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 one that got away

    Until last year, I hadn’t fished since I was about 15 years old. Then, while touring around Loch Tay, we stopped at a trout farm to let the children feed the fish. I noticed that it wasn’t too expensive to hire rods and the lad was extremely keen to show us how to fly fish, so we (William and I) gave it a go. We were hooked although, unfortunately, the trout weren’t.

    I’ve had some success since but William has yet to catch his first by fly fishing; however, he got a wee brown trout at Kenmore last year using a bubble float.

    We had high hopes on Saturday as we assembled our gear for a day out at Loch Fitty, near Dunfermline. Louise needed the car to visit her father in hospital so we were on plan B: the camping had to be postponed and we were going by train.

    I should have known how the day was going to turn out as the No 16 bus completely ignored us and cruised past the stop. Thanks to trusty neighbour Frank, we did reach Waverley in time to catch the 9.50 to Cowdenbeath. It’s just that it decided to leave without us after the information signs sent us to the wrong platform. Next train 10.20. OK, no problem, what’s another half an hour anyway. This one didn’t turn up until 10.40, then an announcer informed us that they didn’t have a crew, there was no water on the train so the toilet and sink weren’t functioning and the inside of the train was like a skip. Good old Scotrail and the Fife Circle Line. Don’t go there. Ever.

    We did get to Loch Fitty, at about 12 noon, so we paid £15 for 6 hours, which allows you to take 6 fish, chose our spot and set up our rods.

    Four hours later I remembered why I hadn’t fished for 30 years. Soaked through and not a single fish. Oh, I’d had one on the hook, but it did the ultimate teasing act by flipping itself out of the water right before our eyes to show us its impressive girth before spitting out the hook and sauntering off. Meanwhile, almost everyone around us was filling their bags with trout.

    At 6pm we admitted defeat, packed up and quietly slipped away while everyone else crowded round the scales to measure their success.

    I won’t bore you with details of the tortuous journey home, save to say it involved a three mile walk into Dunfermline and another run-in with the Fife Circle Line. We eventually trudged back into Leith at 8.30pm and went to Gulnars to watch the belly dancer and have a good curry. They’ve got a fish tank in the entrance and I swear I saw William raise his finger at it on the way past.

    Expansion plans

    It’s birthday season in this family at the moment: hot on the heels of Louise’s 40th, tomorrow is William’s 10th, Tuesday is my 45th. 95 years in 14 days.

    William and his sister Holly (11) only stay with Louise and I about a third of the time. The rest they spend with their mother, Clare, in Stockbridge, a district of Edinburgh which is quite a contrast to Leith. At least they see all facets of life.

    William has quite surprised me this year. No request for violent, 18 rated Playstation games for his birthday, rather he chose The Sims (super deluxe) and a CD Walkman. He also wants to go to the Bear Factory where you get to design and build a teddy bear with a recorded voice in it. Well, my voice actually. It’s proving a bit tricky trying to think of the right thing to record: too soppy and his mates will laugh, too cool and it defeats the object. I’m sure something will come to me.

    Instead of a party he’s requested that I take him camping and fishing for a couple of days, a bit of father and son bonding, so we’re packing the rods and tent and heading to Fife for the weekend. I’m pretty sure this new-found closeness to Dad is a reaction to our recent news. In February, and aged 45, this father is to repeat the experience. No, not fishing in Fife: fatherhood.

    The news was met with mixed reactions. After coping with the realisations that I won’t quite be able to top up my pension with child allowance and that the only sensible 45th birthday present for me is the ‘snip‘, I was delighted.

    Alice was the first to be told.

    Louise: “Alice, we’ve got something to tell you. Mummy’s been to the doctors and he did a little test to read a special message from my tummy“.

    Alice: “What, are you pregnant?“.

    Treat a six year old like a kid and see what you get. She then phoned Holly and William to break the news. Within two minutes it was like a Union meeting as they discussed the pros and cons of a new arrival and drew up a list of demands: no baby stuff on the TV, it sleeps in your room not ours, no nappy changing in the same room….

    William has pondered the most and has confided that he’s worried his time with dad will be eroded still further. He needn’t worry: when he turns eighteen, the wee sproglet will be a foot-stamping eight year old, Alice will be peaking as a hormonal teenager, Holly will be a hormonal late-teenager and Louise will be hitting the menopause. He’s welcome to take me out for a beer as often as he likes.

    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.

    It’s a wrap

    It was actually a little embarrassing arriving at security and announcing “our daughter’s here to make a TV ad“. I said it a bit apologetically I suppose, not because I’m not proud of her of course, but for fear of being judged. And we’re not pushy parents, really we’re not. Plus we’d kept her off school on her first day back and I was half expecting that lunatic Blunkett to send a SWAT team after us.

    Suitably tagged with our electronic passes, we boarded the ferry and were shown to the club class lounge which had been reserved for the production crew. We were then introduced to the Director, Andy, who took the trouble to shake all our hands, and then to the other actors who would be Alice’s parents for the day. Her mother was beautiful, tall, dark haired and tanned, just like her real mother, obviously. Well, except for the dark hair. Her father was the spitting-image of Daniel Day Lewis. I started to feel inferior.

    Next we met Kris, make up lady to the stars (Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Busted, East Enders, Emmerdale…..), who sat Alice down and did her thing. I discovered that she came from Luton too so we chatted about parents, districts, schools and EasyJet, as you do.

    Just then, Shona the producer dashed in. “Tony, do you want a part since you’re here? We need a shadow for the background in the scene we’re shooting in the bar“. “Yeah, why not” I replied. “Count me in“. Just replace me as a father with a bloody sex-symbol model and use me as a shadow. That’s cool. I signed a release form (yes, you even have to give them the rights to use your shadow) and off I went to join the action in the aft saloon bar. No make up needed of course.

    I don’t think I ever realised just how tedious it is being a film extra.

    Director: “Very good everybody, can we just do that once again. Shadow, I’ll shout ‘One and Action’, you move on ‘One’ this time. Lachlan, you’re on your honeymoon, look into her eyes, the atmosphere is charged with sexual tension“.

    Lachlan: “But this seat’s too low, I’m looking up at her“.

    Director: “Christ, get Lachlan a cushion somebody“.

    Over and over. Must have been ten takes. I have to hand it to him, keeping the sexual tension going that long.

    Next scene was in the ferry cabins where Alice had to play the big sister to wee Jake. This part of the shoot was nothing short of a miracle. I mean, have you seen the size of those ferry cabins? They had to accommodate a fully grown actress, two child stars, 2 lights, a super 16mm camera on a giant tripod, a focus puller, the grip and the clapper loader. Oh, and a teddy bear. Whatever happened to “never work with children and animals“. Especially when trying to film in a cupboard. But, they did it, in only five takes.

    Later, Danielle (of Leith TV and Leith FM) arrived and was introduced to Ben, her boyfriend for the afternoon. They had to shoot a scene in a lift first. I sang “Love in an elevator, Lovin’ it up when I’m goin’ down” but I don’t think Danielle had ever heard of Aerosmith. From there they moved into the cinema for a scene but it was filmed behind closed doors. Guess we’ll have to wait to see the ad for that bit.

    Before we knew it, a quarter to five had arrived, so we grabbed our things, said our goodbyes and jumped ship just before it left for The Shetlands. As we wandered down the walkway from the ship, Alice suddenly stopped. “Dad, Dad! We didn’t get the money!” I explained to her what an invoice is.

    Rising star

    Much excitement in the household tonight as our youngest, Alice (age 6) prepares for her big day tomorrow. She’s bunking off school (the first day back too) and making her TV debut in an ad for a ferry company in Aberdeen.

    Some of you may have read about her more regular method of making money. As this latest venture pays the equivalent of about 1500 swearwords, I think she’ll be making a permanent career change.

    Her first scene is in the ferry bar at 10.00am as part of “couple A/family”. We need to arrive a bit early so she can familiarise herself with her new parents and brother. I just hope she doesn’t keep trying to extort money every time she hears a swearword.

    It’s also my wife Louise’s 40th birthday tomorrow, so all in all a very busy day in store. Must dash, I want to pop out for a late drink and a bit of Slaterwatch: Christian Slater is appearing in a play in Edinburgh and living in Leith for the duration. I know Louise and the kids would love his autograph. Well, Louise definitely would. I might even buy him a Campari.