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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    It’s a girl!

    A beautiful, healthy girl, 7lbs 6oz, born on Thursday 17th March at 23.44 (St Patrick’s Day – just).

    Mother and baby doing just fine.

    More later.

    Confinement day

    It’s today.

    Well, it’s supposed to be today but nothing so far, other than a couple of wee cramps and a fart or two. I can’t believe it’s come around so quickly. It seems like only yesterday that she was holding the pregnancy test behind her back, looking me in the eye and saying “Promise you won’t be mad at me? I’ve got something to tell you.” I wasn’t mad at her of course and she knew I wouldn’t be.

    Work has been progressing but not as quickly as I’d have liked. I have a new office. We have a new kitchen. We have an empty shell where the baby’s room is to be but it won’t take long to sort out and we’ll put the cot in our room for the first few weeks.

    Louise has ventured out of the house this morning to meet a friend, but she’ll no doubt be back shortly to rest again: it must be unimaginably tiring to carry around 9lbs of living, feeding child inside of you. And no, I don’t think my beer gut comes anywhere close.

    And so we wait, expectantly.

    Four for a boy

    Today I am a plumber. I have to connect water pipes to the new kitchen and finish the waste connection for the sink. That should enable me to finish stripping the baby’s room ready for a new floor and replastering at the weekend. I’ll only be the plasterer’s mate though, as plastering is very tricky. I am a dab hand at getting plastered, but not at putting the stuff on walls.

    There are now only 18 days to go until the new room will have it’s wee occupant. Well, 18 give or take a week or two (eek! – take away 2 weeks = Monday: try not to think about it…). Louise and I are traditionally late for everything. Even Alice had to be forcibly evicted from the womb when she outstayed her welcome. Here’s hoping that the new addition to the family doesn’t decide to buck the trend or he will find himself discovering the joys of emulsion painting along side the breastfeeding.

    There I go again; ‘he’, ‘himself’. “Do you want a boy or a girl?” Louise recently asked me, expectantly (via). I really don’t mind, although I admit I do keep making male references. I didn’t consciously decide that it’s going to be a boy, my subconscious just seems to have made up it’s own mind. Oh, and I saw four magpies together in a field a few weeks ago (four for a boy). So, it’ll be a girl then.

    Many hands

    I am sitting down here in my office listening to the sound of Dyson upstairs. I realise that leaving an eight-month pregnant woman to do the cleaning may seem a little unfair, however I simply cannot risk further serious injury with so much ‘man’s work’ still to be done. Yes, the finger is much better now, thank you. Lucky it was my left hand otherwise I may have been unable to raise a pint glass without discomfort.

    Today I’m stopping the building work for a few days and concentrating on the backlog of web development work which I’ve been putting-off so we may have a half-chance of paying some bills next month. Plus I’m getting builder’s hands and I keep scratching Louise’s belly every time I’m trying to feel the baby moving. Moreover, with only 5 weeks to go today, things are getting decidedly tight.

    So, I’ve decided to contact Professor Ian Wilmut, as I see he’s about to be granted a licence to clone humans and I thought he might consider starting with me. I need four copies: one for building work on the house & Louise’s flat, one for web development, one for looking after the kids and one for catching up on my paperwork. That leaves the original (me) for the recreational stuff. I need them in about 2 days but I know it can be done because I’ve seen it in “The 6th Day“.

    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.

    Testing time

    I guess we’re over the main hurdle. It was a bit like watching the ball bouncing around in a spinning roulette wheel for the first 48 hours, not wanting that ball to land on the wrong number. But, touch wood, there has been no physical reaction to the test and we just had the important phone call: the initial tests (Down syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome & Patau’s syndrome) are all negative. There’s still a follow up phone call next week which will give us additional results for muscular dystrophy, haemophilia, cystic fibrosis, spina bifida and other genetic disorders as well, but it was Down syndrome which was the highest risk.

    Back to Tuesday. I could sense Louise getting a bit edgy on the way to the hospital. The nausea she’s had for the last couple of months was returning as I wound my way along the backroads to the new Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. I’m on a death sentence if I take the same route in 5 months time when she’s in labour. We didn’t have long to wait by NHS standards: just a mere 20 minutes past the appointment time and we were shown through to one of the consulting rooms, Louise clutching a banana which wouldn’t fit in the miniscule handbag she’d chosen. The cravings seem to have moved from soup to bananas recently.

    The test itself wasn’t without incident. I have to admit I didn’t watch, only on the scanner. I’ve logged a few hours in delivery rooms in my time and even had a damn good look inside when Louise had a caesarian for the delivery of Alice, but the thought of a 3 inch long needle being stuck straight into her belly was a no-go. A few seconds and it was all over: just a blood sample to take and an injection for Rhesus negative antibodies or something. In went the second needle and out went Louise. Like a light. When she came round she was on the floor with her head on a pillow looking up at us, still clutching the banana. I had to admire the midwife’s forthright approach as she then rolled Louise into the recovery position and jabbed the third needle into her backside. Next appointment waiting outside I suppose.

    Unfortunately, because of the falling down nature of passing out, the blood test needle had been tugged out of her arm and Louise bled all over her top. We drew some anxious glances from the other expectant mothers in the waiting room as I helped her out to the car. The journey home, by the less winding route of course, was briefly interrupted while she threw up out of the car door into the bus lane. Back at the house I tucked her into bed with a cup of tea where she stayed for the next 24 hours.

    Congratulations to my good friend Peter who this afternoon won the much coveted Scottish Bingo Caller of the Year competition in East Kilbride. He even managed to get interviewed on Scottish TV at 6.00pm this evening – just like the MTV awards. The only problem is that this could all lead to a grand final in Las Vegas and Peter resolutely refuses to fly in them there new-fangled flying machines. Answers to his dilema on a post card to Naked Blog.

    What’s in a name?

    A few references to names were made last week. One evening in The Port there was a brief chat about an unusual spelling of a name, about the same time Diamond Geezer wrote about the Government’s statistics for names and Louise came home with a new book: ‘40,001 Best Baby Names’. Incidentaly, was it really so difficult to drop just one of the published names to round the figure off? I mean, why 40,001 for goodness sake? Was the book going to print when the author realised their own name was missing?

    Anyway, two mornings running I awoke to find Louise scanning the pages of this vast directory, only to face a barage of questions. “How about A….? What about B….? What do you think of C…..? Oh, isn’t D….. lovely?”. I found myself not really wanting to join in with the excitement of choosing a name yet.

    I’m obviously not a newcomer to the emotions associated with offspring but I’m finding it quite difficult this time. Louise is now 40 years old and it is a statistical fact that the incidence of birth defects such as Down syndrome have a much elevated risk now. We have discussed it at great length with the Obstetrician and between ourselves, and it’s Louise’s decision (and my preferred choice also) to have an amniocentesis test. For those who are unaware, this test involves the extraction of some amniotic fluid from around the baby by a large needle inserted through the abdomen. This allows the baby’s chromosomes to be analysed, and it will show if various abnormalities exist. It also carries a risk of miscarriage, or, more accurately, it can induce early (fatal) labour.

    It was a difficult decision to make: trying to seperate emotion from cold, statistical fact. Trying to balance selfishness (I don’t want to spend all my remaining years looking after a child with Down syndrome) with the rights of the unborn child (this is, after all, risking the childs life, probably a perfectly healthy child). But the decision is made and it happens this Tuesday.

    About one time in 200 the test itself will cause the loss of the baby. About one baby in a hundred has Down syndrome when a woman reaches 40. So, statistically, we don’t have a lot to worry about. I just don’t want to get too emotionally attached until it’s over.

    Middle years

    I slipped quietly into middle age on Tuesday as my 45th came and went. Well 45 is the start of the “middle years”, isn’t it? I did a quick Google and discovered that the US Census Bureau defines middle age as 45 to 64. So it’s official. Unless you believe the definition of middle age for a man is when his prostate is bigger than his brain.

    Middle age brings us a greater awareness of our own mortality. The beginning of a realisation that time is starting to run out, and at an accelerating rate. I love the analogy of the roll of toilet paper where each sheet represents a year. At first it never seems to get any smaller, but just watch how fast that last third of the roll dissappears! Softer, stronger, longer: we hope.

    No mid-life crisis here though. No looking back with regrets at what might have been or what’s passed me by. Middle age is a time to reflect on our collection of life experiences, to realise the worth of our acquired wisdom and insight. To appreciate what we’ve got. If I could just stop turning into Victor Meldrew.

    As a family we are experiencing the full cycle of life all at once just now. Louise received the devastating news last week that her father’s illness is terminal. Of course, they won’t commit to stating how long remains, only that it can’t be cured, that he will die of it. What mixed emotions she must have struggled with today as we both watched our unborn baby turn in her womb and seemingly wave a hand at us on the scanner. Her hope is that her father will hold that child.