Ryan Reynolds – An Inspiration

Ryan Reynolds tv appearance

So in a recent article poor Ryan Reynolds has come under attack from the parenting Taliban. Boo Hoo. If you haven’t seen it, please feel free to Google the story. You know the movie star Ryan Reynolds? He of the chiselled face, rock hard abs and wooden acting (I’m sorry ladies but do you honestly expect us to believe you go to see one of his movies because of the quality of his dramatic discourse?) Anyway it would appear Ryan has been caught strapping his baby into a child carrier incorrectly.

Okay, yes he has done it incorrectly. Yes that should be pointed out. Yes I suspect my wife would let me get away with strapping the baby in upside down and feeding it vodka from a sippy cup if I looked like him. That’s not the point.

The point is the level of back seat parenting. Let me state straight away I am not advocating child neglect. Since my son has been born I have become particularly vulnerable to stories of cruelty and neglect and would spend many happy hours turning anyone who intentionally hurts a child into a human piñata. But let’s be honest, within an acceptable range and with the best intentions possible, do any of us get it right first time? When first born, my son was as helpless as a turtle on its back. He wasn’t capable of getting into trouble because he was pretty much rooted to wherever we set him down. If I’m honest that was quite a desirable state of affairs. If my wife is honest she wishes that state of affairs was equally applicable to his father. It is however a state that is hardly conducive to my son’s development and so, with some reluctance, we encouraged him to become more mobile. His first trick was to roll onto his front. The problem with this is that before the age of one, as nearly every magazine and armchair expert will tell you, sleeping on their front is a possible risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome or cot death. This is a terrible and heart breaking phenomena with no real explanation. I wouldn’t dream of making light of it but there’s no doubt my son has taken a definite liking to sleeping in this position. Because my wife and I took to heart everything we’d read, we were frequently to be found sneaking into his room and turning him over onto his back. This advice has changed several times over the years with no firm conclusion as to what position it is safest to put your child in to sleep. Understandably my son has started to get the arse with this and who can blame him? Should anyone enter my bedroom whilst I’m asleep, and say for example, spin me up onto my head with my legs dangling in the air because the latest scientific research dictates this should be so, I might become somewhat perturbed as well.

Within minutes and with an admirable ‘fuck you’ attitude for a boy of his age, my son would spin himself back onto his front and return to sleep. After a few weeks of this we gave up. Not because we don’t care, but because truthfully you can only manage the risk to your child so much. As he gets older I’m accepting the parameters of that risk management become wider. In the first few months of his life my sons food was prepared with the same care you might approach victims of the Ebola virus. A biological suit was donned. Bottles were sterilised, boiling water was poured over everything. The three-second rule didn’t exist. If something hit the floor- dummy, spoon, my desperate hope he would sleep through an entire night- it was destroyed, placed in a biohazard bag and deposited a minimum distance of twenty three feet from the house in accordance with Department of Health regulations.

Then, gradually we stopped sterilising. His plate and cups were thrown in the bowl with the rest of the washing up. If his dummy hit the floor one of us checked it for hairs, put it in our gob and with a shrug handed it back to him.  So far nothing untoward has happened to him and so we have continued on but with each developmental stage more hazards have presented themselves. Recently he started to crawl. His progress, such is the speed with which he can now propel himself through the house and bounce off remarkably sturdy objects, is reminiscent of a competitor in ‘Takeshi’s Castle’. Stairs, cupboards, the corner of tables and on one memorable occasion, the lit candle of a birthday cake that Mummy and Daddy foolishly put in front of him before deciding that moment would be a good opportunity for both of us to turn away and get a camera, have all presented potentially dire consequences. And you thought Ryan Reynolds fucked up. The man is starting to look like parent of the month in our eyes.

Truthfully, we try our best but there is so much conflicting advice: and for advice read interference. I know books and articles on the subject of parenting mean well but if everything they said was correct I’m amazed the average baby makes it to the end of the day. For example, it is recommended not to microwave breast milk, not because it destroys nutrients- there’s little evidence to suggest this is the case- but because heating it up too much may scald your baby’s mouth! Wait a moment; so let me get this right: giving my baby scalding milk is a bad thing? And to think I was about to lend him the car keys.

I don’t want to get all Yorkshire here- and yes when my son gets an ipad for Christmas I will be reminding him that all I got for Christmas at his age was a lump of coal and that was just for Christmas dinner – but compared to how I was brought up my sons day to day routine is one wrapped in cotton wool. I was born in the seventies. My Mother is a good and loving woman but knowing that she smoked well into her twenties, past the age when I was born, I felt compelled to ask ‘Mum did you give up smoking when you were carrying me?’ Her reply ‘Mostly’ is somewhat disconcerting. Thanks Mum, I guess that means I’m ‘mostly’ okay, although my brain’s stunted development may go some way to explaining why I thought it appropriate to place a naked flame in front of a one year old.

All this is a round about way of saying what all parents know. It’s learning on the job. No instruction booklet, no guarantees. Ryan old son, don’t listen to anyone. Parenting isn’t easy and you’ve got nothing to be ashamed of.

Apart from for giving us ‘The Proposal’. Two and a half hours of my life I’m not getting back. My wife liked it though.

Daddy Day Care

Daddy day careSo after much consideration on my wife’s part and very little resistance on mine, it was decided that my time would be best served giving up work and being a full time Dad to our little boy- for the first year of his life at least.

This meant entering the exciting yet challenging arena of Daddy day care and trust me when I say this, it is not a job for the faint hearted. For a start it quickly became apparent I was to be an ethnic minority. Really, I’m not kidding. To illustrate what I mean please quickly ‘Google’ parent and baby magazines then press images. Whilst the title of many is commendably gender neutral (with a notable exception- ‘Mother and Baby’) of the first twenty magazine covers displayed, twelve show a Mother and baby, eight show just a baby and exactly zero have the image of a Father with said child. This is discouraging and yet slightly liberating. I’ve never been one of the under represented before. Straight away I have visions of me leading the beleaguered and silent minority of invisible Fathers to the steps of city hall where with fists aloft I shall highlight paternal ignorance. Granted trying to follow Martin Luther Kings inspirational ‘I have a dream’ with the slightly less punchier ‘I have a diaper’ is unlikely to have future scholars citing my work but every movement has to start somewhere.

I am exaggerating of course, I have absolutely no intention of acquiring a bad attitude, a can of spray paint and a map of the local ‘Mother’ care stores. I know it’s a slippery slope to joining ‘Fathers for Justice’ and I own neither a Batman suit nor a head for heights. Nonetheless, there is a point to be made. My schedule with my son Toby was a busy one. Monday was nursery rhyme group at the local library, Tuesday was baby sign (I’ll explain later) Wednesday was swimming, Thursday was free though was invariably taken up with pushing my son round the local supermarket and shamelessly using his innate cuteness to attract the attention of more women in an hour than I managed in over ten years of being single. Friday was baby gym. In all of these classes I was either the only Father, or possibly one of two, in which case we would always exchange sympathetic looks, not unlike two previously unacquainted death row inmates about to face the firing squad. In truth I enjoyed my weekly forays into these infant social groups but it was not without awkwardness. For a start I know the words to perhaps two nursery rhymes. These are not lyrics, until now, I have needed to refresh my memory with. I doubt most Mothers have either, but here is where they have the advantage. If as a Mother in a group of twenty women you get the words wrong, then it is likely your mistake will be swallowed up by the other voices around you: unless of course as a man you are the only one singing baritone in a room of sopranos. I can’t tell you how many times I sang- ‘One little speckled dog’ only to have all the other mothers, and I swear even my own son, look up at me with an expression that clearly said ‘You dick!’ I mean, how the hell was I supposed to know it’s about a fucking frog? Although the next line- ‘sat on a speckled log, eating the most delicious grubs’ should have been my starter for ten.

This was difficult enough when all I had to do was sing and not embarrass my child. Worse still when entering the confusing world of baby sign. To be fair it’s a terrific concept. In order to lessen the frustration of being unable to communicate what they want, it’s been found that babies can associate and indeed mimic sign language to convey their physical needs. Unfortunately its effectiveness is dependent on the baby’s dunderhead Father mastering the basic hand signals required to communicate these needs. Taking into account my already woeful knowledge of nursery rhyme lyrics I strongly suspect I have sat in the group and with desperately flapping hands communicated to my bewildered son everything from ‘Are you hungry?’ to ‘Sink the Bismarck.’ No wonder the poor sod looks confused.

Baby gym is another terrific concept- in theory. The title is slightly misleading. It’s not like I was ‘spotting’ my son on the bench press (‘Come on Toby, it’s all you! push, push, push!) but rather a custom built arena where parents are encouraged to flip, twist and catapult their children around a padded room in an attempt to build up their core strength. Again I don’t have a problem with this, other than the fact that due to my son being neither able to walk, nor barely crawl at this stage, his locomotion was generated almost entirely by me. I must have attended at least half a dozen sweating hour long classes before realizing my son was doing very little what I would call ‘gym’ work whilst Daddy was, as the phrase puts it, ‘breathing out of his arse.’ In truth I could actually warm to the concept of taking an older relative to the gym with you to do the work. I don’t suppose my Gran is likely to agree to a half hour on level twelve incline of the treadmill on my behalf but no pain no gain.

To be fair it is not the first time Toby has outsmarted me. When playing at home I sit my son on a small play mat so, should he vomit or pass any other bodily fluids it’s not onto our carpet. In order to encourage him to crawl I once placed his favourite toy at one end of the mat and him at the other. I then verbalised (not with sign language- there’s every chance he’d have left the room to get me my newspaper if I’d tried that) that he should crawl over to get it. My six month old son- and I swear I’m not making this up- then looked up at me with an expression that went somewhere beyond contempt, looked down at the mat and took hold of the edge before pulling it and his favourite toy toward him. Without moving an inch he then picked it up, examined it curiously and flipped me the bird. Actually maybe I imagined that. Or maybe he’s better at sign language than I thought.

Until next time.

Dining Out

Carry on up the KhyberSo, I intended my most recent post to be the last one about becoming a Dad. However it would appear my Son has other ideas, regularly providing me with unequal opportunity to show just how often he outsmarts me.

The good news is that Toby (my son; I haven’t taken to interjecting random peoples names into the blog just yet) has now developed a whole range of facial expressions with which to receive me. This is both heart warming and crushing at the same time: let me explain –

Such is the mechanics of newborn development, it’s thought that up to the age of eight weeks old I appear to Toby as little more than a blurry outline (who inexplicably wakes him in the middle of the night to jam a teat in his gob before wondering why he won’t go back to sleep immediately after.) Now, at twelve weeks old his recognition is improving. I am apparently now a fairly clear three dimensional being (who inexplicably wakes him in the middle of the night to jam a teat in his mouth, before wondering why he won’t go back to sleep immediately after.)

Unfortunately children – in particular babies – are not born with an innate understanding of tact. Their facial expression represents very clearly what they are thinking. When I enter the nursery, Toby’s reaction conveys a fairly narrow spectrum of apathy ranging from, ‘Oh brilliant, you’re the one with the itchy chin and halitosis, if you must pick me up don’t breath on me fat man.’ to ‘Where’s the one with the tits? Would you turn up at a friend’s house empty handed? No? Next time bring a bottle.’

Okay I don’t actually believe my Sons thought process is that of a socially aggressive host but like most parents I am forced to resort to some pretty humiliating acts to get that elusive smile. I once caught myself in the nursery mirror pulling a face at him that was as close to Disney’s Goofy as can be achieved without actually being a cartoon dog. In short I’m finding that in order to communicate with my son I have to unlock the inner child in me, which is difficult because my humour is so intrinsically wrapped in an adults body. For example, I have recently taken to reading my son bedtime stories. One of his favourite (possibly his favourite: it’s not like we’ve started discussing the merits of Tolstoy versus Tolkien) is a book called the Velveteen Rabbit. Approximately half way through the Rabbit asks, “What is real? Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick out handle?”

Yes I know I’m going to hell. I know I’m corrupting the child like innocence of a children’s story with adult smut. It’s gilding the lilly that the story also happens to be about a rabbit, but I haven’t managed to get past that line without giggling like an idiot. When I pointed this out to my wife, she glared at me with a look she reserves for people who take a microsecond longer than is necessary to pay for something at the till. It didn’t help that at the time she was preparing to breast feed Toby by putting on a nipple shield that makes her look not unlike a sado masochistic batman.

By contrast on other days I’m expected to think like an adult but from a child’s perspective. I find this hardest of all. Being half Australian, it’s likely Toby will soon be collecting air miles faster than Katie Price collects husbands and so it has been necessary to sort him out with a Passport pronto.

The problem is I was half entrusted to this task. I won’t tell you how far I got into town with Toby before realising that sitting him inside one of those photo booths might not be the best way of going about getting his passport photo. I suspect I would still be inside the booth twirling that stupid stool up to an appropriate height now had my wife not phoned to check on what I was doing. Personally I think the idea of a baby’s passport is ridiculous anyway. He’s gaining weight more rapidly than me at the moment (just) and am I really to believe that a keen eyed Australian immigration officer will be astute enough to stare at a photograph of him taken six months prior before declaring my son an imposter. I keep imagining Toby sat gamely one side of an interview table being expertly grilled during an episode of ‘Nothing to declare’. If he does, I guarantee his expression will give nothing away – other than to say ‘Where’s my milk?’

But it has to be said, my Wife and I have made progress and last week we decided to venture out alone with Toby to a restaurant for the first time. For those of you old enough to remember the movie ‘Carry on up the Khyber’ there’s a classic scene near the end where the British Officers of the Raj and their wives are forced to sit and enjoy a formal dining, apparently oblivious to the carnage going on around them during an attack by the local militia. I mention this now because it is that exact, terribly British forced indifference, to what is going on around you that is the only thing that gets you through a night out with a newborn. It started off so well. As is often the case Toby fell asleep in the car and I extracted him from the back with the same care bomb disposal units must do when removing a ticking fuse from its casing. Once successfully planted next to our table we had no sooner ordered starter and main than my son’s eyes flew open. I have now learnt that my Sons reaction to finding himself in a place he was not when unconsciousness took him is in four stages:

1. Mild surprise, conveyed by slow blinking. At this point his assessment of the situation ranges between where am I and where is my milk?

2. Mild suspicion conveyed by a flinty eyed look and slow scanning of the area. At this point his assessment of the situation ranges between who are we and where is my milk?

3. Mild irritation, conveyed by the realisation that his arms are pinned into the car seat because Mummy and Daddy couldn’t decide whether undoing his belt would risk waking him and neither was willing to take the can for it and after all we did that last time and he woke up and I told you not to; well you undo his bloody seat belt, see what happens, I’m not taking the blame: for gods sake woman can’t you just leave him alone and let him settle! So what if its not good for his back being in the car seat; going without sleep for five weeks isn’t good for us but I don’t see the little sod concerned about us.. Anyway at this point his assessment of the situation ranges between which of you is the one with tits? Where’s my milk?

4. Complete outrage, conveyed by screwed up eyes, screwed up hands, screwed up face and a massive intake of breath that, in the microsecond before he screams at a noise level similar to that of Concorde powering off the tarmac, appears to suck all the oxygen out of the room. At this point quite frankly he doesn’t give a shit. Mummy and Daddy are going to pay for not dealing with me sooner.

The time taken between stages two and three will dictate the speed at which food is consumed. This is the ‘Carry on up the Khyber’ moment, where Mummy and Daddy pretend that it’s perfectly normal to be eating food at roughly the same speed light travels and be out of the restaurant before stage 4. By the end we weren’t so much savouring our food as hurling it in the general direction of our mouths and shot -gunning our drinks like teenagers in Magaluf.
Unfortunately we failed anyway and spent the meal partaking in a little past time I call tag dining, where one of us sits inside enjoying the meal, watching the other pace up and down outside with a restless child until it’s time to come in and tag the other out.

Clearly we’re out of our depth, which leads me nicely into next week’s blog about swimming. (See what I did there? What a writer I am.) Until next time..

One man and a baby

The joy of sleeping babiesSo, fatherhood is upon me and I have learnt two things. You cannot, no matter how desperate you are at two o’clock in the morning negotiate, with a screaming one-week-old and that, contrary to what the movie Jurassic Park teaches us, it is not dinosaurs but in fact sleeping infants whose vision is based on movement. Palaeontologists will argue this fact but if you’ve ever tried to creep away from a crib, within which you have just tried to deposit a hard fought sleeping baby then you will know it to be true. It’s fair to say that I have what could be described at times as a stressful job, occasionally exposed to circumstances of a disturbing nature. I have not however yet come across anything as terrifying as standing at the nursery door and turning round to meet the cold blue steel of my sons eyes, that only moments earlier had been glued tightly shut and are now open wide, viewing me impassively with a look that says, ‘you thought you’d made it didn’t you father; so close.’

Let me state categorically that I am completely smitten with my son and from the moment he was born knew there was nothing I wouldn’t do for him. There are times however that his resemblance to an arch Bond villain is as close as can be achieved without him actually been sat up in his crib, sinisterly stroking a cat and saying ‘I’ve been expecting you father, come see what I have for you in my nappy.’

Since becoming a Dad I have developed the stealthy motion of a marine sniper, taking whole hours to creep the distance away from the foot of his crib to the open door of the nursery. I know wars that have been settled quicker. If by chance his eyes flash open in a scene reminiscent of the film Chucky, I have no choice but to freeze in mid-movement. My wife has on several occasions, after eventually noticing my absence, found me standing statue like in the middle of the nursery a cross between a Ninja and a sleep deprived Marcel Marceau as I desperately mouth to her save yourself.

I have since been told that two-week-old babies are not capable of simple emotions such as love, humour and laughter and that what we think is a smile is actually wind. I know this is not true because my son enjoys nothing better than playing a game called ‘lets scare the crap out of Daddy’ (copyright pending). This involves him late at night pretending to choke whilst asleep in his crib, precipitating Daddy’s frantic entanglement with the duvet as he catapults himself out of the bed, in the manner of someone being goosed with a cattle prod, only to find said son sound asleep with a mischievous smile spread demurely across his lips.

As mentioned previously, the NCT class for parents is deficient in mentioning a number of things and for the benefit of those about to become fathers I’d like to take the opportunity to mention them here:

1. Your child is born at a fraction of your own body weight and is slight in appearance. On being picked up he/she will appear, at first, light as a feather. Do not be fooled; after being held for anything longer than five minutes they will inexplicably gain the poundage of a Miami Dolphins line backer. Don’t be a hero and never try to style it out. Your child knows that Newton was wrong and that gravity acts five times more on a baby being held aloft by its father than on any other celestial object.

2. You think you’re being clever by removing a baby-boys used nappy then quickly putting it back because, as your friends told you, when exposed to the air, he is likely to pee. Unfortunately your boy knows this as well and can keep his powder dry, so to speak. He knows, to the second, how long it takes you to discard the old nappy, wet wipe his arse and retrieve a new one. The experience is not dissimilar to standing in front of a firing squad. Accept your fate and keep your mouth shut.

3. Midwives and other health professionals are highly trained but patently unable to agree on how best to ensure your child’s health. Advice can be conflicting, however they will all agree breast-feeding is best for your child – no argument. But fear not, contrary to what they might say if you do choose to bottle-feed your child, he/she will not become a serial killer. By contrast and despite what the NHS would have you believe, if your partner does exclusively breast feed it is no guarantee your child is destined for a Nobel prize and recognition for the saviour of humanity. At the end of the day its breast milk, not some magic fucking elixir from Hogwarts.

4. You will be told that a baby should never fall asleep with a dummy in its mouth. However, attempting to abstract it from an apparently unconscious child before he is ready is very literally tantamount to pulling the pin from a grenade. If you are so patient as to allow it to fall from his/her trembling lips before retrieving it, short of being lowered from the ceiling on a sling, mission impossible style, there is no guaranteed method by which to do so that will prevent his eyes flying open the second they feel the plastic leave their chin.

5. When feeding you only have two hands. One to hold your baby and the other to hold the bottle. It is guaranteed the second he gets a latch on you will develop an uncontrollable itch and an urge to scratch some far flung part of your body, forcing you into contortions that would have Cirque du Soleil gasping in admiration.

6. Google is both your friend and enemy. The same symptoms that describe trapped wind will, unaccountably, apply to those for Lassa fever or some obscure tropical disease not seen in this country for at least a hundred years. Hard to believe but it’s probably trapped wind.

7. If your wife does choose to express breast milk by attaching herself to a mobile milking parlour, addressing her as Buttercup in a West Country accent and bringing her a plate of grass for dinner will never be taken in the spirit it was intended.

8. Even if you have no experience of children, previously had no interest in them and really didn’t see what all the fuss was all about, you will, as I have done, fall head over heals in love with them. A sentiment I write in the hope that if my writing is ever one day recognised my Son might, when he’s old enough read this and know what he means to me.

Good luck all.

Fatherhood

Breast feedingSo, just over nine months ago I received confirmation I was to become a Dad. Since then my son has been born and I’m now typing this through eyeballs that feel like they’ve been put through the spin cycle of my washing machine.

They say nothing prepares you for being a Dad. That, however, has not stopped the NHS from trying to put together a course that does. Antenatal classes and their more expensive counterpart, the NCT course are a good idea in theory. Attempting to prepare individuals for the rigours of parenthood, they are however a minefield for fathers reluctant to be pigeonholed as responsible for the agony their spouse is about to go through. For a start, and lets be honest here, there really is very little men can usefully contribute. Patting your partner’s hand and saying ‘breathe’ whilst she attempts to pass a bowling ball sized person out of her body seems woefully inadequate. Like being reminded to duck just before a punch is thrown at your head.

What bothered me more was how inappropriate some of the lessons were. Recently I was required (for required, read ordered) by my wife to accompany her to a class on breast feeding.

“I’m sorry Dear, let me get this right, you want me to attend a class on how to breast feed our child?”

“Yes.”

(Looking down), “I can already foresee a problem with that my sweet. Possibly a couple.”

“You’re going.”

“Certainly, and perhaps after that you might come with me to the Doctors for a prostate examination. I believe they’re doing two for one.”

“Don’t get smart with me.”

If there is anything more ridiculous than holding a plastic doll to my chest pretending to let it suckle, then I don’t know what it is but alas that, along with seven other dutifully expectant fathers, was what I was to find myself doing shortly after.

Afterwards all the couples were asked to pour over a tabletop selection of photographs showing bare chested women from around the world breastfeeding their children. We were then asked to select a picture and sit in a circle before telling everyone else why we enjoyed that picture so much.

I started to sweat. Having a man decide, in front of his wife, which picture of a woman’s breasts he likes the most is like asking which mine in a minefield he’d like to have blow his legs off. Furthermore being asked why I like that picture so much seemed tantamount to marital suicide. This is where it is important to choose your

audience. Down the pub with your mates: stock reply ‐ ‘because she’s got great tits’‐ fine. In an antenatal class ‐ not so good.

Later on we were shown a cutaway diagram of the female form during pregnancy. We were then given a selection of magnetic stickers upon which were written the names of various organs, to be correctly located on the diagram: a sort of grim anatomical game of pin the tail on the donkey.

As mentioned previously I have a vaguely scientific background so when as a group we were asked to call out where we thought each one went, modesty forbids, but I was not found wanting. I regret however attempting to add some levity to the proceedings when upon being asked ‘What is the Fundus?’ I replied ‘I don’t know but they make great crispy pancakes.’ The look I received from my wife sat on the other side of the room is one I shan’t forget. Like I said choose your audience.

At quite an early stage of pregnancy the midwife asked me if, when my child is born, would I like to cut the umbilical chord? My reply of ‘not really’ was met with something of shock. How could I pass up such an opportunity? What kind of father was I going to be? Perhaps child services should be informed. I really don’t understand this and maybe it’s the Yorkshire grump in me but I fail to see how the severing of an anatomically defunct piece of equipment is such a momentous occasion. I have in the past had the misfortune of having my wisdom teeth removed and never felt the need to ask the dentist if I might have the honour of wrenching them out myself.

As we neared the due date it became apparent we were going to need a whole new catalogue of equipment. Having never really paid attention to the baby section of John Lewis, I found our visit exasperating. If you’re already a parent you will be aware of the bewildering array not to mention cost of some buggies on the market. The one we (my wife) eventually decided on was over a thousand pounds. For that price I expect to be able to travel in it myself.

The problem is that babies require a wide range of transport options. In the car a specially designed seat is necessary. One that offers side impact protection and air bags but that holds them so tightly as to cripple them if they stay in it beyond two hours (a bit like flying economy). So once they reach their destination they must be transferred to a much roomier pram that they can lie flat in. However beyond six months they are likely to outgrow it and require a more upright pushchair type device. If, like us, you have a hyperactive Springer spaniel that needs walking and no relatives to drop ‘said’ baby off with, you will need something more off‐road. This means abandoning the pram and depositing your offspring in a baby carrier, a sort of front facing rucksack that when modelled in the store affords you no dignity whatsoever. My suggestion that it might be less hassle just to hire a fucking Sedan Chair and a couple of porters did not go down well. The end result is that a day out in the car with my son is reminiscent of Apollo 13’s progress through the stratosphere, shedding one transportation capsule after another until all you’re left with is a frayed temper and a wife who doesn’t appreciate sarcasm.

And on that note I’ll sign off before I fall asleep at the keyb…