Sunday, February 25, 2007

It’s at Cheeky Monkeys

January 4th 2007

“Are you sure?” Polly says.

“Yes. It’s fine. No problem,” I say.

“Are you listening?” Polly says.


“WHAT?” I am trying to read Jon Ronson’s column.

“Stop reading the paper and listen,” says Polly.

I close the paper dramatically, sigh, sit up in my chair, sigh, say “Right Polly, What?” and sigh.

“Are you sure that it’s O.K. for Elly to go to the party?”

“Yes, it’s fine,”

“I won’t be here,”

“I know,”

“It’s at Cheeky Monkeys,”

“I know, look, Polly, I don’t know why you’re going on and on about this. I said it’s fine, I just have to drop her off at three thirty and pick her up at five thirty yeah?”

“Yes,” says Polly.

“Definitely definitely?”

“Yes,” says Polly

“Because remember?” I say.

Last time I took Elly to a party I came home fuming and went into a fit about how come I was the only man at the party and how come I had to go and look at the heavy metal oldest son’s guitar and drumkit and how come none of the other adults at the party spoke to me and how come I keep having to do this shit?

Then I saw some photos of me at the Party. I thought I’d done well at the party, pretending to have a good time, doing my best false smiles.


I looked suicidal.

Upon seeing myself in these pictures I said “That’s IT, I am NEVER, EVER, EVER going to another party with Elly again in my life, YOU are THE MUM, YOU can go, I’m going to stay at home and be A PROPER MAN.”

“I’ll email them to check,” says Polly.

February 2nd 2007

Polly calls me “I’ve left you a note on the table, don’t forget the party, Tomorrow, three…”

“Yes yes, I know, three thirty ‘till five thirty, Cheeky Monkeys, I just take her and drop her off, that’s definite isn’t it?”

“I emailed them,” says Polly.

“O.K. Bye then,” I say, quite agressively. I am pissed off with Polly. I am pissed off for 2 reasons.

Reason 1 - Polly didn’t listen to my interesting thing that I had to tell her at breakfast all about how brilliantly I performed in a conversation with another person.

It is so unfair.

How can getting the children fed, washed, dressed, eczema creamed, medicated and homeworked be as interesting as hearing the exact things I said to Jim Smallman and the exact things he said back to me?

Doesn’t she realise that she should be saying “Wow, that sounds like an excellent 10 minute chat you had with Jim Smallman, I am sure that this chat you had with Jim Smallman will one day mean that you will be equal in comedy skills to Jim Smallman,” instead of saying “Can you just hold Mick a second?”

She is well out of order.

Reason 2 – Polly laid a guilt trip on me for, saying that I am pissed off because she is going away for 3 days and leaving me with the kids.

This is totally unfair.

It is true, but it is totally unfair for her to mention it.

She is supposed to pretend that my explosive intolerance isn’t happening and that I am the easy going relaxed ideal husband that I like to picture myself as when I grit my teeth and say “That’s fine Polly,” after she says “Do you mind if I go walking with my sister in the Peak District for 3 days?”

“Hope you cheer up soon, see you on Sunday,” Polly says.

“Shut up,” I say, but only after I have put the phone down.

I pick up Elly from school and she starts crying straight away.



Fly is Elly’s toy sheepdog.

“But Elly, Mummy can’t come back tonight, she’s gone far away for the weekend with Auntie Sam, It’s OK, Fly will have a nice holiday and then come home on Sunday,”


I am absolutely livid. How could Polly have driven off with Fly in the car? What an absolute idiot. This is untenable. I can’t believe Polly has deliberately set me up to have a shit weekend with the children. I hate her.

After 5 hours of intensive counselling Elly and Mick fall asleep and I fume in front of the computer until my bedtime, which is about 10 minutes after their bed time.

Saturday arrives. I buy a new dalmation dog for Elly, I buy loads of meat but the cooker breaks, we go to Mcdonalds and Nandos and then we get ready for the party.

“Daddy, I want to wear my dress for the party, my pink dress, my beautiful pink dress, OK?”

“Ummm, Elly, the party is at Cheeky Monkeys – you can’t really wear a dress at Cheeky Monkeys, they don’t let people in the cage with dresses on,”


Elly’s thumb is in her mouth and once again she is crying and crying and crying, but I insist.


I’m tense but keep telling myself it’s O.K. because soon she’ll be off my hands for a couple of hours and I can stand next to a slide and watch Mick climb up it and slide down it for 2 hours. Life isn’t all tedium.

“OK Elly, I’m going to drop you off at the party and then pick you up later, OK?”

“Yes Daddy,”

We jump in the car.

We drive to Cheeky Monkeys.

Lots of other cars pull up. They are all Renault Picassos or Jeeps or BMW’s or Audis. We have a Hyundai atoz. All the other kids jump out with presents wrapped in shiny paper. Elly’s presents are wrapped in a copy of the Guardian.

I stroll towards Cheeky Monkeys and consider saying to one of the other parents “So how does this work, we just dump ‘em and pick ‘em up in a couple of hours yeah?” but think better of it because no-one is making eye contact with me. I feel a bit anxious and insecure because I’ve not managed to get onto speaking terms with any of the mums in the playground and the lack of eye contact or tight but friendly smiles confirms my lack of schoolyard popularity. I often stand in the playground waiting for Elly and feel sad and isolated.

We walk slowly across the gravel drive towards Cheeky Monkeys and I take care not to fall into step with any of the other mother / child combos walking across the drive so as not to have to converse with anyone. I am successful and Mick, Elly and I arrive at the door as a neatly segregated unit.


I turn the handle on the door of Cheeky Monkeys and pull. Nothing happens. The door is locked. I look at the door and notice another handle up at head level.

My heart sinks.

I suddenly realise that this place has to employ really strict safety measures. That on one occaision I saw the manager running around with a child shouting “They’ve just left him here, they’ve just left him,” and then really telling the child off because his parents aren’t allowed to leave him there.

That you have to sign a register when you come in.

That there are locks everywhere and signs telling you what to do and how to behave.

There is no way that I’m going to be dropping Elly here and coming back in a couple of hours.

I start to panic. I want to cry. I think I am actually going to cry.



Oh god.

I hate Cheeky Monkeys.

The child who is having a birthday is called Alex. Alex’s mum greets me with the following words,

“Hello, it’s an hour and a half free play and then we go to eat some tea in the barn out the back. Meanwhile take a seat,”


She points at a table where all the people who I’ve never spoken to in the playground are all sitting in silence, staring at the cage of childly fun things and avoiding eye contact with each other despite the fact that they are all sitting uncomfortably close to each other.

I want to be sick.

I am overwhelmingly aware that I haven’t even brushed my teeth today.

We go and get our shoes off and I ask Elly to go into the cage of “fun”. Cheeky Monkeys is basically a big old converted barn which has a massive cage in the middle of it. The cage is padded and has loads of different ways for children to hurt each other or to hurt themselves in. It is really really loud and really really hot. In front of the cage are about 20 tables where exhausted, dead eyed parents silently sit with thousand yard stares while they wait for their child to emerge from the pandemonium of the cage.

Elly refuses to go into the cage. She wants to come and sit with me. I take her and Mick to the more sedate “toddler” part of the ball park. I put Mick down and he instantly falls to his knees and starts crying.

Three seven year old girls with lollies in their mouths instantly appear from no-where. “Why’s he crying?” they ask.

“I don’t know, maybe it’s because he can feel every second of his life trickling away as he approaches the inevitable moment of his death?” I say.

“Oh,” they say and run off.

Everywhere I look my gaze is met by low cut tops exposing pairs of elongated mammaries. I try to avoid them but they are EVERYWHERE. I am confused and appalled. This truly is the seventh ring of hell.

I plonk Mick into the ball pond, sit back and watch him for a while. Elly joins him in the pond and they start to have fun. I am leaning against the cage, and try to focus on the toddler ball pond in the vain hope that I can tune out the absolute mayhem of the cage.

All of a sudden a child pops up from the ball pool, stares at me with a malevolent grin and smashes a ball into my face.

“Ha Ha,” I say.

“Ha ha,” he laughs hysterically. Within two minutes all the kids in the ball pool are smashing balls in my face, pointing at me and laughing over and over again. This includes Mick and Elly.

“FUCK OFF,” I think.


“Ha Ha,” I say.

I look off into the distance and catch a woman sitting at a table with her arms folded around her stomach, rocking.

At 3.56 I look at my watch and notice that I have another hour and a half to go before I can go home. I can’t believe it. I try to start a conversation with another parent.

“Hi, Are you Kiera’s Mum?” I say.

“No, I am Michael’s Mum.” She says.

“Oh, sorry. Is Michael in Elly’s class? Or, I guess from your perspective, is Elly in Michael’s class?” I say

“Ha ha ha, yes, Elly is in Michael’s class,” She says.

“Ok. Great!” I say.

I smile and nod.

She smiles and nod.

We both look at our children.

We glance at each other but there is nothing else to say.

Another mum smiles and nods at both of us.

I really really really want to kill myself.

“WHO WANTS TO GO OUTSIDE?” I shout at my kids.

“MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE,” they both shout.

“We’re going outside,” I say, but Michael’s mum now has her back turned to me.

Outside there is a big Combine Harvester. I spot a couple of kids who I teach. Mick plays on the combine harvester and I go and sit with the mothers of the children who I teach so as not to feel so lonely. Elly plays with Mick.

After about 30 minutes I look up from where I’m sitting and see Mick standing at the edge of the combine harvester. It is a straight drop down. I am about 25 metres away from him. This horrific noise comes out of my mouth, the same noise I made as I watched Mick’s pushchair roll towards the River Wye when my friend Jo let go of it to pick up some leaves 2 years ago on new years day.


It is a really loud, powerful scream of protection.

The playground goes silent.

Everyone stares at me except for Mick, who shouts “SLY, SLY, SLY,” and waddles back into the middle of the combine harvester to play on the slide that has been built into it.

I am utterly humiliated.

This is the worst day of my life.

“I think it’s nearly tea time, come on,” I say, and drag the children inside to the “barn” where the tea is being served.

I gatecrash a place at the table for Mick, even though he hasn’t been invited, and I stand at the edge of the room with the rest of the adults. The children eat their crisps and sandwiches and there is an explosion of digital flashlights as all the other parents run around the room capturing every possible nuance of their children shoving food into their gobs. I am momentarily proud of myself for not having a camera, then glance at Mick and notice that MICK IS POSING FOR PHOTOS.


He is looking at cameras and screwing up his face to smile. A flash explodes in his face and he drops his sandwich on his plate.

The lights dim and the birthday cake comes out. We all start singing happy birthday. I am a great believer in singing happy birthday really loudly as a role model to my children.


At this point though, everyone else is singing “DEAR WILLIAM”

I laugh. Apparently Elly’s friend is not called Alex. He is called William.

I am laughing alone. All the other parents look at me as if I am disgusting.

Later, as we walk to the car I shout goodbye to another parent who is climbing into her car.

She just slams her door.

“Daddy,” says Elly as we climb into the car.

“Yes Elly,” I say. My forehead is bruning in the way that it does when I've been supressing the urge to cry for a long time like when I watched "A Beautiful Mind". I am very, very weary.

“We had a lovely party at Cheeky Monkeys didn’t we?”

“Yes Elly,” I say.

“Can we go back to Cheeky Monkeys for a party another day?” says Elly.

“Yes Elly,” I say.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Here's the People

Elly made up her first joke today.

She said “Daddy, I’m going to do a comedian to you now, I made a comedian, I mean a joke.”

Elly's Joke

I said “Great,” and thought “Oh no. I want to be a good audience, but the pressure’s on,”

Then she said “Here’s the church and here’s the steeple” and did the stuff with her hands that children do.

Then she said “Open the doors, and here’s the people.”

She opened her hands to show me just the palms of her hands.

Elly's Joke

I looked at her and frowned a bit and thought “That’s a bit of a shit joke there Elly, First of all it’s not really a joke, it’s a rhyme, secondly you didn’t really make it up, so that makes you a 4 year old gag thief and thirdly you've done your hands the wrong way round so the fingers weren’t even wriggling when they were supposed to be representing the people, so to add insult to embarrasment you've fucked up what is already quite a low key punchline,”

Elly's Joke

I smiled in a way that I thought was kind and said “Elly, that's really funny but where are the people?”

Elly's Joke

At that point Elly went mental, laughing hysterically, shaking with excitement and shouting in a demented voice that I'd never heard before “That’s the joke Daddy, there aren’t any people, but I said to you “here’s the people,”

I think she may be a comedy genius.

I stand up next to a mountain...

I'm worried about Mick.

Voodoo Chile by Jimi Hendrix just came on the radio and Mick gave me a terrified look. His little face screwed up and he looked as if he was going to cry. Then he looked towards me, put his hands over his ears, extended his neck, lowered his chin and said “Lur-owwww”

(that’s a lur and then an owwww like “owww I just hurt myself” rather than an owwww like oboe, but I feel as if I made that perfectly clear – the lur and the owwww slurred together.

I’m trying to convey that he was saying the word loud without the –d sound on the end, just imagine the word loud without the –d sound on the end and you have the sound that he made, to indicate to me that the intro of Voodo Chile was too loud.)

It was more the look on his face that worried me. It was really serious as if he was trying to say “Dad, the power of this guitar is dangerous to your ears, please Dad, for your own protection, please cover them up,”

He kept taking his hands off his ears and then doing it again “Lur –owwww, Lur-owwww,”

The really worrying thing was that the radio was really quiet at the time. I would say it was at comfortable to talk over volume, as opposed to begin talking to your wife and then realise you are feeling really irritated with everything and your shoulders are rising up and your head is getting screwed up and then your wife says “Can we turn it down a bit David?” (if you are called David) and you say “Please do,” and it is a relief.

It certainly wasn’t at rocking out with a sharp knife in your hand and a chicken on a chopping board volume.

Elly never complained of anything being “Lur-owwwww, Lur-owwwww,” In fact, she used to get furious with me that it wasn’t loud enough.

I really hope I’m never in the room with Mick and then Norah Jones comes on the radio and he looks at me and says “nyyyyy, nyyyyy, nyyyyyy,”

(which would be the sound of the word “nice” without the “s” sound at the end.)

Because then my child would be the kind of person who likes Norah Jones.

Then again, all of this may be a little over the top, as I don’t like Jimi Hendrix either. In fact I detest Jimi Hendrix and having to listen to people who like him say “but Dave, he was a fucking geeeeeeeeenius – listen to THIS,” and then look at me and stare at me and get annoyed with me when after the intro I say “Yes, I am now bored of this excessively histrionic virtuoso guitar playing.”

Maybe “Lur-owwwwww Lur-owwwwww” doesn’t mean “Loud, Loud” – maybe it just means “Switch this shit off dad, I hate Hendrix, he sucks.”

Good old Mick.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Lie In

I woke up at 3.15. I was a bit anxious that I wouldn't fall asleep. Then I remembered that it was my turn for a lie in.

I said a lie in.

I was so excited about having a lie in that I lay awake until the children woke up thinking about having a lie in.

When they woke up Polly told me I could still have my lie in, but that I had to get up to put on the tape recorder for them.

That spoilt my lie in.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Yes / No (part 3)

Part 1

Part 2

The story so far: After school on Friday afternoon, I have promised Stuart, a child in my class, that I will go to a performance he is doing. I have no intention of going.

The school is silent and still. Without the children, the air in the school shimmers, the whole building takes respite before the sugar frosted onslaught of 440 feet, 440 hands and 220 mouths. It feels like when you watch some sort of olympic profile or tennis competition and the BBC have made a black and white film of a sportsman looking down at the floor and thinking deeply, in preparation for a violently explosive performance.

I went to the staff room as I always do in the morning and looked on the whiteboard, searching desperately for the words “David Out Of Class: JP” JP being the initals of the supply teacher who does most of the supply teaching at our school. Sometimes these words miraculously appear on the board if a very urgent and important task needs doing – for example somebody may need to download an excel spreadsheet from the internet, a mail merge document may need preparing or somebody may have some photos that need uploading onto a machine.

These words weren’t on the board, so I took solace in the words “David PPA: JP” which appeared on Wednesday morning, reading them over and over again. PPA stands for Personal Preparation and Drinking Coffee - I think.

I make my first very strong coffee of the day. I use a heaped tablespoon of coffee in a single serving cafetiere. I walk through to my empty classroom, sit down at my desk, boot up the computer and perform the most important task of the day – making sure everything on my desk is lining up parallel. This is quite difficult as I have quite a few items on my desk.

Anything that doesn’t have a straight line has to be hidden in my drawer, anything that is cylindrical has to be placed exactly central on something square. I need to get this done before my teaching assistants come in, because their first job is to come over to my desk and slightly nudge everything until I am furious.

Eventually my desk is perfect. I open my inbox and delete the mail from local secrets saying “DAVID TRENT – Cambridge and All Around x – xth xxxxuary”. I look at the messages that have turned my gmail labels bold and resist the urge to click on them all to make the bolds go away and reset the screen to it’s default uniformity. I take a sip of coffee, slightly adjust the objects on my desk and start clicking at bold gmail labels.

I re-check the clock, see that it is 8:35 and fly into a frenzy of activity that will get me ready for the morning. I switch on my interactive whiteboard, switch on my class computer, type in my username and password, press ctrl + f7 3 times to toggle the monior through until both the class computer and the interactive whiteboard show the desktop, load “daily desktop.psd” change all the lessons listed on the right of the graphic and the date at the top, save as .jpg, open with windows picture and fax viewer, right click and save as desktop. I suddenly remember that I have to give out the Maths homework today, choose something related to last week’s maths unit, jump up from my desk, glance at the clock on the wall – 8.37 – and fly towards the door.

There, in the doorway, like the midwich cuckoos, stand Stuart and Karen, staring at me. Stuart is deadly serious. Karen has a massive grin on her face. Behind them stands Stuart and Karen’s Mum.

It all comes flooding back. The promise I’d made. Why’s he brought his MUM though? Suddenly I want it to be the weekend again, very, very badly.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

“First of all Alex Wolf, um, a great response as you can imagine, all sorts of suggestions, a lot of people wanting a better explanation of the classical world, many people talking about, broadly speaking, the development of democracy in this country, all kinds of themes, what would your three be?”

I’ve just had a shower and I’m getting ready for school. I am looking sadly at my adidas t-shirt and trying to find any stains that might mean I’d have to wear something else, checking over my jogging bottoms for greasy patches (Elly’s skin is bad at the moment and we have to put on a cream called fifty fifty which is so greasy that once she’s got it on she slips out of your hands if you try to pick her up) and listening to the Today programme with James Naughtie.

I’m looking sadly because I know that the end of being allowed to wear my tracksuit to school is nigh, thanks to the new No Jeans manifesto of the shool. My teaching assistant was asked not to wear her black jeans to school again and she reacted by saying “Yeah, so I’m not allowed to wear these, but it’s fine for me to wear a scruffy old pair of jogging bottoms is it?” to which she was told that no, this was also going to be addressed soon.

It’s lucky though, because whenever I wear my jogging bottoms my teaching is definitely more shit than when I wear my trousers. I think it’s the lack of testicular constriction.

Yesterday on Today, Alex Wolf, a history lecturer at Ambridge university sent in an email suggesting that the readers should nominate 3 periods or themes that should be taught.

Obviously, the Today programme readership have had a total brainspunk over this idea as he’s been invited on this morning to talk about it, together with Tristram Hunt, Lecturer of modern British History at Queen Mary University of London.

James Naughtie has given Alex Wolf a really great 41 second intro which culminates with the above question. I shall reproduce it here along with the reply.

James Naughtie: First of all Alex Wolf, um, a great response as you can imagine, all sorts of suggestions, a lot of people wanting a better explanation of the classical world, many people talking about, broadly speaking, the development of democracy in this country, all kinds of themes, what would your three be?

Alex Wolf: Well, I mean, I set the question so I’m not going to give you an answer.

I piss myself laughing. James Naughtie is audibly breathtaken and laughs in frustrated bewilderment and Tristram Hunt chuckles like a good ‘un and James Naughtie turns the interview to Tristram Hunt in a bit of a huff, allowing him to speak for 3 minutes solid and ignoring Alex Wolf for being such a pompous twit.

After 3 minutes and 18 seconds James Naughtie returns to Alex Wolf with the words “If you don’t want to name the three things, because you’re not allowed to answer your own question, a pretty pedantic position to adopt I think, but anyway…”

Tristram Hunt is cracking up as soon as James Naughtie says “question,”

It’s one of those great moments on Today. Spontaneous barely controlled vindictiveness and hilarity. I instantly feel refreshed and dash down the stairs to relay the events to Polly.

I open the door to the kitchen and shout “Hello!”

“Hello Daddy,” says Elly.

“Maw Maw Maw” says Mick, brandishing a wheetabix at me.

“Hello,” says Polly.

I look at the kitchen table. It has a box of branflakes, a box of rice crispies, a box of wheetabix, a cup of tea, an empty 2 pint milk carton, an 8 pint milk carton, a butter dish, a pink bowl, an Observer magazine, two stuffed toy dogs and a pink and purple flip lid bowl which Mick is obsessively opening and closing, yelping in release each time he opens it.

I’m a bit of an autist and I quite like everything to be ordered – I spend most of the day lining things up on my desk at work and I can’t start a lesson until my desk is tidy, so this scene slightly makes me want to take a knife and plunge it into my belly and shout “is this what you wanted?” over and over again, but the urge to tell Polly about the funny thing that happened on the radio is greater so I ignore the mess and start to tell Polly about the interview…

“Hello Polly, I was just listening to the Radio and there was this bloke on it and he was saying yesterday how he thought history should be taught in a more specialised way, deeper instead of wider, or more breadth and less depth, anyway, and only three subjects, so loads of people liked it so today called them back and he said “You wanted to choose only three subjects…”

“I’ve got a star,” says Elly.

“So which do you think the three subjects should be?”

“Daddy, I’ve got a star…” says Elly.

She is holding a blue star in her hand that she’s had for ages. It’s not a new star. She didn’t get it for being good or anything, she’s just found it on the floor, that’s all.

“Right, good Elly,” I am starting to get a bit hectic now.

“Was it the interviewer or the guy?” says Polly

“What?” I ask.

“Was it the interviewer or the guy who said “You wanted to choose only three subjects...”

I am exasperated.

“It was the interviewer,”

“Oh, I thought it was the guy,” says Polly.

“No, right, I’ll start again, there was this bloke on the radio, on the Today programme and this lecturer was saying that yesterday how he thought history should be taught in a more specialised way, deeper instead of wider, or more breadth and less depth, anyway, and only three subjects, so loads of people liked it so today called them back and he said “You wanted to choose only three subjects…”

“John Humphries called him back?” says Polly.

“Yes, OK, John Humphries, yes,” I say.

It’s not John Humphries but I think that it will become too depressing to divert into a conversation about why James Naughtie is doing the interview and not John Humphries and where John Humphries might be. “Anyway, John Humphries rings this guy and he says to him “You wanted to choose three subjects for history…”

“NA NA NA,” Shouts Mick furiously. He is holding half a wheetabix. This means “I have finished with this half a wheetabix and I want a new wheetabix. I don’t like eating the whole of the wheetabix. It disgusts me.”

“What do you want Mick?” asks Polly.

“He wants a new wheetabix Polly, leave him, he can’t have a new wheetabix every time he gets halfway through one, he’ll just have to wait, anyway, John Humphries rings up this bloke and says to him “You wanted to choose three subjects to study for history in greater…”

“Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy,” shouts Elly.

“What?” I say

“Rice Krispies!” she says. Like an angel.

“Very good Elly,” I say. Mick is now standing up in his high chair, raising his fists above his head.

“No Mick, sit down.” I say.

“Mick, sit down,” Polly says.

“Miiick, sit down,” Elly says.

“Anyway, right, he phones this bloke up and he says to him,”

“I can see smoke and you can’t, you can’t see smoke, I can” Elly is giggling.

I do mental eyes and shake my head and say


I clench my fists and breathe really deeply.

Suddenly I feel exhausted. Totally beaten. I screw my face up, hold it in my hands, bend over and say

“I can’t do it. It’s just too much of a physical effort. It’s impossible to focus.”

I look up.

Polly is laughing.

Elly is laughing. Mick is laughing.

I start to laugh too.

I guess I don’t need to finish the story.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

"Will it be an electric toy Daddy?"

My oven broke. This is a shame.

Polly went walking with her sister Sam this weekend, and a weekend without Polly is usually a weekend without eating vegetables.

This weekend was to be no different.

Elly's ballet lesson was followed by an immediate and urgent visit to the butcher where I purchased Calves Liver, Oxtail and Pork Loin. A veritable murder of food.

The drive home was spent mulling over how I was going to fit such a lot of meat into such a short time, having brought 3 meals worth of meat but only having 2 meals worth of time left before Polly's return.

I pondered and cogitated and deliberated and worried until I got home, whereupon I thought "Fuck it, I shall simply not have the vegetable curry I have planned for this evening in my head, I will have the oxtail then. I will braise it slowly thoughout the afternoon and Yea, it shall be delicious."

I looked up a recipe in Appetite by Nigel Slater which seemed utterly delectable and spoke of meat melting off the bone in a manner reminiscent of the way those porno mags that Dad used to have in his cupboard above his suits until Mum realised that I had been reading them spoke of encounters between the milk man and the lonely housewife.

(I was always more of a story conniseur as opposed to a photo letch, although an image of a lady who decorated her pudenda with a pair of sunglasses still haunts me and I dare say my father to this very day)

I turned the oven on but there was no noisy hum as there usually is. I didn't notice initially but then there was a horrible smell of heat so I opened the door and realised that the fan wasn't working.

As Polly wasn't around I wasn't even able to take solace in the satisfaction of a good old rant. I simply switched the oven off, then switched it on. I opened the door. I stared at the fan. I closed the door. I switched the oven off, then switched it on again. I repeated this about 1000 times and then I said out loud "Oh, Elly, the oven is broken"

"Never mind," Elly said.

No, I thought to myself, never mind indeed, for this is the perfect excuse to take binge eating to the next level.

"Elly, let's all go and get fish and chips," I say.

"And tomato ketchup?"

"Yes Elly, and tomato ketchup,"

"Yes please Daddy,"

Then I say something terrible.

"Hang on Elly, how do you fancy going to ...MCDONALD'S?"

What did I just say?

"No thank you Daddy, just fish and chips," Elly says.

"But Elly, at MCDONALD'S they give you a free toy," I say.

Why did I say that? What is the matter with me?

"Oh Daddy, yes, great, let's go to MACDONALD'S"

The second the word is out of her mouth I realise what I've done and feel desperate and awful.

"Will it be an electric toy Daddy?" Elly says, and I begin to panic.

"Let's look at the fish and chip shop first shall we?" I say.

"No Daddy, No, I want Mcdonald's, Macdonald's, Macdonald's."

Elly has never even said the word Mcdonald's before.

All the way to Cherry Hinton I try to make an argument for fish and chips and Elly just keeps saying "No thankyou Daddy, just Mcdonald's please, will it be an electric toy?"

The fish and chip shop is closed. I carry on towards Mcdonald's. As we pull into the carpark Elly is giggling. There is a massive picture of Scooby Doo in the window. Should we eat in or do the drive through? The drive through would be some sort of damage limitation.

"Shall we pick up the food and eat it at home or shall we sit in the restaurant?" I say.

Why did I even ask?

"Oh Daddy, please can we go and sit in the restaurant?"

Elly skips down the path towards the doors shouting "I'm going to have a burger and chips and tomato ketchup and A TOY,"

Mick is clapping and squealing.

I open the door.

The queue is forever.

There is no-where to sit.

"There is no-where to sit," I say and await the inevitable double tantrum

"O.k. Daddy, let's go to the other cafe."

"Really?" I say.

"Yes, as long as we can eat in the cafe I don't mind," says Elly.

"Shall we go to the cafe where you can eat as much ice-cream as you like?" I ask Elly.

"Yes, yes, yes," Elly shouts.

"Creee, Creee, Creee," Mick shouts.

We go to Nando's.

They eat so much frozen yoghurt that they are both sick.

I am a good father.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

I am getting loads of hits at the moment because of my internet and real life buddy ponyintheair whose long awaited return has returned. Visit her site. Unless you just came from it.

If you just came from it, visit this site, because it's good.

I'm working on an epic at the mo, but I wanted to share my favourite search term of the week with you.

My favourite search term of the week is this:

make a man then fight man on the computer

I am the number one google result for this term.

How cool is that?

Oh, and my oven is broken.


and for all those of you who are related or who know me in real life or who care, my real life son called Mick is now off the antibiotics and no longer has a tube running up his arm and into his chest and if you say to him "Mick, where's your back brace?" he raises both his arms and says

"All gone."

A Number