart rending was my mum’s voice. Two months on from my dad’s death it was obviously hitting her hard. Despite repeated attempts I haven’t yet talked to her, but got to two of my sisters (I have three, all much older, I was a late in the day “mistake” (my parents idea of birth control was the rhythm method (though its heartening to know sex does continue, even if the means of knowing that is knowing your parents, well…))).

You see, they were both in the car accident, and right after we thought my mum was the worse off. Her head got knocked back and forth and she had to be resuscitated in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. She recovered fast, my dad got MRSA, it’s the way of things in our world. Physically she’s fine, and luckily her personality survived intact, but her short term memory is shattered.

We think its muted her grieving about my dad. They were together more than 50 years, think of that for a moment, 50 years. I’m amazed I’ve survived 10 with LL. So it looks like with her brother’s death, its all finally hitting her.

There are times when living far away from your family is a good thing, and times when its not. I ache to be there with her, yet I can’t and life goes on. You take your joy as you can, and walk through the mess. So you see, it was an oddly pleasant weekend. Shouldn’t have been, but it was…

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Perfect Lunch

“Cookbooks Lie,” said dear old dad.

This one, of many, I soon learned was absolutely true. They present cooking as science, but are mere approximations of the amounts to be used, of the sequence one must follow, of the exact methods to be used. They lie.

The thing is, I can’t resist them. I have hundreds of the damn things. I love looking over recipes, reading the seductive list of ingredients, my passions enflamed by the sumptuousness of the preparations, the lurid pictures, erotic in their rampant displays and steamy layouts.

And so I try them out. But… they… lie… It takes me sometimes years of trial and error to get the result to the point I want. I do though, I persevere. Now I’ve been cooking since the tender age of 8. Of the things I am grateful to my parents for it was giving me the chore of cooking a family meal a week.

I’m extremely lucky that I enjoy it. I love cooking, love trying and failing, then trying again until I get it right. My dear wife, LL, is a very good cook. Thing is, to her it is a chore. She can’t cook a meal without getting stressed out and bothered. So I do most of the meals at home. My family must put up with my experiments until I get it down right.

Take baking for example. For my 40th birthday (it pains me to admit it wasn’t yesterday) LL got me a bread maker. I’d been mumbling for years about learning how to make bread, so she thought it would help me start out.

It did, but cookbooks lie! Oh, the breadmaker worked well enough, I mastered it and simple white and brown loafs without much trouble, but that wasn’t what I wanted. So I went and got more cookbooks on baking. I read, and I tried, and I experimented and tested. Its taken years, but I’ve learned my tricks, and don’t really need the lying texts any more.

Which brings me to the perfect lunch. At weekends we have the same layout, but in infinite variations. First, I bake a load of bread. It can be one of many, today it was a red wine a sage loaf, tomorrow an Italian sourdough with Thyme. Then a large bowl of fresh veg. We’re food nazi’s in our house, so its organic only, preferably local, and in the summer preferably grown ourselves. Lettuce, tomatoes, cukes, celery, peppers, it can be an infinitely variable mix. Then a cheese board. There must be at least 3, and can be as many as six on the board. Mostly English, but we don’t turn away a good French or Italian, and the kids are overly fond of the Dutch.

There must be a meat, a good Ham, or sausage or pate. Sometimes a houmous or taramasalta (used to make my own until my local fishmonger moved away (the traitor) and I can’t get good smoked cod roe any more). In winter we might warm up a soup, in summer it might be cold. There might be a glass of wine if we’re in the mood, but often its just water.

Thing is, it makes a very satisfying lunch. We sit down, en familie, and nibble away until repleat.


I awoke in the middle of last night and heard a familiar sound. From the next room came the rolling whisper of number one son's snore. At the tender age of seven he can snore loud enough to shake the house down. After three nights of complete silence in the dark, it was an unbelievably comforting sound.

Now intellectually I knew my kids where completely safe. Hell, Super Nanny 2 takes perfect care of them during the day when LL and I are away. Why would she not at night? Yet... yet it so calmed a tension I hadn't realised completely was there. My kids where home, I could fight away any dragons that came. My world was right again.

I turned to LL, she was sleeping facing away from me. Life being right gives rise to... other things. I curled up against her, and nestled that other thing in a nice warm place. My world was definately right again.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Not So Sad

OK, maybe having the kids away has its advantages. Last night I got home just before nine. LL came and opened the door, a big grin on her face. She'd prepared a curry, the smell wafting out into the cold night air. That made my stomach growl, but I was feeling another hunger.

So, wrestling each other's cloths off, I took her against the wall by the door. Uhmm, then bent over the counter in the kitchen (oh, hopefully the neighbours weren't looking). Then, well, halfway up the stairs. I earned some rug burns as she mounted me on the rug in the hall. Finally, (oh we are so going to hell) on our daughter's small bed (had to change the sheets after).

Rarely has a curry tasted so good as after that.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Idiots and Incompetents

In the following transcription names have been changed to protect the guilty, it is otherwise accurate and verbatim.

“Good Morning! National Bank of Idiots and Incompetents, how can I help?” It’s the first time I’ve tried their call centre. There’s no VOIP hiss, and his Brummie accent sounds genuine. Thank god for that small favour, this was going to be complicated enough as it is.

“Yes, good morning. I arranged a CHAPS same day transfer last week of cash to fund my wife and my ISA’s for this year. Its not showing on the website, so I’m wondering if you can check to see if its arrived?”

“Certainly Sir! I just have to take you through a few security questions.”

Extract deleted.

“That’s fine Sir! Now, how can I help?”

“Err…” I pause, I manage call centres amongst other things, and I know scripts are there to reduce errors, but wouldn’t it be nice if this fine young, likely uni grad used a bit of his intelligence? “I arranged a CHAPS same day transfer last week of cash to fund my wife and my ISA’s for this year. Its not showing on the website, so I’m wondering if you can check to see if its arrived?”

“Let me see. No, there’s no cash showing in your accounts. Is there anything else I can help with?”

Deep breath. “Yes, could you put a trace, or talk to someone in the back office please? I know the funds left my other account, and I used the details provided in your ‘welcome pack’ to set up the transfer.”

“Certainly Sir, can you hold please?”

“Of c…” The cheery hold musak starts before I can respond. I hate that, its such a little thing, but why ask if you can’t wait for an answer? Its one of the many things I have our trainers drill into our agents. Common courtesy can be learned and be genuine.

“Hello Sir? Yes, we received your CHAPS transfer, but its been returned.”

“Excuse me? Why was it returned?”

“We don’t accept CHAPS transfers into ISA accounts.”

Another deep breath, give me strength, “Your literature lists it as one of the methods to fund an account, so…”

“That’s not possible Sir, we certainly have never accepted CHAPS into ISA accounts.”

“I’m sorry? I have the documentation right here in front of me. It clearly states that CHAPS can be used, and lists the Sort Codes and Account Details to use.”

“That’s not possible Sir, I’ll have a word with our Marketing Department. I’m sure it’s a typo.”

“Can you please just list off the details you have on the inbound transfer? I want to make sure it was correct, and that you’ve returned the money to the correct account.” He proceeds to list off my and my wife’s name, our sort code, our account, the bank address, then goes on to list where it was sent, which includes our names and our ISA accounts for the two inbound transfers. All correct.

“So, you had all the correct details, you knew our names, and had the right inbound account numbers, but you didn’t fund the accounts?”

“That’s correct Sir.”


“Policy Sir, we don’t accept CHAPS transfers into ISA accounts.”

“Do you think it might have been helpful if someone had called me to discuss the matter, rather than just bouncing the cash?”

“I’m sure they tried to Sir.”

“I can unequivocally reassure you they did not, my mobile is on 24 hours a day.”

“Can I just check we have the right number Sir?” Hey, some initiative, I am momentarily pleased for him. We check, they have the right phone number listed.

“OK, its now April 4th, tomorrow is April 5th and Mr Brown states that ISA’s have to be funded by the 5th. We’ve wasted a few days for me to find out you can’t do what you say you can. How can I get the funds to you then?”

“Oh! Well, we can accept funds by Debit Card!”

“Debit Card? Doesn’t that incur a 1 to 2% fee to your institution?”

“Uhh, I can check, but we don’t charge the customer anything Sir!”

“Why isn’t this in your welcome pack?”

“Oh it is Sir.”

“I’m sorry, I have it right in front of me, and it doesn’t say anything about using Debit Cards.”

“Oh I’m sure it does Sir! I’ll talk to our Marketing…”

“Department, yes, I’m sure you will. So, you’re telling me that you don’t accept a CHAPS transfer that is very secure and fraud proof, and costs me the customer money to use, but you will accept a Debit Card that is fairly wide open to abuse, and costs you the company money, but you don’t charge me?”

“Uhh… I think so Sir!”

Give me strength…


For once I am home before seven. Lately I haven’t got home before nine. The phone rings.


“Daddy!” Its Pirate Pete.

I should explain why number one son is calling me rather than being home so I can play with him before tucking him into bed the one time in three weeks I’ve been home before his bedtime. We have been blessed with our nannies. Super Nanny 1 was with us for five years before disloyally deciding she wanted her own kids and got pregnant. Super Nanny 2 (hereafter SG2) has been with us 2 years now. In her mid thirties, married with no kids (and is unlikely to, explaining is a step too far, even in an anonymous blog), she’s a godsend. She does far more than a typical nanny, and has quickly become part of our family. We joke, not untruthfully, that our kids have two mothers.

A couple times a year she likes to take the kids to stay a few days with her parents who live near the coast. She clearly loves doing it, her parents amazingly seem to love doing it, and the kids have a ball. We also joke that our kids have three sets of grandparents. We, however, are left somewhat bereft alone and at home. You’d think we’d be in seventh heaven, having sex on the kitchen counter and playing about like kids on holiday. We’re not, its always a slightly sad time. We miss them like you wouldn't believe, and usually one of us catches some cold or flue to add to the misery. This is no exception, we’ve both got bad throats.

“Hey my young man! Have you had a good day?”

“Oh yes, I got soaked!”

“You went swimming?”

“No! We went to the seaside, and I slipped on some rocks, and fell in. Then we went and built some sand castles, and had ice cream, and did the fun fair. We got to a farm and fed some chickens, and I got really tired, so I just had a nap. We’re going to have tea soon. Mmm, fish fingers I think. Oh, and I got to go on a Ferris Wheel, though it wasn’t as big as the one we went on in Canada, and there were bumper cars. Can I have chips too? Yummy! The chickens where grand, they had so many different types. We got to find some eggs. I think they’re for breakfast tomorrow. AliBaba and I kept bumping into each other in the bumper cars, it was great. Did I tell you I got soaked?”

I can’t help but laugh. I love my boy, and all is well with the world.

Monday, April 03, 2006

A Good Morning

“Daddy, are you awake?” My eye shades are pried off my face. Up until a second ago I was deeply asleep.

“Hmm? Yes poppet.” It is AliBaba, number two son. The sunniest disposition of our three, bar the occasional bought of moodiness. Not this morning though.


“Ooof.” Number 2 son lands on top of me. “Aaagh.” Number 1 son, Pirate Pete lands on top of me. “Urph.” Little Princess lands on top of both of them.

“Tickle Daddy!” As LL chortles beside me, delighted at this display of familial love, I fend off hands to my ticklish bits, and knees to my sensitive bits. My boys have not yet been introduced to the painful side of testicles, lucky them. We do have to regularly remind them not to rub their crotches in public though. What can I say, little sybarites in the making, like father like son?

They eventually tire of the game and snuggle under the duvet between LL and I. There are a few squabbles about who is in the middle, but generally we have a pleasant time talking about nothing in the way families do.

“Children?” LL catches their attention, though the twinkle in her eye catches mine. “You can go downstairs and watch ‘Life in the Undergrowth’ if you want? We’ll be down after we have a shower and dress.”

“Yeah!” They proceed to wrestle over each other to get out of our bed. I don’t profess to understand young minds completely, but for a pair of intellectual parents it is a delight to have kids who prefer to watch David Attenborough rather than Scooby Doo. We deliberately limit the TV watching in our house, its only on maybe 3 hours in a week, and I think its made for happier brighter kids.

Anyway, LL rolls towards me, resting her head on my shoulder, her body draping over mine. “Mmm, good morning!” I get a slow sleepy kiss, which makes up for the three on one wrestling match that woke me up. She may be sleepy, but I am wide awake.

I don’t believe there is a bad time of day for sex, but I particularly enjoy early morning loving. It sets the day up right. So I roll her on her back, then begin nibbling on her neck, my hands busy slipping her pyjama top up and off.

We began wearing pyjama’s regularly only a year or so ago when Pirate Pete turned 5. I don’t think I’ve worn pyjama’s since I was five, so it was a bit of a shock to the system. Its not that we’re shy around the kids, they have seen us both in the nude, and probably will continue to do so, but we thought it best to bring a bit of modesty into the game. They go to a fairly conservative school, and it wouldn’t go down well to have stories of their parents running about starkers pinging around the playground.

Plus, though I love flesh to flesh, she’s wearing her silk woollies, which are a delight to touch, and take off. I burrow under the duvet (early morning sex, by its nature, has to be kept a bit… hidden), and kiss at the flesh I slowly reveal. I love tonguing her nipples, using my fingers hands and mouth to make them harden. Love to hear her breathing deepen, hear the little gasps when I bite… just so.

Then I move my hands down, untie her pyjama bottoms, kiss down her belly, move myself lower. Her period has just finished, so her musk is strong, perfectly overpowering. Her taste is just a touch metallic, but not unpleasantly so as I first tease her outer lips, then let my tongue part her, open her, tease her.

Sliding my hands underneath to cup and massage her bottom, I slowly bring her to a first orgasm, then begin kissing my way up her body again. Now sometimes when I give head, I concentrate on what I’m doing so much, that I can loose an erection. LL doesn’t like that much, and early on thought it meant I didn’t really like give head. Thing is I love doing it. I adore feeling her loose herself in the sensations, see and feel her body convulse underneath me. I work hard at watching the sings so that I can maximise and orgasm. Occasionally it means my little friend nods off, but it doesn’t mean I’m not interested.

This morning however, indeed most mornings, he’s wide awake and attentive. Her hands find me, and find me full and hard. “Uhmm, someone needs to go home! How do you want me darling?” This is about the extent of LL talking dirty, but I don’t mind, I’m not much of a talker myself when in the act.

Roughly grunting, I turn her away from me, and lay down behind her. The problem with under duvet sex is there is a limited number of positions you can safely use that doesn’t give it away if a small person suddenly appears (as has happened more than once). I like it this way, it’s a relaxed form of sex that also lets me go deep, and leaves hands free to play. We shuffle against each other a bit, until the geometry of love allows me entry.

I slide in, unhindered; she’s wet and tight this morning. And so we take a few more minutes to reaffirm our love before getting up to meet the rest of the day.

Gender Politics

I read a fascinating article this weekend, that’s left me thinking. It brokered a good discussion over lunch with LL as well. The basic premise is that, in part at least, the decline in education and health standards is due to the widening of choice of career for intelligent driven women.

Though the article overplayed it a bit, I think there is a horrid truth in that. The early industrial age left women little choice in career paths, there really was only teaching and nursing. The best and brightest of our women went in droves to those jobs. in the 1892 census there where 313,000 "professional" class women (compared to 342,000 men quite curiously), but 86% of these where either teachers or nurses (69% teachers, 17% nurses). The natural result of that concentration of talent meant a high standard of education, and well run hospitals.

Yet, though there are still clear inequalities in the work place (I’ll broach this topic and the glass ceilings LL has hit over the years later), women really can push into any career these days. Indeed what really bright woman would become a nurse when she can train as a doctor? The best educators will now naturally stay at Universities rather than teach children.

There is a truth to the thesis, and is one we haven’t really addressed. If we as a society require a high standard of education and health care, how can we ensure the best and brightest, regardless of gender, go into what are two poorly paid professions? We can’t afford to simply throw money at it (despite Gordon Brown’s best attempts) or else we beggar ourselves.

I don’t profess to have the answers, buts it a question worth discussing.