Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Mick has finished his tea. He is stuck in his highchair and is veering from side to side shouting “KAY KAY KAY KAY KAY KAY KAY” and doing his best impression of someone having a brain haemmorrage.

“What is it Mick?” says Polly.

I am getting cross. I am trying to read the paper.


“Do you want a piece of cake Mick?” says Polly, walking towards him with the blue cake tin that houses the remains of his second birthday cake.

“KAY KAY KAY KAY KAY KAY KAY,” Mick is punching the air, shaking his head, gurning and crying his eyes out. Polly starts to walk away with the cake tin.

“Polly, open the tin and show him the cake, I think he wants a piece,” I say.

Polly opens the tin. Mick continues screaming but opens his eyes and sees the cake halfway through a “KAY”. He stops dead, beams with total satisfaction, points at the cake, looks proudly at Polly, then to me, then to Elly, then back to Polly and says with a happy lilt


Polly takes the cake over to the side to cut a piece from it and Mick instantly roars into another tantrum.

“Right, that’s it, I’m taking him up to bed,” I say.

I tuck Mick under my arm and he cries “KAY” over and over again all the way up the stairs, into his bedroom, whilst I take his clothes off, his nappy off.

At some point everything becomes unbearable and the only way I can think of getting through this is by timing him to see how long it actually takes for him to stop screaming “KAY”.

It takes 1 minute 55 seconds. That’s as long as Tame by the Pixies.

Ironically, if you listen to Tame by the Pixies from 1.43 onwards, that’s the noise Mick was making.

Maybe nowadays Frank Black can have cake whenever he wishes.

Monday, January 29, 2007

I hurl myself down, but I sense that something is wrong.

It is lunchtime.

I want to do a poo.

I walk into the toilet.

I turn around.

I drop my trousers.

I hurl myself down, but I sense that something is wrong.

I look between my legs and realise, too late, that the seat is up.

I try to stop but I’m moving too fast.

I trip.

I reach out my arms to balance.

I stumble.

I fall down the toilet.

My knees are up by my chin.

My arms are flailing helplessly at my side.

It hurts.

I push myself out of the toilet.

I stand up.

I pull down the seat.

I sit down.

I don’t want to do a poo any more.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Low Flying Plane

On the way to the station on Tuesday night I saw a REALLY low flying plane. REALLY REALLY REALLY low flying. So low flying that I thought it was going to crash into my house.

I thought how terrible it would be if the plane crashed into my house.

I kept looking into the sky thinking "God, that plane is REALLY low, and it is heading towards my house."

I got quite anxious. Where would I sleep? What would happen to my guitars? My laptop?

My laptop was in the car with me, so I relaxed a little.

I opened the window to listen out in case I could hear a crash.

I couldn't hear a crash.

I turned on the radio but there was nothing about a plane having just crashed.

When I got home my house was still there. The plane had not crashed into it.

But if it had, it would have been a bit like this.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Go to sleep David

I am ironing my shirt and listening to the radio via the computer. I am listening to my favourite Radio 4 show called “Down the Line” and giggling at Felix Dexter’s grotesque exaggerations. I finish ironing my shirt. It is about 9.00 p.m. I am being organised. I run upstairs to get my other shirt. I come back down and click on “popurls”.

Something catches my eye. I click, then I click again, once more and suddenly, before you can say “Paypal” the shirt is forgotten and I am salivating over my next essential, life enhancing product.

“It’s a life coaching system,” boasts the title bar.

“energy and stress, health and fitness,” it entices.

“hypnosis, NLP, uk” it adds, but I try to ignore that bit.

I am a bit scared of some of the NLP disciples I’ve met.

It always freaks me out when, after having talked to someone for a while and felt remarkably comfortable with them as if I have known them all my life they suddenly say “something, something else, yeah, something 67% according to NLP” and I say to them “Oh, do you do NLP?” and they say

“Oh, I’ve just done a couple of courses,”

and I say

“Have you walked over hot coals then?”

and they say

“Yeah, it was brilliant,”

and I look at them and they are standing with a terrible slumped posture and I realise “THAT’S MY POSTURE, YUCK” and then I notice they are repeating the words that I use most frequently back to me and I think “OH OH OH IAMSUFFOCATINGIMUSTESCAPE,” and I say “Uh, I’ve just realised I’ve got go and stand over there for a little while.”

Despite this, the website makes a claim that I can’t ignore.

It says it will give me sleep. It will make me feel rested. It will make me feel energised.

I would love to feel awake again. To feel clear. I'm about 3 hours less sleep away from Tyler Durden.

I suddenly go into a clicking, downloading and password frenzy.

Click Reviews, read the buzzy headlines, click download, click trial, enter email, click download trial, click back to buzzy headlines, before download of trial is complete decide I can’t possibly live another minute without the full version of this product, click “full version”, click paypal, enter username, password, click, click, click, yes have as much as you want just give me sleep sleep sleep yes, click, yes, click click click.

Within 10 minutes I have the full version on my desktop, am generating my own 20 minute sleep programme to download onto my iPod shuffle and wondering how much $50 is in real money.

My iPod shuffle. Where’s my iPod shuffle?


“I’m not sure. Have you looked on the shelf?”

“It’s not there…” I am slamming through the bureau drawers. “SHIT, where is it. Are you sure you haven’t seen it anywhere Polly?”

“I saw Mick with it the other da..”


“Well, when Mick was playing with it the other day I took it…”


“..and put it on the shelf,” says Polly. Luckily she is grinning at me, albeit in a “you really are a prick,” kind of way.

“Anyway, why do you suddenly need your iPod shuffle?” Polly says.

“I just downloaded this amazing thing off the internet. It makes a sound file which will send you to sleep and which will guide you through a power nap. It is apparently all NLP,” I say, surprised at myself for openly loving NLP all of a sudden.

“Oh. Is it free?” Polly says.

I run out of the room and shout “I can’t wait to try it, it is excellent,”

I spend another frantic 3 minutes trying to export the file directly to the iPod shuffle, which doesn’t work properly so I have to spend 7 minutes on a workaround.

Eventually I am lying in bed, iPod shuffle next to the bed, Sennheisers in hand.

“Now Polly, listen, please don’t hit me or poke me or try to wake me up when I’m doing this, I really want to try it out properly”

“Of course not David,” says Polly.

“Really Polly, please don’t wait until I’ve started it and then try to start talking to me about Mick or Elly,”

“I won’t,”

“No, really, really, really don’t OK? I really want to see if this works. Please respect me. Please respect this. I really want to try this out properly,”

“I know,” says Polly.

“Ok. Please.” I say.

“Ok. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight. Please. Respect. Please. Goodnight. Please don’t.”

I turn off the light. We kiss. I hold the iPod shuffle and press play. I am very excited.

Calming music which reminds me a bit of hed phone sex by Funki Porcini (which is the greatest of all Ninja Tunes – breaking my rules tonight by mentioning brands and records, but it really is great) except there is a nice man saying things like “now, releasing more and more into peace and dreams,” every few minutes instead of women screaming and grunting all the time.

After about 2 minutes I start laughing.

After about 4 minutes I get really paranoid that I like it and I am turning into some sort of “fixed” person. I have visions of halls full of people plugging into headphones and blissfully zoning out of real life, like an aural prozac.

After about 6 minutes I have stopped worrying about this.

After about 8 minutes I am worrying again. What if this helps me to feel a bit happier? Isn’t that bad? Surely the only thing that should make me happy ever is “my own resources?”

After about 10 minutes I realise I am still counting the minutes.

After that I start

falling into a deeper

and deeper


Suddenly I am woken up by the nice man saying “Now, you’ve chosen to devote this time to sleep.”

See, the iPod shuffle, which I’ve been very careful to specify as the model I am using, has the unique function of always repeating so I am back to the beginning of the sleep programme and starting again.

I am surprised at how brilliantly relaxing the experience was, but frustrated that I couldn’t use it to sleep for the whole night because of this fatal flaw of the iPod shuffle. SHIT. I am now in overdrive, panicing, thinking through all the possible solutions:

1) order an iPod nano NOW

2) order some other sort of music player

3) use a mobile phone

4) burn the nap soundtrack onto a cd player

5) put it onto my normal iPod.

Number 5 is the obvious answer. I’ll do that. I’ll use my normal iPod to do that. I’ll plug it into my laptop. I’ll do that next time I want to go to sleep. I’ll do that right now. No I won’t, that’s stupid, I’ll go to sleep, hang on, if I’m going to sleep I need to listen to the thingy again. I’ll wake Polly, I DON’T CARE. I do care. Don’t get out of bed. GET UP NOW. YES YES YES- I’ll do it RIGHT NOW.

Silently, stealthily I get out of bed, unplug the laptop and sneak it to the door of the bedroom.

“What are you doing?” says Polly.

“Go back to sleep,” I say. “I’ll tell you tomorrow.”

Now I’m totally hyper. I go into the kitchen, jump on a chair, to access the plug on the kitchen iPod station. I turn on my desktop. I have my laptop on. I plug the iPod into the computer. It is out of battery. I am going to have to plug the iPod into the wall. This is all a disaster. The iPod won’t work. It has absolutely zero battery power. It can only work when it’s plugged in. What am I going to do? Run an extention lead? There must be an alternative…

Use the laptop. Of course. I set the system alerts to silent, tell the monitor to power down after 1 minute and generate a sleep programme. I enjoyed the whole thing so much last time I decide to go for a one hour programme this time. I go upstairs with a torch and the computer.

The computer is so bright that it instantly wakes Polly up.

“David, what are you doing?” she says. She is a bit irritated.

“It’s O.K. I’ll explain it in the morning. I’ve set it up so that the screen will switch off in one minute. Don’t worry. It won’t wake you up,” I say.

“For fuck’s sake David,” she says.

“Sorry Polly, but I really want to have a go of this,” I say.

“What’s the time David?” she says.

“It’s 11.47.” I say.

“It’s 11.47,” she says.

“I know, I know. Just go back to sleep.” I say.

“…” Polly makes a noise of disgust and pulls the covers over her head.

I think I have annoyed her.

I put the nap programme on, lie in bed and listen to the nice man saying nice things. I wait for the monitor to power down then I can relax.

After three minutes the monitor is still on. The room is still lit. Polly is still awake.

“What’s going on?” she says.

“It’s ok. Hang on,” I say. I find a setting that says “Disable sleep and screen savers during live naps” and untick this.

“OK, it’ll just be one more minute now,” I say.

Five minutes later I am leaning out of the bed, very uncomfortably, trying to download a monitor control system that’ll let me control the screen. To pick up the laptop and lay it on my lap to do all this would be tempting a real bollocking so I am leaning onto the floor from my bed to do all this, only there is a chest of drawers that I have to twist around. My back and my shoulder are hurting.


“Nearly there, just a minute,” I say.

I install the app. and find the option to switch off the monitor.

“Right Polly. Here we go. Goodnight.”

“For fuck’s sake,”

I stretch one last time, press play on my nap player and CTRL T to shut off the screen.

The lovely man is talking to me.

The screen goes black.

I lie back.

Polly breathes out.

Then suddenly the screen is strobing. Our bedroom looks like footage from an early Velvet Underground show.

“Oh, hang on, sorry, sorry,” I say.

Polly has stopped talking to me.

I try again.

More strobes. This is definitely not relaxing.

Then I hit on an idea. If I change the power settings to “When I close the lid of the computer DO NOTHING” then I can switch the screen off and listen in darkness.

“Polly, It’s OK. If I change the screen settings to…”

“SHUT UP AND GO TO SLEEP,” Polly says.

It works.

It is pitch black.

The man is talking to me.

Bells are ringing.

Theta waves are theta-ing.

Everything is working.

It’s going great.

Except instead of feeling sleepy, I’m now starting to feel a bit annoyed. I want to go to sleep now, I’m really tired, but the headphones are clamped to my head and I can’t drop off.

“now, releasing more and more into peace and dreams,”

Shut up.


For fuck’s sake.

“Now, sleeping more deeply, more peacefully,”

I’m not.

“Look after yourself and those you love in all ways.”


I throw my headphones to the floor in disgust

I hit the button on my clock. It is 12.49. I want to cry.

“Go to sleep David,” says Polly.

I go to sleep.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Yes? No? (Part Two)

Part 1

The story so far: Stuart has tried many ways of persuading me to go to a concert that he and Karen are doing. I have tried to avoid him. I have begun to consider whether I should go...

It was at this point that I thought maybe Stuart deserved to be put out of his misery. I could say I’d go, ask him for the dates, time and venue then not show up.

I thought of my recent experience at West Road Concert Hall watching an excreble Christopher Biggins performance.

I had been thrilled for weeks in advance to be going to watch Biggins in performance, had even perfected a routine of ringing up my friends to break the news which went like this…

“Guess who I’m going to see?” I would say.

“Who?” my friend would say.

“Have a guess,” I would say.

“I don’t know, the Arctic Monkeys?” my friend would say.

“No, imagine the best thing you could ever go and see, ever, ever, ever, ever?” I would say.

“Well, I guess going to see Tom Waits in a dusty little bar in Texas would be pretty cool,” my friend would say.

“Yes, well stop being a knob because that wouldn’t be good, try to think of something actually good,” I would say.

“Ummm, something actually good, oh I don’t know Dave, some comedian in a really intimate venue?”


“The Who? The Jam? I really can’t guess Dave,”

And then I would say,

“No, you are going to be gutted when you hear this. I have got tickets…to see…” I would say, pausing for effect here,


This was a sweet opportunity for two reasons. Firstly, during my time at University I wore a series of ridiculous glasses frames and was portly which prompted my friends to call me Biggins.

I was also pretty sure that they called me Biggins to insinuate that I was some sort of a sex letch which made me cross with them when they called me Biggins, which, in turn, prompted them to call me Biggins even more.

To this day I still harbour the suspicion that when they talk about me and I’m not there they refer to me as Biggins, even as they drive home from my house after a weekend of hospitality I imagine them saying things like “Biggins was on form wasn’t he?” and “It was good to see Biggins again wasn’t it?” and “We should see Biggins more often really,”

They are probably ringing each other right now and saying “Hey, have you read Biggins’ blog?” and having a good old laugh.

I was also excited about the concert because I had seen Johnny Morris doing Carnival of the Animals as a teenager, and it was the last truly magical experience I think I ever had.

Falling in love and watching elephants processing along a street followed by hundreds of singing women and children painted red and petals flying everywhere whilst drinking tea with my future wife, having two children and getting married were all good, but Johnny Morris – fuckin’ magic.

I remember sneering in my seat as I waited for Morris to hit the stage, thinking “This is going to be a load of shit, Mum, you wanker,” and then probably saying “This is going to be a load of shit, Mum, you wanker,” but then Morris hit the stage and the hour and a half he was on the stage slipped by in a second. He was brilliant. Funny, lovely and magic.

It was the last time I remember being happy to be entertained as if I were a child.

So I thought Biggins doing Carnival of the Animals might be a bit magical too.

But it was a steaming heap of dog poo.

A heap of dog poo through which someone had trodden and subsequently walked into a carpet.

In a specialist infant school.

For children with allergies to dog poo.

Biggins was a self indulgent idiot, who belted his way through the readings with the charm and wit of the builder who “did” my bathroom.

He didn’t even have the grace to wear glasses.

It was a truly dreadful show, interesting only in its capacity to slow time down to a standstill.

When Polly and I wake up we seem to blink and then it’s bed time again, so it was particularly galling that all of a sudden an hour seemed to feel like a million ketamine lifetimes.

We had taken Elly’s friend Flora with us, and our friend Roger, Flora’s dad, was playing the timpani in the concert. When Roger came out to play he peered out over his huge brass kettles into the audience to see if he could see us, and had we not stood up and waved frantically at him, he would have squinted and craned his neck for the entire ten minutes up to the point that he had to begin playing without spotting us.

I figured that if Roger couldn’t find his daughter at such an event, my pupil Stuart would have an even tougher time finding me once his show had started. The potential to blow out this gig was high. I felt safe to make a false commitment. To a seven year old.

At the end of Friday afternoon as I bent to place my laptop in my bag I said “Stuart, I believe you are doing some sort of a show…”

“Yes Mr Trent?” he said, his eyes moistening.

“Yes, now, I’ve been thinking about it quite a lot Stuart and I think that I would very much like to come and see it and to bring Elly. Do you think it is the sort of show that she would like?”

“Yes Mr Trent, It’s at…”

“Uh Uh Uh Stuart, no, I won’t remember where it is at if you merely tell me. I should like you to find out exactly where the show is this weekend, write down the details for me and bring them here, to this desk, in this classroom, in this school on Monday morning. If, and only if you do this, shall I make subsequent arrangements to attend,” I said, then walked off to face the weekend...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I hate

sending friends an email at roughly going home time.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Look at my belly, Look at my belly, Look at my belly,

As I approach her, I can see that Elly has a huge grin on her face. She is the last to be picked up, but she's really, really pleased to see me. This is a relief because the playground has been the scene of many intense and embarrasing battles between the two of us.

I've got a peeled mandarin orange in my hand and a fantasy of the two of us sharing an orange and shooting the breeze on the way back to the car. In my head Elly is saying to me "Gosh Daddy, these mandarins are remarkably sweet aren't they?" and other parents are looking at me slightly jealously.

I walk towards her, proudly segmenting my orange.

"Daddy, I'm so glad you're here," says Elly.

"Great," I say and bend down to give her a kiss.

She sticks her fist in my face "I can't open this myself" she says.

She is holding a Twix.

"You eat a bit of this and I'll open that for you," I say, a desperate thumb in the dyke of my dream.

"No Daddy, I just want the chocolate," says Elly.

"You eat a bit of this and I'll open that for you," I say, waiting for the outburst.

"But DAAADDDY, we had ORRRRAAAANGE this afternoon," says Elly.

"You eat a bit of this and I'll open that for you," I say, my lips drawing thin.

"OK Daddy," says Elly, watching me like a hawk. She pops the segment of mandarin into her mouth, does an exaggerated retch then swallows it as if she is completing a bushtucker challenge.

"Daddy, the school orange was much nicer than this one," she says.

"Here's your Twix. Whose birthday was it?" I ask.

I can't remember whose birthday it was. I am tempted to go and wake her up to find out.

As we climb into the car I tell her to save a small piece of her Twix for Mick.

"No," says Elly.

"OK then, I'll throw the Twix away," I say.

"No Daddy, I'll save a bit for Mick."

There is a thoughtful silence as I pull out of my parking space, turn the car around in the pub car park (there is a sign at the entrance of the car park saying "PRIVATE CAR PARK, NO TURNING" but I don't care. To be honest, I don't notice the sign until I've pulled into the car park and then I only notice it out of the corner of my eye and it nags at me so that as I pull out I strain my neck back just to make sure that it says "PRIVATE CAR PARK, NO TURNING" which it does and then I vow never to use the car park for turning again) and turn left onto the main road to Mick's childminder.

"Daddy, next time I get chocolate at school, I don't want to save a bit for Mick," says Elly.

"That's fine. You don't have to. I'll just give it back to your teacher as we leave." I say.

"NO DADDY," she whines in a mancunian accent which she has developed for the sole purpose of expressing extreme dissapointment. It is a pitch perfect recreation of her cousins accent.

"Well then you need to always share your chocolate with Mick," I say.

"OK Daddy," she says, sounding disconsolate.

I am hit by a massive pang of guilt. What a burden for her never to be able to sink her teeth into a bar of chocolate and enjoy every last crumb. What a horrible Dad. I need to throw her a life line.

"Well, Elly, you can have a complete bar of chocolate if you are both given a bar of chocolate, you don't have to share your chocolate with Mick if you both have chocolate, but if just you have a bar of chocolate then you need to share it with Mick,"

I am suddenly worried that she'll go to her teacher and say "My Dad says that I need a bar of chocolate for my brother Mick too or else I can't have the chocolate," so I add "If you are ever given chocolate outside of school or until Mick starts coming to school because when he comes to school he will get chocolate too..." I've stopped making sense now so I stop talking.

There is a long silence.

"But Daddy, I don't want to give Mick some chocolate," Elly says.

"Listen Elly, If you just save Mick a tiny tiny bit of chocolate and give it to him, how do you think he will feel?" I say.


"Right. And if you make Mick feel happy, I like to see that and how do you think that makes me feel when I see you give Mick some chocolate and make him happy?" I say.


"Right. And when Lisa sees you give Mick chocolate she'll be very pleased too and how will that make Lisa feel?"


"Right. And when Mummy comes home tonight and I tell her that you made Mick happy and Lisa happy and Daddy happy, how do you think Mummy will feel?"

"Happy!" Elly says. She's now giggling with the anticipation of such a spiral of happines.

"RIGHT!" I shout jubilantly. "And, Elly, when you have given Mick a piece of chocolate and made Mick happy and Lisa happy and Mummy happy and Daddy happy and everyone is feeling happy, how will you feel about having given Mick just a tiny little piece of chocolate?"

"Sad," Elly says.

I give up and think about writing this tonight. Then I remember something that happened last night and start laughing to myself.

Elly was having a bath and she splashed water all over Mick. We are supposed to be keeping the bandage that wraps up his IV line clean so Polly suggested, by telling me that I had to go and do it, to go and change Mick's clothes so as to keep the bandage from getting soaked.

Mick trotted happily into Elly's room, but when I tried to pull his jumper off he put his head on her pillow like a wounded sparrow, windmilled his arm at me and screamed "GOWAY GOWAY" at me. This means "go away"

I had to use all my powers of thinking.

I took my shirt own off, played tummy bongos and said "Mickey, Mickey, look at Daddy's tummy,"

Instantly Mick started cooing and nodding and screaming incoherent affirmation sounds, lifting his hands over and over his head as if taking off the t-shirt and using his magic "moor" sound to mean "take this shirt off Daddy, I want to get my tummy out too,"

I took his t-shirt off and we bumped bellies delightedly for a bit, then I ran around the top of the house like a fat Liam Gallagher shouting "look at my belly, look at my belly, look at my belly," with Mick in tow shouting "loooooka beyyye, loooooka beyyye, loooooka beyyye,"

Together we ran into the bathroom and entertained the ladies of the house with our funny routine - they both laughed and clapped and cheered.

I was very excited and ran back into the kids room with Mick to prepare for part two of the performance.

Apparently though, running around shouting "look at my penis, look at my penis, look at my penis," is not funny.

Nor is it funny shouting "loooooka peeeeeis, loooooka peeeeeis, loooooka peeeeeis,"

The memory of this in the car makes me start laughing out loud.

"What are you laughing at Daddy?" says Elly.

"Do you remember last night when Mick and I ran around shouting 'look at my belly, look at my belly, look at my belly,' ?" I say.

"Yes," she says, smiling through the thumb in her mouth. This is obviously still funny.

"And do you remember last night when Mick and I ran around shouting 'look at my penis, look at my penis, look at my penis' ?" I say.

Elly takes her thumb out of her mouth. "Yes," she says, "I didn't like that. That was not funny," This is obviously still not funny.

"Why wasn't it funny?" I say.

"Because I don't like looking at penises or vaginas..." Elly says, then after a pause, "or bums,"

We arrive at Lisa's house. I love picking Mick up from Lisa's for two reasons. Firstly it is great to see Mick's great big grin - tonight he is sitting playing with a steering wheel and all the other children are sitting around him staring at him in awe as if he is Nigel Mansell - and secondly it is always great to see Lisa's hilarious son Ollie.

Ollie is now a year 7 at secondary school and he is absoutely brilliant. He is just at the stage where he says something really cool and then undermines it with a really childish motivation. This evening I look up the stairs to see him standing there in just his pants.

"Whoo Whoo," I shout,

Ollie ducks down the hall.

"Hunky," I shout,

Ollie apears back at the top of the stairs and starts pulling muscle man poses. Lisa tells me he has been a very naughty boy because he rode back through Cherry Hinton park and got his bike all muddy.

"Why did you go through the park Ollie? Did you want to see the little Duckies?" I ask him.

"NO," Ollie says with a massive sneer on his face as if I've asked him if he loves Danny from McFly.

"Abi, wheel my bike round for me, I'll pay ya," he shouts from the top of the stairs where he is now sitting, clad only in his pants opening and closing his legs like an absentminded, male, pre-adolescent Madonna.

"What with?" says Lisa.

"With the money Dad gives me," says Ollie. He is now showing off and shouting a bit too loudly and coming across as a bit too big for his boots.

"Hey you cheeky... don't speak to your mummy like that, as soon as I leave here she's going to kill you," I say to him.

"That's right David," Lisa says.

"Come on Mum, move my bike," Ollie says.

"Ollie, you could kill two birds with one stone here," I say. "Why don't you just go outside and move the bike yourself, but do it dressed just in your pants - that way you'll get the bike sorted and you'll really annoy your mum at the same time,"

Ollie instantly sees the horror in Lisa's face and the delight in mine.


Ollie is standing in the middle of the street shouting "Look at me everyone, I'm just wearing my pants look at me,"

Abi is wheeling his bike around the back.

Lisa is wrestling him back into the house. As he goes back inside I say to him "Ollie, that was very stupid, I am in no way proud of you, I don't find it funny and I certainly won't be writing about it and posting it on the internet tonight."

Pulling away I glance back to see the door handle jolting up and down as as Lisa battles to keep her semi naked son inside the house.

We go home for pancakes.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Yes? No? (Part One)

I have a child in my class called Stuart. Stuart is a uniquely intense child.

Sometimes Stuart goes into a trance, lying back on his chair, balancing a pencil between his upper lip and his nose and staring blankly up at the ceiling as if he’s in the throes of some sort of enveloping, opiated ecstacy.

“Stuart?” I say.

“Stuart,” I say.


Stuart jerks back into the classroom and stares at me as if I am totally mad.

“I’m t h i n k i n g…” he says, as if speaking to a very rude policeman.

I mentioned this to his parents at parents evening and they laughed, looked at each other, shook their heads and said “Yes, that’s Stuart, we’re not sure if he’s very deep or…not,”

About three weeks ago I crouched down to put my laptop away in my rucksack at the end of the day when I felt a presence. I turned around and looked over my shoulder to see Stuart staring down at me, a look of determination and courage on his face.

“Can I help you Stuart?” I said.

“Me and Karen are doing a show. Do you want to come?” said Stuart.

“Karen and I. Hmmm, that sounds interesting Stuart, let me think about it,” I said.

Obviously, this means “No. I don’t want to come to a show. I don’t want to do anything in my spare time that has anything to do with any of you. I like you all at school. Quite a lot. But I am not yours to play with at the weekends too.”

“Ok,” said Stuart.

“Ok.” I said.

“Is there anything else Stuart?” I said.

“No,” said Stuart.

“Ok.” I said.

“Ok.” said Stuart.

“Goodnight Stuart, I’ve got to go and pick Elly up now.”

“Ok.” said Stuart.

“Ok.” I said.

“Goodnight Mr Trent,” said Stuart.

“Goodnight Stuart,” I said.

Most children would have left it at that. Most children would have given up.

At the end of the next day Stuart was back at my desk, same intense look, same questions, same protracted farewell.

My responses began to vary a little, to include the following…

“I’m terribly sorry Stuart, but I’ve got to dash…”

“Let me think about it Stuart.”

“Stuart, just go away, I’m very busy,”

“Could you take this to Mr Corpe please Stuart?”


He tried asking me at the beginning of the day, He tried asking me as the children lined up for assembly, he tried asking me as the children came back from assembly and settled down for literacy. He tried asking me at the beginning of break time, at the end of breaktime, at the beginning of lunch time, at the end of lunchtime, at the beginning of the afternoon, at fruit break and at the end of the day.

Little notes saying things like “Mr Trent, will you come to Karen and me’s show, tick the box, Yes? No?” began appearing everywhere – on my desk, on my chair, in my pigeon hole, on the windcreen of my car and once, rather spectacularly, on the exact spot on the wall where I balance my coffee cup every Friday morning during play time duty.

It was at this point that I thought maybe Stuart deserved to be put out of his misery. I could say I’d go, ask him for the dates, time and venue then not show up...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

"Daddy fell down the stairs..."

It is 5.40. Polly is about to phone home to tell me she is leaving. The phone rings. Mick points up at the phone and shouts "ooooh, ooooh, ooooh," which means "the phone is ringing". I hoist him onto my waist, pick up the phone and give it straight to him.

"Hello?" says Polly.

"Hello," says Mick.

"Hello..Mick?" says Polly.

"Hello," says Mick.

Polly thinks Mick has picked up the phone by himself. Mick is now making various grunts and Polly is repeating "Mick?".

This is too good an opportunity to waste. I pop the phone on speaker, hand it to Elly and whisper into her ear "Say Daddy has fallen down the stairs,"

"Mummy, Daddy has fallen down the stairs," says Elly.

There is a moment of silence.

"Elly, has Daddy really fallen down the stairs?" says Polly. Her voice is very calm and measured.

"No, he is joking," says Elly. She sounds delighted.

Tonight I have learnt that this is not funny and that normal people don't make jokes like this.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

“Wow, My Dad was really brilliant,”

“So if you had a magic fork which meant you could do whatever you liked, what would you do?” I say to Elly.

We are eating supper together. Mick and Polly are at the hospital.

I have cut little pieces of lamb and potato and arranged it in a spiral around the plate. It looks really brilliant, not like a kiddy meal, but like a pretentious restaurant meal.

In my head I'm saying “The first time I really felt that I’d cooked was when I made the spiral lamb and potato for my daughter, I was just playing around really, but suddenly it all just clicked really, and here I am today, with 3 michelin stars for children’s food.”

I consider taking a photo of the plate so that in 20 years time Elly looks at it and says “Wow, My Dad was really brilliant,”

"Elly?" I say

"What?" says Elly.

"I said, if you had a magic fork which meant you could do whatever you liked, what would you do?” I say.

“I would get a new Dad,” says Elly.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Peverets welcome

The only person who read my blog tonight was a peveret.

He typed "like to see my girl friend be fucked" into yahoo.uk.

My website is the number 1 hit off this search. Obviously.

"Do you know it's a he?" said Polly when I typed the second sentence of tonight's blog.

"No," I said.

"Then you better put 'they' "


They typed "like to see my girl friend be fucked" into yahoo.uk

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