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

    Home and away

    The past two or three weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster ride, to be honest. We’ve been back from Spain for 5 days and definitely suffering from the post-holiday blues.

    Before we left for the sun, we received the rest of the amnio test results and everything seems fine. Trouble is that at almost the same time, I received a telephone call from my sister to tell me that my father had lost all feeling from the waist down while flying to Cyprus on holiday. Dad has been having a lot of back problems over the last couple of years resulting in a drastic reduction in his overall mobility and he had an operation a few months ago to try and help this. Unfortunately, the opposite seems to have happened and he ended up having an emergency operation in Cyprus to remove a disc. The good news was that it hadn’t actually severed any nerves, they were just badly crushed, however only time will tell how much permanent damage has been done. Progress has been slow since the operation.

    The whole episode has cost them an absolute fortune. Dad didn’t mention his previous operation when taking out the insurance. Result: insurance totally invalid. They wouldn’t even cover mum for the remainder of the time in Cyprus.

    I double checked our holiday insurance as a result and telephoned their hotline to disclose that I had cut my toe nails last week and one of the kids had sneezed two days ago (it’s amazing what they’ll link to a ‘pre-existing condition’). I also hot-footed it down to the post office to get an E-111 form which I completed and got stamped. An E-111 form ensures you get free medical treatment in an EC country, essential for when the insurance company lets you down (dad didn’t have one).

    Transporting a pregnant wife and three children to Spain requires military planning and I’m pleased to say that, on this occassion, the invasion went remarkably smoothly.

    The plan involved an early Leith departure and car journey to Luton, arriving in time to watch the beloved Luton Town FC play their 13th game of the season. Record to date: 2 draws & 10 wins, top of Division 1. Result: lost 2-1, first defeat of the season. As a result, I was red-carded and banned from ever showing my face at Kenilworth Road again. Jinx. Alice was, as ever, highly amusing as she shouted at the top of her voice “Daddy, is the referree that Urs-hole from the world cup?“. Not far wrong.

    The next leg required us to wake the kids at 2.30am Sunday morning in order to get to Gatwick for a 5am check-in. Those of you who have small children will know that this was not going to be easy and would be carried out to the tune of much wailing and groaning, especially from Louise. We made it to North Terminal in plenty of time and dropped off Louise, Holly & Alice, found a trolley and dispatched them to find the check-in. Meanwhile, William and I set off to find the carpark which we’d had the foresight to pre-book on the internet. I’d also printed-off the map and instructions to find the place, thank god: it was practically in the next county. They take the expression ‘off-airport parking’ into a new dimension, and only £54 for a week.

    The rest of the journey went without hitch, apart from Alice’s prolific use of the aircraft’s sick bags, and we arrived at the house in Santiago de la Ribera at one minute to noon. Military.

    We had a great week. The temperature never fell below 24 degrees and we only had five minutes of rain on one day. My Spanish was appauling and improved only slightly over the week. One highlight was asking for 5 cheeseburgers “to wash”, instead of “to take away” which the Spanish Burger King employee found particularly amusing.

    Back in Scotland now, the contrast couldn’t be greater. October holidays are great while you’re there, a late throwback to the summer just gone. But the coming home bit sucks.

    By appointment

    I know it’s a bit late now, but I must mention the official opening of the brand spanking new and very, very expensive Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood which took place a few Saturdays ago.

    Alice had been badgering me all week to take her to see the queen and I have to admit that I wasn’t over enthusiastic to say the least. The few times that I’ve seen the queen in my life have been on major occassions like Charlie & Di’s wedding and it’s no fun, is it? I can remember standing crushed against a barrier for hours, only to see the entire royal family flash past in a matter of seconds. I wasn’t keen to repeat the experience with a six year old on a freezing Scottish Saturday afternoon.

    However, come two o’clock when she asked again for the twentieth time, guilt got the better of me and I gave in. We got dropped off at Abbeyhill and made our way down towards Holyrood, pushing through the, er, almost totally absent crowd. I knew we hadn’t got the wrong day because we’d seen the queen on TV just minutes before we left the house, so where were the hoardes of royal watchers? We strolled right up to the main entrance and positioned ourselves on a concrete block about 6 feet from the barrier. I was convinced we must have missed her, the Royal Palace being a mere 100 metres from where we stood. She was probably back in her sitting room laughing at us from the window.

    But no. A sudden burst of activity as police lined the barrier and the crowd doubled in size, swollen by the mass of plain clothes security people: you could easily spot the little plastic curly wire running from the collar to the ear. And there she was, right in front of us about 8 feet away, dressed in shocking pink and royal waving as she strolled slowly past. Needless to say, Alice was ecstatic. I took a couple of quick snaps with the camera phone, no mean feat with a six year old perched on your shoulders while teetering on the edge of a three-foot drop into an icy pond. Unfortunately, the camera phone being a crappy little device, you’ll need to play spot the queenie. At least you can’t see how much makeup she had on. Absolutely plastered in the stuff.

    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.