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

Recent Comments

Flickr Photos

Google Reader Shared Items

    Shared Items

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.