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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    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

    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“.

    Fingered

    I am injured. Not seriously, but my pride is dented and my finger is a bit squished.

    I have been working on the house for the last couple of weeks using a variety of deadly tools such as hand saws, chisels and powered rip saws, some of which could remove limbs faster than Louise can demolish a packet of Cadbury’s chocolate fingers. I have done this without injury, apart from a couple of splinters which I took like a man and dug out with a blunt Stanley knife.

    Today we reached a point where it was worth doing a bit of a clean-up as most of the very messy work is completed (apart from the birth, of course) and it was becoming difficult to locate objects such as the telephone under the thick layer of dust. As Louise is now in a very delicate (and large) condition, I grasped the Dyson (note the trendy, modern language use – no old fashioned Hoovers in this house) and proceeded to clean up our act. I noticed that the kitchen door was still open and reached out with one hand to close it, but managed to close my finger in the door. And it hurt. A lot.

    Normally I’m not one to make a fuss, but I have to admit this had me howling like a banshee. I think it must have hurt more than childbirth, from what I’ve observed. I’ll leave the cleaning to Louise from now on (and the childbirth).

    Changing rooms

    I’ve decided to make another room in our mansion habitable as it just occurred to me that we need somewhere to put the new baby. That will leave just 3 derelict rooms to renovate.

    The process starts with the renovation of a vacant boxroom upstairs, earmarked for future use as the bathroom, which will temporarily become my office. Step two requires minor refurbishment of the basement room which was my office and the transfer of the kitchen facilities to this room. The baby is to go into the room adjacent to our bedroom which was formerly the kitchen. This room requires replastering, a new floor and decorating. Got all that?

    Did I mention that the baby arrives in about 6 weeks? What I need is a visit from one of those TV lot who could blitz the whole thing in an afternoon.

    If you see a dust cloud wander into The Port, get me a pint will you.

    Cooking with gas

    We just had a gas meter fitted. Nothing astounding about that I suppose, but for us it’s a big step after 8 years. You need a gas meter to run a gas boiler, and you need a gas boiler for CENTRAL HEATING! I just can’t stress how many Brownie points this is going to earn me.

    The most amazing thing is that it actually happened this morning at all. How many times in this country do people take a half day, or even a whole day, off work to wait for the gas/electricity/BT/Telewest/delivery man to arrive and they don’t. Or they arrive at 12.59 (they were due between 8am and 1pm) just as you’re supposed to get back to work. And they never have the parts. So the whole process needs to be repeated 3 weeks later (because that’s the earliest they can come back). Or, in a moment of desperation for a cup of coffee, you nip to the corner shop for 2 minutes for some milk only to return to find the card through the letterbox. Bastards! They were sitting outside watching and waiting!

    Not this morning. There we were lying in bed at 8.00am wondering how many seconds more we could stay there before jetting the bairn off to school when Louise said, out of the blue, “I can smell gas“. Now trust me, there is no shortage of gas in our bedroom on an average morning but it doesn’t normally get commented on any more. No, this was a different type of gas. Just a faint odour somewhere in the distance. “Must be your imagination because the gas man is coming” I said, hopefully. “I suppose so” she replied. I got up, threw on some clothes for the school run and walked into the hall.

    I just couldn’t believe it as I spotted the card on the doormat. Ten minutes past eight and they’ve already been, shoved a card through the letterbox and buggered off. Presumably because the blinds were still drawn. But no, wait. Lying next to the card is a small yellow key: a gas cabinet key. The unthinkable has happened. They’ve turned up at the crack of dawn, tiptoed down the outside steps to the basement, silently fitted the meter and slipped away into the morning traffic without a sound. Absolutely unbelievable!

    And the craziest thing is, that wife of mine smelt them from 40 feet away.