Tuesday, 30 December 2008

The Year's End

December 31 is fast approaching and it surely is the time to look back at 2008. But I'm not going to do so since I am not in that kind of mood.

The raison d'etre of the blog is upon us. From Sunday I'll be back at the Guardian and resuming the weekly commute for a couple of days in London. My how it's been wonderful spending more time with my family. But even the bestest things must come to an end.

There have been many changes at the Guardian since I went off last December - the biggest is that it has moved home and is now nearer St Pancras International.

It is kind of the GMEN group to aid my weekly journeys thus. All that cash spent on a huge shunt and I can step off the train and into the office.

I do prefer a bit of separation but that's no longer the issue.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

The Cold

Holy Yuletide. A Batman DVD ended up in the Christmas stocking. It has left the girls quizzical and the boy intrigued. As it is Batman from the 1960s/70s with Adam West and Burt Ward - the live action version, it brings back happy memories for me. And as for the children, they know no better.

It was given an airing on Boxing Day after a Christmas walk around a neighbouring village left us all freezing. But we were all more alert afterwards. I read in the paper that a 50 minute walk in the countryside leaves you sharper than a 50 minute trudge in the city.

Apparantly the brain is better off as it can relax amid the bucolic splendour. Whatever.

I feel I'd get the niceties of Batman and Robin after any old trek.

Of late Batman on the small screen has tended to concentrate on the dark edgy side of his personality rather than the 60s take of the camped crusader. I suppose I grew up with the colourful rendition.

It was an appropriate present as Eartha Kitt died over Christmas and I seem to remember she turned up once or twice as Catwoman.

Purrfect tribute.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

The Voyage Home

I was expecting the worst. A Eurostar from Paris two days before Christmas. The prospect left me feeling queasy but the truth was much merrier.

French and British immigration were a breeze and I headed for the Frequent Traveller lounge without the drudge of queues.

This was travelling. London for Christmas.

I have been low of late. I was without lustre. And then I entered into the vortex of morosity. I was trying to work out why I was feeling low and the energy I needed to do this was preventing me from reenergising my usual sheen.

Eventually I stopped attempting to discover why I was down and - to be Anglo Saxon about it - just got on with it.

Wonderful how institutionalised concepts can be the making of you.

Now that I am malinger free, I am getting on with it in London.

Surged up to Highgate Village this morning to buy a few things before we go on the Christmas wheel of eating and visiting.

God bless Cafe Nero for they have wi-fi and a loyalty card. Sadly they also have music oozing out of the speakers which is neither soothing nor festive.

I am tempted to dip into the itunes to drown it out. In fact I will dip into the itunes and drown it out. That's better. Now there's a cacophony of sounds. The kind of thing that can do your head in.

At one point during the low time I realised that I hadn't seen an episode of Star Trek for ages. I haven't had the VCR repaired since the boy did something to it. And all copies of the original series with Captain Kirk and Mr Spock are on video.

In low times of yore I have always been able to slip in an old episode and after the Romulans have been right royally outmanoeuvred, I've felt a lot better.

But without the sci-fi morality tales......

I read that due to the worldwide meltdown, zavi-the records and books discount store - is slashing big money off its hyper slashed prices. Now if this global credit crunch means a cheaper boxed DVD set of Star Trek.....

I'll be boldly going shopping.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

The Favourite

The middle child put on her insipid voice and said that I preferred the boy to her and her big sister.

"Now why would that be?" I replied. "is if something to do with the gale of kisses and hugs I get from him? Or the unashamed joy he takes in saying daddy?

"How could I prefer him?" I asked.

And indeed why would I prefer him? He has been a constant source of trouble since his arrival. There have been trips to the physio to repair dodgily aligned legs. There's been a trip to the chest expert to make sure his sternum is properly aligned and there have been numerous outings to the doctor for his ear infections.

Indeed there is another journey coming up in January to make sure that everything is alright with his ears. So prefer I don't think so. More like preoccupy.

Nevertheless I was outraged that medium sweetie should say such a thing especially when she has reigned supreme as the cuddle queen.

The other night she didn't heed her mother's warning to go to the toilet before bedtime. At a certain point during the night, there was a middle daughter amid a flooded bed. Irate mother was muttering and then just as that brouhaha died down, the boy woke up wailing and pointing to his mouth.

At around 5.30am, I had middle and final child in the kitchen having a very early breakfast and me doing likewise in sympathy.

I sent middle chidl back to the main bed - since hers was waterlogged - and as I knew that the boy was unlikely to follow suit back to his own bed I set me and him up on the sofa with a cartoon DVD.

Preferential treatment? Perish the thought.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

The Post Mortem

Clearly there's something amiss when you have a post mortem without the build-up.

But something got in the way of the final final countdown - so to speak. It is called a boy going to bed. The latest wheeze is to make him think that everyone else is going to bed. We do this by everybody else going to bed.

The simplicity is profound.

It all reminds me a bit of boarding school with lights out at 9.30pm. At that time it was the parents who paid for that kind of institutionalised deprivation. Now, as a parent, I can relive those days of gruel without having to fork out.

Only it's not my idea of adult life to be going to bed slap bang in the middle of the evening.

But voilĂ .

The football match over which I have been obsessing took place. And it was all rather dramatic. It was first versus second and first won. I would like to think that I had an effect on the result but I have to be honest and say that I entered the fray when we were leading 2-1 and we won 2-1.

I assisted the status quo.

The good thing was that I emerged without messing up the calf. Had a 45 minute run out as they say in the newspapers and it's all guns blazing for the Christmas break.

It was pleasing to be help out and to win and not to exacerbate the calf.

So hooray for yoga. Hooray for the swimming pool. Hooray for the cycling and hooray for the opposition not being able to score an equaliser.

We go into the Christmas break as leaders.

That there's fuel for a good yule.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

The Countdown - 2

Of course this could be the countdown to the big game in Spain - Barcelona v Real Madrid. Or Juventus v AC Milan in Italy. But in fact it's only a few days before I hit the pitch.

Went to yoga tonight to calm my nerves and give the calf a run-out so to speak. Different teacher - different stretches. But the result is to be seen.

One of my team mates, who works at the radio station, told me that it was a 3-2 win on Saturday. So going into the last game before the New Year we are top of the league.

So no pressure there. I told my team mate Joseph that I was happy to hang around on the sidelines on Saturday waiting in the wings should someone get injured.

Now that's what I call a team player.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

The Countdown - 5

Quite how days off pass so quickly I'll never know. Spent bits of it reading the book. Decided to skip the chapter on rape. I just could not deal with it. Am on to the section on children.

I'm trying to gain as much from this as possible. Perhaps I should have just gone straight to this chapter rather than wade through the rest of the stuff. I have not really remembered all that much. But it is a good read.

Maybe I've forgotten how to assimilate information.

Nothing wrong with my powers of awareness. I was awake at 5.15am and was listening to the World Service and there was a feature about a conference in Wales about how sport can give a region identity within a larger whole.

There was someone from the Kurdistan High Commission and the Kurdistan sports minister talking.

My head clicked and thought feature for the weekend. I am on to the PR people and the participants should be mine. There's someone from Kosovan basketball federation at this beano too.

Could make for an interesting feature.

At moments like this being up at 5.30 in the morning has its benefits. It's just that by 9.30 at night it's been a long day.

Having come through my tennis lesson unscathed I will wait and see how the calf reacts before starting to psyche myself up for Saturday's run out with the football team.

Am already getting into the mood for Saturday by watching Roma v Bordeaux on TF1. It's nil nil at half-time. And all the adverts are for after-shaves and razors.

Anyway Bordeaux need to win to advance. Roma merely have to draw. Should be a good second half but my eyelids are heavy.

Monday, 8 December 2008

The Countdown

And then it was suddenly time to rethink the return. Not that my entire life has been a waiting game till I pick up a tennis racquet or done the shinpads. But actually my life has been an entire waiting game....

The weekend was a mixture of parties and parenting. Party one to fete three people being taken on full time at the radio station. In these days of global meltdown and wars on terror this could be construed as a positive thing but actually we've been working short staffed since a few people left a few years ago.

Effectively it feels as if we've got new people but not at all. It's not more it's the same as it was.

I have also given myself a Sunday deadline to finish reading Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate. The book belongs to a friend of mine and I've had it in the flat probably since those people left the radio station a few years ago.

As we're going to see Renaud and his missus on Sunday this seems the right time to give it back. His lady is throwing her annual Santa Lucia sing song. This is where they put candles on their head and sing lovely songs. Oh those wild Swedes. Better than wild turnips I guess.

But I was being slow with Pinker's treatise. It took me something like three weeks to read four pages and now I'm racing through it.

I figure if I overdo it on the reading I'll take it easy tomorrow at the tennis lesson and - if I get through that - calmly during Saturday's match.

Remember Christmas is approaching and we need to be mobile. Not mopey.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

The Presents

One of the great things about the radio station is that they dish out Christmas presents for the children.

The choices have been in the main quite interesting. Last year I got massive hugs of gratitude when an MP3 players winged its way to the eldest.

And it has helped me too. Since its introduction into our lives I've learned how to go into the Itunes library on my computer and turn the songs there into tracks that are compatible with the MP3 player.

Not something I would ever have seen myself mastering. But when there's a 9 year old breathing down your shoulder, I guess you have to show dynamism.

This year's present isn't quite as seductive. Me and the missus chose a belt. It looks slightly combat ready but it is a dogfight out there.

The middle one got some memory/observation game. This in retrospect is a bad move as she only occasionally remembers to land on this planet.

But when she walks among us, she should enjoy it. The boy will eventually get a toy which makes noise.

Hopefully he'll play with it on Saturday mornings when I'm out playing football.