About Me

I was born in Luton, known for hat making, Vauxhall cars, London Luton Airport and a great football team who once beat Arsenal at Wembley in a Cup Final, currently languishing in non-league football for the 4th season. I moved to Edinburgh in 1990 and now live in Leith, Edinburgh's 'waterfront'.

Married for 24 years to Louise (who is on day release from Fife), I have 4 children: Holly (aged 28) who's studying medicine at Dundee University, William (aged 26) at the Army Foundation College, Harrogate, Alice (aged 23) and Maddie (aged 16).

We live in a 226 year old Georgian house which we are slowly renovating. We once had a note from an artist posted through the letterbox asking if our semi-derelict house was available to rent as studio space. Things have improved lately; the stonework has been repaired and we have shiny new railings. Just the inside to do now then.

Current CNPS score: 999

Header Image: Richard Bloomfield

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    “Come on, get to sleep now, you’ve got school in the morning and it’s very late”.  Maddie is offering her usual resistance to the bed time routine.  A movement catches my eye.  I turn towards the door and there is Guy, trying to sneak in so he can sleep in the girls room.  He stands motionless,   knowing he’s been spotted but still waiting for the confrontation.  “Out!”,  I shout, pointing back towards the landing.  He miaows defiantly and stares at me, standing his ground.  “Out!!”, I repeat, and this time he turns and walks slowly back out of the room, turning his head to briefly give me that ‘look’.

    I sit to watch some TV, attempting to eat a stir fry with a tongue and lip still numb from the dentist’s anaesthetic.  Thankfully Guy isn’t in the room or he’d be trying to climb all over me for attention and I’m just not in the mood.  The football ends and I watch some news but the anaesthetic has made me sleepy so I head off for an early night.

    Now, where’s that damn cat.  He’s not in his bed.  I check the girls room and disturb Alice but he’s not in there.  I check our room, he’s not in there.  I check the sitting room windowsill to see if he managed to sneak outside and is waiting to be let in but he’s not there either.  I feel uneasy not finding him but I go to bed;  serves him right if he has to stay out all night, he shouldn’t have gone out this late.

    I wake with a start.  A bleary eye tries to focus on the clock. 12.45, who the hell is that at the door?  I decide to ignore it but as my brain slowly rises from sleep I begin to wonder if it might be Roland on his way in from the pub, knocking to let us know that Guy is outside.  I wander down the hall and peer through to spy hole.  Nobody there.  Into the sitting room to check the windowsill again, see if Guy is there.  Nothing.  I go back to bed.

    Moments later, my mobile rings.  Robin.  What does he want at this hour, come to think of it wasn’t that Robin wandering across the road back towards the pub as I looked out of the window just now?  I answer the call.  “Tony. I’m sorry mate, I think I’ve got some bad news… ”   I dress quickly.

    Walking slowly towards the three figures standing over the dark shape lying in the gutter I pray it isn’t Guy, that he will come bounding over to me any moment.  As I get closer, the reality sinks in, with each step I can see more clearly.  My heart lets go of hope and crashes to the ground.

    Rest in peace, Guy.  You were truly special.


    Jack of all trades

    Sitting here stressing out over the astonishing level of poverty we are currently facing, I couldn’t help thinking about how I ended up here. I’m actually pretty good at most things I do (apart from dancing) and therein lies the problem. I think I’m suffering from terminal perfectionism. But that’s perfectionism from my perspective, i.e. not very objective. Everything I do takes too long because I can’t just ‘let it go’, I have to get it ‘just so’. The thought of paying good money to someone to do a half-arsed job just makes me cringe. So, in reality, very little gets done. What does get done gets done pretty well, but there just isn’t enough time. I really, really, need to learn to delegate, to let go.

    This problem is part-and-parcel of working for yourself. Quite apart from the discipline issues of only having to answer to yourself if you go to the pub at lunchtime or take a day off at the drop of a hat, you just have too much freedom to take everything on yourself. It’s far too easy to work on the house for a day or, as is the case just now, to think you can take on childcare rather than paying hard-earned cash to a nursery.

    At times I look at workaholic fathers with their fat wallets with envy: other times I pity them for what they miss with their children. Those precious moments I have with Maddie while looking after her when she does something new and amazing, fleeting moments in her development which are utterly unique. All-in-all, this current poverty is a small price to pay.

    The sperm donor

    The last week or so I have been very lackadaisical (that’s such an odd word when you come to write it, isn’t it) about my appearance and personal hygeine: it helps me get into full builder-mode if I don’t wash and shave. It’s a bit like being an actor when you have an activity portfolio as large as mine: it helps you get into character. William even laughed at me a couple of days ago having noticed my builder’s bum (you know, a half-moon, arse cleavage while bending over).

    Fortunately, I had to don my Leith Festival hat today and visit one of the UK’s top design agencies for a meeting. This involved a haircut (hair used in the singular in it’s literal form), a shave, shower and suit, and replacing The Sun in the back of my briefs with The Guardian in my briefcase. A successful meeting was followed by the *inevitable visit to The Port O’Leith Bar where I chanced upon Wooly Dave the photographer.

    Somehow (probably as we were chatting about poverty and the fact that I am to be a father again at any moment), we ventured onto the subject of sperm donation. It must have been because of the high-powered marketing meeting I’d just attended, but I couldn’t help thinking that sperm donation must be one of the most poorly marketed activities there is. I was listening to an item on Radio 4 the other day on the very same subject and apparently there is a grave shortage of donors. How can that be? I mean, come on guys, they pay you to wank! How hard a sell is that? It’s hardly work, is it? I don’t know about you, but I’d even be happy to throw in the odd freebie now and again, out of sheer love of the job.

    Anyway, Dave pointed out that new legislation means that there’s no longer anonimity for a donor: the fruits of your labour could come looking for you in the future, curious to meet Daddy. How would you explain that one to them? And of course, the way this government is going, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Child Support Agency came after you too. Every silver lining has it’s cloud.

    *Lightbulb syndrome:

    Q: How many men does it take to change a light bulb? A: Six. One to change the bulb and five to congratulate him down the pub afterwards

    Blind rage

    Ok, I’ve got a sick sense of humour. I admit it.

    I just read this about a blind man in Edinburgh who allegedly bit his guide dog. And boy, is he in trouble. But, aren’t we just jumping to conclusions here? I mean, he is blind, how do we know he just didn’t make a mistake while eating a kebab or something? Has anyone asked him?

    As usual everyone jumps into a rage at the first hint of mistreatment of an animal. Come on, give the guy a break, he is blind you know. It’s a bit much to take his dog away without fully investigating first.

    Apparently, “If a dog is confiscated from a blind person, the Association can train the owner to use long white sticks instead.” So don’t be surprised if you get clouted round the head on your way home by a white stick wielding maniac after you’ve just helped him across the road. (allegedly).

    TV stars

    Alice and I have been on TV daily since 17th January, starring in the Northlink Ferries ad which was made back in August. You did spot us, didn’t you? Yes, that’s me crossing the background in the reception scene (50 milliseconds) and Alice in the bunk in the cabin scene (0.5 seconds).

    I mention this just in case you missed us because tomorrow is your last chance. The final ad’s appear as follows:

    ITV Scottish – ITV News – 18:58
    ITV Scottish – Coronation Street – 20:45

    I’m sure I’ll get a singing part next time.

    UPDATE: OK, so the schedule they sent me wasn’t complete. The ad is still running, in fact I saw it about 5 times yesterday. I hope we don’t get overexposed, we could get typecast.

    Karaoke king

    Louise has never been slow to launch herself into karaoke with unbridled enthusiasm whenever the opportunity has arisen. She has even been known to win prizes, although I’m fairly certain that this was merely a device to cut short her participation in the event, before the bar emptied completely.

    I have a more reserved approach as I do not think it fair to hijack these occasions with such a perfect singing voice. This would undoubtedly intimidate the other participants and spoil their enjoyment, so I make the sacrifice and sit quietly in the corner with my Guinness.

    Imagine my joy when Louise brought home a PlayStation Karaoke game which she borrowed for the weekend. Now I had the opportunity to show my talents to the family in the privacy of our own home. I should add that this game is not like the simple pub or party karaoke machines: this actually listens to the singing and scores you on the quality of your effort. There are two microphones so naturally this becomes a competitive situation.

    I chose A Little Time by The Beautiful South which I sang as a duet with Holly. Unfortunately, promising though the game had seemed initially, it soon became apparent that the technology was not up to the job as it consistently failed to score my efforts correctly. It would appear that the mathematical equations used to analyse the inputs are biased towards the female voice, as all the girls and William (whose voice is yet to break) achieved record breaking scores, while I was marked “tone deaf“.

    Our PlayStation 2 is quite old now (we bought it when they first came out) so maybe it’s faulty. Yes, that must be it.

    Sick as a parrot

    Of course, one advantage of Louise starting a blog is that I may be able to engineer one or two extra minutes to update mine occassionaly without living in fear of being yelled at. If she’s got the time to update hers then I’ve got time to update mine.

    Incidentally, I didn’t mention that Louise asked for some proper, professional chefs knives for Christmas. I did get them for her but only after hours of deliberation, worrying about the real reason she wanted them. I’m sleeping better now, even managing to close both eyes, as her hormones appear to have settled a bit and the knives have had that clinical, surgical sharpness blunted ever so slightly.

    A couple of news items caught my eye this morning. Firstly, why was so much BBC Breakfast air time given over to that ocean liner with engine trouble? They even had a roving reporter on the dockside and filmed a passenger waving at the camera while talking to them on a mobile. Why is anyone interested in this? What about all the cars which wouldn’t start this morning, where was the coverage of that? Why don’t they do an hour long special following an AA van to Mr Jones’ flat battery? We’d all be glued. I’ll tell you why. It’s because some of the cruise tickets cost £40,000 a head and we all like a good laugh at other people’s expense. Especially rich people. By the way, how come we can build a space ship and send it a billion miles to a distant moon, land it safely and get the holiday snaps but we can’t get a cruise ship further than the Isle of Wight? It’s a funny old world.

    Closer to home, did you see the item on sickness benefit? One in twelve Scots is too ill or disabled to get a job. One in three people in Glasgow is deemed ‘economically inactive’, one in five in Edinburgh. Don’t you find this figure shocking? Obviously there are genuinely ill and disabled people out there deserving benefits, but it is also fact that it’s quite easy to get signed onto disability allowance through drinking and spend your days in the pub. All that benefit goes on fags and beer, straight back into the Chancellors pocket. And they’re going to open pubs 24 hours now? There has to be a better way.

    Go go gadget

    What a busy month (where’s it gone!), mainly sorting out the server problems, but I’m pleased to report that everything is ticking over nicely again (famous last words!). By the way, we did get a real tree in the end thanks to Frank’n’Steph who bought me a prize specimen 8 footer for Christmas. All good things come to those that moan enough.

    I have to mention the gadgets which Santa brought me – a new Wireless Broadband Router (I can see you turning green) and a Wireless Music Player (a Netgear MP101 to be precise). This is basically an MP3 player which you sit on your HiFi in the living room and it connects to the wireless network in the house. You can then search through all your music using the remote control and this is delivered over the network from your PC to the player. Time to pack away all the CD’s then. It’s a bit flaky to get started: you often need to reboot and manually find the network and music server when you first start it up, but once it’s running it’s the mutts nuts. I even think that Louise might manage to work it.

    Talking of Louise, there are ONLY 7 WEEKS TO GO! And we still haven’t decided on a name. How can it only be 7 weeks? I’m sure this has been the shortest pregnancy in history. She’s started a blog by the way, so now you can read all about the aches and pains, the piles, the constant peeing and the useless husband straight from the horse’s mouth. I bet you can’t wait for the full report on the birth.