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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    Have a heart

    Louise was in Dunfermline on Thursday to attend a Red Cross first aid course. She has to renew this every three years as it’s compulsory to have a first aider’s qualification to work as a fitness instructor.

    Eh, excuse me. That’s fitness instructor, as in taking classes for people living a ‘healthier lifestyle’. And it’s compulsory to have first aid training? Doesn’t this strike you as a bit odd? Or a bit worrying? Louise does teach Body Combat but I’ve always understood this to be a non-contact sport, so presumably there aren’t piles of injured participants with broken limbs and bloodied noses to deal with. So what is the training for? Perhaps you might drop the weights on your toe or fall off the exercise bike. Or slip on the running machine and sandpaper half your face off (hang on a minute, my brother-in-law, Johnnie, did do that – silly sod). No, none of these. It’s in case you have a heart attack.

    Hang on a minute. Attending an exercise class is supposed to be good for you, isn’t it? New Years resolution: a healthier lifestyle. Cut down on the binge drinking, give up the fags, join a health club. All the instructors are fully qualified to resuscitate you when you peg-out, mid-class. But it won’t happen to you, it’s very rare. It only happens to a handful of people with strange, undetected heart conditions, doesn’t it? Well, ask yourself this. Why would they make CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) training compulsory if it’s so rarely needed? Is this some sort of protection racket run by the Red Cross to extort money from fitness instructors?

    I’m a firm believer in the cardio theory handed down to me by my father, and by his father before him. It’s a straight engineering theory. You are born with a heart which will only beat a certain number of times, maximum. Sure, just like an engine, if you don’t look after it, you won’t get anywhere near the maximum number of beats, it’ll break much earlier. But using the beats up faster by pointless jumping about won’t get you any more, you’ll just run out sooner.

    And if they run out at one of my wife’s classes, she’ll be performing mouth-to-mouth. Think about it.

    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.

    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.

    The big four-oh

    After our little foray into the world of TV advertising last week, attention turned to this year’s big event: Louise’s 40th birthday party on Saturday. This was to be a Wild West extravaganza with line dancing cowboys, cowgirls, saloon girls, bandits and injuns. Yee Hah !

    We couldn’t start preparations until Saturday itself. For those who don’t know, Louise has two occupations: cake designer (to put it on) and fitness instructor (to work it off). Last week the ‘putting it on’ business was booming, with a large corporate cake comprising 3 tiers and 20 sugar paste characters in industrial clothing (don’t ask) to deliver on Thursday, and 250 logo’d fairy cakes for a stylish retail chain on Friday. Let them eat cake.

    So, come Saturday, it was all hands on deck to turn out a buffet for 100 people and complete costumes by eight o’clock. Big thanks go to Frank (Mexican bandit) for helping set up the venue and to my mum (madam) and Morven (saloon girl) for helping with the food. A whip-cracking time was had by all: isn’t it great when people really make an effort to dress up for a party.

    We got cleared up by 2am so off to the Port O’Leith Bar and then Bar Java (3am licences for the festival, handy eh?). And to cap it all, this cowboy went home with a saloon girl. A bit like the night I first met her, actually.