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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    On Friday Louise and I got a rare night out, sans enfants, courtesy of my ex and Holly & William’s mother, Clare, who kindly invited Alice to stay at her house for the night.

    We went for a meal at The Smokestack (Leith branch) with Frank’n’Steph. I had the burger with spicy red onion, jacket potato with garlic butter and roquefort side salad. Good, basic food cooked perfectly and the no-smoking area is a separate room so it really is smoke free. Unfortunately, the meal was followed by an early night as Frank and I were both falling asleep at the table. The night before, we’d done our duty as Leith ambassadors and shown Japanese friend Mee the delights of The Port O’Leith Bar, followed by the free buffet in the local casino.

    Mee left for Tokyo this morning after a tearful goodbye from Alice. She gave Alice and I messages which she’d painted (mine pictured) – if anyone can translate it I’d love to know. I think she said it was about trying to be as kind and generous as me, although I can’t think how she got that impression. She did teach me a few words of Japanese: I can now ask for two beers in eight languages.

    Sayonara Misuzu.

    An Englishman’s home

    Life is never uneventful in this house. The last seven days have included a visit from my pal Angie, a trip to a storybook castle in deepest Aberdeenshire, a Japanese party and a burglary. Oh, and the Inland Revenue are about to sequestrate me. I’m not sure what that is, I just hope they use an anaesthetic.

    Angie and I were close friends a few years ago (before I met Louise) until she eloped to Bristol, got bairned and turned half-sensible. She doesn’t visit Edinburgh anywhere near often enough and when she does it’s for about two and a half minutes, like this weekend. Even so, we managed to fit in the fireworks at Next Generation, lunch at The Compass and nachos in The Basement: a minor miracle in view of the the other things I had to do.

    Yes, this really is a cake!Louise had been working on a Quirky creation (a wedding cake – see picture) all week which we had to deliver on Saturday to Lickleyhead Castle in Aberdeenshire, a round trip of almost eight hours. It’s an absolutely spectacular castle, the ideal place for a group of friends to rent for a special occassion but a bit out of my league, unfortunately.

    We arrived back in Edinburgh and I whisked Alice off to a party at neighbour Fiona’s. Fiona has had a Japanese girl, Akitzu, staying with her all year and Akitzu’s friend Mee (no, not me, her name is ‘Misuzu’) is visiting at the moment. Needless to say, we spent the rest of the evening eating sushi and taking photos.

    Sunday had been a pretty uneventful day and at midnight I was lounging on the sofa in my dressing gown nodding off in front of the TV when I heard a noise outside in the street. Now, this is nothing new as our street does resemble a war zone most nights as the drunken hoardes make their way home, but this was different. I can’t say any more as my evidence will be part of a court case in the near future, but I eventually got to bed at 3am after the twat who broke into my property was arrested. Result. An Englishman’s home is, after all, his castle, especially in Scotland.

    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.

    Viva España!

    Looks like it’s time to brush up on my Spanish again after friends Emily and Andy confirmed last week that we can stay in their new apartment in October. A quick morning’s activity on the internet and we had flights booked courtesy of a whole load of Air Miles I’ve had tucked away, car hire booked and travel insurance arranged.

    This is the first holiday we’ve been on for quite some time, and the first where all five of us have been together since Euro Disney in 2001. The villa is a three bedroom house with roof terrace, on the edge of the Mar Menor: a large bay in the Mediterranean which is now cut off by a sand bar to form the largest salt-water lake in Europe. Apparently, the sea-food from this lake is outstanding.

    Steph and trusty neighbour Frank (Frank’n’Steph) were round for dinner last night when Frank announced, calm as you like, that his sister, Laura, is off to China for Miss World. As a contestant. Apparently his mother had only just telephoned to tell him that his sister was Miss United Kingdom. Looking at Frank, I wonder what else she hasn’t told him yet.